Topper Shutt is the unlikely name for a lead TV weatherman in the Washington, D.C. area where I live. My family calls him “Topper Shutt Up.” We grit our teeth as he prattles about barometric pressure, jet streams, and Doppler Radar. We don’t need to know the dew point in Dubuque, Iowa, for goodness sake! Can’t we just cut to tomorrow’s forecast, followed by tonight’s sports scores?

Only those living in a cave (climate controlled) have not noticed that weather lately seems more extreme. Six hurricanes hit the United States in 2004, the most in nine years. According to reinsurance giant Swiss Re, nine of the 10 hottest years on record have been in the past decade. Coincidence? Unlikely. Hurricanes in 2004 levied a financial toll estimated at $56 billion. In 2005, the tab rose to $80 billion. Europe’s monster heat wave of 2003 cost economies an estimated $20 billion. According to research conducted by MIT climatologist Kerry Emmanuel, hurricanes have grown doubly intense in the past 30 years, coinciding with ocean warming.

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