Weekly Letter to the President
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INAUGURATION,   January 20, 2009

Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape

To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.

The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.

Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.

--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
---  Native American proverb
October 9, 2020

Mr. President:

If the vice-presidential debate lacked direction, hurricane Delta did not.  It slammed
into the Louisiana coast as a Category 2 causing widespread damage with its 100
mph winds, then continued inland as a Category 1 storm.  If Delta sounds like an
unusual name for a hurricane, it is.

The World Meteorological Organization has a list from A to W of 21 potential storm
names.  The letters Q, W, X, Y and Z are omitted.  In all there are six lists meaning
that the 2020 list will be repeated in 2026.

Using names for storms facilitates identification in communications when compared to
the prior method using latitude and longitude particularly when the storm itself is

So here we are in 2020 with 25 storms so far.  The residents on the Louisiana coast
have had a double whammy with hurricane Laura slamming them earlier in the last
week of August.  It was a deadly Category 4 with maximum sustained winds of 150
mph.  Just 7 mph short of a Category 5 (the deadliest) Laura was only the fourth
Category 4 to strike Louisiana since records were kept.  

In addition to the numbers of storms, there are other climate anomalies.  September
this year has been the hottest on record and Death Valley reached a temperature of
130 F (54.4 C) the highest ever observed.  September 2019 in turn had also been
the hottest on record for our planet.

If there are storms along the coasts and flooding due to a warming ocean, inland it is
not only warmer but drier.  Forests are like tinder needing only a lightning spark or a
downed electricity line to set them off.  Thus the forest fires in southeastern Australia
and California.  

Europe too is warmer.  Forest fires particularly in the south, and inundation are more
frequent.  Reading in England for example has just suffered the wettest 48 hours ever.

The south of France usually associated with blissful weather experienced torrential
downpours with more than a half meter of rain (about 20 inches) in a day.  It was an
event Meteo-France noted that occurs once in a hundred years.  And then it
happened again.  Storm Alex, the cause of this misery, hit France and also Italy and
England.  Floods and landslides caused serious damage north of Nice destroying
roads, bridges and houses.  In adjoining Italy a section of a bridge over the Sesia
river collapsed in the rising waters.  Affecting the Piedmont, Lombardy and Liguria
regions, it dropped over 23 inches (0.63 m) of rain.  The Po river rose more than 9 ft
(3 m ) in 24 hours.

The key lesson from all this is that global warming is making rare events more
common, that the window for action is narrowing, and that the longer such action is
delayed the more onerous will be the burden on humanity.  In the meantime, the
global warming already built into the system will continue to affect climate for the
foreseeable future.