Fall Madness – Hurricanes and Global Warming

Fall is officially upon us with the passing of Labor Day. After this seasonal landmark, we are not supposed to wear white. I’m surprised CNN’s Don Lemon hasn’t found something racist in this tradition.

Football season has started, kneeling players and all. It’s been a busy week for the media as we are now less than two months away from the critical Congressional midterm elections. The media is not taking a knee; instead, they are on full offense with the Bob Woodward book and the anonymous NY Times op-ed, both full-fledged assaults on President Trump.

Fall is also hurricane season which means not only football jerseys coming out of the closet, but the hackneyed global warming doomsday predictions. The left-wing media, however, may not give hurricane season its due since there are more important stories to cover, like Colin Kaepernick, the Bret Kavanaugh confirmation circus, and Pocahontas wanting to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump.

Tropical Storm Florence is in the Caribbean and heading toward Florida, with early storms Helene and Isaac hanging out off the coast of Africa, deciding whether to huff and puff, or really blow the house down.

Florence, not yet a hurricane, but expected to become one, looks like it will impact the Carolinas. Or maybe up the US coast. Or possibly Florida. Or maybe harmlessly out to sea. The spaghetti models show all the possibilities. Here are the complied guesses from Weathernerds.

No one really knows. Each spaghetti line is based on a computer model which takes data and makes predictions for the future. Just as climate  models attempt to predict future temperatures, the hurricane models are predicting the week ahead whereas the climate models are looking decades or centuries into the future.

If the models looking only days ahead are so variable, what hope is there for predictions decades into the future? Let’s look at some of those predictions from just 13 years ago.

Noted climate scientist and soothsayer, Al Gore, in 2005 predicted this.

“The science is extremely clear now, that warmer oceans make the average hurricane stronger, not only makes the winds stronger, but dramatically increases the moisture from the oceans evaporating into the storm - thus magnifying its destructive power - makes the duration, as well as the intensity of the hurricane, stronger.”

He wasn’t alone. Scientific American asked the question, “Are Category 6 Hurricanes Coming Soon?” Big media jumped in too with such predictions as, “No End In Sight For Big Hurricanes” and “Katrina Is The Beginning of What May Be A Long Stretch of Wild and Devastating Weather.”

How did these predictions turn out? Presumably they are based on science and computer models, just like the wildly disparate spaghetti line predictions.

To start with, the world has never seen a category 6 storm. The last category 5 storm was Andrew in 1992.

Let’s look at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration compilation of hurricanes going back 150 years. In the decade of the 2000’s, the time of Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” and his apocalyptic predictions, 19 hurricanes impacted the continental US. All were category 1 to 3, except for Charley in 2004, which was a category 4 storm.

Four years in that decade brought not a single hurricane hitting the continental US.

To be fair, storm category and subsequent damage do not always correlate. A powerful storm hitting a narrow land area will do less damage than a lower intensity storm impacting a wider and lower lying area with more population. Katrina was a category 3 storm and Sandy only a category 1 storm but both caused tremendous damage and destruction due to where they made landfall.

In the 2010’s decade, we have had 9 hurricanes thus far and three years of no hurricanes. Last year we had two category 4 storms, Harvey and Irma. The remainder of hurricanes in this decade only reached category 1 or 2.

By comparison, in the 1850s, a time before global warming was part of the popular lexicon, there was at least one hurricane each year, 16 in all, including a category 4 storm in 1856.

In the 1880’s, the continental US was hit by 25 hurricanes, one of them a category 4 storm. The 1910’s brought 21 hurricanes, 3 were category 4. In the 1940’s we had 23 hurricanes, with 4 reaching category 4.

Al Gore could have made his prediction anytime during the past 150 years and may have been proven right. Then again, was global warming a problem in 1850? I don’t think so.

If anything, recent decades show a decrease in total number and powerful hurricanes compared to previous decades. This is contrary to the what the computer models predicted and what the media warned about.

Then again the media predicted a Clinton landslide victory in 2016, based on polling and computer models designed to predict a future outcome. As in elections, hurricane predictions have not fared any better.

The media is mobilizing ahead of Florence. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy reminds everyone, “It’s also important to understand that the impacts of hurricanes are very much influenced by global warming.”

The UK Independent calls it a “global cataclysm”. “In a few decades, there will be almost nothing left. Humans and most living species are in a critical situation.”

Rather than applying some scientific common sense, the climate warriors, in an effort to change the weather, something no one knows how to do, created, “A letter signed by 200 people, including some of the world's most famous actors, artists and scientists.” I presume this includes such luminaries as Cher, Madonna, Matt Damon, and Katy Perry.

This is the perfect solution to controlling the weather, a letter signed by actors and artists who know as much about climate science as I know about the mating habits of hummingbirds.

Another answer is warning labels, “YouTube is now adding fact checks to videos that question climate change.” Sure, just like they add fact checks to the rantings of David Hogg or Elizabeth Warren on YouTube. So much for freedom of thought and speech. YouTube would put a warning label on what I am writing now.

As it is fall and hurricane season, be prepared for an onslaught of news blaming global warming for each hurricane. And by default, blaming President Trump, especially since he pulled the US out of the nonsensical Paris Climate Accords. The media ignores the reality that hurricanes have always been a part of our climate and ecosystem long before Trump and internal combustion engines.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn and Twitter.

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