Viridian Note 00163: Dire FEMA Predictions

Bruce Sterling <>
Mon, 29 May 2000 12:18:39 -0500

Key concepts
Climate disasters, James Lee Witt, Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, FEMA, NOAA, drought, heat

Attention Conservation Notice: Another tedious episode of high-ranking, fully-briefed federal officials predicting imminent catastrophe.

Entries in the Greenhouse Disaster Symbol contest: This contest expires very soon: May 31, 2000.

Sources: Associated Press, Environmental News Network

"FEMA director warns of more severe natural disasters"

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, Associated Press

"WASHINGTON (May 24, 2000 10:43 a.m. EDT == Preaching a gospel of preparation and prevention for Americans, Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt said Tuesday that natural disasters are getting more frequent and more severe.

    "'Tornado activity, we see now, normally starts in the spring of the year, is starting in January. Hurricane seasons seem like they're much more intense,' Witt told editors and reporters of The Associated Press.

    "'We will see,' he said, from 'what the scientists tell us, some extremely devastating events in the 21st century.'"

(((Why would James Lee Witt say such a thing? Do you suppose he's merely angling for expanded FEMA funding? Why no! It seems rather more likely that, like the President and the Secretary of State, FEMA reads the climate briefings from NOAA:)))

Subject: ENS) News May, 22, 2000



By Cat Lazaroff

"WASHINGTON, DC, May 22, 2000 (ENS) == The four month period of January through April this year was the warmest such period on record in the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Friday. (...)

    "This was the warmest January through April in 106 years of record keeping, according to statistics calculated by NOAA's scientists working from the world's largest statistical weather database. NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina, holds data from record keeping that goes back to 1894.

    "The preliminary data indicate that almost 70 percent of the U.S. was much warmer than normal, while less than one percent of the country was much cooler than normal. (...)

    "The American southwest has been struck by a rash of wildfires in recent weeks, with one blaze sweeping the north rim of the Grand Canyon and another threatening the nation's largest nuclear weapons lab in Los Alamos, New Mexico. (...)

    "Increasing signs of global warming prompted U.S. President Bill Clinton to use a speech to the Democratic Leadership Council on Sunday to promote U.S. action on climate change.

    "'Every member of Congress here will tell you that a huge portion of decision makers in our country and throughout the world == and most troubling, in some of the biggest developing nations == still believe you cannot have economic growth unless you pour more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,' Clinton said. 'There is nothing so dangerous as for a people to be in the grip of a big idea that is no longer true. It was once true that you had to put more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to grow the economy, to build a middle class, make a country rich. It is not true anymore.'

    "Clinton warned that the U.S. must take the lead on addressing climate change and other environmental problems to persuade other countries to do the same.

    "'There's no way in the world we'll be able to convince our friends in India or China, which over the next 30 years will become bigger emitters of greenhouse gases than we are, that they can take a different path to development, and that we're not trying to keep them poor, unless we can demonstrate that we have let this idea go and that we have evidence that a different way will work,' said Clinton. (...)

    "In 1999, the U.S. experienced one of its worst droughts ever recorded. Almost two thirds of the country suffered severe and persistent heat waves, killing 257 Americans and thousands of cattle in July alone.

    (...) "Just last week, the National Weather Service released a forecast calling for a significant drought across much of the U.S. this summer.

    "In April, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright proposed the creation of a global alliance for water security, warning that the squeeze on global water resources will tighten as populations grow, demand increases, pollution continues and climate change accelerates.

    "The most recent weather statistics for the United States and the globe are available at:"

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