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The Atlantic is quiet; Typhoon Lupit spares the Philippines

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 1:46 PM GMT on October 23, 2009

There's only good news to report in the tropics today. The tropical disturbance in the Western Caribbean has weakened and shrunk, and has little prospect of developing into a tropical depression for at least the next three days. None of the computer models is forecasting tropical cyclone development in the Atlantic over the next seven days. Hurricane season is not over yet, though, and we will still need to keep a watchful eye on the Western Caribbean. Wind shear is expected to remain low there for most of the next two weeks, according to recent forecast runs of the GFS model. I expect I'll be talking about "Invest 95L" in the Western Caribbean sometime in the next two weeks.

Typhoon Lupit spares the Philippines
Tropitcal Storm Lupit has weakened and turn northward, out to sea, sparing the storm-ravaged Philippine Island of Luzon from further misery. Lupit never made landfall and the heaviest rains stayed out to sea, with rainfall amounts from the typhoon generally ranging from 1 - 2 inches over northern Luzon Island. Lupit means "cruel" in Tagalog, one of the main languages of the Philippines, but Lupit was primarily cruel in a psychological sense, keeping jittery residents on edge for days as the storm slowly approached. Luzon is still recovering from the destruction wrought by back-to-back typhoons Ketsana and Parma, which killed 860 people and did $642 million in damage.

The road to Copenhagen
By some accounts, the future of the world will be at stake this December, when the crucial U.N. Climate Change Conference will be held December 7 - 18 in Copenhagen, Denmark. At that meeting, the leaders of the world will gather to negotiate an agreement to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The new agreement will be the world's road map for dealing with climate change, and the stakes are huge. In the coming weeks, major efforts will be made by both sides of the debate to sway public opinion on climate change. Opponents of CO2 emission regulations made their case last weekend, with the release of the video, Not Evil, Just Wrong. Billed as the largest simultaneous film premiere party in U.S. history, the movie aired on 7,000 screens in 50 states. The movie was originally intended to be released at major theaters throughout the U.S., but Hollywood showed insufficient interest in the film. The producers were forced to release the movie on video and hold private "movie parties" for its opening. The movie fiercely attacks Al Gore, and decrys "the true cost of global warming hysteria" on jobs and the economy.

This Sunday, the green lobby is fighting back. The newly-formed climate advocacy group 350.org is sponsoring 4,517 actions in 173 countries. The group is seeking to promote the views of leading climate scientists, including NASA's Dr. James Hansen, that the highest "safe" level of CO2 in the atmosphere is 350 ppm--lower than the current 388 ppm, and far below the target value of 450 ppm typically cited as the "danger" level for atmospheric CO2. The plan is to have thousands of citizens making giant human 3s in some cities, 5s in others, and 0s in others--a sort of planet-scale Scrabble game that they hope CNN and BBC will try to solve for them on the evening news. There will be underwater rallies on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and in the Middle East off the coast of Oman. Over 300 land-based rallies will be held in China, and 1,000 in the U.S.

With tropical season winding down, I plan to make regular posts over the next six weeks analyzing the scientific claims of efforts by the green lobby and the fossil fuel industry and its allies to win your hearts and minds in the run-up to the December 7 conference in Copenhagen. My first post in this series will look at 350.org's claim that 350 ppm of CO2 represents the danger level for CO2 in the atmosphere. I'll also look at an audacious TV ad that boldly asserts that more CO2 in the atmosphere is better for Earth's ecosystems.

Figure 1. Competing for your hearts and minds: Cover of the DVD Not Evil, Just Wrong (left), and a promotional image from the http://www.350.org web site (right), showing children in India spelling out the number "350" to promote a 350 ppm target for CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

Next post
Expect my next post on Monday morning, unless there's some significant development in the tropics.

Jeff Masters


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.