Reuters is trying to downplay the notion that global warming was specifically responsible for the fury of Katrina and Rita. And truth is, they have a point.
“Global warming, I think, is playing a role in the hurricanes,” said Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
“But a lot of what is going on is natural. What global warming may be doing is making them somewhat more intense,” said Trenberth, a member of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Claims that global warming is specifically responsible for the intensity of hurricanes like Katrina and Rita cannot be made with certainty. “‘We have seen unusual seasons in the past and so we understand that we tend to see more strong storms when the Atlantic Ocean temperatures are warmer, which has been the case in the last 10 years or so,’ [James Elsner, professor of geography at Florida State University] said.” But there does seem to be a sense among climatologists that global warming is now manifestly affecting weather patterns. They could all still turn out to be wrong. But having watched the weather somewhat seriously since I was eight years old, I’m inclined to think they’re right–and that they’re right, as of this year.