UPDATE UPDATE! The National Hurricane Center has a better hurricane graphic. I’ve added it to the hurricane section.
What exactly makes people so scared of “global warming” or “climate change”? I can’t understand this issue, honestly. I see zero evidence for the supposed catastrophe heading our way, and yet people persist in being alarmed…Are people scared of sea level rise? How irrational can you possibly be to be scared of sea level rise on the order of a less than a meter (3.2808399 feet) at most in a century, when in a matter of hours the storm surge from a hurricane can easily do double that? Speaking of, how can people be alarmed over increasing numbers and strength of hurricanes? NOAA says:
There is still uncertainty as to whether global warming has affected hurricane frequency or intensity for a variety of reasons. The strong decadal variations may be masking a global warming component, and uncertainty with respect to data quality and sources preclude any definitive long-term estimate of change.
[Emphasis added] There own graphs show that, ignoring the fact that satellites may have missed hurricanes before, say, the seventies and other various issues, that there is little evident increase in hurricanes, and none whatsoever in strong ones (in fact, if you remove a single year, 2005, the trend in all hurricanes pretty much disappears!):
If you look at this paper, you will note that NOAA is focusing on the period of aircraft reconnaissance, which makes sense, kinda, but that means they miss the extremely active period in the thirties, which given the lack of aircraft reconnaissance, was probably, at peak, much greater than 2005 (UPDATE: Definitely, actually-see NHC figure 2). Actual landfalls show no increase whatsoever. Of course, this is just the North Atlantic, but I’m mostly curious about US alarm. Nevertheless, one can find any number of papers which don’t support the alarm over hurricanes.
I don’t understand drought alarm either-there is no trend in the long term data on drought in the US, again from NOAA:
It is hardly evident that we are “wetter” either although we should be, and that has benefits for agriculture. There is no trend in flood damages, incidentally.
What about tornadoes? Again, quoting NOAA:
With increased national doppler radar coverage, increasing population, and greater attention to tornado reporting, there has been an increase in the number of tornado reports over the past several decades. This can create a misleading appearance of an increasing trend in tornado frequency. To better understand the true variability and trend in tornado frequency in the US, the total number of strong to violent tornadoes (EF3 to EF5 category on the Enhanced Fujita scale) can be analyzed. These are the tornadoes that would have likely been reported even during the decades before Dopplar radar use became widespread and practices resulted in increasing tornado reports. The bar chart below indicates there has been little trend in the frequency of the strongest tornadoes over the past 55 years.
[Emphasis added] The chart they refer to:
So, again, why the alarm?
Well, surely we will all die of heat waves? Well if that’s true (And one could dispute whether there are any trends in heatwaves) Should not urban heat related mortality (and nobody disputes that cities are warming) be increasing? To quote Ronald Reagan “But the reverse is true”. In fact, some of the hottest cities with the oldest populations (like Tampa, or Pheonix) have almost no heat related mortality at all! (Davis, R.E., et al., 2003. Changing heat-related mortality in the United States. Environmental Health Perspectives, 111, 1712-1718.)
Will air pollution get worse? For those who don’t know, the issue here is that higher temperatures are supposed to accelerate the conversion by chemical reactions of “Ozone Precursors” into Ozone, which, although beneficial high up in the atmosphere, is extremely toxic. The EPA, however, gives data on trends in ground-level Ozone, and finds that, in fact, the levels have been declining! What gives? Well, it seems that our emissions of Ozone precursors have been declining (and note, hey, GDP rose!) overwhelming any global warming effect.
Disease? Malaria was endemic in the US all the way up to the Canadian border in 1882, by 1912, it was limited almost entirely to areas South of the Mason-Dixon line-and remember that the 1800’s were supposed to be cooler than today! The reason we don’t see it anymore is that malaria is a disease of poverty not climate. West Nile Virus? That showed up in the Northeast and spread South and West, with no regard for temperature. Those facts can be found in any of the files here.
Will warming even mildly inconvenience us? If so, why do people, of their own free will, move to warmer climates in large numbers? Are people really that stupid? I will grant you that people continuing coastal development in the face of rising hurricane damages , not from climate change, but greater vulnerability, are stupid-but at the same time, the popping of Florida’s real estate bubble was in no small part caused by equally stupid “AGW causes hurricanes” seeming to be supported by a few crazy seasons we had recently.
So why the alarm of global warming, especially in light of its conspicuous absence in the last twelve years? I’m honestly confused…