Data refutes the assertion that extreme weather is becoming more frequent or severe. As a result, climate change cannot be behind the rise in weather related damage. The real reason is a matter of demographics and economics, especially population growth and increased development in natural disaster-prone areas.
CNN claims that the United States experiences a weather event costing $1 billion in damage every three weeks, as opposed to “40 years ago, when extreme weather episodes that cost an inflation-adjusted $1 billion happened once every four months on average.” This figure comes from the Biden administration’s recent National Climate Assessment (NCA) report.
What CNN neglects to mention in their effort to tie rising disaster costs to climate change is that property values – both in the form of objects like houses, cars, and home goods, as well as land values – have increased over time. This obviously contributes to the rising costs of damages, with or without inflation factored in. In addition, more people than ever before insure their property, under various government backed flood, disaster, and crop insurance programs.
Coastal development has increased over time as well, and the total number of people (and their possessions) has also increased in the United States, particularly in states like Florida, Texas, and California, which are prone to natural disasters like hurricanes, severe droughts, and wildfires, all of which damage property. (See figure below)
Florida’s population, for example, has nearly doubled since 1983, putting an additional 10 million people in harm’s way when hurricanes strike there. Population and associated development has also increased in most other coastal locations and along attractive rivers and streams, meaning when hurricanes occur or rivers rise, more people are at ground zero for harm.
The Daily Callerinterviewed University of Colorado professor and climate researcher Roger Pielke, Jr., who explained plainly that “[t]here is no peer reviewed science that attributes any part of increasing disaster losses to changes in climate,” says economic data is not a good metric for making claims about climate change, largely because of the economic conditions that change regardless of the weather.
Regarding the point on temperature, CNN does not elaborate on how higher temperatures will cause more costly damage, except that they say “agricultural losses” and “worker injuries” are counted among the NCA report’s damage calculations. This is nebulous at best, but crop production in the United States has been increasing over the same period of modest warming, and worker injuries don’t appear to be getting more common, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. (See figure below)
There has been no increase in heatwaves in the United States, either, with the most extreme recorded summer heat in U.S. history was during the 1930s, well before climate alarmists claim there was accelerated human-caused warming.
Weather and natural disasters certainly result in billions of dollars in cost each year, but using economic figures as proof of a climate catastrophe is misleading. Not only has extreme weather not become worse in the United States over time, but the NCA report and CNN both ignore myriad the other factors, like population growth and greater development, that result in higher damages costs now than in the past when extreme weather and other types of disasters strike.
Human-started fires: denialist meme or growing problem, Part 1
Discounting volcanoes and meteorites, there are two types of ignition sources for wildfires – dry lightning and humans. We may further sub-divide human ignition sources into accidental and deliberate.
Deliberate fires, including wildfires, are nothing new, and examples abound. But there are some key questions about wildfire arson that it would useful to have answers to. What proportion of fires are arson? Is it increasing? What motivates arsonists? Is their motivation changing?
The question of what proportion of wildfires are arson has become a minor skirmish in the climate wars. One side likes to emphasize arson as a way of diminishing the role of climate change; the other side likes to diminish arson as a way of emphasizing the importance of climate change. As usual, I prefer to find out the truth. The truth, after all, is the only useful answer, except as propaganda.
Naturally this topic is going to take up more than a single blog post – it wasn’t when I started, but then the earth started falling away beneath my feet. So my explorations will emerge in bite-sized digestible chunks, I hope, of which this in an introductory.
My starting point was the 2019-20 Australian bushfires – “Black Summer.” What did the 2020 Royal Commission say about arson? I obtained the 594-page document, went CTRL-F, typed “arson”, and found two hits… both relating to the name “Carson.” The word “arson” is not in the Royal Commission report, anywhere. You would think the Royal Commission might find it worthwhile to report what it found about the causes of fires. But they don’t. Beyond the boiler-plate climate change genuflections, there is nothing at all about ignition sources. [A slight exaggeration; they note that pyrocumulonimbus clouds can create dry lightning far ahead of fire fronts, and start new fires there.] [Note: New South Wales’s own Inquiry found that most of the largest fires were started by lightning, and that none of the large ones were arson.]
But we know that arson played at least a small role in the 2019-20 bushfires, so this seems a strange omission on the part of the Royal Commission. Perhaps the deliberate fires were small and easily contained? It would be useful to know. It would also be useful to know what motivated the arsonists. Pyromaniacs, or motivated by self-interest, thrill-seeking, or acting out a role in an apocalyptic cult?
I wonder what Wiki says. Wiki is a trustworthy source, isn’t it? Its page on the 2019-20 bushfires has a subsection titled “Exaggerated extent of arson,” which is not matched by an equivalent subsection titled “Exaggerated extent of climate change.” In these paragraphs, Wiki takes pains to discount the role of arson. Arson, it is claimed, is a denialist ploy. Its first excerpt (from The Guardian) makes clear its position:
The Guardian reported “Bot and troll accounts are involved in a ‘disinformation campaign’ exaggerating the role of arson in Australia’s bushfire disaster, social media analysis suggests… The false claims are, in some cases, used to undermine the link between the current bushfires and the longer, more intense fire seasons brought about by climate change.”
Well, we will get to the longer and more intense fire seasons brought about by climate change another day. Suffice it to say that according to Wiki we need to move on from discussion of arson.
Giovanni Torre wrote for The Telegraph that “Australia’s bushfire crisis has led to what appears to be a deliberate misinformation campaign started by climate-change deniers claiming arson is the primary cause of the ongoing fires… Social media accounts, including Donald Trump Jr’s Twitter account, circulated the false claim that 183 people had been arrested for arson during the Australian fire crisis…”
To its credit, Wiki immediately admits that 183 people were in fact arrested in connection with the fires – but only 24 in connection with arson. But up and down and front to back, arson as a potential cause is diminished.
Without knowing anything about the frequency of arson, an obvious default assumption is that it is generally increasing. That is because, if we take as an assumption that a constant low proportion of people start fires, then as the population grows, so will the population of firestarters. We might also guess that, being human, arsonists are lazy. They won’t drive for hours into the bush and then hike ten miles from the nearest track to start a fire there. They’ll start one closer to home. If true, this has two consequences. First is that the fire is likely to be discovered faster and dealt with before it gets out of control. Second is that it begins in proximity to people, and has the direct potential to cause harm immediately, whereas remote natural fires have to gain quite a head of steam before they interact with people. In fact, in a modern technological society, a fire that starts in a remote place should be incapable of killing civilians in a not-remote place, as there should be plenty of time for evacuations. Something else we might wonder about is how easy it is to decide whether a particular fire was arson or not. (More on which on another day.)
Searching back through the archives of wildfiretoday.com, it is easy to find anecdotes about arson. Before Black Summer, Australia’s ABC ran a story about copycat firestarters in Western Australia:
“Bushfire media coverage causes ‘copycat’ fires, WA firefighter says”
Some guy’s ipse dixit, even if he knows what he’s talking about, is not great evidence. But what does he say?
Bushfires have dominated the news in Western Australia since the new year, but for volunteer firefighters, the 24-hour media coverage has a dark side. It is called copycat syndrome, which they believe is at least partly responsible for a spate of deliberately lit fires this season. “The more media exposure you get, you just seem to see the copycat syndrome, as we commonly call it, starting to come out,” said Dave Gossage, a volunteer firefighter for 34 years. “Sadly, in this space of deliberately lit fires, no matter who lights them, they often don’t understand the consequences. “You’ve only got to look at the Roleystone fires 12 months on and people are still rebuilding their homes.”Via Wildfiretoday.com
Dr Katarina Fritzon from the Centre for Arson Research at Queensland’s Bond University said about a third of fires nationally were deliberately lit but she believed only a small sub-group of arsonists fully understand the damage they can do. She described these offenders as people who are “particularly drawn to fire and get very excited by the stimulation that they get from setting fires”.Ibid.
Going back further, to the “Black Saturday” fires of the 2008-9 bushfire season, arson was blamed for the death of ten:
Brendan Sokaluk, 39, appeared on Tuesday in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in Australia via video link from prison. He is facing 191 charges related to one of the fires that burned across Victoria on February 7, including 10 counts of arson causing death, intentionally causing a bushfire, criminal damage, recklessly causing injury, and possessing child pornography.Via Wildfiretoday.com
Sokaluk was thrown in jail, and may by now have been released, according to these news snippets:
And another from Black Saturday:
Two teenage boys were arrested for starting a fire in Australia on Black Saturday last February 7 in which a disabled resident burned to death. The Maiden Gully fire near Bendigo killed Kevin “Mick Kane, 48, destroyed 60 homes, caused $29 million in damages, and burned 875 acres.Via Wildfiretoday.com
Nevertheless, there is a lot less evidence for widespread arson in the 2019-20 season. Searching for news on this you will find that climate change is squarely blamed; and as with Wiki, many outlets place any mention of arson as a mark of denialism.
But if you delve into the archives, it was not always thus. The Sydney Morning Herald was willing to run an article on arson in New South Wales in January 2020 (i.e. in the middle of Black Summer).
A data collation and investigation plan has been developed to review the cause and impacts of the more than 1700 bushfires already reported to police; and consider the 12,000 fires recorded by the Rural Fire Service since August 2019,” police said in a statement released on Friday. Of those 1700, police say that 716 were deliberate lit.
Another 745 were of an undetermined cause, while 156 were caused naturally, police believe.
New figures provided by police on Friday showed that legal action has been taken against 55 people for fires that were allegedly deliberately lit since August 1. That figure includes people dealt with under mental health provisions, those given cautions and those charged with criminal offences. Legal action has also been taken against 126 people for allegedly failing to comply with a total fire ban, against 41 for throwing out a lit cigarette and against 70 juveniles for bushfire-related offences.SMH, op. cit.
Note that the numbers of different causes do not add up to the total number of bushfires, even given that one of the “causes” is “undetermined.” But the upshot appears to be that the largest fires of Black Summer were started by lightning. Quite a few fires were started by arsonists, but (reading between the lines and applying Psychology 101) these were close to human habitation and quickly spotted and stifled. There is always the lurking possibility that a truly nefarious human could be bothered to drive 20 miles out of town and start a fire in such a way that it would be later ascribed to the weather, but we have no evidence of that.
More on arson in a future episode. I will also hopefully get around to covering dry lightning and how it is likely to change in frequency going forwards, if at all. There are also one or two other things to clear up.
But for now, I leave you with a Wednesday bonus story from the 2019-20 bushfire season. Not a story about arson, but about how bovine stupidity can cause a rapid conflagration when the conditions are right (with apologies for the language; I’m sure there are actually fruitier exchanges between the parties on record but I can’t find them any more):
“Are we authorised to land in some of these areas for the guys to get out and have a piss?” [an anonymous presumably male major] said.The Guardian
Well, the guys landed their chopper and got out – but their bladders were not full enough to counter what happened next:
Smoke and visibility issues meant the landing light was switched on, but “the heat from the aircraft’s landing light caused the dry grass which the aircraft came in contact with to ignite”.
“Within 3-5 seconds of touch down a fire was ignited underneath the aircraft, which was fanned by the rotor wash,” Defence documents said.ABC
The guys hot-footed it back aboard, and by now apparently bursting, made a bee-line straight back to the airfield. They arrived 45 minutes [According to the ABC; The Guardian says 17 minutes] later, and mentioned in passing to some guy leaning on a broom that they might have started a fire somewhere, while vaguely waving in the direction of Namadgi. Meanwhile smoke had already been seen, and spotters were running around like decapitated chickens trying to find the source. By the time they did, it was too late to snuff the fire out.
The fire, which burned for five weeks, was declared out of control after 6pm [4.5 hours after it was started] when more than 1,000ha were alight and would eventually grow to burn 87,923ha throughout the ACT.The Guardian, op.cit.
Note: refer also to John’s piece from two years ago on the Greek wildfires, and comments below.
A recent article in the Sacramento Bee (The Bee) claims that this year’s mild wildfire season in California shouldn’t be attributed to climate change, and also that climate change has caused California wildfires to be more severe. The first point is partially true, a single season’s mild weather should not be attributed to climate change, but neither should extremes in the other direction. The second point is false, climate change has not in fact increased the severity of California’s wildfire seasons.
The number of acres burned so far this year is less than one third of the five-year average, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Experts attribute the drop to this year’s historic winter storms and a record snowpack that soaked the state.
But those atmospheric river storms also created ample new vegetation growth that can act as fuel, state fire officials said. And with the help of gusty fall winds in the weeks ahead, wildfires could still ignite and grow through November or even into December.
It is true that excess vegetation growth can add fuel to fires if and when the brush dries out, this is part of what happened in Maui this year that led to their devastating killer wildfire. Invasive Guinea grass grew lushly during a mild and wet spring, then dried out in the summer weather and created an abundance of extremely flammable material.
It is interesting to note that while the winter weather and atmospheric river events were intense this year in California, it was not unusual or historically unprecedented, as discussed in Climate Realism posts here, here, and here. The Bee goes on to say that unless wildfires suddenly spike this fall and winter, the state “will be experiencing its second straight year of mild wildfire after having endured California’s worst wildfire seasons on record.”
It’s almost as if an average is made up of higher-than-average years and lower-than-average years.
The real kicker from The Bee is what follows, that scientists “are confident that warming temperatures have helped increase the severity and length of fire seasons,” but on the flip side, they are “reticent” to make similar claims when the fire seasons are mild.
But they are wrong in the first point regardless, wildfires are not getting more severe or lasting amid climate change. Worldwide, the number of wildfires and acreage lost to them has actually declined over time. Climate Realism has pointed to the data in numerous posts. NASA satellite data show that carbon dioxide emissions have no impact whatsoever on wildfire occurrence. (See figure below)
The best explanations then for regional upticks in fires are differences in forest management practices, arson, as well as improper maintenance of power lines in the case of California, or combinations of factors that can lead to massive infernos.
California is particularly prone to seasons of drought a deluge, and one of the people interviewed by The Bee, Hugh Safford, chief scientist of Vibrant Planet and faculty of the UC Davis Department of Environmental Science and Policy, admits as much when he says “California has the highest inter-annual variability and precipitation of any state[.]” Safford says it’s “normal to go from a record wet year to a record, or nearly record, dry year and that’s just the way it is.” This is completely true, and is in line with what Climate Realism has reported regarding California weather history, explained in detail in “Mega-droughts and Mega-floods in the West All Occurred Well Before ‘climate change’ Was Blamed for Every Weather Event,” by meteorologist Anthony Watts.
The Sacramento Bee and the scientists they interviewed are probably right to hesitate to attribute two years of mild fire seasons to climate change, however they should practice the same caution when conditions are inevitably reversed at some point. The Bee does conclude its post by saying the state is doing better about fire prevention. They also quote California Fire’s assistant chief, who tells the public to maintain their properties to prevent the spread of potential fires. This is actually useful advice, and instead of blaming fires on human carbon dioxide emissions, they should pressure local governments to likewise take more initiative on clearing brush, logging dead trees, and other preventative measures.
Many people take the connection between climate change and extreme weather events — wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. — for granted. But the actual scientific data … tells a more complicated story.
Extreme weather events are everywhere and their connection to climate change is obvious.
At least … according to the media.
Many climate science researchers, however, make a more subtle claim: Climate change is real and humans are contributing to it — but there hasn’t been any corresponding explosion in extreme weather.
The result: scenarios like the media rushing to blame the 2023 Canadian wildfires on climate change — despite the fact that the research shows no evidence of Canada being at elevated risk for climate-related fires.
These misperceptions have real-world consequences: Attributing every bout of extreme weather to forces outside of our control can leave us feeling powerless. But there is a wide array of tools we can use to mitigate the consequences of the most dangerous kinds of weather events.
Hurricane Carol was the strongest Atlantic hurricane of 1953 in what was a quiet season. Its 160 mph winds fortunately stayed well away from any land, before making landfall in New Brunswick as a Cat 1 storm.
But it was out in the western Pacific where the year’s biggest storms played havoc, including three Cat 4 and four Cat 5 Super Typhoons:
Typhoon Judy – Cat 4 – hit the Japanese island of Kyushu, leaving 37 dead and 15 missing
Typhoon Kit – Cat 5 – although it had winds of 175 mph, it stayed away from land until it had considerably weakened.
Typhoon Nina – Cat 5 – the strongest typhoon in 1953, made landfall in China as Cat 4. Nina is believed to have had the 2nd lowest central pressure of any Western Pacific typhoon. Only Typhoon Tip in 1979 had lower.
Typhoon Rita – Cat 4 – again did not make landfall until it had weaken to a tropical storm
Typhoon Tess – Cat 5 – struck the Central Honshū Island in Japan. 393 people were killed and 85 were missing.
Typhoon Betty – Cat 4 – hit Hong Kong
Typhoon Doris – Cat 5 – A rare late-season Super Typhoon. Did not affect land.
1953 was one of the deadliest tornado years on record in the US, with 519 dead. There were five F5/EF5 tornadoes, the third most on record. In stark contrast, there have been no EF5s at all since the Moore Tornado in 2013.
Feb 6th – an F3 killed two people in Centerville, La
Feb 19th/20th – an outbreak of 15 tornadoes struck Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama leaving one dead.
March 12th to 15th – a major outbreak of 23 tornadoes, including an F4, hit areas from the Great Plains to the Ohio Valley, killing 21
March 21st/22nd – another outbreak killed three
April 18th – three strong and destructive tornadoes struck Alabama and Georgia, killing eight people
April 23rd/24th – another deadly outbreak killed two in Oklahoma
April 28th to May 2nd – a major tornado outbreak sequence struck areas from the Great Plains to the Southeast, producing 24 tornadoes, including five F4 tornadoes. Overall the death toll was 36
May 9th to 11th – Well known as the Waco Tornado Outbreak, at least 33 tornadoes hit the Great Plains and Upper Mississippi Valley killing 144. Of these, 114 died when Waco, Texas was obliterated by an F5, the deadliest tornado in Texas history
May 20th/21st – three intense tornadoes hit Iowa, Michigan and Ontario killing eight.
May 29th – an F5 hit Fort Rice, ND, killing two people.
June 7th to 9th – another notorious outbreak, known as Flint-Worcester, which hit the Great Plains, Great Lakes and even New England, and included five F4s and another F5. This outbreak was even deadlier than the Waco one. Overall, at least 50 tornadoes touched down, killing 247.
June 27th – yet another F5 destroyed four farms in Iowa, but luckily only one person died.
Dec 1st to 6th – five violent tornadoes, including an F5, something unheard of in December, hit the South. The F5 hit Vicksburg, MS, killing 38.
The Rattlesnake Fire was the most famous one that year, killing 15 firefighters after being started by an arsonist.
Overall 9,976,000 acres burnt in the US, compared to the average these days of 7,400,400.
A climate scientist describes how the consensus game works
It is a long-established principle of scientific enquiry that if you want to understand the structure of something, then just give it a bang and see how it rattles. It is a technique that crops up in a number of different guises from seismography and spectrography to magnetic resonance imaging; just excite something and stand back and enjoy the physics. But the same technique doesn’t have to be restricted to physical enquiry. Rattle any cage and the noises given off will tell you an awful lot about what you are dealing with. Take, for example, the recent cage-rattling of climate scientist Patrick T. Brown, formerly of John Hopkins University. Everything was just calypso and candy until he came along and caused a breach of the peace by suggesting in an article in The Free Press that journals such as Nature and Science were biased towards articles that are focussed upon a particular narrative. The accusations he was making suggested a problem with the structure, but it was actually the howling response that betrayed the structure of the problem.
The essence of Brown’s allegation is actually quite simple: Climate scientists are self-censoring particular details of their research because they anticipate that otherwise they may find difficulty in getting their studies published in the prestigious journals. In his particular case, Brown had deliberately omitted the key fact that 80% of wildfires were started by humans; an omission that facilitates the preferred narrative that wildfires are yet another indication that climate change risk is not just a concern for the future, but also one which is having a serious impact today. In his own words:
I knew not to try to quantify key aspects other than climate change in my research because it would dilute the story that prestigious journals like Nature and its rival, Science, want to tell. This matters because it is critically important for scientists to be published in high-profile journals; in many ways, they are the gatekeepers for career success in academia. And the editors of these journals have made it abundantly clear, both by what they publish and what they reject, that they want climate papers that support certain preapproved narratives—even when those narratives come at the expense of broader knowledge for society. To put it bluntly, climate science has become less about understanding the complexities of the world and more about serving as a kind of Cassandra, urgently warning the public about the dangers of climate change. However understandable this instinct may be, it distorts a great deal of climate science research, misinforms the public, and most importantly, makes practical solutions more difficult to achieve.
Readers of Cliscep will recognise this as a key concern of the sceptic. A great deal of trust is placed in scientific consensus, to the extent that its very existence substitutes for evidence. However, the way that communities work, scientific or otherwise, means that consensus can be a poor proxy for wisdom. In practice, scientists do not blindly follow where the evidence takes them. They undertake their journey of discovery within the constraints that society creates for them, whether that takes the form of peer pressure, financial inducement and support or outright censorship. And in many instances, the scientists are enthusiastic game players, since they will often sense the social value and importance of some narratives in preference to others. But the resulting focus can often be to the detriment of a fuller understanding. This particularly matters when deciding upon the best way of tackling a problem. For example, as Brown points out, a preoccupation with the climate change narrative and the push to reduce CO2 output in order to reduce fire risk may cause people to overlook the fact that the recent trend in wildfires could be entirely reversed by re-introducing sound forest management and addressing the social problems behind an epidemic of arsonists.
In any other field, Brown’s observations would be met with mild bemusement. There would be an admission that science operates within constraints, but there may be a counter-argument offered to the effect that any suggestion this leads to a damaging distortion is to exaggerate the extent of the problem. The editor of the journal concerned would probably respond with something along the lines of, ‘We are disappointed that we may be giving certain scientists the impression that we gatekeep narratives, and we are only too happy to reassure such individuals that all avenues of relevant study shall be considered for publication without prejudice. Indeed, promoting a broader knowledge for society lies at the very heart of our ethos’.
Whether true or not, the very tone of the response would reflect how relaxed the scientific community was in seeing their very human and unremarkable frailty highlighted. But no, this is not any other field, this is climate science we are dealing with here. And so this is what was actually said by Dr Magdalena Skipper, editor of Nature:
The only thing in Patrick Brown’s statements about the editorial processes in scholarly journals that we agree on is that science should not work through the efforts by which he published this [study]. We are now carefully considering the implications of his stated actions; certainly, they reflect poor research practices and are not in line with the standards we set for our journal.
Skipper added that Nature has an ‘expectation’ that researchers use the most appropriate data, methods and results:
When researchers do not do so, it goes against the interests of both fellow researchers and the research field as a whole. To deliberately not do so is, at best, highly irresponsible. Researchers have a responsibility for their research which they must take seriously.
Or to put it succinctly, she has come out all guns blazing with an accusation of scientific malpractice and a not-so-veiled threat that Nature will not be accepting any further work with Brown’s name on it. It is a gross over-reaction that speaks volumes. A rattled cage wouldn’t be making so much noise if its structure had the required integrity.
To start with, Brown had only talked about self-censoring regarding the scope of work. That is every scientist’s prerogative. Nowhere did he claim not to have used the most appropriate data, methods and results – that’s Skipper’s deliberate misrepresentation of the issues. He didn’t do anything that invalidated his results, as far as they went.
Secondly, she talks of work that did not meet the standards ‘we set for our journal’. This is very odd, because the study concerned had already been happily accepted by the journal despite the fact that the authors politely declined a peer reviewer’s suggestion that they widen its scope. It seems this insistence on maintaining the original scope was acceptable, and only became ‘poor research practice’ and ‘highly irresponsible’ after Brown had said his piece to the press. The implication is that his declared motives for wishing to restrict the scope were indicative of ‘poor research practice’. This is nonsense.
Thirdly, Skipper seems to have completely overlooked the fact that Brown spoke of not trying to ‘quantify key aspects other than climate change’. This is actually a key strategy that every climate scientist religiously abides by. If it is ‘poor research practice’ and ‘highly irresponsible’, then the whole climate science community is guilty as charged. To understand why this is the case, one has to reflect upon the nature of causal analysis and the policy position that climate scientists have taken. The matter is discussed in a paper partly co-written by Judea Pearl, the father of modern-day causal inference, and Friederike Otto, the public face of modern-day extreme weather attribution studies. In that paper a contrast is made between the probability of necessity (PN) and the probability of sufficiency (PS). PN is equated to the concept of culpability (the higher the PN, the higher the supposed levels of guilt). PN also happens to be the facet of causality that extreme weather event attributions are designed to calculate. Such studies are therefore focussed upon the extent to which blame can be attributed to AGW. What they can’t address is how such levels of culpability compare to other factors that lie outside the scope of the climate models. Consequently, even when such factors are mentioned, you rarely see them quantified and encapsulated in a full causal statement covering both PN and PS. This is precisely what Brown has accused the climate science community of doing. And, as it happens, that is precisely what that community sets out to do. The only issue seems to be the extent to which this is achieved through principled self-censorship rather than through a self-censorship that is running scared of editorial favouritism. There may be a bit of both, but in Brown’s experience, there is plenty of the latter:
When I had previously attempted to deviate from the formula I outlined here, my papers were promptly rejected out of hand by the editors of high-profile journals without even going to peer review.
Every time Otto publishes an attribution study that talks of the impossibility of something happening without climate change, she is referring only to a probability of necessity and in so doing chooses a deliberately narrow scope that fails to cover the probabilities of sufficiency and fails to ‘quantify key aspects other than climate change’. But is Skipper stepping forward to accuse her of ‘poor research practice’ or being ‘highly irresponsible’? Is Otto’s research failing to meet the standards of Skipper’s journal? Of course not. So what is the difference between Otto and Brown? As far as I can see, the difference is simply that Otto is keeping her mouth shut, because she knows that if she were ever to make this common practice of self-censorship public (and particularly if she were to point out its ramifications, as did Brown) then the self-protective mechanisms of the culture that such disclosures threaten would kick into place and suddenly the once golden girl of extreme weather attribution would become a pariah and a disgrace to science. Professor Otto may be many things, but foolhardy she is not.
Finally, it should not have escaped Skipper’s attention that Brown did not restrict his concerns to matters of editorial bias in journals. If anything, it is the bias shown by the media in reporting upon climate change that causes the most damage. In fact, his article leads with:
If you’ve been reading any news about wildfires this summer—from Canada to Europe to Maui—you will surely get the impression that they are mostly the result of climate change.
He goes on to provide examples of such reporting before adding:
I am a climate scientist. And while climate change is an important factor affecting wildfires over many parts of the world, it isn’t close to the only factor that deserves our sole focus. So why does the press focus so intently on climate change as the root cause? Perhaps for the same reasons I just did in an academic paper about wildfires in Nature, one of the world’s most prestigious journals: it fits a simple storyline that rewards the person telling it.
So Brown is making an important point about narrative and the need to keep it simple and focused. Again, this is a point that has been made on this blog, both here and here. It is very telling that a climate scientist cannot make the same point without generating so much noise and heat.
I am not quite sure what motivated Brown to say what he did. From where I am stood, it just looks like an act of breathtaking honesty and common sense. He said what needed to be said, but he must surely have known that his profession would immediately throw him under the bus and seek to reverse all previous plaudits bestowed upon him. As a consequence, he used to be a much-respected member of the scientific community, but now he’s just a guy they used to know. It’s the same old cultural kickback; if someone criticises the culture, the culture protects itself by vilifying the critic. It’s a defamation that is only to be expected from a system that protects itself through social sanction. You can’t accuse such a system of censorial behaviour without expecting it to be censorious in return. Society, (and the scientific community that acts on its behalf) seems to have settled upon an orthodoxy that drives and frames our courses of enquiry. It also demands a simple narrative both within the scientific journals and, more importantly, in the publications charged with reporting to the public.
I will be following this news item in the coming weeks since I fear cancellation may be around the corner. Dr Ken Rice of ATTP fame has already declared his position:
Given that there can be preferred narratives within scientific communities, it is always good for there to be people who are regarded as credible and who push back against them. Even if you don’t agree with them, they can still present views that are worth thinking about. In my view, Patrick used to be one of those people.
It can be of little comfort to Patrick T. Brown that Dr Ken Rice’s views of him carry next to no weight.
If you have not already done so, you are advised to read Professor Brown’s article in full. I could have written several posts on the many important issues it raises.
A very illuminating article was published by a climate scientist, one could say whistleblower, in The Free Press today
The full article is well worth the read. It is a clear indictment of narrative enforcement.
The paper I just published—“Climate warming increases extreme daily wildfire growth risk in California”—focuses exclusively on how climate change has affected extreme wildfire behavior. I knew not to try to quantify key aspects other than climate change in my research because it would dilute the story that prestigious journals like Nature and its rival, Science, want to tell.
This matters because it is critically important for scientists to be published in high-profile journals; in many ways, they are the gatekeepers for career success in academia. And the editors of these journals have made it abundantly clear, both by what they publish and what they reject, that they want climate papers that support certain preapproved narratives—even when those narratives come at the expense of broader knowledge for society.
To put it bluntly, climate science has become less about understanding the complexities of the world and more about serving as a kind of Cassandra, urgently warning the public about the dangers of climate change. However understandable this instinct may be, it distorts a great deal of climate science research, misinforms the public, and most importantly, makes practical solutions more difficult to achieve. https://www.thefp.com/p/i-overhyped-climate-change-to-get-published
Patrick Brown goes in to detail how the scales are tipped to enforce the policy relevant narrative, emphasis mine.
This type of framing, with the influence of climate change unrealistically considered in isolation, is the norm for high-profile research papers. For example, in another recent influential Nature paper, scientists calculated that the two largest climate change impacts on society are deaths related to extreme heat and damage to agriculture. However, the authors never mention that climate change is not the dominant driver for either one of these impacts: heat-related deaths have been declining, and crop yields have been increasing for decades despite climate change. To acknowledge this would imply that the world has succeeded in some areas despite climate change—which, the thinking goes, would undermine the motivation for emissions reductions.
This leads to a second unspoken rule in writing a successful climate paper. The authors should ignore—or at least downplay—practical actions that can counter the impact of climate change. If deaths due to extreme heat are decreasing and crop yields are increasing, then it stands to reason that we can overcome some major negative effects of climate change. Shouldn’t we then study how we have been able to achieve success so that we can facilitate more of it? Of course we should. But studying solutions rather than focusing on problems is simply not going to rouse the public—or the press. Besides, many mainstream climate scientists tend to view the whole prospect of, say, using technology to adapt to climate change as wrongheaded; addressing emissions is the right approach. So the savvy researcher knows to stay away from practical solutions.
Here’s a third trick: be sure to focus on metrics that will generate the most eye-popping numbers. Our paper, for instance, could have focused on a simple, intuitive metric like the number of additional acres that burned or the increase in intensity of wildfires because of climate change. Instead, we followed the common practice of looking at the change in risk of an extreme event—in our case, the increased risk of wildfires burning more than 10,000 acres in a single day.
To put it another way, I sacrificed contributing the most valuable knowledge for society in order for the research to be compatible with the confirmation bias of the editors and reviewers of the journals I was targeting.
Patrick T. Brown, a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, claimed the world’s leading academic journals reject papers which don’t ‘support certain narratives’
He also took aim at the media for focusing ‘intently on climate change as the root cause’ of wildfires, including the recent devastating fires in Hawaii
The approach ‘distorts a great deal of climate science research’, Brown wrote in a piece for The Free Press
A climate change scientist has claimed the world’s leading academic journals reject papers which don’t ‘support certain narratives’ about the issue and instead favor ‘distorted’ research which hypes up dangers rather than solutions.
Patrick T. Brown, a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University and doctor of earth and climate sciences, said editors at Nature and Science – two of the most prestigious scientific journals – select ‘climate papers that support certain preapproved narratives’.
In an article for The Free Press, Brown likened the approach to the way ‘the press focus so intently on climate change as the root cause’ of wildfires, including the recent devastating fires in Hawaii. He pointed out research that said 80 percent of wildfires are ignited by humans.
Brown gave the example of a paper he recently authored titled ‘Climate warming increases extreme daily wildfire growth risk in California‘. Brown said the paper, published in Nature last week, ‘focuses exclusively on how climate change has affected extreme wildfire behavior’ and ignored other key factors.
Brown laid out his claims in an article titled ‘I Left Out the Full Truth to Get My Climate Change Paper Published’. ‘I just got published in Nature because I stuck to a narrative I knew the editors would like. That’s not the way science should work,’ the article begins.
Patrick T. Brown, a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University with a PhD in earth and climate sciences, said editors at Nature and Science – two of the most prestigious scientific journals – ‘want climate papers that support certain preapproved narratives’
Brown said one of his studies on the subject was published by Nature ‘because I stuck to a narrative I knew the editors would like’
He also took aim at the media for focusing ‘intently on climate change as the root cause’ of wildfires, including the recent devastating fires in Hawaii. Pictured: A search, rescue and recovery member conducts search operations of areas damaged by Maui wildfires in Lahaina
‘I knew not to try to quantify key aspects other than climate change in my research because it would dilute the story that prestigious journals like Nature and its rival, Science, want to tell,’ he wrote of his recently-published work.
‘This matters because it is critically important for scientists to be published in high-profile journals; in many ways, they are the gatekeepers for career success in academia. And the editors of these journals have made it abundantly clear, both by what they publish and what they reject, that they want climate papers that support certain preapproved narratives—even when those narratives come at the expense of broader knowledge for society.
‘To put it bluntly, climate science has become less about understanding the complexities of the world and more about serving as a kind of Cassandra, urgently warning the public about the dangers of climate change. However understandable this instinct may be, it distorts a great deal of climate science research, misinforms the public, and most importantly, makes practical solutions more difficult to achieve.’
The journals Science and Nature were approached for comment.
Brown opened his missive with links to stories by AP, PBS NewsHour, The New York Times and Bloomberg which he said give the impression global wildfires are ‘mostly the result of climate change’.
He said that ‘climate change is an important factor’ but ‘isn’t close to the only factor that deserves our sole focus’.
Much reporting of the wildfires in Maui has said climate change contributed to the disaster by contributing to conditions that helped the fires to spark and spread quickly.
The fires, which killed at least 115 people, are believed to have been started by a downed electricity line, but observers have said rising temperatures caused extremely dry conditions on the Hawaiian island.
Droughts, Hurricanes, Wildfires Aren’t Living Up to Alarmists’ Expectations
Podcast of the Week: Third Parties: The Silent Movers of American Politics (Guest: Dr. Merrill Mathews, Jr.)
List of Notables Signing ‘No Climate Emergency’ Declaration Grows
Alberta Suspends Wind and Solar Project Approval
New York Authorities Warn of Growing EV Fires
Video of the Week: Global Greening – The Good Kind of Green (featuring Dr. Will Happer)
Miss Anything at Heartland’s Climate Conference? No Problem.
Droughts, Hurricanes, Wildfires Aren’t Living Up to Alarmists’ Expectations
Just before the beginning of summer last year, I wrote a Climate Change Weekly article titled “It’s Climate Catastrophe Du Jour Season, Again!,” warning of what I predicted would be a coming tidal wave of stories claiming the then-extended drought and expected hurricanes and wildfires would be blamed on climate change. I was right. Hundreds if not thousands of stories were published by both the mainstream and progressive fringe media last year blaming the drought, every hurricane, and large wildfire season on climate change.
This despite there being no evidence that long-term trends in droughts, hurricanes, and wildfires showed any increase in number or severity. Absent such upward trends, it’s hard to honestly link one or a few years of extreme weather events to climate change, but then honesty has never been a strong point for climate alarmists or at the heart of the climate change debate.
With the current summer coming to an end, let’s revisit the dread three seasons—drought, hurricanes, and wildfires—and see how they went in 2023.
Headline stories on drought have been nearly nonexistent this year. That’s because, as I write on August 29, the U.S. Drought monitor reports nearly 57 percent of the United States is exhibiting no drought whatsoever despite a long, admittedly hot summer. Another 16 percent is recorded as “abnormally dry,” and only 27 percent of the country is listed as being in any category of drought, from moderate to extreme (5 percent) or exceptional (1 percent). Three months ago, at the beginning of summer, 66 percent of the nation was completely drought-free, with only 16 percent of the country listed as facing moderate, severe, extreme, or exceptional drought.
As El Niño left, it dumped huge amounts of precipitation across the country, and especially in the historically drought-prone western United States, much of it in the form of record-setting snow, resulting in a nearly record-low percentage of the country being considered very dry.
At the beginning of the “water year” in September 2022, the U.S. Drought Monitor recorded just 36 percent of the country was at any level of drought. As of September 27, 2022, more than 41 percent of the U.S. was experiencing some degree of drought—25 percent with severe, extreme, or exceptional drought—and 63 percent of America was listed as abnormally dry, at a minimum.
Oh, what a difference a year makes, not in climate but in weather—and in media coverage of claims of climate-induced drought!
With the Maui wildfire a recent memory and Hurricane Idalia hammering Florida’s Gulf Coast, it may seem an inopportune time to bring up wildfires and hurricanes, but that’s not so. As I’ve previously discussed, neither the wildfire in Maui, nor those in Canada, nor the ones that scorched Greece this summer, were caused by climate change: nature combined with human error, malfeasance, or evil was behind each of these devastating fires.
As of August 11, data showed wildfires in the United States in 2023 are the fourth-lowest in nearly 100 years of recordkeeping. Globally, over the past two decades of modest warming (but heightened fearmongering), satellite data from NASA show a 25 percent decrease in acreage lost to wildfires since 2003.
That leads us to the 2023 hurricane season and Hurricane Idalia. Although the global average temperature, a made-up metric if ever there was one, has increased modestly over the past 150 years, neither the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change nor hard data shows any increasing trend in the number or severity of tropical cyclones. Over the past 50 and 100 years, if anything, the data indicates there has been a modest decline in the yearly number of hurricanes and major hurricanes on average, according to multiple studies.
What’s true for the whole world is true also for the United States and Florida. From 2009 through 2017, America experienced the fewest hurricane strikes in any eight-year period in recorded history. And it was just in 2016 that Florida, America’s most vulnerable state for hurricanes, concluded an 11-year period without a landfalling hurricane, the longest such period in recorded history.
The “official” hurricane season runs from June 1 through the end of November. This year, until the past week, tropical storm numbers and accumulated energy or sustained wind speeds were below normal. The hurricane season typically peaks in late-August through mid-September, so there is absolutely nothing unusual about multiple storms forming during this short time span.
Idalia forming and strengthening now is not only not outside the norm, it fits the historic pattern perfectly.
This year’s climate disaster de jour season has been a bust so far. This is good for people but bad for those who hype the narrative that “climate change causes everything.” That is not true now, nor has it ever been.
In this special episode of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Sterling Burnett sits down with Dr. Merrill Mathews, Jr., a resident scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute. They delve into the often-overlooked but crucial role that third-party candidates have played in shaping American elections. From historical impacts to the upcoming elections, this episode offers a comprehensive look at how third parties can be game-changers in the political landscape. Also, get insights into the Senate race involving Krystin Sinema and what’s at stake. Don’t miss this enlightening conversation that steps outside the usual climate and environmental topics to explore the intricacies of U.S. politics.
Subscribe to the Environment & Climate News podcast on Apple Podcasts, iHeart, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. And be sure to leave a positive review!
List of Notables Signing ‘No Climate Emergency’ Declaration Grows
In 2019, the independent research institute Climate Intelligence, also known as CLINTEL, was founded.
Among its most prominent educational efforts to date was the development and issuance of a declaration in 2022 saying, among other things, climate change is not a crisis. CLINTEL called on scientists and scholars who’ve worked on the climate issue or in climate-related fields to sign the declaration. More than 1,100 did. Full disclosure: I signed the declaration. Since then, 500 more climate experts from all over the globe have signed the declaration, and the list now includes two Nobel Prize winners: Norwegian engineer and physicist Ivar Giaever, Ph.D. and, recently, John Clauser, recipient of the 2022 Nobel Prize for Physics.
CLINTEL’s declaration says the data shows there is no “crisis” being driven by climate change and requiring a big government response to limit fossil fuel use. The letter states a variety of natural factors have influenced and driven climate change throughout history and that climate models blaming the recent shift on human greenhouse gas emissions have repeatedly failed to accurately reflect data on items such as temperatures and extreme weather.
Among the fact-checkable, confirmable statements made in CLINTEL’s increasingly popular declaration are these:
The geological archive reveals that Earth’s climate has varied as long as the planet has existed, with natural cold and warm phases. The Little Ice Age ended as recently as 1850. Therefore, it is no surprise that we now are experiencing a period of warming.
CO2 is not a pollutant. It is essential to all life on Earth. More CO2 is favorable for nature, greening our planet. Additional CO2 in the air has promoted growth in global plant biomass. It is also profitable for agriculture, increasing the yields of crops worldwide.
Because data shows extreme weather events are not increasing, temperatures are within their historical normal range, and CO2, rather than being a pollutant, is critical for life on Earth, CLINTEL’s declaration, as summed up by Cowboy State Daily, is,
there is no climate emergency [to justify] eliminating fossil fuel usage by 2050. Instead of policies that mitigate emissions, whatever the causes of the warming trend, the declaration calls for adaptation.
This would mean, for example, it’s better to ensure people have affordable, reliable energy to run their air conditioners when temperatures are high.
In an interview with Cowboy State Daily, Clauser explained his decision to sign CLINTEL’s declaration. Clauser says the recent warming trend is strongly influenced by natural factors and patterns which aren’t being adequately accounted for.
Concerning the idea there is a scientific consensus that humans are causing catastrophic climate change, Clauser said, “There’s a growing group of scientists who are in strong disagreement. No, it’s certainly not as unanimous as Al Gore thinks.”
At the direction of the Alberta’s provincial government, the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) is imposing a six-month moratorium on approvals of wind and solar power projects greater than one megawatt. The action comes amid growing concerns about the impact of fast-expanding wind and solar development on rural, especially agricultural, lands, recreation and scenery, waste disposal, and the reliability of the electric power system.
“With few regulatory barriers to entry and abundant wind and sunshine, Alberta has been a leader in renewable energy development in Canada,” reported Global News in a story on the policy shift. “In 2022, 17 per cent of the province’s power came from wind and solar—exceeding the province’s 15 per cent goal.”
Nathan Neudorf, minister of affordability and utilities, said increasing numbers of people were expressing concerns during the AUC’s public hearings about the impact of the rapid expansion of wind and solar industrial facilities on grid reliability and the environment. The moratorium was adopted while 15 renewable energy projects were under consideration by the AUC.
Representatives of rural municipalities had been pushing for more detailed examination of wind and solar development, with Paul McLaughlin, president of Rural Municipalities Alberta, saying the concerns of rural residents and governments, where the renewable industrial facilities are overwhelmingly cited, should be given additional weight.
“Rural municipalities cover roughly 85 per cent of Alberta’s land and their voices must be included in the approval process for all renewable energy projects,” McLaughlin said in a press statement when the moratorium was announced. “We look forward to working with the Government of Alberta to create an approval process that balances provincial and local perspectives.”
During the moratorium, the AUC is undertaking an official inquiry into the impact of the use of “agricultural and public land for wind and solar projects, land reclamation, and the role of municipal governments in land selection for project development and review.”
Andrew Leach, an economist with the University of Alberta, told Global News part of the reason for the moratorium is the government not having considered how such sites can be cleaned up, when it currently faces billions of dollars in clean-up costs for the oil and gas industry. Alberta’s government wants to avoid a similar problem with wind and solar.
New York City public officials are blowing the whistle on electric vehicles for their tendency to catch fire spontaneously, which has led to millions of dollars in property damage and dozens of lives lost.
“The New York Fire Department [FDNY] recently reported that so far this year there have been 108 lithium-ion battery fires in New York City, which have injured 66 people and killed 13,” writes The Epoch Times. The paper quotes FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh as saying, “There is not a small amount of fire, it (the vehicle) literally explodes . . . [with the resulting fire being] very difficult to extinguish and so it is particularly dangerous.”
In New York City in 2022, more than 200 fires from batteries of e-bikes, EVs, and other devices were reported by the FDNY. Since 2020, the FDNY reports, “lithium-ion battery fires have surpassed those started by cooking and smoking as the most common causes of fatal fires in New York City,” writes The Epoch Times.
In a case recounted by the paper, “a fire ignited at an e-bike shop and killed four people near midnight on the morning of June 20. Two individuals were left in critical condition.”
A second case, from April, was reported by CBS News New York:
Two siblings were killed … after their home in Queens burst into flames. The FDNY said the fire was started by a lithium-ion battery that belonged to an e-bike.
The flames went up so quickly, neighbors had to rescue people who jumped out of windows.
Kavanagh warned the public that when devices powered by lithium ion batteries catch fire, they “typically explode in such a way that renders escape impossible,” TheEpoch Times article reported.
The story notes fires sparked by devices with lithium-ion batteries, such as cars, scooters, and bikes, are “happening all over the country,” and “Cars and e-bikes are randomly blowing up in driveways and garages.”
Spontaneous combustion is not normal—except it is with EVs, and the fires they cause when they burst into flames are not normal fires. Insurers in Australia and elsewhere are starting to take note. That, more than anything else, may slow the pace of EV adoption. If insurers won’t insure EVs or they jack up rates considerably to offset the additional risk and to cover higher repair and replacement costs, will people still purchase them? If not, will governments force taxpayers to become the insurers of last resort?
This week on Climate Change Roundtable, we dive deep into the benefits of global greening and discover how increasing atmospheric CO2 is leading to enhanced plant growth globally.
Our guest is William Happer. a distinguished physicist from Princeton recognized for his groundbreaking research in atomic physics, optics, and atmospheric science. He served as the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University and has been a prominent figure in the U.S. Department of Energy. Happer’s extensive research on the interactions between light and matter has paved the way for numerous technological advancements, and his insights into atmospheric phenomena have been pivotal in shaping our understanding of the environment.
In this episode, our host, Anthony Watts, and weekly panelist, Linnea Lueken, will delve into the science behind global greening. William Happer also reveals details and insights you haven’t heard before, shedding light on the lesser-known aspects of this phenomenon.
Hurricane Idalia barreled across the southeast coast of the United States.
With no intent to make light of the foreboding trauma this brings to those in its path — after all, this writer resides in Houston — let’s nevertheless recognize that this is hardly a rare or more frequent occurrence throughout U.S. history.
Nevertheless, we’ve all heard it before: more evidence that climate change is the greatest existential threat … we’re causing it through unfair excess prosperity.
The solution is to “transition” from fossil sources that supply more than 80% of U.S. and global energy to intermittent sunbeams and windy breezes that provide a total of about 3% along with highly subsidized electric vehicles that depend upon rare earth minerals mined by slave and child labor in China and the Congo which is prohibited here because it pollutes the environment.
Because we’re not only dangerously changing the climate, but the weather, and thereby also causing more frequent and severe forest fires as well.
But actually … not really.
First let’s recognize that global temperatures were as warm or warmer 2,000 years ago during the Roman Warm Period, 1,000 years ago during the Medieval Warm Period, and even a smidgen over 100 years ago in the 1930s.
That was followed by three decades of cooling which began in the mid-1940s despite World War II weapons industries having released massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere and had leading scientific and news organizations predicting the onset of a next Ice Age by the late ’70s.
We’re also supposed to believe that a global two-degree Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) temperature increase since the pre-industrial era (1880-1900) has produced alarmingly more frequent and severe weather and related wildfire events.
Whereas Hurricane Ian which had devasted large areas of Florida last year was indisputably a monster storm, a basic review of history reveals that media hype connecting it to evidence of a recent “climate change disaster” is entirely unfounded since such occurrences have been experienced with far greater frequency and damaging — sometimes fatal — consequences over the past century and before.
For a larger historical perspective, consider that North Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane patterns fail to reveal any worsening trend over more than a century.
Cat 3-4 Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey and Cat 4 Hurricane Irma back in 2017 ended an almost 12-year drought of U.S. landfall Cat 3-5 hurricanes since Wilma in 2005, whereas 14 even stronger Cat 4-5 monsters occurred between 1926 and 1969.
Many intense Atlantic storms formed between 1870 and 1899, 19 in the 1887 season alone, but then became infrequent again between 1900 and 1925. The number of destructive hurricanes ramped up between 1926 and 1960, including many major New England events.
As for more recent hurricanes, the 2005 and 1961 seasons shared records for their seven major U.S. landfalls since 1946, whereas 1983 set the record for the least number, with only one.
Twenty-one Atlantic tropical storms formed in 1933 alone, a record only most recently exceeded in 2005, which saw 28 storms.
Tropical cyclone Amelia dumped 48 inches on Texas in 1978; tropical storm Claudette inundated the town of Alvin, Texas, with 54 inches in 1979, emptying 43 inches in just 24 hours; and Hurricane Easy deluged Florida with 45.2 inches in 1950.
In terms of U.S. fatalities, “Superstorm Sandy” in 2012 which ravaged the northern East Coast, resulted in more than 100 deaths; the San Felipe Segundo Hurricane which struck Florida in 1928 produced an estimated 2,500 casualties; and the Galveston hurricane of August 29, 1900, may have killed up to 12,000 people.
Katrina had reached a Cat 5 hurricane level packing 175 mph wind speeds with a 20-foot storm surge in 2005 before hitting the Louisiana coast as a tropical storm which resulted in about 1,800 deaths.
Regarding alarmist tropes about global warming setting the world on fire, well-known climate writer Bjorn Lomborg points out, “It turns out the percentage of the globe that burns each year has been declining since 2001.”
Global Wildfire Information System records this year up to July 29 show that while more land has burned in the Americas than usual, much of the world — Africa and Europe in particular — have seen less, slightly below the total global average between 2012 and 2022 that previously saw some of the lowest forest losses.
Lomborg blames bad land management failures to clear dead trees and other vegetative tinder for the most expansive American fires. Even so, he notes that U.S. fires burned less than one-fifth the acreage of the 1930s, and only one-tenth as much of the early 20th century.
In any case, whether fewer or more prevalent, there’s no factual basis for attributing severe weather or wildfire occurrences to smoke stacks and SUVs.
Nevertheless, whereas we can’t change the weather, it truly is in our best interest to anticipate those bad-case circumstances and prepare our communities and households to mitigate against the outcomes.
Whether or not one such event gets hyped on the media as the “biggest ever,” “strongest ever,” “deadliest ever,” or “costliest ever,” it may qualify as the worst ever for you.
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to forget to prepare for this on nice sunny days.
CFACT Advisor Larry Bell heads the graduate program in space architecture at the University of Houston.
He founded and directs the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture. He is also the author of “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax.”
Global warming, climate change, all these things are just a dream come true for politicians. I deal with evidence and not with frightening computer models because the seeker after truth does not put his faith in any consensus. The road to the truth is long and hard, but this is the road we must follow. People who describe the unprecedented comfort and ease of modern life as a climate disaster, in my opinion have no idea what a real problem is.