Washington (CNSNews.com) - Environmentalists seeking to form a link between Hurricane Katrina and any human-caused climate change are engaged in "shameless opportunism," according to a spokesman for the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis.
"That is pure politics," the Center's Sterling Burnett told Cybercast News Service Wednesday, 16 days after the hurricane demolished Gulf Coast towns in Louisiana and Mississippi and breached levees in New Orleans, resulting in the flooding of almost the entire city.
"The science is pretty consistent in saying that we are seeing some increased hurricanes right now and it has nothing to do with climate change," Burnett said. "It has to do with natural cycles that fluctuate on the order of 10 to 30 years."
Burnett held a briefing at the National Press Club on Wednesday to release a study entitled "Living with Global Warming." The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) alleges that the costs of trying to prevent global warming far exceed any potential benefits.
Burnett singled out environmentalists like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, who wrote the day after the hurricane hit New Orleans that "Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children" by failing to support treaties like the Kyoto Protocol.
The European Commission, the World Bank and some world leaders have also warned that U.S. failure to support the Kyoto Protocol, aimed at reducing greenhouse gases thought by many scientists to cause "global warming," will make future hurricanes worse.
"They (environmentalists) should be ashamed of themselves. People living along the coast have enough to worry about," Burnett said. He added that green groups should stop "diverting attention from the real problems with hurricanes by pointing them towards chimera and ghosts -- these mythical things that they say are causing hurricanes.
"We should be directing our attention to the real problems these people face, helping people on the ground rather than squandering billions of dollars trying to prevent a marginal increase in global temperature, which will have no effect on hurricanes," he added. The Kyoto Protocol will also be prohibitively expensive for participating countries, Burnett argued, costing them an estimated $165 billion a year.
But David Tuft, campaign director for the Natural Resources Defense Council's Climate Center, said Hurricane Katrina was "an indicator" of future hurricanes if nothing is done to halt climate change
"You can't really say a specific incident, a specific hurricane activity or climate event is caused by global warming, but it is a sign of what global warming could do and it certainly fits what models say global warming [will be] in the future," Tuft told Cybercast News Service."We take it as a cautionary tale of what's going to happen if we don't do anything about it."
Tuft also sounded an ominous warning if nothing is done to stop what he regards as human-caused global warming.
"Storm intensity will increase, coastal flooding with the sea level rise will make the effects of the damage, much, much worse," he said.
"We've got to start the processes like the framework of Kyoto, we need a domestic program in the U.S. to stop the pollution and to get on the path of reduced emissions," Tuft added.
But Burnett of the NCPA noted that there were more severe hurricanes in the 1920s, 40s and 50s than in the 1990s.
"According to climate scientists, we go through peaks and lulls of hurricanes. That's a natural cycle," Burnett said. "We know that hurricanes are going to happen no matter what we do. We should deal with them smarter in the future by not putting as many [people] at risk."
Increased hurricane activity and the tragic results from those hurricanes will probably last for another decade, Burnett said, "and it will have nothing to do with climate change.
"It has to do with oscillations of the ocean," he added.
See Earlier Story:
Environmentalists Blame East Coast Hurricane on 'Global Warming' (Sept. 18, 2003)
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