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Monday, January 03, 2005

Global Warming and Tsunamis

Could rising ocean levels have played a part in the South Asian tsunami crisis?

For years, environmentalists have been claiming that one ramification of rising sea levels is that tsunami damage would likely be more severe. Of course, the population explosion and unregulated development of coastal areas are also significant factors. MSNBC, a right-of-center news outlet reports on the continuing debate among climatologists:

A creeping rise in sea levels tied to global warming, pollution and damage to coral reefs may make coastlines even more vulnerable to disasters like tsunamis or storms in the future, experts said on Monday.

Few coastal ecosystems are robust enough to withstand freak waves like the ones that slammed into Asian nations from Sri Lanka to Thailand on Sunday, killing more than 23,000 people, after a subsea earthquake off Indonesia.

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It's not surprising that the new political correctness of the Bush administration considers questioning the link between the two anethema. Conservative bloggers are positively apoplectic that anyone would dare to even consider the possibility.

Steven Milloy of the Cato Institute, writing for FOX news, leads the charge:

Environmental activists are shamelessly trying to exploit last week's earthquake-tsunami catastrophe in hopes of advancing their global warming and anti-development agendas

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Global warming is perhaps a contributing factor to the severity of the tsunami. What is the respose from the Cato Institute and other right wing think tanks? Rather than addressing the possiblity, they villify those who raise the question, continuing their tactic of tarring environmentalists as terrorists. If we juxtapose this ad hominem attack with the fact that the Cato Institute itself is a resevoir of junk science outside the mainstream of the climatological mainstream, we can only conclude that the anti-environmental movement is on the defensive after seeing the ramifications of years of denial. Their recent policy shift from "global warming is a myth" to "global warming is benign" is now as tattered as a Sri Lankan palm tree.

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