Former vice president Al Gore famously used an image of
Hurricane Katrina to illustrate his argument that natural disasters
will increase in intensity and frequency. Empirical data however
has shown that is not the case. (An Inconvenient Truth)
By Tony Hake | November 5, 2009
Manmade climate change is said to present humankind with some of its greatest challenges in the planet’s history, not the least of which is an alarming increase in frequency and intensity of natural disasters. Massive flooding, super-powered hurricanes, endless tornado seasons and more have all been said to be the direst of consequences of global warming.
In his movie “An Inconvenient Truth”, Al Gore famously proclaimed that, “Temperature changes are taking place all over the world and that is causing stronger storms.” Standing with Hurricane Katrina as a backdrop, the former vice president issued a cautionary tale of disaster in the making, all due to our irresponsible handling of the atmosphere. As recently as February Mr. Gore was giving a presentation showing flooding, drought and wildfires saying, “This is creating weather-related disasters that are completely unprecedented.”
President Barack Obama, in a town hall meeting in April echoed the Nobel laureate’s comments saying, “You're now looking at huge, cataclysmic hurricanes, complete changes in weather patterns.” He followed that in September when in a speech before the United Nations he claimed, “More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent.”
But what if you predicted global natural disaster catastrophes and they didn’t happen? Does that invalidate your entire message? This is the conundrum faced by climate change alarmists as many of their predictions begin to fall flat.
Mother Nature can be very fickle and predicting what she will bring tomorrow is difficult. Trying to do so over a span of years is next to impossible. Complicating matters, recent empirical evidence indicates that despite increasing carbon dioxide temperatures are decreasing and there has been no increase in climactic related events at all.
12-month running sums of Accumulated Cyclone Energy for the
entire globe during the past 31-years (Ryan Maue, FSU)
Researchers at Florida State University recently updated their analysis of tropical cyclones and determined that tropical activity continues to decrease and is approaching 30 year lows. The Accumulated Cyclone Energy index (ACE) which is the standard for measuring tropical cyclone activity sits at 525 globally – far below the normal level of 769.
Every tropical cyclone basin when looked at individually is seeing similarly low levels. Close to home to the United States, the North Atlantic hurricane basin as been very quiet and at low levels not seen in 12 years.
The predictions of ‘cataclysmic hurricanes’ that would be stronger due to global warming are also not coming true. A peer reviewed study in the publication Geophysical Research Letters discovered that, “the mean maximum intensity (i.e., averaged over all cyclones in a season) has decreased, while the maximum intensity attained by the strongest hurricane each year has not shown a significant change.”
Tornadoes, one of nature’s smaller disasters but also one of the most destructive, are not seeing increases in frequency or intensity. For the 2009 calendar year, tornado activity is approaching the 10th percentile of historical activity since 1954. Over the longer term, according to the National Climactic Data Center the number of strong to violent tornadoes (F3 to F5) is decreasing as well.
In the end there is not one measure of storm frequency or intensity that has seen a measurable increase corresponding to global warming. Recognizing that the portrayals of massive disasters is not true, climate change alarmists have started to change their tact and in some cases, completely drop the argument.
Dr. James Hansen of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, one of the most vocal climate change advocates, has voiced his disapproval of Al Gore’s use of these claims. Hansen said, “We need to be more careful in describing the hurricane story than he is.”
For his part, Mr. Gore appears to have realized that the data does not support the assertion. The slide that he used many times to show a purported increase in weather-related disasters was suddenly dropped from his presentation. No explanation was given much like he has never explained or even corrected the errors in “An Inconvenient Truth.”With revelations such as these, alarmists struggle to find arguments to drive their point home. Their use of hyperbole may be affecting the public’s perception of the debate as growing numbers of people doubt the effect man may have on the climate.