The Inevitable Hurricane Irene Stupidity from the New York Times


As Hurricane Irene weakens and behaves exactly like any other hurricane of this size, the NYT has decided to bring up the old and silly argument that hurricanes are getting worse because of global warming.  This is a really dead horse, but it appears that it must be dealt with each and every time a hurricane shows up.  It is almost as tiring as hearing from the same people that skeptics are anti-science when they can’t even keep the science straight on hurricanes, but I digress.

Fortunately I put together a single summary of hurricanes and global warming in the past for easy reference.   There isn’t the slightest correlation to how much energy is tied up with hurricanes with pretty much anything, not temperature, not CO2.  The latest ACE (accumulated cyclone energy) shows that the Earth is currently experiencing a significant lull.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

Accumulated Cyclonic Energy. Courtesy of Florida State University.

There was more energy when the Earth was experiencing cooling after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo and there was a lot in the 1998 El Nino, but hardly any with the 2010 El Nino.  In fact since 2008 the total energy has been much lower than in the past.  So the proposed idea that hurricanes are more powerful because of global warming is absurd and busted.  The science does not support the theory.

This is also not supported by the facts of hurricanes hitting the region that Hurricane Irene is currently affecting.  Hurricane Gloria in 1985 was more powerful and caused an enormous amount of damage.  It stayed at category 2 or above until after it hit Long Island.  Luck played an important part of this hurricane like it does with all hurricanes.

The most damaging aspect of a hurricane is the storm surge.  This might as well be called a wind driven tsunami.  With Hurricanes though, how high the water gets is dependent on the tides.  Hurricane Gloria hit at low tide and that limited the height of the storm surge and limited the damage.  A weaker hurricane at high tide can easily cause more damage.  Timing is everything and luck is an important factor in the amount of damage that any hurricane causes.

As of 01:30 AM eastern time on Aug 28th, Hurricane Irene is already down to a category 1 with sustained winds of 80 mph.  While this is still a dangerous hurricane and caution should be taken, it is not an especially powerful hurricane and the damage does not appear to be out of the ordinary.  That is good news for everybody.  Since my brother lives in the impacted area I am especially glad that the damage has been limited.

The NYT needs to stick to the science and stop trying to resurrect these anti-science theories.  Their article is a classic example of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt commonly known as FUD.  The latest science, which is NOT mentioned in the NYT article, states the following:

  • Detection and attribution: “It remains uncertain whether past changes in any tropical cyclone activity (frequency, intensity, rainfall, and so on) exceed the variability expected through natural causes, after accounting for changes over time in observing capabilities.”
  • Projections: “It is likely that the global frequency of tropical cyclones will either decrease or remain essentially unchanged owing to greenhouse warming. . . Current models project changes ranging from −6 to −34% globally, and up to ±50% or more in individual basins by the late twenty-first century. Some increase in the mean maximum wind speed of tropical cyclones is likely (+2 to +11% globally) with projected  21st century warming.”

Of course this is the kind of stuff that is simply expected from the NYT these days.  As the title says, it is inevitable…

Posted in Fear and Misinformation by inconvenientskeptic on August 28th, 2011 at 12:03 am.

1 comment

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  1. Richard111 Aug 29th 2011

    Yesterday, 28th August, at 18:00 hours I saw on the BBC news a picture of the east coast of the USA and what was supposed to be hurricane Irene moving north along that coast line. The hurricane had an EYE bigger than Long Island!
    I saw satellite pictures of the hurricane/tropical storm over New York and there was no eye visible.
    So much for accurate reporting by the BBC. CCTV (China) gave a more accurate report.

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