Reply To: Global warming is well underway

It’s hard at first to get your head around the idea, indeed it seems outlandish: that by switching on the light, or stamping on the car accelerator, you’re helping to pulverise a great city such as New Orleans.

But that’s the inescapable implication of a piece of research published yesterday by a group of the world’s most distinguished climate scientists. Freak storms such as Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Big Easy a year ago, are not just freaks, they suggest. They are down to us.

Warmer seas causing more violent hurricanes and typhoons are almost certainly the result of greenhouse gas emissions, they conclude; they are caused, ultimately, by the carbon dioxide from the power station that provides your electricity, from the exhaust of the car you drove to work this morning.

The 19 scientists, from America, Britain and Germany, include James Hansen of Nasa, the doyen of American climate change researchers, and Professor Phil Jones from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia at Norwich.

They said that, in a comprehensive investigation, they had found an 84 per cent probability that human triggers accounted for most of the observed increases in sea surface temperatures (SSTs), during the past century, in the breeding grounds for hurricanes (as they are called in the Atlantic) and cyclones (as they are known in the Pacific).

The gathering storms: How man is making the wind blow