Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sailors Warning

There is an old saying,

“Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.

Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning''

Even Jesus said it.

"When in evening, ye say, it will be fair weather: For the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today; for the sky is red and lowering.”

This morning I was meeting someone for coffee. He told me that the Sun was red this morning and that it was red yesterday morning too. He remembered the old sailors wisdom.

The colors we see in the sky are due to the rays of sunlight being split into colors of the spectrum as they pass through the atmosphere and ricochet off the water vapor and particles in the atmosphere. The amounts of water vapor and dust particles in the atmosphere are good indicators of weather conditions. They also determine which colors we will see in the sky.

During sunrise and sunset the sun is low in the sky, and it transmits light through the thickest part of the atmosphere. A red sky suggests an atmosphere loaded with dust and moisture particles. We see the red, because red wavelengths (the longest in the color spectrum) are breaking through the atmosphere. The shorter wavelengths, such as blue, are scattered and broken up.

Red sky at night, sailors delight.

When we see a red sky at night, this means that the setting sun is sending its light through a high concentration of dust particles. This usually indicates high pressure and stable air coming in from the west. Basically good weather will follow.

Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning.

A red sunrise reflects the dust particles of a system that has just passed from the west. This indicates that a storm system may be moving to the east. If the morning sky is a deep fiery red, it means a high water content in the atmosphere.

So, rain is on its way.

But that is not what my friend meant this morning. He was thinking something else. I guess he was going Biblical on me now that I think about it.

But I don't need to go Biblical to see what is happening.

And neither should you.

We are beginning to just now see the long term effects of the loss of New Orleans, whether temporary or whatever. Texas has 250,000 more people in it tonight. The former 8th Wonder of the World is now a giant housing project for a population that looks more like it came from the third. Brand new convention centers are now full too. But, they are booked for conventions.

Money making conventions.

And this is just the beginning say the experts.

Brace for more Katrinas, say experts

"PARIS (AFP) - For all its numbing ferocity, Hurricane Katrina will not be a unique event, say scientists, who say that global warming appears to be pumping up the power of big Atlantic storms.

2005 is on track to be the worst-ever year for hurricanes, according to experts measuring ocean temperatures and trade winds -- the two big factors that breed these storms in the Caribbean and tropical North Atlantic.

Earlier this month, Tropical Storm Risk, a London-based consortium of experts, predicted that the region would see 22 tropical storms during the six-month June-November season, the most ever recorded and more than twice the average annual tally since records began in 1851. "

The former residents of New Orleans are just the first trickles of a giant river of evacuees from the ravages of climate change. How many are predicted? Take the numbers from this story:

Climate Refugees: the hidden cost of climate change

"What is daunting is the extreme numbers of climate refugees predicted for the coming decade. One of the major authorities on the topic, Norman Myers, of Oxford University, says there could well be 150 million climate refugees on the move within 50 years, including at least 75 million in the Asia-Pacific region.

Rather than scaring ourselves into a fortress mentality, a civilised humanitarian response would be to acknowledge that over the past 150 years Australia has disproportionately contributed to global warming, and we have a moral obligation to assist people to live in their countries for as long as possible and provide asylum for them when people are forced to leave their homes because of climate change.

No one would dare argue that any specific extreme weather event is caused by climate change, however the world increasingly recognises that climate change exacerbates extremes in weather, such as heat waves in Europe and bush fires in Canberra in 2003.

The US and Australian governments continue to focus on the inadequacies of Kyoto and perceived economic costs of a transition to a less carbon-intensive future. Not surprisingly, the human dimension of climate change is largely missing from the public realm.

Already it is becoming obvious that, without immediate action, the costs of this will be economic tragedy and human misery, and the worst of the pain will be felt by the poorest nations (ironically, those least responsible for global warming). "

But now, that human dimension is not missing.

And it is not being felt by the poorest nations, but by the richest.

And it is going to be translated into something that politicians understand.


You know the world has changed when Bangladesh is giving money

to flooded US Citizens.

We are all sailors on this vessel called earth.

The morning sun was red today.

It's the sailors warning.

We should change our course.



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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wasn't the storm itself that innundated New Orleans. When the storm came through there were reports that it wasn't nearly as bad as anticipated. THEN the peculiar topography and breached levees made the city succumb to a backwash reaction that poured water into the bowl shaped city. Pumps malfunctions and/or could not keep up with the volume. I do feel a sense of relief that I live in Austin, three hours away from the Gulf Coast.
If the polar ice is melting at an unprecedented rate why hasn't sea level already risen?

12:17 AM  
Blogger oZ said...

New Orleans was flooded by the the surge of the storm. A deep low pressure makes a mountain of water, due to the reduced pressure.

It most definitely was the storm that inundated New Orleans.

Sea level is up by several inches already, and it is projected to be up by as much a 50 inches this century.

Faster melt and increased temperatures will simply accelerate the time.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, and ignorance did not cause the relection of the worst president in american history, it was the voting machines.

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually, it was the voting machines too.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It does seem as though something good can come out of this environmental tragedy - if we can equate good with awareness. Awareness that climate change is real and it is here. Awareness that this administration has it's priorities wrong. Awareness that we will have to band together if we want to survive. The twenty five thousand refugees that have moved into San Antonio are our problem. The world's poor is our problem.

Thanks for the reporting and the science. FM asked why sea level hasn't already risen. My understanding is that it already has.

CNN.com - Nature - Batten down the hatches, sea level is rising ...

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the New Orleans Saints become the San Antonio Saints.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Charlie Loving said...

As a former weather man there are as the discussion has gone a lot of variables in all this. That butterfly in Sumatra may have caused it or perhaps God is back from vacation. And now we have another tropical depression off Florida to watch. This one should move northward toward Georgia and the Carolinas. If you look at the charts you will see a large trough moving toward the west coast that will effect the weather here in the next week.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is great--why has Australia contributed so much to GW????bush fires??

12:40 PM  

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