In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a host of leftists in the politica arena, the media, and the entertainment industry asserted that the storm had been caused and/or exacerbated by the “global warming” spawned by U.S. industrial activities -- coupled with the allegedly irresponsible environmental policies of President George W. Bush and his administration. Most notably, these critics impugned Bush's decision not to sign the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement that set binding greenhouse gas (GHG)-reduction targets for 37 industrialized countries.
Former Vice President Al Gore told environmentalists at the Sierra Club's national convention (held shortly after Katrina had struck):
“When the corpses of American citizens are floating in toxic flood waters five days after a hurricane struck, it is time not only to respond directly to the victims of the catastrophe, but to hold ... the leaders of our nation accountable. The warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global climate crisis, it is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences.”
Environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy traced Katrina's roots back to the allegedly nefarious 2001 backroom dealings between former Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour and President George W. Bush. According to Kennedy, Bush in 2000 had made an “iron-clad campaign promise to regulate CO2 [carbon dioxide]” – the implication being that he would, as President, sign the Kyoto Protocol. But after Bush won the election, said Kennedy, Barbour derided the plan as a form of “eco-extremism” -- and he issued “an urgent memo to the White House” that ultimately led Bush to “derai[l] the Kyoto Protocol” in an effort to placate “major donors from the fossil fuel industry.” In a Huffington Post piece, Kennedy wrote:
"[T]he science is clear. This month, a study published in the journal Nature by a renowned MIT climatologist linked the increasing prevalence of destructive hurricanes to human-induced global warming. Now we are all learning what it's like to reap the whirlwind of fossil fuel dependence which Barbour and his cronies have encouraged. Our destructive addiction has given us a catastrophic war in the Middle East and--now--Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children."
Former Boston Globe reporter Ross Gelbspan – author of The Heat Is On and Boiling Point – wrote in an August 30, 2005 op-ed:
“The hurricane that struck Louisiana … was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming.... Unfortunately, very few people in America know the real name of Hurricane Katrina because the coal and oil industries have spent millions of dollars to keep the public in doubt about the issue.... In 2000, big oil and big coal scored their biggest electoral victory yet when President George W. Bush was elected President — and subsequently took suggestions from the industry for his climate and energy policies.”
Gelbspan further explained that even though the storm had started small, it soon became “supercharged with extraordinary intensity by the relatively blistering sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Entertainer Barbra Streisand told Diane Sawyer of ABC News:
“We are in a global warming emergency state, and these storms are going to become more frequent, more intense. There could be more droughts, dust bowls. You know, it's amazing to hear these facts, I mean, the Andes have no ice caps on the mountains in winter. The glaciers are melting. I mean, for the United States not to be part of the Kyoto treaty is unforgivable.”