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 inconclusive.While the available scientific evidence may still be under review, the smart money is currently betting on a strong link between climate change and the increased potency of storms:
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.
Bush briefed on global warming's impact on storms (Reuters)
More US insurers, including Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the Omaha, Nebraska-based insurance and investment company run by billionaire Warren Buffett, are boosting rates or dropping coverage following hurricanes that caused almost $100 billion in insured losses over the past two years.
“US insurers can’t ignore this issue any longer,” said Andrew Logan, who oversees insurance matters at CERES, a Boston-based coalition of investment funds, environmental organisations and advocacy groups that promote social responsibility. “The long-term solvency of the industry and the availability of insurance for consumers are at stake.