On September 9, 2005, with much of New Orleans submerged by the failure of fifty levees and flood walls after Hurricane Katrina (category 1 at landfall) dumped 8 to 10 inches of rain, former Vice President Al Gore told the Sierra Club’s National Environmental Convention and Expo in San Francisco:
Ladies and gentlemen, the warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global climate crisis. … Last year we had a lot of hurricanes. … The scientists are telling us that … unless we act quickly and dramatically … [t]his … is only the first sip of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year ….
Gore wasn’t the only prophet of doom. In 2006 Nature told us, “Mega-storms are set to increase as the climate hots up.” In August, 2011, in an article headlined “Are Category 6 Hurricanes Coming Soon?”, Scientific American told us, “Tropical cyclones like Irene are predicted to be more powerful this year, thanks to natural conditions.” In 2012 The Independent warned, “Global warming is ‘causing more hurricanes’.”
In November, 2012, CBS This Morning co-host Rebecca Jarvis asked, “As superstorms like Hurricane Sandy and Katrina in 2005, is this the new normal for our weather?” She continued, “They’ve long been considered once-in-a-century events, but researchers now say the frequency of such storms will at least double by the year 2030.” Ben Straus, COO of global warming advocacy group Climate Central, answered Jarvis’s question: “Sandy was off the charts. However, it is very much the new normal that we’re seeing more extreme weather, bigger storms more often.”
Okay, I confess, I find it kind of difficult to see how one could test, in under 18 years, a prediction that a once-in-a-hundred-year event would become a once-in-fifty-year event. But when it comes to global warming, testing hypotheses—the key to science—takes a back seat to spreading terror.
In 2013 U.S. News & World Report (drawing from the same study cited by The Independent) headlined a story, “Study: ‘Katrina-Like’ Hurricanes to Occur More Frequently Due to Warming,” but apparently the editors thought that wasn’t scary enough. They taglined the article, “Hurricanes the size of Katrina could occur much more frequently due to rising ocean temperatures” (emphasis added).
Meanwhile, slightly saner minds were a little more restrained. In March 2012 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave a mixed message about tropical cyclones (hurricanes in the Atlantic, typhoons in the Pacific): its computer models predicted that global warming would likely make them stronger but less frequent. Nine months later, MIT atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel submitted a paper to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (published another seven months later) that challenged that. He said his models predicted that warming would make tropical cyclones both stronger and more frequent. But both IPCC and Emanuel avoided alarmist language.
Ironically, by the time CBS’s Jarvis was saying the frequency of storms like Katrina and Sandy would double by 2030, it had already been 8 years since the last major (category 3 or higher) hurricane had made landfall on the U.S., though before 2005 they’d struck on average every 1 to 2 years, and in 1944–1950 Florida alone had suffered 6.
As of yesterday, that 8-year drought of major hurricane landfalls on the U.S. has stretched to 11 years. With the 2016 season almost over, it’s unlikely that the drought will end before next June. And it’s not just the United States that’s experienced this welcome break. There has been a worldwide 30-year lull in hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones, despite the (fairly slight) global warming over the period.
Yet, ironically, 18 days ago an editor at Scientific American added this note to its 2011 article predicting that global warming would make hurricanes more powerful: “Editor’s Note (10/07/16): As Hurricane Matthew barrels toward the U.S. coastline, Scientific American reviews some of the science involved in predicting, tracking and understanding these massive storms. This article—originally published on 08/23/2011—looks at whether we will soon be facing Category 6 hurricanes.” Never let a crisis go to waste! (Why, by the way, do hurricanes “barrel” and not just “move”?) Four days later Gore joined Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in a rally at Miami-Dade College dedicated entirely to warning about climate change, during which Clinton claimed, “Hurricane Matthew was likely more destructive because of climate change.”
The truth is that there’s been no increase in the frequency or intensity of tropical cyclones or hurricanes over the period of allegedly manmade global warming, as this graph by Ryan N. Maue, formerly a researcher at the Naval Research Laboratory and meteorology professor at Florida State University and now with WeatherBELL Analytics, shows:
Likewise, there’s no long-term upward trend in global accumulated cyclone energy:
But if you love high drama, don’t despair. The climate alarmists will continue their Sturm und Drang, and we’ll continue debunking it!