And if that vehicle happens to be an “all-electric” plug-in — a really nifty Tesla number maybe — don’t think that for a moment that this should lessen your guilt for catastrophic floods and winds in Texas and Florida. Did you seriously imagine that it is being recharged with windmills and sunbeams (4% of U.S. power), rather than by coal and natural gas-fired turbines?
Well, so okay, big deal. Maybe then you’re only 96% guilty.
Or perhaps just relax a little. Contrary to what we all too often hear sensationalized in the media, hurricanes and other natural disasters really aren’t more frequent, increasingly severe, or objectively traceable to anything we have any control over.
Such misguided alarmism occurs at high national and international government levels.
Kevin Trenberth, an advisory high priest of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and key “Climategate” scandal figure, wasted no time (or opportunity) to link the devastating 2004 U.S. hurricane season to man-made global warming.
In October of that year, he was a lead figure in a highly publicized press conference that announced, “Experts warn global warming likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense activity.”
That statement completely contradicted previous IPCC studies released in 1995 and 2001 which had found no evidence of a global warming-hurricane link, and there had been no new analyses to suggest otherwise.
Chistopher Landsea, an expert on this subject at the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory of NOAA, was astounded when he was informed that the press conference was to take place. As a contributing author to both of the previous reports and an invited author for another in 2007, he believed there must be some huge mistake. No studies had revealed an upward trend of hurricane frequency or intensity — not in the Atlantic basin — or in any other basin.
Christopher wrote to top IPCC officials, imploring, “What scientific, refereed publications substantiate these pronouncements? What studies being alluded to have shown a connection between observed warming trends on Earth and long-term trends of tropical cyclone activity? After receiving no replies, he resigned from IPCC activities.
The following year, Wilma (October 2005) ended major Category 3-5 hurricane events over the next 12 years until Harvey and Irma came along. The previous hurricane drought record was 8 years in the 1860s.
Michael Mann, an even more prominent Climategate culprit, recently jumped into hurricane/tropical storm Harvey and Irma floodwaters, blaming the severity, if not entire causation, of these disasters upon “climate change” (aka, global warming).
Mann’s now thoroughly discredited alarmist hockey stick-shaped global temperature graph was used by IPCC to push the Kyoto Protocol, and by Al Gore to push self-enriching carbon cap and trade offset trading schemes.
The title of Mann’s article in the British Guardian newspaper said it all, “It’s a Fact: Climate Change Made Hurricane Harvey More Deadly.” The opinion piece asserted, “Harvey was almost certainly more intense than it would have been in the absence of human-caused warming, which means stronger winds, more wind damage and a larger storm surge.”
Not mentioned was that satellite measurements show no statistically significant global warming over the past nearly two decades other than two large naturally occurring equatorial Pacific Ocean El Niño events in 1997-1998 and 2014-2016; or that such events typically cause more tropical cyclones in the Pacific, and fewer in the Atlantic.
While the tropical Atlantic is currently warmer than average, the far North Atlantic is colder than average, potentially indicative of a negative phase of an Atlantic multi-decadal oscillation, another entirely natural occurrence which affects ocean temperatures over 25 to 40 years. We have been in an active era since 1995. Between 1971 and 1994 they were lower.
As I mentioned in last week’s column, major hurricanes really blasted the U.S. coast from Florida and northward during the 1930s and over the decade between 1950 and 1960. Twenty-one Atlantic tropical storms formed in 1933 alone, a record season only most recently exceeded in 2005 — which saw 28 storms.
While the water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico is recently about 4º F above average, a review of major Gulf hurricanes between 1870 and 2010 by meteorologist Roy Spencer at the University of Alabama in Huntsville revealed that they occurred with equal frequency both when conditions were below and above average.
Since hurricanes don’t seem to care about global warming in the least either way, why should we? Nevertheless, let’s recognize that tropical storms and hurricanes always remain to be very real and serious coastal threats. You might even consider trading in that Tesla for an SUV with larger wheels to get you through long power outages and high water.