As we approach the start to the 2014 hurricane season, there is a new push to stem the tide of Global Warming and maybe finish off hurricanes once and for all. Is this a good idea? Time will tell. Here’s what we know.
A congressman from Georgia has introduced legislation that would take the freezing point of water from 32F to 40F. It would be the first such change in the so-called “temperature continuum of di-hydrous-oxide” in over 125 years. As you can imagine, the bill has struck a serious nerve within the climate community who argue that messing with the freezing point of water in the past has led to grave consequences.
“Just look at the Little Ice Age – man caused that to happen” said Rick Grimes, an opponent to the bill from Woodbury, Georgia. “We need to leave the freezing point of water where it is lest we trigger another round of climatic unrest that could have irreversible effects.”
Others are downright joyful of the proposed change.
Herschel Greene, an electrical engineer specializing in greenhouse gas studies, notes that “if the freezing point of water is legally raised to 40F, then America can save billions in electrical costs because refrigeration won’t require as much energy”. He may have a point.
A recent study from the University of Georgia – Woodbury, suggests that raising the freezing point of water could substantially reduce not only the energy costs but also the time it takes to produce ice. This has huge implications for outdoor sporting events which have to struggle to keep beer and other beverages cold in summer heat. Making ice less susceptible to melting by raising the freezing point to 40F means that, on average, ice will last 37% longer during a baseball game or football game. The cost savings to the beverage industry means that there is a potential cost savings to be passed along to consumers. Cheaper beer? Maybe so- if the bill can pass scrutiny.
What about the rest of the world?
The push to raise the freezing point of water to 40F is only an American legal issue right now. There is talk of perhaps suggesting a change, though not as drastic, in the UK and France. Other European Union members have no interest in such matters, especially up north where the ice business is stable and thriving.
“Why mess with something that has worked for over 125 years?” asks Sven Walker who sells ice along Norway’s Blue Fjord region – part of a generation of ice harvesters dating back 1000 years.
End of hurricanes as we know them?
The one singular benefit that lawmakers and the public can agree on is this: if the legal level at which water freezes is in fact raised to 40F, then hurricanes have almost no chance of surviving. Why? The air will be colder sooner which means more dry air from Canada to sweep south and stop Atlantic and Gulf hurricanes before they can reach land. This will save the insurance industry tens of billions of dollars annually. However, the blow back for other hurricane related businesses, such as HurricaneTrack.com, remains to be seen. Without hurricanes, there’s no need for this site or hurricane shutters, plywood, most uses for generators, fancy hurricane tracking apps, FEMA and other organizations that make a living because of the existence of hurricanes. One expert is not convinced and actually thinks that raising the freezing point of water could make hurricanes worse!
“If we have a colder base atmosphere in which water condenses and thus freezes, then we have a greater imbalance between the warm oceans and the artificially cooled atmosphere,” suggests Dale Horvath, state climatologist and paleo-hurricane specialist for Georgia. He may be right, we will have to wait and see.
The next step for the bill is for debates to begin in July. A panel of climate experts will converge in Washington D.C. to put the proposed legislation under the proverbial microscope. If it passes muster, then it may be that come next winter, snow will fall with much warmer temps than we are used to seeing. This means more snow days for the kids but since the air temperature will actually be warmer, it won’t feel as cold while playing in the snow. I guess the end of frozen fingers could be upon us.
I will keep you up date on the progress of this proposed change to the freezing point of water. For now, enjoy your April 1 and remember, don’t believe everything you read, no matter how well it may seem to be written.