Press Advisory

Forecast: Storm Warnings

The impact of global warming on hurricane severity and frequency

Over the last several days Hurricane Dean whipped through the Caribbean before slamming into the Yucatan Peninsula and the Mexican mainland. While loss of life and damages are still uncalculated, Dean will join the ranks of Andrew, Charlie, Hugo, Rita. And of course, Katrina. Their names are seared into the minds of those who lived through them. The 100+ mile an hour winds and stinging sideways rain wreaked devastation – ripping roofs off houses, flattening whole buildings, tossing around cars as if they were toys, causing billions of dollars’ worth of damage, and taking lives. Recovery often takes years. Two years after Hurricane Katrina struck land on August 29, 2005, thousands of Mississippi and New Orleans residents have yet to restore their homes, businesses or lives. And some may never do so. Hurricanes gather and release nature’s fury, and the consequences are deadly.

And now the actions of humans since the dawn of the industrial age will only propel future hurricanes’ power. There is an overwhelming scientific consensus that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere released by burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels has begun to warm the planet, including our oceans, and scientists have determined that warmer sea surface temperature can boost hurricanes’ ferocity, and may even increase their frequency. It is imperative that we do everything we can to prepare for the potential disasters.

In conjunction with the release of the report, Forecast: Storm Warnings, the Center for American Progress will conduct a forum that will discuss the impact of global warming on hurricane severity and frequency. In addition, there will be a discussion of necessary federal, state, and local policies that would increase the resilience of hurricane prone communities. The forum will feature, Mayor Richard Crotty (R) of Orange County, Florida, hurricane scientist Dr. Peter J. Webster, John B. Copenhaver of DRI International, and Jane Bullock, former chief of staff of Federal Emergency Management Agency director James Lee Witt.

Featured Panelists:
Mayor Richard T. Crotty (R), Orange County, Florida
Dr. Peter Webster, Professor in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
John B. Copenhaver, President and Chief Executive Officer, DRI International
Jane Bullock, Former Chief of Staff, Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt

Moderated by:
Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy, Center for American Progress

Monday, August 27, 2007
Program: 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Admission is free.

Center for American Progress
1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Map & Directions

Nearest Metro: Blue/Orange Line to McPherson Square or Red Line to Metro Center

RSVP for this Event

For more information, please call 202.741.6246.


Mayor Richard Crotty grew up in Orlando, attending Orange County public schools, Valencia Community College and the University of Central Florida (then known as Florida Technological University) where he majored in Public Administration and Communications. The year following his graduation from UCF, Mr. Crotty was selected to the prestigious Florida Legislative Staff Internship program where he attended Florida State University completing a graduate level executive program in Public Administration. While in Tallahassee, Mr. Crotty worked on the Senate Staff and completed his service as a member of the United States Army Reserve, serving in a military police unit.

Upon his return to Orlando, Mr. Crotty launched a successful career in sales and management consulting. For the next three years, Mr. Crotty consulted a number of cities across the country under a grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. He is credited with saving several cities millions of tax dollars by improving the efficiency of their solid waste collection systems.

At age 30, Mr. Crotty was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. During his fourteen years of legislative service as a member of both the House and Senate, Mr. Crotty was known as a reformer and consensus builder who succeeded by working closely “with both sides of the aisle.” Rep. Crotty was the prime sponsor of a bill creating the first and most successful Prepaid College Tuition program in America. Currently, more than a million young people in Florida can hope for a brighter future because of the investment made in this program.

Mr. Crotty’s numerous awards include the Distinguished Alumnus and Distinguished Service Award from UCF and the Leroy Collins Distinguished Alumnus award from the entire Florida Community College system. Mr. Crotty is most proud of the Allen Morris Award, bestowed on him by a secret vote of his House colleagues as the most effective member of his party in committee. The award, named after the late Clerk-Emeritus of the House, recognized Mr. Crotty’s work on the Appropriations Committee.

As a member of the Florida Senate, Senator Crotty served as his party’s Floor Leader. Just before retiring from the Legislature, Senator Crotty passed his last bill creating the “Junny Rios- Martinez Act” which ensured that sexual predators of children would not qualify for early release from prison.

On January 23, 2001, Florida Governor Jeb Bush appointed Mr. Crotty as Orange County Chairman shortly after President George W. Bush appointed then Chairman Mel Martinez to serve as Secretary of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). Chairman Crotty was elected to a full term in September of 2002 with 73% of the vote. In 2004, Orange County citizens voted overwhelmingly to change the county leader’s title from Chairman to Mayor to better reflect his function as chief executive.

Mayor Crotty has taken tough stands to improve transportation and school capacity, while working with regional partners to protect our valuable water supply and diversify our local economy with an appropriate balance of high tech, high fun jobs. Mayor Crotty has drawn up a “Blueprint for Orange County‘s Future”, focused on his top priority â?” effectively managing growth. More recently, an Orlando Sentinel survey ranked Mayor Crotty #1 on its list of the “25 Most Powerful People In Central Florida“.

Shortly after the terrorist attacks on our nation on September 11, 2001, Mayor Crotty gained international recognition for promoting our region’s visitor economy on BBC World Television. He also appeared on the CBS Evening News, the Today Show, Good Morning America, the Weather Channel, CNN, Fox News and a number of other cable networks regarding Orange County‘s emergency management during Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne in 2004.

Mayor Crotty and his wife Pam live in Belle Isle with their daughter Christina and son Tyler.

John B. Copenhaver is the President and Chief Executive Officer of DRI International, overseeing an organization that administers the industry’s premier educational and certification programs for those engaged in the practice of business continuity planning and management.

John is the former chairman of the Contingency Management Group. He provided on-site assistance to the governments of El Salvador and Peru after earthquakes in 2001. He was on-site to provide assistance with response and recovery efforts in New York City following 9/11.

John was the Region IV Director of FEMA, appointed by President Clinton in 1997. In this capacity, he directed the federal government’s response to 58 Presidentially-declared disasters. He was chairman of the Atlanta Federal Executive Board 2000-2001. He is a former adviser to the IBM International Crisis Response Team and was Director of Business Continuity Services for Bell South.

He is currently serving a term on the University of Georgia School of Law Board of Visitors. He earned his BS degree from Brown University. John is a Certified Business Continuity Professional and member in good standing of the State Bar of Georgia.

Dr. Peter Webster is a Professor in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and environmental Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. Webster received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in meteorology in 1972.

He has held faculty positions at Penn State University and the University of Colorado prior to joining Georgia Tech. Webster’s area of research span tropical atmospheric and ocean large scale climate dynamics and the applications of these fields to the forecasting of rainfall, floods and droughts in monsoon regions of the world. Most recently he has been investigating in the role of hurricanes in the climate of the planet and the forecasting of their intensity on monthly, seasonal and decadal time scales. Dr. Webster is a coauthor of the book Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans and has written 15 chapters in other books. In addition he has published over 120 refereed journal articles. Dr.

Webster is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, the Royal Meteorological Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has received a number of wards including the Jule Charney Award and the Carl Gustav Rossby Research Medal from the American Meteorological Society, the Adrian Gill Award from the Royal Society and a Senior Humboldt Fellowship.

Jane A. Bullock is a partner in Bullock & Haddow, LLC, disaster management consulting firm and is an Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Crisis, Disaster, and Risk Management at The George Washington University, Washington, DC.

Ms. Bullock has over 25 years of private and public sector experience culminating in responsibility, as Chief of Staff, for the daily management and operations of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Agency, responsible for disaster prevention, response and recovery. In the course of her career, she directed the restructuring and streamlining of the Agency, set policy and programmatic direction for the Nation’s emergency management systems, served as the Agency’s spokesperson and worked with the U.S. Congress and the Nation’s Governors to enhance disaster management throughout the U.S. As Chief of Staff, she administered FEMA’s 2.5 billion dollar disaster relief fund and provided management oversight for the response and recovery of over 300 major disasters. She was chief architect Project Impact: Building Disaster Resistant Communities, a nationwide, grass roots effort by communities and businesses to implement prevention and risk reduction programs. In 2000, she received the Presidential Rank Award, the highest award presented by the President to a career civil servant.

Since leaving FEMA, Ms. Bullock has worked with a variety of organizations to design and implement disaster management and homeland security programs including the Corporation for National and Community Service; the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the New York Academy of Medicine, National Academy of Science Transportation Research Board, DRII International, and County and municipal governments throughout the United States. In the post Katrina environment, she has worked with Save the Children to design and implement their domestic disaster response and recovery program. Internationally, she has worked with countries in Central and South America, Eastern Europe and New Zealand on implementing disaster management and mitigation programs. Ms. Bullock continues to be active in the media as a nationally recognized expert on disaster response with regular appearances on National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting Stations, CNN, CBS, NBC and ABC. She is the coauthor of two textbooks on emergency management and homeland security and on the Living with the Shore series of State books published by Duke University dealing with the design and construction of communities in coastal areas.

Daniel J. Weiss is a Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress, where he leads the Center’s clean energy and climate advocacy campaign. Before coming to CAP, he spent 25 years working with environmental advocacy organizations and political campaigns. Weiss is an expert in energy and environmental policy; legislative strategy and tactics; and advocacy communications. Most recently, he was a senior vice president with M+R Strategic Services, where he oversaw collaborative campaign efforts by 15 major national environmental organizations working to oppose anti-environmental legislation. This included field organizers, grassroots mobilization, earned and paid media, and opinion research.

Prior to M+R Strategic Services, Weiss served for 16 years at the Sierra Club, first as a Washington representative, then as director of the Environmental Quality Program, and for the final eight years as political director. He was chief strategist and lobbyist for legislative campaigns around the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Food Security Act, and budget bills. Weiss also designed and managed the Sierra Club’s political action committee, endorsements, and $9 million Environmental Voter Education Campaign in 2000.

A graduate of the University of Michigan with both a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Public Policy degrees, Weiss has been involved with presidential, Senate, and House campaigns across the country since he was old enough to vote. In the 1990s, Roll Call named him one of the “Fabulous 50 Political People” and Regardie’s magazine listed him in the “Power 100: 100 Most Influential People in Private Washington.” Weiss is married to Sherry Ettleson and has two girls and a boy in elementary school.