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House Dems Try To Link Natural Disasters To Climate Change In Hearing

climate hearing june 2019

CCD Editor’s Note: Yesterday, the House Oversight and Reform Environmental Subcommittee held a Hearing on Recovery, Resilience, and Readiness – Contending with Natural Disasters in the Wake of Climate Change.

It’s fascinating to watch Michael ‘Hockey Stick’ Mann try to make a link between ‘ancient’ hurricanes and strengths to prove a climate change link. “We can actually reconstruct the history of ancient landfalling hurricanes along the U.S. East Coast, along the Caribbean.”

The problem is that he can’t reconstruct hurricanes that never made landfall or formed in the Pacific (which can make up more than half during strong El Nino years), and his methods are debatable.

As Curry correctly noted in her testimony using historical and observational data, hurricanes were stronger in the early 1900s. And we also just came out of an unprecedented 11-year hurricane drought, whereby a cat-3 or higher storm didn’t make landfall, followed by a strong El Nino year (2016), something lost on the climate minions.

The following is excerpted from Brunswick News:

Among those testifying were Stephen Costello, city of Houston’s chief recovery officer; Christopher Currie, director of emergency management for the Government Accountability Office; Judith Curry, president of the Climate Forecast Applications Network; Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services; Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State; Omar Marrero, executive director of Puerto Rico’s Central Office of Recovery and Reconstruction; and James Lee Witt, former FEMA director.

The subcommittee’s ranking member, U.S. Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., said people need to calm down a little from pointing to climate change after severe weather.

“I think it’s important to note, it seems like every major weather event in recent years is followed almost immediately by claims on cable news channels and social media that its occurrence is directly linked to climate change,” Comer said.

“This overheated rhetoric can serve as a distraction from focusing on the proper role of the federal response to these disasters, which is why this hearing is convened.

“It’s clear from recent natural disasters that many parts of the country are very vulnerable to weather extremes. It’s my hope that efforts to spur continued improvements in weather forecasting will lead to an ability for communities to better prepare. Still, natural disasters have been and will continue to be a reality of the world that we live in.”

He asked Curry what her reaction was to the statement, released by Democrats on the subcommittee, that argued climate change is leading to a crop of strong hurricanes.

“With regard to the doubling of the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes, I was actually a co-author on that paper in 2005, by Webster, et. al. — since that time, serious issues have been raised regarding the quality of the data and the earlier part of the record, particularly prior to 1988,” Curry said. “So, most scientists are disregarding that earlier data. The big jump really occurred between the 1970s and 1990s, so if you throw out the earlier data, you no longer have much of a jump.

“A recent article by (Phil) Klotzbach and (Chris) Landsea updated that with 10 more years of data, and they found a very small increase in the percent of Category 4 and 5 — if you add 2015 and ’16, which their study didn’t include, the numbers bump up because a very big El Niño year really juices the Pacific hurricanes, which are more than half.”

She said, basically, scientists are hampered because the data record isn’t long enough.

The entire hearing can be seen at or at the end of this article.

Read rest at Brunswick News

Judith Curry has placed her opening remarks online, which are reproduced below:

I thank the Chairman, Ranking Member and the Subcommittee for the opportunity to offer testimony today.

I’ve devoted four decades to conducting research related to extreme weather events and climate change. As President of Climate Forecast Applications Network, I’ve been helping decision makers use weather and climate information to reduce vulnerability to extreme events.

The paradox of weather disasters is that they are at the same time highly surprising, as well as quite predictable. We shouldn’t be surprised by extreme weather events when comparable events have occurred during the past century.

The sense that extreme weather events are now more frequent or intense, caused by man-made global warming, is symptomatic of ‘weather amnesia.’

The devastating impacts in 2017 from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria invoked numerous alarming statements about hurricanes and global warming.

However, it’s rarely mentioned that 2017 broke an 11-year drought in U.S. major hurricane landfalls. This major hurricane drought is unprecedented in the historical record.

Of the 13 strongest U.S. landfalling hurricanes in the historical record, only three have occurred since 1970 (Andrew, Michael, Charley). Four of these strongest hurricanes occurred in the decade following 1926.

Recent international and national assessment reports acknowledge that there is not yet evidence of changes in the frequency or intensity of hurricanes, droughts, floods, or wildfires that can be attributed to man-made global warming.

The elevated wildfires in the western U.S. since the 1980s is partly caused by state and federal policies that have resulted in catastrophically overgrown forests. Comparable levels of wildfire activity were observed earlier in the 20th century.

The National Climate Assessment recognized that the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s remains the benchmark period for extreme drought and heat in the historical record.

A few comments regarding projections of future Atlantic hurricane activity.

My company provides seasonal forecasts of extreme weather. For the 2019 hurricane and wildfire seasons, we expect an active hurricane season with substantial landfall risk, whereas we expect the western wildfire season to be relatively quiet.

Out to at least 2050, natural climate variability is expected to dominate future hurricane variations, rather than any warming trend.

The most important looming factor is an anticipated future shift to the cold phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. This shift is expected to overall reduce hurricane and wildfire risk for a period of several decades.

With regards to projections for 2100, models from the NOAA Laboratory in Princeton show a substantial decrease in the number of hurricanes in response to global warming. Their models show an increase of about 5% in the maximum intensity of Atlantic hurricanes.

Owing to the large natural variability of Atlantic hurricanes, any influence of man-made global warming 
would not be noticeable for a number of decades.

Blaming extreme weather events on man-made climate change, and focusing only on what to do afterlives and property have been destroyed, deflects from understanding and addressing the real sources of the problems, which in part include federal policies.

Possible scenarios of incremental worsening of weather and climate extremes don’t change the fundamental fact that many regions of the U.S. are not well adapted to the current weather and climate variability.

We have an opportunity to be proactive in preparing for weather disasters. Rather than focusing on recovery from extreme events, we can aim to reduce future vulnerability and increase thrivability by evolving our infrastructures, policies, and practices.

Adaptation strategies that promote thrivability simultaneously protect against extreme weather events while at the same time providing other benefits to human or natural systems.

Apart from infrastructure improvements, improvements to federal and state policies can substantially reduce the occurrence and extent of wildfires and can help mitigate the damage associated with landfalling hurricanes.

Further, tactical adaptation practices incorporating tailored weather forecast products can help mitigate the damages associated with extreme weather events.

Places that find solutions to their current challenges associated with extreme weather events will be well prepared to cope with any additional incremental stresses from future climate change.

Read rest at Climate Etc…

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