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Hurricanes and Global Warming

This is a special article just for the Middle School and High School students out there. I have been informed that the myth that Hurricane Katrina was caused by global warming is still being taught in those schools and that such hurricanes will get worse in the future. This is a great myth, but it is only a myth. It certainly gets told a lot, but just because something is used as political capital does not make it true. This might be one of the biggest lies that just won’t go to sleep. So I am putting together this article to help students debunk the myth that global warming causes hurricanes. I will even proceed on the assumption that increasing CO2 levels will actually cause warming, just to keep it simple.

The myth that global warming causes hurricanes started with Hurricane Katrina. Al Gore really put that on the map with his emotional, but not scientific portrayal in the movie An Inconvenient Truth. The basis for the claim was timing. An article by Webster et al. in Science Magazine came out weeks before Hurricane Katrina hit. That article was based on the idea that warming oceans would cause an increase in hurricanes in the future as a result of global warming.

Posted February 23rd, 2011.

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