Friday, September 02, 2005

Louisiana tragedy

It is heartbreaking to see New Orleans submerged under 20 feet of water. This is one of the loveliest cities in the United States, perhaps second only to San Francisco. I was there in 1992. I spent some time in Texas and I made the trip to New Orleans.

I fell in love with the city that I resolved that I will find the opportunity to do some research work in Louisiana. Last year I was offered to do post doctoral work in marine evolutionary biology at Louisiana State University and was supposed to leave in late July of 2005 until bureaucratic bungles made me decide to put off the offer until next year. If I had gone, then I should be atop a roof waiting for the Louisiana Air National Guard to pluck me out!

Baton Rogue (where the university is located) and New Orleans are among the worst hit of Katrina's wrath. New Orleans is between two mighty bodies of water. One is the Mississipi River and the other is Lake Ponchartrain with its long causeway. The levees that protect the city were breached and thus the deluge.

But should we blame Katrina and her kind? Climatologists predict that hurricanes and typhoons will become more frequent and those of the 5th category wouldn't be rare anymore. Category 5 cyclones that hit land are quite rare. Usually they lose steam before they hit land. By the time they hit land they are just category 3 or so, but still dangerous.

The mean air temperature has been increasing since 1850 and this is presumbably related to our burning of fossil fuels. Cyclones run on heat stored in the oceans. The heat has to redistributed and thus we have these storms. The more heat, the stronger the storm.

The CNN still shot with the crushed SUV under a tree is strong reminder that nature can inflict much damage. Our SUV fetish has contributed to all that increased carbon dioxide emissions.

Another interesting topic for my class.

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