A Blog devoted to progressive politics, environmental issues, LGBT issues, social justice, workers' rights, womens' rights, and, most importantly, Cats.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Science - Environmental News

The Telegraph reports that scientists in the U.S. and Israel are closer to finding a way to influence the path of hurricanes.
Under one scheme, aircraft would drop soot into the near-freezing cloud at the top of a hurricane, causing it to warm up and so reduce wind speeds. Computer simulations of the forces at work in the most violent storms have shown that even small changes can affect their paths – enabling them to be diverted from major cities.


Moshe Alamaro, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), told The Sunday Telegraph of his plans to "paint" the tops of hurricanes black by scattering carbon particles – either soot or black particles from the manufacture of tyres – from aircraft flying above the storms. The particles would absorb heat from the sun, leading to changes in the airflows within the storm. Satellites could also heat the cloud tops by beaming microwaves from space.
Of course, this is great news, but it fails to address a more important question: Katrina never actually hit Louisiana, yet it caused more than $125 billion worth of damage in property alone, and a death toll over 1300. It was New Orleans' aging infrastructure that caused the death and destruction of a beautiful and beloved American city.

Given that the infrastructure throughout the rest of the country is in similarly poor condition, controlling the direction of hurricanes might not be the most effective solution to potential problems. Furthermore, given that diverting a hurricane from its path might cause it to destroy other cities/settlements, the legal questions that arise are thorny indeed.

Finally, there is plenty of evidence that soot and rubber particles are harmful in and of themselves.

Science and technology can assist us in making our lives better, but they are not a cure-all.

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