No one should dispute the fact that hurricanes rank among our planet’s most terrifying and devastating natural disasters or that they are influenced by that enigmatically complex phenomena collectively referred to as “climate.”
Hurricane Matthew, which resulted in the tragic deaths of an estimated 34 people in the U.S., more than 500 in impoverished Haiti, and many billions of dollars of property and business losses, was clearly no exception.
Climate changes and hurricanes began occurring long before the Industrial Revolution introduced smokestacks and SUVs. Sadly, and despite all best efforts of Al Gore, the United Nations, President Obama, and the EPA combined, no plausibly controllable end to this ever-present danger is in sight.
But that’s not what we’re generally hearing reported in the media.
“It’s very interesting that this is happening on a day when there’s a hurricane bearing down on the United States and in the Caribbean, because these severe storms, beach erosions, intense-weather episodes that we’ve had are perhaps the most practical example of what the President was talking about as the threat the planet faces, and this is what this climate agreement signed by 190 nations and now ratified by 60 or so is designed to stop.”
ThinkProgress Climate Editor Joe Romm observed: “Matthew has already set a number of records-and global warming is giving it a boost.” Romm warned that:
“On our current path of unrestricted carbon pollution, NOAA researchers have determined that parts of the East Coast would see Sandy-level storm surges every year by mid-century . . . We simply cannot cut carbon pollution fast enough.”
Romm further claimed that, “since 1975 there has been a substantial and observable regional and global increase in the proportion of Category 4-5 hurricanes of 25% to 30% per degree Celsius of anthropogenic [human-caused] global warming.”
Yet no one that I know, perhaps not even the preeminently renowned climate science Goracle himself, can begin to statistically quantify any provable anthropogenic contributions to global warming, much less validate any measurable human CO2 fossil fuel emission influences upon hurricane frequency and strength trends.
For starters, major U.S. landfall storms have become less frequent, not more so.
Whereas 14 of the most powerful Category 4 and 5 storms hit our shores during the 44 years from 1926 through 1969, only three have struck during the last 46 years. Matthew ended a century-long record drought, breaking a 4,000-day streak of no Category 3 or higher hurricanes making landfall in the U.S. since Wilma in 2005.
EPA data show the overall number of North Atlantic hurricanes spiked in the 1880s, 1940s, and 1990s, . . . with ebbs in the 1920s, the 1980s, and the past 10 years.
Even the typically alarmist IPCC admitted in 2013 that:
“Climate datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century. No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the Atlantic basin.”
Their report concluded: “In summary, confidence in large-scale changes in intensity of extreme extratropical cyclones since 1900 is low.”
However, that wasn’t IPCC’s big story line immediately following the summer of 2004, a season when five deadly storms made landfall in Florida. Kevin Trenberth, an advisory IPCC high priest, wasted no time or opportunity to participate at an October press conference which announced, “Experts warn global warming likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense activity.”
Trenberth made world headlines with that hot air after ignoring admonitions from the top expert on this subject, Christopher Landsea at the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, that this assumption was not supported by any credible scientific research.
Pointing out that IPCC studies released in 1995 and 2001 found no such link, Landsea wrote to top IPCC officials imploring:
“What scientific refereed publications substantiate these pronouncements? What studies alluded to have shown a connection between observed warming trends on Earth and long-term trends in tropical cyclone activity?”
Receiving no replies, Landsea resigned from participating as a contributor to IPCC’s 2007 report, issuing an open letter stating his reasons.
Nevertheless, regardless how unavoidable and frequent, hurricane realities demand preparedness to minimize and respond to very real and terrible dangers to life and property. As noted by Heritage Foundation Energy Economics and Climate Change Senior Research Fellow David Kreutzer: “There have been major hurricanes in the Atlantic whose paths have not taken them onshore.”
At the same time, as Kreutzer reminds us, there has not been the steady increase in hurricane activity that doom-and-gloomers predicted following the swarm of major hurricanes a decade ago. “Yes, there is a lot of change from year to year, but there is no worrisome trend.”
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