Here is the Headline – Biggest storm in history
A monster typhoon, with winds reaching 147mph, killed more than 100 people, tossed houses into the sea and sent millions fleeing for shelter in the Philippines yesterday.
The poverty-stricken country has already endured almost a year of earthquakes and floods with no fewer than 24 disastrous weather events.
The category-5 super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda in the Philippines) – Chinese for ‘sea bird’ – smashed into the eastern islands of the Philippines with winds nearly 150mph stronger than the St Jude storm which struck the UK in late October.
Roofs were ripped from houses, ferocious 20ft waves washed away coastal villages, power lines came down and trees were uprooted.
A look at the science, however, tells a somewhat different story. While the overall number of recorded hurricanes has increased since 1878 (when existing records begin), this is at least partly due to an improved ability to observe storms rather than an increase in the number of storms.
As Thomas Knutson of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted recently, “the rising trend in Atlantic tropical storm counts is almost entirely due to increases in short-duration (less than 2-day) storms alone [which were] particularly likely to have been overlooked in the earlier parts of the record, as they would have had less opportunity for chance encounters with ship traffic.” As such, “the historical Atlantic hurricane record does not provide compelling evidence for a substantial greenhouse warming induced long-term increase.”
Similarly, the increase in damages from storms over time has less to do with their increased frequency or intensity than with the fact that we have gotten richer. Had Hurricane Sandy swept through New Jersey 100 years ago, it would have done far less damage simply because, back then, there was less of value to destroy. These days Americans are not only wealthier, but we are more inclined to build closer to the water, due to subsidized flood insurance. When University of Colorado professor Roger Pielke looked at the numbers, he found that correcting for these factors completely eliminated the supposed increase in hurricane damage.
Unsurprisingly, then, a leaked draft of the Fifth Assessment Report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (due to be released later this month) downgraded the likelihood of a connection between past temperature rises and extreme weather events. According to the report, there is “low confidence” in any association between climate change and hurricane frequency or intensity.
The U.N. panel could, of course, be wrong. Congress recently held hearings examining the science behind climate change claims, and should continue to do so. In this case, however, the attempts to slander climate change skeptics by linking them to today’s storms is scientifically flawed to say the least.
Whenever a climate change conference is greeted by a record snowfall or cold snap, environmentalists are quick to point out that weather is not the same as climate. Yet when it comes to storms, many have been willing to fall into exactly the same trap.
Via – Josiah Neeley