For example, in the case of Irene, we cannot say that global climate change bears any responsibility for the havoc wrought by this particular hurricane. On the other hand, we do have the knowledge and scientific tools to predict how greenhouse warming will increase the likelihood of future hurricanes exhibiting Irene’s magnitude and track along the eastern seaboard of the United States. We know for instance that the warm oceanic waters of the tropics serve as the heat engine for hurricane development. Therefore, as these oceanic waters are warmed further, a greater number of intense hurricanes like Irene will make landfall in North Carolina.
Furthermore, we know that hurricanes begin to weaken after they make landfall and must return to the warm oceanic waters offshore to rebuild their intensity. As the autumn water temperatures of the Mid-Atlantic Bight continue to rise each decade, hurricanes like Irene will be able to strengthen and more frequently carry their destructive forces further north to New Jersey, New York, and New England.
So, what does this all mean to the average American on the street? Well, since hurricane Irene just pushed 2011 past 2008 in the record books for the most billion-dollar weather disasters in a year, it certainly seems logical that people should expect higher taxes.