The Boston Globe, long notorious as promoters of global warming doom and gloom -- see Ross Gelbspan, for example -- sometimes get embarrassed by the actual climate. On "The Green Blog," the Globe's Beth Daley projected that a "global warming double punch" could make Hurricane Earl much worse for Massachusetts -- except when it actually passed by, it turned out to be a dud for Bostonians and it could be watched on the coast with a glass of wine:
The large waves, storm surge, and flooding that Hurricane Earl will spawn as it strikes Massachusetts tomorrow night comes with an added dollop of trouble; Sea level rise.
Very gradual -- and in some cases accelerating -- rises in sea level off our coast over the last century will boost the height of Earl’s storm surge -- expected to be one to four feet -- meaning the wall of water will be able to travel that much farther inland and over higher elevations to flood basements, streets, and other low-lying areas....
Sea level is rising, scientists say, in large part because of a global warming double punch: higher ocean temperatures that expand the volume of water, and melting glaciers that add water to the sea. So future hurricanes are likely to cause more widespread flooding.
“Sea level rise is fairly insidious and one of those things that we think is in the background and not in our lifetime or our children’s lifetime but it keeps adding up," said Greg Berman, coastal processes specialist with Woods Hole Sea Grant and Cape Cod Cooperative Extension. He said sea level rise in the last century has coincided with the mass migration of people to live near the coast, and while "we drew a line in the sand where the sea should stop, it’s not listening to us.”
While the downgraded tropical storm Earl caused some coastal drama, the storm wasn't dramatic enough in Boston, according to the Globe:
Away from the Cape and Islands, the storm was decidedly less dramatic. In South Boston, Carson Beach was largely deserted late last night, except for three young women who decided to go swimming under a light but steady rain.
“You get a hurricane like every 20 years,’’ said Amy McCarthy 23, of Dorchester. “So why not check it out?’’
Her friend, Rebekah Lehtonen, 23, of Connecticut, was unimpressed.
“I wish it was a little bit more windy,’’ Lehtonen said.
The storm was apparently calm enough that you watched it on the beach with a glass of wine:
But as it became clear that the storm would be more like a nor’easter than a hurricane, many people ignored warnings and flocked to beaches to watch Earl arrive.
At a beach in Oak Bluffs, as the wind picked up and waves swelled yesterday evening, Jane and Steve Edmonds of Sharon sipped shiraz, their backs to the churning sea.
Suddenly, a wave sprayed Jane Edmonds, causing her to shriek.
“I’m not moving! I’m not moving!’’ she said defiantly, covering her glass with her hand.
Near the water, Irene Sherman and her husband, Marc Littlejohn, stood with their children, Maya, 13 and Zach, 10. Marc Littlejohn had heard the warnings that people shouldn’t watch the storm from the beach, but the prospect of seeing it up close was too enticing.
“We couldn’t help ourselves,’’ Littlejohn said. “It’s pretty amazing.’’
Still, the family agreed, they were happy the storm was not as intense as what was forecast.
“We don’t want a natural disaster,’’ Maya said.
A news media eager to go looking for the peril of global warming in every tropical storm are going to occasionally end up with a little salty surf in their shiraz. But are they humble enough to admit when they've overdone it?