Global Warming and Hurricane Strength Debate Not Over


"The voluminous evidence now strongly suggests that unless we act boldly and quickly to deal with the underlying causes of global warming, our world will undergo a string of terrible catastrophes, including more and stronger storms like Hurricane Katrina, in both the Atlantic and the Pacific," said former Vice-President Al Gore and global warming campaigner on NPR recently.

There is considerable evidence for man-made global warming, but the vice-president may have prematurely jumped to a conclusion about hurricanes. A new study in Science co-authored by Chris Landsea of the National Hurricane Center suggests that the trend toward stronger hurricanes that some researchers find in the data may be a result of faulty data. Obviously this scientific debate is far from over.


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  1. Hey, I’ve started biking to work, and I have energy saving light bulbs. I thought that was supposed to be the solution to global warming!

  2. When I hear an actual scientist, especially one who knows something about huricanes make this claim I might buy it.

    In the meantime I’ll accept what the experts have been saying for the last few years. And that is that we are in for a few years of more intense Atlantic hurricane seasons as part of the natural hurricane cycle.

    It’s a shame since my homeowners insurance premiums are going into the stratospher. And a significant portion is a surcharge to finance a State bailout of people who have built (or want to build) in particularly high-risk areas.

  3. I just turn on my AC.
    That seems to help.

  4. There is considerable evidence for man-made global warming

    Until we can explain the mechanism behind the natural warming/cooling cycle, I do not see how we can possibly say that there is considerable evidence for man-made global warming.

    If you can’t demonstrate how much of the current warming cycle is natural, you can’t demonstrate how much, if any, is due to human activity.

  5. RC, I know your a holdout, and you may be right, but, here, your logic is faulty.

    Just because we dont know the moving parts of x doesnt mean we cant deduce that y affects x. We dont have full understanding, certainly, and perhaps this uncertainty is enough for you to continue doing nothing, but thats a long way from saying we know nothing.

  6. First principles question:

    How can we validate these 20, 50 and 100 year climate simulations against experimental data that does not exist, because it hasn’t happened yet?

    Y’all remember Long Term Capital Management? Extremely smart people who, using advanced modeling techniques, had the non-equibrium statistical world of the movement of financial markets all figured out…

    ….for about 4 years, until all their positions unraveled and Greenspan was forced to inject a shitload of liqudity into the US economy to cover LTCM’s big i-bank investors.

    The complex world of global climate prediction is not unlike what LTCM was trying to do…except LTCM’s people were a hell of lot smarter than climate scientists and they failed spectacularly.

    We’re to make public policy based on predictions that are unverifiable yet portayed to us as the unswerving truth?

  7. Obviously this scientific debate is far from over.

    Oh, thanks a heap for getting the ’80s song “Far From Over” by Frank Stallone stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

  8. For what it’s worth, Yahoo! News is running a story today about global warming skeptic Pat Michaels and how he’s being bankrolled by (gasp!)Big Coal. The whole magilla is here

  9. Bubba, I think that’s a bit unfair to LTCM. They were actually right, and if they’d had more liquidity they’d have made a killing. Basically, they said, “Hey, the market’s in an aberration right now; we’ll bet that it will correct and clean up.” And they were right that the market was doing funky things; they were right that it would correct. But it took longer to correct than they expected, and their backers started making margin calls before they could cash out.

  10. Katrina was a stronger storm than average, but if it hadn’t chosen the particular path it had, the damage would have been much more mundane (as far as hurricanes go)

    I went to the NOAA site where they have a spreadsheet of the central pressures of storms from 1851-2005 and frankly, if you look at the data, it might as well just be noise. There’s no definite trend to stronger storms. It doesn’t show whether or not the frequency of storms is increasing, but their strength appears relatively the same. Just some food for thought.

  11. well, found a chart on average number of hurricanes, which shows a definite increase. Its in another table at the NOAA site.

  12. God, if only some of the conspiracy wackos who post here could absorb a little of this skepticism. You know who you are.

  13. Isaac,

    A number of NASA and NOAA scientists were saying this during the last hurricaine season.

    You might not have heard much about it, though, because they were censored by senior political appointees.

  14. joe

    Probably a dead thread, but IPCC members have gone to some lengths to distance themselves from those making claims about the GW efect on hurricanes.

    The member of the panel who is most qualified in this area resigned from his working group when a spokesman for the IPCC who is not even a climate scientist made claims to the effect that GW was affecting the cycle. This issue is far from settled.

    It is not that GW might not have an affect in the future just that the storms of the last few years have been totally predictable based on past hurricane cycles. Not every climate event is necessarily going to be due to GW. Sometimes it’s possible to just have an useasonably hot day.


    Until the advent of satellite tracking nobody had any real idea of how many storms there were in any given year. Many storms blow themselves out far out to sea and unless ships were actually out there to see them (and survived) nobody was aware they had even happened.

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