Here’s an excellent article from center-left writer Michael Shellenberger, on his Substack. He is talking about all the journalists who are claiming that there are more hurricanes now than ever before in the history of the world, and that global warming is causing the increase in the number of hurricanes, and in the intensity of hurricanes. What does the evidence really say?
First, let’s see what the mainstream news media says:
Over the last several weeks, many mainstream news media outlets have claimed that hurricanes are becoming more expensive, more frequent, and more intense because of climate change.
- The Financial Times reported that “hurricane frequency is on the rise.”
- The New York Times claimed, “strong storms are becoming more common in the Atlantic Ocean.”
- The Washington Post said, “climate change is rapidly fueling super hurricanes.”
- ABC News declared, “Here’s how climate change intensifies hurricanes.”
- Both the FT and N.Y. Times showed graphs purporting to show rising hurricane frequency using data from the U.S. government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
All of those claims are false.
So the first claim is that hurricane damage is increasing. But why is that? It’s because the areas being hit by hurricanes are more developed and populated than before:
The increasing cost of hurricane damage can be explained entirely by more people and more property in harm’s way. Consider how much more developed Miami Beach is today compared to a century ago. Once you adjust for rising wealth, there is no trend of increasing damage.
What about the frequency of hurricanes. Is it really increasing, like the no-STEM-degree journalists say?
Claims that hurricanes are becoming more frequent are similarly wrong. “After adjusting for a likely under-count of hurricanes in the pre-satellite era,” writes NOAA, “there is essentially no long-term trend in hurricane counts. The evidence for an upward trend is even weaker if we look at U.S. landfalling hurricanes, which even show a slight negative trend beginning from 1900 or from the late 1800s.” What’s more, NOAA expects a 25% decline in hurricane frequency in the future.
NOAA expects a 25% decline in hurricane frequency in the future! That doesn’t sound like what the global warming alarmists would predict.
The no-STEM-degree journalists also claim that the intensity of the hurricanes is increasing. Are they right about that?
Explains NOAA, “after adjusting for changes in observing capabilities (limited ship observations) in the pre-satellite era, there is no significant long-term trend (since the 1880s) in the proportion of hurricanes that become major hurricanes.“ Bottom line? “We conclude that the historical Atlantic hurricane data at this stage do not provide compelling evidence for a substantial greenhouse warming-induced century-scale increase in: frequency of tropical storms, hurricanes, or major hurricanes, or in the proportion of hurricanes that become major.”
This is important, because the NOAA said it: “there is no significant long-term trend (since the 1880s) in the proportion of hurricanes that become major hurricanes.” I like that Shellenberger is quoting the NOAA, and not just giving his opinion.
Shellenberger contacted several of the journalists, but just got silence from them when he asked why they were misrepresenting the data.
Here’s one example:
Is it possible that the Financial Times reporter Aime Williams and her editors pulled the data from the NOAA website to make their graph, and mistakenly claimed that it shows more frequent hurricanes, but didn’t happen to read the website and its explicit warning that “After adjusting for a likely under-count of hurricanes in the pre-satellite era, there is essentially no long-term trend in hurricane counts”?
If that is indeed what occurred, then Williams and FT are guilty of journalistic malpractice of the highest order. But there is little reason to think that’s what happened. NOAA makes its warning relatively early on its web page and repeats it several times. And FT, like everyone else, has been covering this issue for decades not years.
I asked Williams in an email why she reported that hurricanes were increasing in frequency and intensity, against the best available science, and she did not respond. Whatever the case, FT should issue a retraction or a correction.
I tried to see what earned degrees Aime Williams has, but wasn’t able to find anything. It’s almost as if she doesn’t want people to know what she studied in school. I couldn’t find any work experience in the field of climate science, either. If she’s a writer, rather than a scientist, then maybe she just has degrees in English?
I find it suspicious, because if you google my real name, you’ll find the citation for my Master’s thesis in computer science, and my Linked In page with my 2 computer science degrees and over two decades of work experience in the field. Where are her degrees? Where is her work experience? If she doesn’t have any knowledge of these topics, then why should we trust her as an authority?