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Is Global Warming Causing Hurricanes And Wildfires?

Written by Joseph D'Aleo

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July 31, 2008
Joseph D'Aleo
WASHINGTON
Global Warming Committee chair Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., recently told students gathered at the U.S. Capitol that climate change caused Hurricane Katrina. "There now is no question that this harm is being caused by human activity. It's warming up the planet and melting the glaciers," he said. "The planet is running a fever."

Markey was not aware that global temperatures stopped warming in 1998 and since 2002 have been declining. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported that the 3,000 global ARGO diving buoys they deployed in 2003 have shown that the world's oceans have cooled, too.

This cooling has occurred even as CO2 increased 3.5 percent. A similar decoupling took place from the 1940s to the late 1970s, when temperatures fell as CO2 accelerated upwards into the post-war boom years. This on-again, off-again correlation suggests CO2 is not the primary driver of climate.

Rep. Markey also was not aware that in a NOAA press release, hurricane specialist Chris Landsea stated: "There is nothing in the U.S. hurricane damage record that indicates global warming has caused a significant increase in destruction along our coasts." MIT's Kerry Emanuel, earlier a proponent of a global warming - hurricane link, published a new paper showing that even in a dramatically warming world, hurricane frequency and intensity may not substantially rise during the next two centuries.

Despite these new findings and defections, climate alarmists have adopted the position that all extremes of weather are due to man. They blamed the serious spring flooding and tornadoes in the Midwest on global warming even though they were caused by a cooling Earth, a return to a cold Pacific and a strong La Nina.

The National Wildlife Federation's Amanda Staudt noted in a press release: "Warmer air can carry more water, and this means more heavy precipitation in the central United States. Big Midwestern storms that used to be seen every 20 years or so will likely occur every four to six years by century's end."

But Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. of the University of Colorado responded in his Climate Science blog, Staudt presents no evidence that this flood event was due to warmer air and an increase in atmospheric water vapor, which has not increased over North America. She also ignored evidence that flood losses are actually decreasing in the United States.

Also, it was not warm. In fact, it was unusually cold. The last winter and spring period ranked as the 25th coldest out of 113 years for the north central states. The cold air suppressed the jet stream and storm track, resulting in heavy snows, spring floods and severe weather.

And though the 119 tornado deaths so far this year are tragic, they fall far short of more than 300 deaths recorded in 1965 and 1974, and the over 800 who died in 1927. Indur Glokany, an IPCC reviewer, reported that global mortality rates due to extreme weather have declined by 95 percent since the 1920s.

Despite the evidence, don't expect alarmists to concede anything on this issue anytime soon. They have too much of a vested interest in having you believe what they say is true. So expect them to blame any unusual weather on man-made climate change. As Greenpeace's Steven Guilbeault's admonished the media "Global warming can mean colder; it can mean drier; it can mean wetter; that's what we're dealing with."
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Joseph D'Aleo. the first director of meteorology at The Weather Channel and a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, is executive director of ICECAP (http://icecap.us/).

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