July 31, 2006

Bush briefed on global warming’s impact on storms

MIAMI (Reuters) - Officials tracking the approach of the
peak hurricane season told President Bush on Monday that data
linking a series of devastating storms to global warming was

Eleven months after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the
U.S. Gulf Coast and caused catastrophic flooding in New
Orleans, Bush visited the National Hurricane Center in Florida,
a state often battered by hurricanes.

Showing Bush the maps and other devices used to predict
storms, Max Mayfield, the hurricane center's director, said one
question he is asked often is whether the powerful hurricanes
of the past few years, like Katrina, Rita and Wilma, were the
result of the earth's warming.

A scientist at the center, Christopher Landsea, told Bush
there was "not a consensus" linking the two.

Hurricane and climate scientists outside the government
have been wrestling with that debate as well. Many
environmental groups are upset with Bush for his rejection of
the Kyoto agreement to cut greenhouse gases.

Many climate scientists believe carbon dioxide and other
gases trap heat like the glass walls of a greenhouse and cause
global warming. Skeptics doubt people affect global climate
change and say temperature fluctuations have occurred
throughout history.

Bush came under scathing criticism for the botched federal
response to Hurricane Katrina, which hit on August 29 and
killed 1,300 and displaced hundreds of thousands.

The White House is eager to show that the president has
learned lessons from that disaster and that the federal
government has been thorough in preparing for the possibility
of harsh storms this year.

June marked the official start of the hurricane season, but
the peak season for the storms is between mid-August and