The past week has been scarred by the damage and devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis in Burma. This event has been marked by a greater-than-usual sense of impotency on the part of the international community in its inability to rise to the challenge. The massive scale of the disaster, and the fact that so much of the impacted area is difficult to access has been coupled to the hampering of the immediate relief effort by the country’s military government there and the realization that the hundreds of thousands who’ve been affected were terribly vulnerable in the first place, because of their poverty, the lack of adequate infrastructure, and their proximity to the Bay of Bengal.

As the temperature of the world’s oceans continue to rise events such as Cyclone Nargis are predicted to become more frequent. Massachusetts Institute of Technology meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel calculates that the power of tropical cyclones has roughly doubled since the 1950s. The massive increase has especially occurred over the last three decades, mirroring a rise in man-made global warming, he notes. And the trend stepped up a couple of gears from the mid-1990s, when global mean temperatures began to scale ever-higher annual peaks.

As the trend continues to stronger tropical storms governments and policy makers will have to address the need to adapt to these threats.