[FOUNTAIN]Shakespearean irony in floods and flowersIn 1609, a British ship was wrecked during a voyage to Virginia. The entire crew and all of the passengers went missing. Two years later, the survivors were rescued on the island of Bermuda. The news excited Londoners, one of whom was the playwright William Shakespeare. Inspired by the story of the shipwreck, he soon completed “The Tempest.”
The tempest that had swallowed the ship was none other than a hurricane. The word hurricane comes from “Huracan,” the ancient Mayan god. The hurricanes of the past had been destructive too, but they still had a hint of romance, like the one in Shakespeare’s play. There used to be a hurricane tour in the United States, where visitors could stay in a hotel on a hill and observe the storm wrecking the coast.
Today, hurricanes are no longer thought to occur at the will of heaven. The power of a hurricane varies according to the heat transmitted into the atmosphere as seawater evaporates. The higher the temperature at sea level is, and the deeper the hot water in the ocean is, the more powerful a hurricane becomes. In other words, hurricanes will occur more frequently and with greater power as the earth gets hotter.
Global warming is a result of human activities. The U.S. Department of Commerce projected that by 2080, the world will witness ultra-powerful category 5.5 hurricanes, stronger than category 5 storms, which as currently considered the most dangerous. However, that estimate is still more optimistic than one in a confidential report by the U.S. Department of Defense revealed in 2003.
According to the report, the sea level will rise as glaciers melt, and by 2007, European coastal cities such as The Hague in the Netherlands will be under water. The changes in the ocean currents will lower temperatures in Britain and Northern Europe between 2010 and 2020, and the regions will become as cold as Siberia. The residents of those regions will relocate to Southern Europe and the Americas. In order to keep away refugees, some countries will become fortified. Anarchy in the form of wars, droughts, famines, and riots will overtake the world.
The report is a warning climate change threatens the current generation, not the next. The United States deserves to be criticized for refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol, despite knowing the risk. However, it is not just the United States that is threatened by climate change. In Korea, the temperature can rise as high as 34 degrees Celsius and the “tropical night” phenomenon occurs in April. Azalea flowers bloom a month earlier than they used to, and now, a much more powerful typhoon, Nabi, is approaching the Korean Peninsula.
by Lee Hoon-beom
The writer is the head of the JoongAng Ilbo’s weekend news team.