Another Way Climate Change Might Make Hurricanes Worse

Four days can do a lot of damage.

Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In a recent talk about his new book, “Scale,” physicist Geoffrey West described climate change as a form of entropy –- disorder that’s created as the price of all the order and creative energy pent up in cities. In this view, climate change is not, as some argue, just a euphemism for global warming. It’s a broader term that reflects the unpredictable, disorderly way global warming will affect the planet’s oceans and atmosphere.

In other words, we won’t be so lucky as to see a regular, incremental increase in the earth’s average temperature. Instead, we’re seeing rapid, erratic changes in weather patterns that people have counted on for centuries.

Consider one of the more interesting hypotheses about global warming: that it will cause the wind patterns that normally keep storms moving from place to place to slow down, causing prolonged downpours as well as droughts. It’s an idea that’s been cited in the peer-reviewed literature and featured in Scientific American, but like many exciting ideas in science, it’s still not universally accepted. Some are waiting for more evidence.