Don’t overhype the link between climate change and hurricanes

by Judith Curry

Doing so erodes scientific credibility — and distracts from the urgent need to shore up our vulnerability to storms’ impacts.

Here is the link to my op-ed in the National Review.  Full text below.

n the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian’s catastrophic impacts on the Bahamas, we have been reminded of the inevitability that some aspect of any damaging hurricane will be blamed on man-made climate change.

We first saw this after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, with the publication of two papers linking an increase in the strongest hurricanes to increasing sea-surface temperatures. As co-author of one these papers, I was astonished to see the outsize media and public attention that they garnered. Katrina was the first time people realized that a small amount of warming could have substantial adverse impacts. Since then, each hurricane has been viewed as an opportunity by activists to emphasize the urgent need to reduce fossil-fuel emissions.

Katrina also touched off an intense and publicly acrimonious debate among hurricane scientists about the quality of hurricane-intensity data and the effect of man-made climate change. “We anticipate that it may take another decade for observations to clarify the situation,” I wrote of the controversy in 2006. Since then, research on the climate dynamics of hurricanes has grown in leaps and bounds. But there remains substantial scientific debate surrounding the issue of hurricanes and climate change.

In 2013, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that:

Globally, there is low confidence in attribution of changes in tropical cyclone activity to human influence. This is due to insufficient observational evidence, lack of physical understanding of the links between anthropogenic drivers of climate and tropical cyclone activity, and the low level of agreement between studies as to the relative importance of [natural variability and man-made forcing].

Last month, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Task Force, consisting of eleven international experts on hurricanes and climate change, published two assessment reports. Unlike the IPCC’s, which focus on consensus statements, the WMO reports discussed disagreement among the authors, distinguishing the issues on which there was substantial agreement among the authors from those on which there was substantial disagreement owing in part to limited evidence.

Any convincing claim that man-made climate change has altered hurricane activity requires identifying a change in hurricane characteristics that can’t be explained by natural climate variability. The only conclusion on which there was high agreement among the WMO Task Team members was that there is low-to-medium confidence that the location of typhoons in the North Pacific has changed as a result of climate change. The team members disagreed as to whether any other observed alterations in hurricane activity could be said to have been discernibly influenced by man-made climate change.

The WMO reports discussed an number of more speculative statements about the relationship between hurricanes and climate change, which could very well be false and overseate the influence of man-made climate change. There is some evidence suggesting contributions from man-made climate change to: an increase in the average intensity of the strongest hurricanes since the early 1980s; an increase in the proportion of hurricanes reaching Category 4 or 5 in recent decades; and the increased frequency of Hurricane Harvey–like extreme precipitation events in the Texas region. There is also evidence suggesting a decrease in how fast hurricanes move, but that has not been attributed to man-made climate change with any confidence. The WMO Report states that there is disagreement among the authors about whether these trends reflect the influence of man-made climate change.

Why, then, is there so much hype about man-made climate change in the news media after every catastrophic hurricane? Rather than referencing these assessment reports, sensationalized news coverage of the issue tends to lean on activist climate scientists with little or no expertise in hurricanes, implying that their speculative perspective represents the “consensus.”

Insofar as there is any such “consensus,” it is a weak one. Climate and hurricane scientists continue to have a range of perspectives on the impact of man-made climate change on hurricanes. The frequent disagreements among them help move the debate forward, adding to our collective scientific knowledge of the issues involved for everyone’s benefit.

My own perspective is described in a comprehensive Special Report on Hurricanes and Climate Change that was prepared for the clients of my company, Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN). My report is broadly consistent with the WMO’s assessment reports, but maintains a greater focus on aspects of hurricanes that contribute to landfall impacts and on the role of natural climate variability in explaining the observed variability of hurricanes and their impacts.

All measures of Atlantic hurricane activity have increased since 1970, although comparably high levels of activity occurred during the 1950s and 1960s, and higher levels of activity were seen in the first decades of the 20th century. Of the 13 strongest recorded hurricanes to hit the U.S. mainland, only three have occurred since 1970: Andrew (1992), Charley (2004), and Michael (2018). Four of these 13 hurricanes — including the strongest, the Labor Day hurricane that hit Florida in 1935 — occurred between 1926 and 1935, when sea-surface temperatures were substantially cooler than they’ve been in recent decades. Hence it is difficult to support an argument that man-made climate change, which has been significant only since 1970, is making hurricanes worse.

Predictions of future hurricane activity are even more uncertain. Possible scenarios in which hurricanes could incrementally worsen over the course of the 21st century are described in the WMO Report. But they don’t change the fundamental fact that hurricanes become catastrophes through a combination of large populations, land-use practices and coastal-ecosystem degradation.

My recent testimony to the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee described ways that we can reduce vulnerability to hurricanes. Rapidly escalating hurricane damage in recent decades owes much to government policies that subsidize risk. The most politically important hurricane that you have probably never heard of is the Category 3 Hurricane Frederic, which struck Alabama and Mississippi in 1979. Its landfall occurred shortly after FEMA was established, and prompted almost $250 million in federal aid for recovery. In 1992, following Hurricane Andrew, Robert Sheets, the then-director of the National Hurricane Center, testified to Congress that the aid for Frederic’s recovery had spurred development in the hurricane-prone regions of the Gulf Coast. Federal disaster policies provide humanitarian benefits, but also encourage the growth of regions vulnerable to hurricanes, which can make the damage from future storms worse. The political pressure on state insurance regulators that often holds down insurance premiums in risky coastal areas contributes to the problem, as well.

It does no one any good to proceed on the assumption that reducing fossil-fuel emissions will mitigate damage from future hurricanes in a meaningful way. The hype that links today’s hurricanes to man-made climate change is diverting our attention from implementing policies that can reduce our vulnerability to hurricanes, which by some measures were worse prior to 1970. These policies include fixing our federal disaster policies and state insurance policies, making better land-use decisions, improving building codes and coastal engineering, hardening infrastructure, and protecting coastal wetlands.
Overselling the possible effect of man-made climate change on hurricane impacts not only risks eroding scientific credibility, but also distracts from addressing our vulnerability to the storms themselves.

101 responses to “Don’t overhype the link between climate change and hurricanes

    • Steven W Van Ginkel

      Hi Dr. Curry, are you still responding to your GT email? Can you please email me at (see below)? Thanks

  1. Dr Francis Manns

    We are preaching to the choir against a new religion. We need to convince the alarmist ‘scientists’ that this has been a blind alley of research. The consensus has been wrong. The moment YOU begin to believe YOUR own hypothesis YOU are a dead duck as a scientist. That’s not taught anywhere!

  2. Mark Jacobson’s been hyping the idea that offshore wind turbines are going to slow down hurricanes. I don’t think many experts are going to take him seriously, but a lot celebrities and politicians do.

    • (what happen when hurricane flatten da bumps?)

    • It might be easier to drop dry ice into an eye wall than try to keep the turbines together spinning at 100 mph.

    • That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard and does not pass the first smell test of any calculation. An average hurricane spends 5.2 x 10^19 Joules/day! How many windmills are we talking, 100,000? These folks are ignorant beyond even AOC.

      • “That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard and does not pass the first smell test of any calculation. An average hurricane spends 5.2 x 10^19 Joules/day! How many windmills are we talking, 100,000? These folks are ignorant beyond even AOC.”

        This is Jacobson we are talking about – same guy that came up with 100% renewables, then sued the authors of a study when that study pointed out he was nuts – oops – pointed out basic math errors

      • “How many windmills are we talking, 100,000?”

        You’re off by an order of magnitude! His 139 country road map calls for 935.000 (table — page 112)

      • I have been trying to ignore this subthread, but, a few things… windmills do take some energy out of the wind, but their machinery can only operate within a limited range, so as the wind speed increases the props must be feathered (that turns them into minimum profile relative to the wind) usually at a wind speed well below hurricane force, so the main energy conversion process ceases. So that only leaves drag on the blades and towers, turning the kinetic energy of the wind into… what…? Heat energy? That results in the spectacular pictures of flaming blades and nacelles trailing off into voluminous plumes of thick black smoke which must be good for the environment because Gangrene has continuously assured us that all things windmill can only be good for the environment.

        But even though I wish it were so, not every windmill catches fire in a hurricane, in fact those that immolate are a depressingly small percentage. So what about those that remain, how can they remove energy from a hurricane? Is he trying to tell us that an increase in hurricanes (either strength or frequency) will make the world turn faster? That must be it. (Do I have to insert the /sarc tag?)

      • “How many windmills are we talking, 100,000? ”

        In the ERL paper they consider several case. Between 22 242 and 74 619 7.5 MW Enercon turbines, with 126 m diameter rotors.
        Cut-off wind speed of 34 m/s, i.e. 122 km/h.
        So, at most with all 74619 turbines at full power they could remove at most 56 GW of power, i.e. ~ 4.84E+16 J/day… out of the 5.2E+19 J/day cited in another comment… or 0.09% of the total.
        Not much. :-(

      • To be fair to Jacobson, these turbine towers probably cause eddies and turbulence that helps disperse the hurricane, rather than absorb its energy. Still the numbers of turbines are ludicrous.

    • Is this even scientific, wind turbines to act as speed bumps for hurricanes. So if 97 percent of scientists agree that there is a real possibility of earth being wiped out by a meteor, we need to get Bruce Willis onto it.

  3. Pingback: Climate Forecast Lessons from Dorian – Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York

  4. “Any convincing claim that man-made climate change has altered hurricane activity requires identifying a change in hurricane characteristics that can’t be explained by natural climate variability.”

    Your focus on where severe hurricanes go, as opposed to how many there are, cannot be explained by the natural volatility or decadal variability of Amrican climate rhetoric alone.

    The 21st century has seen more Category 5 Atlantic storms in a decade than the 20th often saw in a quarter century.

    Integrate a few extra watts/m2 of greenhouse forcing over the thousand hour lifetime of a cyclone spanning a half-trillion m2, and the extra megajoules per square meter add up to a world of hurt.

    • If more big hurricanes cause us to use more energy to make us better prepared, perhaps it helps us avoid a world of hurt.

    • “The 21st century has seen more Category 5 Atlantic storms in a decade than the 20th often saw in a quarter century.”

      Do you have a source for this?

    • How many were there in the 19th Century? Or the 18th or 17th or the 16th. There is a massive knowledge gap to establish a baseline for what is normal. No one really knows absent an effect from a higher level of CO2 what went on in the Atlantic for the last 2,000 years.

    • “The 21st century has seen more Category 5 Atlantic storms in a decade than the 20th often saw in a quarter century.”

      Zero: number of aircraft obs of storms before mid twentieth century.
      Zero: number of satellite estimates before late twentieth century.
      Probably zero: number of early ship obs of cat 5 storms at eye wall.
      (smart captains avoided storms rather than pursuing obs).

      The record of US landfalling storms from 1850s doesn’t indicate change.
      If intensity really were increasing, would have to wonder why it only showed up in storms that didn’t chose to strike the US.

    • Also,

      GCMs want to create a hot spot.

      Were a hot spot of warming to occur, it would reduce convective potential energy. GFDL ( Isaac Held ) also realized that a hot spot would tend to increase winds aloft increasing shear.

      In tropical meteorology you may learn that all the tropics are conditionally unstable ( if lifting of the shallow near surface layer occurs, this air parcel then has positive buoyancy ). So hurricanes are not constrained by instability because there’s always conditional instability. Hurricanes are disrupted by shear. And, shear and sea surface temperature tend to be anti-correlated, which enables the confirmation bias that global warming would impose significant change.

    • Dr Roy to the rescue:

      Seitz is a hack with his own contrived stat. If he can find a way to deem the unproven as proof, he’s going to do it. Hey, Russel, do you think you’d let a contrarian get away with an argument as shallow as yours? (huh?!)…

      • Fourteen Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes occured in the last five decades of the 20th century.

        Thirteen have so far occured in the 21st.

        Will afonzarelli bet a case of good champagne that no more Atlantic Class 5 hurricanes will occur before New Year’s Eve 2015, or will he contrive a reason not to?

      • Russell

        2015.? I will take you up on that. Please send the champagne to me via Judith


      • I said good champagne, not a great vintage like 2015, and the bet , typos notwithstanding, is of course about the future of Class 5 Atlantic Hurricanes in a warming world.

        Will you bet a case of Bollngeri that the first quarter of the 21st century will host fewer such storms than did the last half of the 20th?

      • And yet the rate per decade in the 21st century barely edges out that of the 1930s when SSTs were much cooler than now. (WUWT, Russ?)…

      • OK, Fonzarelli here’s the final offer: put your wine cellar where your mouth is :

        If the first quarter of this century fails to outperform the last half of the 20th in producing Atlantic Class 5’s, you get the Bollinger, and if you lose, you owe Judith & TonyB half a case of Prosecco Inferiore each.

      • Seitz comes in here with his junk science and the humble fonz winds up losing a case of booze. (how does this happen?)

    • I am no scientist but I do understand that 50 or even 100 years is nothing in the bigger picture of climate and weather cycles. That said, what is your point with regard to storm intensity Russell? Not to mention the other variables that need to align for the “perfect storm”….

    • Cherrypicking.

      Too small of a sample size to yield significant results. The IPCC has already told you that once the data is corrected for the varying measurement methods over the years, the trend becomes indistinguishable from zero.

      …bet a case of good champagne that no more Atlantic Class 5 hurricanes will occur before New Year’s Eve 2015…”

      Suckers bet, since 2015 has already come and gone. Are you just copying and pasting comments as given to you by your handler, however long ago?

  5. Red94ViperRT10

    … improving building codes […] hardening infrastructure…

    I’m not sure I can agree with these two. As a registered engineer I work closely with all building trades, and in my estimation both of the above are about where they need to be. I use two examples from our own Air Force. In 1992 Hurricane Andrew made landfall on southern Florida, and amongst the devastation was Homestead Air Force Base. “The air base was all but destroyed by Hurricane Andrew, leaving it a ‘ghost town,’ reported Mike Clary in the newspaper [Los Angeles Times, 1993] story.” But, no lives were lost on the base itself. After the storm experts combed through the rubble to determine what had been destroyed and what could be saved, Congress appropriated money and the base was rebuilt (not for the first time, a 1945 hurricane closed the base ’til 1955). In the real world, other experts combed through the rubble and made recommendations to update building codes for higher wind-speeds, but they weren’t increased by much. Life went on.

    In 2018 Hurricane Michael came ashore directly over Tyndall AFB in the Florida panhandle. “After an initial assessment, it was determined that 100 percent of the buildings on the base were damaged or destroyed to the point that none of them are livable, a general told local media.” (The Weather Channel, Yet by January after, officials described the base as “…well on the road to recovery.” Again, no injuries were reported on base.

    Here’s the thing: we could build better, stronger buildings, but regardless how much you spend, no building is hurricane-proof. Somehow, someway, in fact in ways you never thought of, something can fail and the entire building can be destroyed. So why spend any more than we have been spending? Our experience with death or even injury seems to indicate that personnel are adequately protected, the infrastructure is sufficient to enable safe evacuation of all personnel and those that stay behind have stayed in buildings sufficient to withstand the storm, and the buildings that need to be can be rebuilt (granted, that’s with tax dollars, i.e., other-peoples’-money) after the storm. I think by now we have enough data points, someone with more knowledge than I can do a Life-Cycle-Cost-Analysis to compare how much money we have spent on rebuilding bases, how far that amount of money could go in building better buildings, and guestimating if that better is enough better to be worth the added cost. I think you will find it is not worth spending any more than we have been spending.

    I know someone who says, “We don’t even plan for storms of the past.” but I think they’re being a little short-sighted. We have planned for storms of the past, and we are doing a much better job (not perfect, some people still die in storms, but better) at protecting life and limb, and I contend we have reached a balance point (it may be a broad balance point) with regard to how much we spend on building a building relative to how much we spend on rebuilding them.

    • FL building codes are quite good; they are pretty much nonexistent in other locations, notably TX

      Is there any good reason to locate power plants (including nuclear) on hurricane prone coasts?

      • Red94ViperRT10

        Is there any good reason to locate power plants (including nuclear) on hurricane prone coasts?

        Umm… cuz that’s where the people live? Transmitting power is not without penalty, the further it has to go the more that is lost. So they’re built on the coast. The plants themselves survive hurricanes pretty well, what knocks out the power is damage to the transmission lines. And that is often quite limited damage.

      • A cat 5 was forecast. As an engineer I headed to an evacuation shelter. Next time I head for the hills inland. It hit as a high cat 2 – with minimal damage to post 1996 housing. We had no power for a week – mostly through extensive damage to local lines.

        And I suspect that access to fuel and cooling water are bigger factors in siting.

      • “Is there any good reason to locate power plants (including nuclear) on hurricane prone coasts?”

        Seawater is good for cooling power plants (including nuclear). Just ask the folks at the Crystal River Energy Complex in Florida:

  6. “Hence it is difficult to support an argument that man-made climate change, which has been significant only since 1970, is making hurricanes worse.”
    How significant has man-made climate change been since 1970? There is wide disagreement on the answer to this question with quite a lot of evidence that it is very small. Salby, Harde, and Berry convincingly argue that it is tiny from first principles. Many others like Fleming 2018 derive a tiny influence from data. If these scientists are correct there is almost no human caused climate change to change hurricanes.

    • “…man-made climate change, which has been significant only since 1970, is making hurricanes worse.”
      How significant has man-made climate change been since 1970?

      Human CO2 emissions increased markedly from the late 1950s-early 1960s, and global temperature started increasing again in 1976. Man-made climate change prior to that cannot have been on the same scale as after that. This is an important issue because the early 20th century warming was not only comparable in intensity, but also in accompanying weather phenomena like droughts, heat waves, and as the article mentions, hurricanes.

      It is one of those facts that don’t fit the hypothesis and are seldom discussed outside the skeptic blogosphere.

      • It is one of those facts that don’t fit the hypothesis and are seldom discussed outside the skeptic blogosphere.

        These days, Javier, i’ve noticed that alarmists are flat out ignoring the facts, as you say. About five years ago, the alarm crowd largely avoided talking about early 20th century warming. And i says to myself i’ll bet my bottom dollar that they begin claiming that early 20th century warming was anthropogenic, too. And, sure enough, they indeed have started claiming that. (our very own jimd had become a big proponent of the idea before he flew the climate, etc coup)…

      • It seems another fonz has taken to jumping the shark:

        afonzarelli | September 10, 2019 at 3:16 pm …

        I’ve noticed that alarmists are flat out ignoring the facts… About five years ago, the alarm crowd largely avoided talking about early 20th century warming. And i says to myself i’ll bet my bottom dollar…

        afonzarelli | September 10, 2019 at 6:41 pm |
        And yet the rate per decade in the 21st century barely edges out that of the 1930s when SSTs were much cooler than now. (WUWT, Russ?)…

      • We don’t have any idea what SSTs were in the early 30’s.

      • JCH: Estimation of natural and anthropogenic contributions to twentieth century temperature change.

        What natural processes caused the early 20th century warming? How does anyone know (or what evidence is there) that the processes stopped?

        I think that right now those are significant open questions. Estimation of the effect of CO2 on global mean temp depends on the answers.

      • SST’s? Yes they do. (and just because somebody said something at a conference several years ago means nothing at all.)

        Early 20th-century warming and mid-century cooling present no problem whatsoever to AGW. NOAA’s Tom Knutson nailed it: small possibility the pause could continue; also a possibility there could be a springbuck warming. We got the springback warming.

      • JCH, from the paper by Yamanouchi:

        never been attributed to any single reason.
        It is likely that the early 20th century warming in
        the Arctic was due to a combination of intrinsic
        internal natural climate variability and positive feedbacks that amplified radiative and atmospheric forcing.
        (Kaufman et al., 2009). Most of the internal climate
        variability explained by models was of decadal or
        shorter time scale. However, observed early 20th
        century warming was inter- or multi-decadal. So,
        additional factor needs to work, and that should be
        external forcing and positive feedbacks exist in the
        Arctic climate system. It is not possible for a single
        factor to explain the entire warming event. The relative
        importance and contribution of each warming agent
        has not yet been resolved.

        That reads to me as though the question of early 20th century warming is open.

        Thank you for the link to the paper. I’ll reread it.

  7. “Why, then, is there so much hype about man-made climate change in the news media after every catastrophic hurricane?”

    I’m surprised this question is even posed, since we all know the answer: propaganda value.

    Some years ago I was challenged by a colleague to show that hurricanes were not increasing. A simple plot of the number of hurricanes that make landfall in the US going back to about 1880 when statistics were first available shows a slight downward slope. I used landfall because that is the measure that has the longest reliable history. My guess is that a plot today would show a more downward slope due to the 11 year hiatus of landfall events.

    • bigterguy

      I posted this in reply to Russell a few days ago but it is equally valid as a response and endorsement of your comment

      “As regards ‘more and more frequent hurricanes some activists seem unaware of the hurricane drought over the last 12 years, noted in 2016 by the ‘Washington Post’ the U.S. equivalent of the excitable ‘Guardian’. The respected American GFDL,contributed 14 scientists on six chapters of the IPCC assessment in 2013 and noted; (edited for brevity)

      “Existing records of past Atlantic tropical storm or hurricane numbers (from 1878 to present) in fact do show a pronounced upward trend…. However, the density of reporting ship traffic over the Atlantic was relatively sparse during the early decades of this record, such that if storms from the modern era (post 1965) had hypothetically occurred during those earlier decades, a substantial number of storms would likely not have been directly observed by the ship-based “observing network of opportunity.”

      We find that, after adjusting for such an estimated number of missing storms, Statistical tests indicate that this trend is not significantly distinguishable from zero (Figure

      The 12 year Hurricane dearth since 2006 is the longest in the 140 year record. The phraseology usefully illustrates that, as with ships, there are far more people and sophisticated equipment to observe significant weather events today than in the past .

      So it is remarkable that numerous records still exist to illustrate the often severe nature of historic weather even though, statistically, many more events must have occurred than we are aware of. Floods are undoubtedly a serious problem as so many people insist on living next to water. Should the weather of the past recur, this has obvious implications as the worst occurrences of floods appear not in modern times but historically, as those examining centuries long weather records- rather than modern satellite records –recognise.


  8. Typo: “false and overseate the influence”

  9. Kudos to Judith Curry for taking the time (and risking attack) to reach the public directly by publishing her eminently sensible observations in the National Review.

  10. Since CO2 levels will continue to rise steeply regardless of what “we” (in the West) do, almost all our focus should be on adaptation and no-regrets measures, not CO2 mitigation.

    • This is the key point. The climate discussion is bogged down and it’s been well documented that even some (or many) of the scientists in related fields themselves have often become polarized and politicized.

      But to my knowledge there is little doubt about what the best policy is. The Copenhagen Consensus group rated R&D into alternative energy as having a $15 benefit per dollar spent vs. $2 dollars and less for other policies like immediate CO2 mitigation.

      This is a no regret policy that would have the unquestionable benefit of advancing a low cost replacement for coal and hedging against fossil fuel reserves becoming more expensive to access. To my eye even an extreme skeptic would happily support some level of R&D, at a minimum as an alternative to more costly and futile Paris Accord type strategies. At the same time anyone concerned about potential costs of warming should be able to recognize this is the best option as a climate change policy too.

      I think this is what we need to focus the climate change debate on.

      • Spending billions (or trillions) on wasteful and disruptive renewables is the very opposite of a no regrets policy.

        As for adaptation, we are already adapted. If you want to throw more money at adaptation, then justify it, if you can, which I doubt.

      • The problem is that trillions are going to be spent regardless. John Stossel in criticizing it reported that even a majority of Republicans support the idea of a Green New Deal.

        Huge amounts of money in fact have already been spent, in a comparatively wasteful manner. German citizens living under a regime of more than doubled electricity prices could tell you all about that. I’ve heard that hundreds of thousands have had energy cut off because they couldn’t pay the bill anymore.

        As such, even if there is no benefit in terms of reducing costs of warming several decades from now in investing in R&D it still has several advantages. The amount of spending proposed is around a third of the Paris Accords. It costs less. Not only that, but because it doesn’t cost people directly in energy bills or carbon taxes it also has less of a cost on low to middle income people who pay less of the overall tax burden which is where R&D would draw funding from. Because it also addresses the unquestionable problem of coal emissions it can be guaranteed to have some level of benefit regardless of future warming costs. And the costs of coal are severe. Beyond that, it also hedges our bets against the risk of future fossil fuel scarcity which is a reasonable concern in a growing world economy.

        Changing the policy debate to favour R&D in new energy sources is no regrets because the policies already on the ground are already wasting money and disrupting the energy system, leading to things like brownouts in Australia. R&D doesn’t do that and with respect to coal it isn’t a waste of money. Economists who project warming to have more benefits than costs until 2080 rate R&D as having a $15 dollar benefit per dollar spent based on projected costs of further warming after that. Even if you don’t believe that will be the case, there is no question that R&D is the best alternative to inevitable spending on climate policies that will happen and already has happened. This is where we need to take the debate.

  11. From God-made climate to man-made climate we have gone full swing past nature-made climate.

    From an alarmist blog when somebody was trying to say that there is no evidence that man is making hurricanes worse, the answer:

    “Tell that to the surviving citizens of Bahamas and Puerto Rico.”

    Emotional arguments win the debate anytime.

    • When I got to the Sistine Chapel in 2007, I was (for various reasons) in a state of collapse. The flow of visitors is huge, you can’t stand and stare, you have to keep moving though. However, I was given a chair out of the visitor stream and a glass of water and allowed to stay as long as I felt necessary. A side benefit from being unwell. :-)

  12. Svend Ferdinandsen

    I have one minor complaint to the excelent article.
    Reduce the use of “climate change” and call it what it is Global Warming.
    Climate change could be anything, also Global Cooling.

  13. Climate is always changing.
    There are always hurricanes.
    The hurricane story is rien de rien.
    If you don’t like wind go and live on the moon.

  14. “Accurate seasonal and decadal predictions of tropical cyclone activity are essential for the development of mitigation strategies for the 2.7 billion residents living within cyclone prone regions. The traditional indices (Southern Oscillation Index and various sea surface temperature indices) have fallen short in recent years as seasonal predictors within the Australian region. The short length of these records (i.e., <50 years) has meant that our current knowledge of larger‐scale drivers at interdecadal, centennial, and millennial scales is limited. The development of a new tropical cyclone activity index spanning the last 1500 years has enabled the examination of tropical cyclone climatology at higher temporal resolution than was previously possible. Here we show that in addition to other well‐known climate indices, solar forcing largely drives decadal, interdecadal, and centennial cycles within the tropical cyclone record."

    Low confidence implies limits on what science can say about the world. If it is change against a background of extreme variability that is of interest – then knowledge of background variability is needed. But even that says little about what future change as tipping points in the Earth system might emerge when triggered by even small anthropogenic changes.

    The study linked above is part of a body of work on centennial to millennial changes in the frequency and intensity of cyclones in the Australian region. While solar forcing – sunspot extremes rather than averages – of Australian cyclone intensity and frequency is of intrinsic scientific interest – it is just one part of a complex puzzle that is yet insoluble.

    There are random and chaotic elements to cyclone formation and movement and the closest we can get to a causal factor in variability is shifts in the Pacific state. The study suggests that there is a solar trigger for shifts in the Pacific state. Including from solar magnetic reversals in the Hale cycle. In the language of chaos – it is a control variable that pushes the system past a threshold and a new state emerges from internal dynamics.

    For things that are random, chaotic and unpredictable – there are lots of stories told. Off shore wind warms slowing cyclones caught my attention. In a world where even building in cities randomly and chaotically changes precipitation and flooding – such simple minded stories are the distraction.

  15. The duraton of a scientific hoax, using for example the Piltfown Man hoax, and 2008, as the official beginning of the global warming alarmism hoax and (scare tactic) known as AGW theory, as marked by the picture known as, Polar-Bear-Gate was 2008, we have comparatively quick unravling of the hoax as of 2019– about 11 years which compares to 50 years for, the Piltfown scam. One of the big differences in duration is that due to changes in communication, we’re seeing the perpetrators of the hoax being exposed real time, far faster than what occurred back in the early 1900s. Another big difference these two scams is the relative size and power of political and economic interests in both the creation in maintenance of the AGW hoax.

    • They frighten people to get them to spend more money for less abundant and reliable energy. Makes them rich and powerful!

      relative size and power of political and economic interests in both the creation in maintenance

      LOOK WHERE “THEY” LIVE AND HOW “THEY” TRAVEL, AND WHAT “THEY” TELL “the less fortunate people” how “they” must live and travel.

  16. Natural variation completely dominates hurricanes via the sun & El Ninos:

    • For a more informed and less opinionated explanation, try the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society’s two part assessment of the impact on tropical storms of climate change :

      T. Knutson, S.J. Camargo, J.C.L. Chan, K. Emanuel, C. Ho, J. Kossin, M. Mohapatra, M. Satoh, M. Sugi, K. Walsh, and L. Wu,
      “Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change Assessment: Part I. Detection and Attribution”,

      Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2019.

      T. Knutson, S.J. Camargo, J.C.L. Chan, K. Emanuel, C. Ho, J. Kossin, M. Mohapatra, M. Satoh, M. Sugi, K. Walsh, and L. Wu,

      “Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change Assessment: Part II. Projected Response to Anthropogenic Warming”,

      Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2019.

      • These two BAMS papers were heavily cited in my op-ed.

      • LInks to science journals in National Review are a commndible innovation but it has not escaped notice that your op-ed mirrors Joshua Goldberg’s September 6 NR editoral:
                Climate Change Is a Real Concern — Not an Existential Crisis

        The idea that all life on this planet is in jeopardy if America doesn’t wean itself from fossil fuels is just hyperbole.

        ‘Climate change is an existential crisis,” Senator Elizabeth Warren declared Tuesday, unveiling her plan to fight climate change …

        The use of the term “existenTial crisis” is ironic… An existential crisis is when you’re overcome with panic or dread about your place in the world or your purpose in the universe. If you’re depressed and ask “What’s it all about?” you might be having an existential crisis.

        A giant asteroid barreling toward earth is an existential threat, midlife adultery is a sign of an existential crisis.

        The irony is that concern over climate change — which is a real and legitimate concern — seems derived more from an existential crisis than from an existential threat.”

      • Thanks for those links. I read p1 and some of p2. I am impressed by a more conservative attitude than I expected although the search for and assignment to human attribution for some TC activity still continues with low confidence. Continually casting about for human CO2 attributions is a distraction.

        I do attributions differently. Their part one mentioned attribution for 6 Hawaiian hurricanes in 2014, so I put this collage together using wikipedia images and TSI w/daily solar data to show 2014 tropical storms, hurricanes and cyclones were responses to TSI spikes (best seen zoomed in):

        It’ll take near real-time predictions and observations of 2014-like heavy activity during the top of the next solar cycle before the current crop of climateers will believe a 100% solar attribution if they can see it at all.

        I would like to warn people about something. If the sea surface temperature climbs in response to more high activity solar cycles, higher levels of CO2 will be outgassed by the ocean, and high total ACE such as since 1980 will continue, but it won’t be because of CO2.

        Temperature, CO2, Ninos, and hurricanes are all driven by solar activity, so everything in the two part papers associated with human emissions being related to those four things is ‘counter-factual’.

  17. Ireneusz Palmowski

    30-day loop of analyzed 50-hPa temperatures and anomalies. Each frame is an eleven-day mean, centered on the date indicated in the title, of 50-hPa temperature and anomalies from the NCEP Climate Data Assimilation System (CDAS). Contour interval for temperatures is 4 C, anomalies are indicated by shading. Anomalies are departures from the 1981-2010 daily base period means.

    Soon the polar vortex anomalies will reach the lower atmosphere.

  18. One question remains: the simple thermodynamics- increasing SST in the Main Development Regieon( MDR) increases the available energy for hurricanes,therefore it must get worse- doesen’t work. There are many papers out describing this problem. Many of them found a solution, as this current paper where they state:
    “…that relative SSTs (defined as the difference between MDR SSTs and global tropical mean SSTs) is a good predictor of annual hurricane frequency.” ( The anthropgenic forcing doesn’t make a difference in the warming of these regions, it’s a “common mode signal” for the mentioned difference. Therefore the other sources ( internal variability) will gouvern the hurricane activity also in the future. It seems to be very simple. Somebody should deliver this message to the overseller of anthropogenic forcing when it comes to hurricanes.

    • Somebody? The mainstream (liberal) media is awash with human caused hurricane damage. Under the Paris Accord these AGW damages are now to be reported by each country. Who is your mythical somebody?

      It is important to understand the situation as is. Your somebody does not exist.

  19. Ireneusz Palmowski

    In January, sudden stratospheric warming is possible in the north, in the conditions of La Niña.

  20. Here’s a blog post from Dr Spencer weighing in on the issue of hurricane intensity:

  21. “Sensitive dependence and structural instability are humbling twin properties for chaotic dynamical systems, indicating limits about which kinds of questions are theoretically answerable.”

    People’s concern for climate change is influenced by the last extreme weather event. In this political reality – not seeing major changes in cyclone intensity and frequency against a background of decadal to millennial variability – on the basis of a few decades of data -seems beside the point both socially and scientifically. Nor does it address the future elephant in the spatio-temporal chaotic room.

    Declaring that there are other factors in cyclogenesis – it’s the sun stupid for instance – with reference to ridiculously short data series – is irrelevant, blindingly obvious and scientifically ludicrous.

    Calling it a hoax is staking out a claim to political impotency.

  22. It’s called opportunity cost. Alarmists are calling for elimination of fossil fuels in favor of expensive energy sources that are known to be unreliable. We are wasting money on a massive scale on unworkable “solutions” to address a non-problem.

  23. Ireneusz Palmowski

    A tropical storm can develop into a hurricane.

  24. Ireneusz Palmowski

    A tropical storm will pass over Florida to the Gulf of Mexico.

  25. Ireneusz Palmowski

    The tropical storm is threatening the northern Bahamas again.

  26. Overselling the possible effect of man-made climate change on hurricane impacts eroded scientific credibility and distracted from addressing vulnerability to the storms themselves AND DISTRACTED FROM RECOGNIZING THE HARM DONE BY FIXES THAT WERE SUPPOSED TO HELP!

    • Red94ViperRT10

      …which is what hurricanes have always done. Did you have a point pertinent to the current discussion?

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