Global Savings: Billion-Dollar Weather Events Averted by Global Warming

republished with permission from Master Resource

by Chip Knappenberger

“For every billion-dollar weather disaster identified as being ‘consistent with’ human-caused global warming, there are probably several other potential billion-dollar weather disasters that human-caused global warming averted.”

Last week, the government’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) finalized its list of “Billion Dollar Weather/Climate Disasters” for 2012. They reported 11 such events with the combined loss exceeding $110 billion, making it the second costliest year since their compilation began in 1980.

Since the number of billion dollar weather disasters has been increasing over time, the temptation to point a finger at anthropogenic global warming is too great for many global warming addicts to resist, despite the known problems with the list (for example, the lack of proper accounting for changing population demographics—a factor which explains virtually all of the increase).

It seems folks are extremely creative at coming up with reasons why virtually every weather disaster is “consistent with” human-caused climate change and how things will get worse in the future. However, such creativity evaporates when trying to come up with any positive weather/climate effects that are “consistent with” anthropogenic climate change.

To see this creativity/lack thereof in action, go read a few pages of the latest version of the government’s report from the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee. Or, to save some time, you can pursue my (and colleagues) comments on the report.

In reality, not a whole lot of creativity is really needed to come up with ways that anthropogenic climate change has made things better. And I am not talking about the well-known improvement to the planet’s plant life (including food crops) from increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide, but rather direct effects on the weather/climate.

Billion-Dollar Aversions: Some Recent Examples

I have begun to compile a list of averted billion-dollar weather events during the past year “consistent with” anthropogenic global warming. A full list is necessarily much greater because there are certainly many more events that we could never know about because they didn’t rise to the extreme to be recorded.

Hurricane Debby, June 2012. Hurricane Debby never formed. Increased vertical wind shear “consistent with” expectations from global warming prevented the development of tropical storm Debby into hurricane Debby. Damage estimates from tropical storm Debby have been estimated at $250 million with 5 direct and 3 indirect fatalities from the storm. Had global warming not helped to inhibit the growth of the storm system, these totals may well have been higher, exceeding a billion dollars. (For more information of the life of Debby, see here.)

Hurricane Florence, August 2012. Hurricane Florence never formed. Increased wind shear and African dust—both conditions which are “consistent with” anthropogenic global warming, combined to inhibit the formation of the Cape Verde tropical cyclone. As many Cape Verde tropical cyclones develop into major hurricanes and make landfall along the U.S. coastline, in the absence of the inhibiting conditions, major Hurricane Florence may have made a direct hit on Miami, or Charleston, or Washington DC causing many billion dollars in damage and taking countless lives. (For more details of the life of Florence, see here.)

Hurricane Leslie, September 2012. Hurricane Leslie was another Cape Verde tropical cyclone that looked to be headed toward the southeastern U.S. coastline. But the influence of an atmospheric “blocking” pattern—the same type of pattern that acted to intensify Hurricane Sandy and steer it into the northeastern U.S. (and which has been called “consistent with” global warming)—acted to halt the westward progression of the storm systems and inhibit its development. Instead of becoming a disastrous landfalling hurricane, Leslie drifted out at sea, eventually delivering a glancing blow to southeastern Newfoundland. A potential multi-billion dollar disaster averted thanks to factors “consistent with” global warming. (For more details of the life of Leslie, see here.)

Hurricane Nadine, September 2012. Hurricane Nadine was Cape Verde tropical cyclone that never really got going. Instead of a potentially damaging major hurricane making a direct hit along the Southeastern U.S. coast, conditions “consistent with” global warming, such as a large Atlantic Warm Pool (above average sea surface temperatures in the tropical north Atlantic), conspired to steer the storm northward, harmlessly into the central Atlantic instead of allowing it to track across warm waters conducive for tropical cyclone intensification and on course for a potentially calamitous U.S. landfall. Another potential billion-dollar-plus disaster averted. (For more information on the life of Nadine, see here.)

I could continue on this list of potential damaging hurricanes, but you get the idea—every one that didn’t grow to a major hurricane and make landfall along the U.S. coastline was potentially influenced by factors “consistent with” anthropogenic global warming.

There are many times more tropical cyclones that didn’t cause a billion-dollar weather disaster than did. In fact, we are currently in the midst of the longest period since 1900 that the U.S. has gone without a major hurricane making landfall—and this despite human-caused climate change.

Perhaps we should be finger pointing at that good news!

More Examples

California Freeze, January 11-16th, 2013. A 6-day major freeze event occurred across California’s agricultural regions, threatening a variety of crops including the state’s 2 billion/year citrus harvest. However, the region narrowly escaped widespread damage. Since an increased greenhouse effect from human carbon dioxide emissions preferentially warms the nighttime winter air, it is entirely “consistent with” expectations from global warming to hypothesize that absent global warming, a multi-billion dollar weather-related disaster would have occurred—much like the ones that have occurred there in the past.

Florida Freeze, February 16-18th, 2013. A cold, arctic airmass dropped into the deep South and threatened Florida’s citrus crop with multiple nights of below freezing temperatures. However, widespread damage was averted as the nighttime temperatures did not fall low enough for long enough. Had anthropogenic global warming not been in operation, a billion dollar crop loss may have occurred, as it has in the past.

East Coast Snowstorm, March 2013. A major late-season snowstorm was forecast to dump large amounts of heavy snow across the major metropolitan areas of the Mid-Atlantic, from Washington DC to New York City. The forecast was so ominous for the Washington DC area—a possibility of more than a foot of heavy, wet snow, high winds—that area schools and the federal government closed down in expectation. But the storm was a bust in DC as the temperatures near the ground were just a little too warm for the snow to accumulate. Instead of multi-day widespread power outages, snarled traffic, and lost business, a potential billion dollar disaster (like the blizzard of 2011), was averted by factors “consistent with” global warming.

Tornado Outbreaks, May 2012-April 2013. The 12-month period from May 2012-April 2013 was notable for its lack of tornado activity. In fact, this 12-month period was marked by the fewest tornadoes since good records began in the early 1950s and the fewest number of deaths since 1875. In recent years, the number of billion-dollar weather events which included a tornado outbreak has been growing—not from an increasing number of tornadoes, but rather from an increasing amount of people and their stuff in harm’s way. Using the past few years as an example, perhaps several different tornado-spawned billion dollar weather disasters would have been expected to have occurred from May 2012-April 2013. The lack of the necessary ingredients coming together to produce major tornado outbreaks—which includes cold, dry air—may well be “consistent with” the impacts of anthropogenic global warming.

Plains/East/Northeast Severe Weather, June 12-13, 2013. An event similar to the June 29-July 2, 2012 severe weather event across the same part of the country was being predicted by the National Weather Service, including a possibility of a damaging derecho event similar to the one which swept from Chicago to Washington DC last year causing more than a billion dollars in damage, killing 13 people, and leaving more than 4 million without power. This year, no derecho materialized (or a very weak one), and while there were isolated severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hail, the total damages were far less than last year’s event. Should global warming get the credit for averting a disaster this year? Well, the meteorological situation was very complicated, as it always is, but perhaps anthropogenic climate change acted to reduce the magnitude of the cold air pool that acted to fuel the storm system, and thereby prohibited the systems from reaching its full destructive intensity.

Like I mentioned, this list is necessarily incomplete. My guess is that for every billion-dollar weather disaster identified as being “consistent with” human-caused global warming, there are probably several potential billion-dollar weather disasters that human-caused global warming averted.

Isn’t it about time we start hearing about these?! If it is good enough for the goose to link global warming to weather disasters, it should be good enough for the gander to link global warming to weather disasters averted.

You are invited to add your own examples to the list in the comment section.

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June 21, 2013 9:00 am

I love this!…..thank you Chip!
…and all because of a fraction of a degree increase in temperature

June 21, 2013 9:02 am

“For every billion-dollar weather disaster identified as being ‘consistent with’ human-caused global warming, there are probably several other potential billion-dollar weather disasters that human-caused global warming averted.”
What human-caused global warming? Sounds like you’re accepting the warmunist assertion that it exists.

June 21, 2013 9:02 am

The Stern Report was abysmal. We really need an honest cost/benefit calculation for warming, which will sustain more total life, and more diversity of life.

John V. Wright
June 21, 2013 9:09 am

Gotta love this guy.

June 21, 2013 9:11 am

Reblogged this on This Got My Attention and commented:
Big benefits from global warming? No, No, say it ain’t so!

June 21, 2013 9:15 am

This is a great page -Maybe readers could add to the list = Excellent reference source.

george e. smith
June 21, 2013 9:42 am

The reason for the increase in Billion Dollar Disasters, is trivially simple.
Unrestrained Government regulations have skyrocketed the cost of doing simple construction projects. And the printing of fake play money by the Government, necessarily drives down the purchasing power of real money.
So there aren’t any more disasters; just that there is no shortage of fools who will move right back into an area that just got wiped out by a sea surge or river overflow, or fire canyon.
Charles Darwin, wrote a whole book about the phenomenon; it’s called “The Origin of Species.”
As to construction costs, some years ago when I was actually doing well enough to consider building a custom home, I investigated with some associates, the purchase of a quite nice parcel of land, in a highly desirable location. We could acquire the parcel, and build a dozen nice homes on it (for ourselves), plus some eco-space, and get a nice return and tax result from a quite modest investment. As I recall, the cost of building a house then, was about $19 per square foot. We thought that was high, so we proceeded slowly, while trying to figure out how to lower the cost.
A new tax law passed in the Congress, and suddenly the building cost tripled, so we canned the deal.
Our biggest environmental disaster problem, is the US Government, all three branches of it.

David vun Kannon
June 21, 2013 9:54 am

I think your basic premise is helpful. Let’s accept the reality of global warming, and our responsibility for it, and discuss the consequences and policy implications of that shared understanding.
Compared to the actual disasters, your avoided disasters have to be multiplied by some probability of occurence, probability of loss modifiers. I’m sure that is possible, even for hurricane formation as early as Cape Verde cyclones.
I would strongly support seeing this approach worked out in more detail.

June 21, 2013 9:55 am

We have a billion dollar rainfall event in Alberta happening right now due to a stalled low pressure system over the province. It won’t be long till some doom sayers link it to Global warming – NOT. An unusual weather even but we know exactly what caused it.

June 21, 2013 9:57 am

Typo – “an unusual weather evenT foe sure, but we know exactly what caused it.”

June 21, 2013 10:22 am

David vun Kannon says:
“Let’s accept the reality of global warming, and our responsibility for it.”
Let’s not.
There is zero empirical, measurable, testable scientific evidence showing that human activity is responsible for any global warming. “What if” scanarios do not equate to responsibility for entirely natural events.
Global warming since the LIA is entirely natural. The global warming trend has not accelerated, which would be required following the 40% rise in CO2 — if the catastrophic AGW belief was true. In fact, global warming has stopped.
I advise you to worry about something real, instead of an invented scare story.

Stephen Wilde
June 21, 2013 10:30 am

Neat idea.
Warmer is better.

Robert Austin
June 21, 2013 10:40 am

David vun Kannon says:
June 21, 2013 at 9:54 am
I think your basic premise is helpful. Let’s accept the reality of global warming, and our responsibility for it, and discuss the consequences and policy implications of that shared understanding.

Are you being a willfully obtuse? Knappenberger is merely showing how the “consensus” view does not inevitably point to increasing adjusted damages due to weather events. Nowhere does Knappenberger indicate that he credits measurable and significant man made climate change. Your content-free post skirts close to trollism.

June 21, 2013 10:49 am

As someone who doesn’t really follow such a flawed metric such as ‘billion dollar disasters,’ I wonder if these lists take into account inflation? Unless they normalize costs to a specific year’s $ values, I would expect there to be a new ‘record’ # of billion dollar disasters every few years. This is the same reason there is a new #1 grossing movie of all time every 5-10 years even though nothing has beaten 1939’s Gone With the Wind in inflation adjusted dollars.

Bruce Cobb
June 21, 2013 11:09 am

The current science of climate doomology suggests that only extreme weather events like Sandy qualify as coming under the manmade climate rubric. All else would just be weather, including events that could have been worse if only conditions had been more favorable. For instance, had there not been a blocking ridge of high pressure, Sandy would have been steered harmlessly out into the ocean. Voila, weather. You just have to know how these things work. /sarc

June 21, 2013 11:10 am

David vun Kannon says:
June 21, 2013 at 9:54 am
I think your basic premise is helpful. Let’s accept the reality of global warming,
David, your reality of global warming is nothing more than a blip on the screen…..
See that little up-tic on the end?……the overall trend is down

John Greenfraud
June 21, 2013 11:16 am

Billion dollar disasters? How about Trillion dollar disasters. The number one disaster would be the climate change political movement and it’s green rent-seekers. Number two would be the lost opportunity costs and the lost productivity costs associated with forced government mandate in association with dishonest climate hacks. The whole bunch should be rounded up and charged under the organised crime statutes (RICO).

John B., M.D.
June 21, 2013 11:18 am

More global warming might have prevented the Challenger disaster.

Sun Spot
June 21, 2013 11:19 am

Total billion bunk, seeing as there really hasn’t been any warming for 16 years.

Steve Keohane
June 21, 2013 11:28 am

Matt says:June 21, 2013 at 10:49 am
I wondered about taking inflation into account as well. I would guess it would take some $4B in 2013 dollars to cover $1B in 1980 dollars.

Tim Clark
June 21, 2013 11:29 am

Kansas received a multidecadal record breaking “worst evar” snowfall amount this spring, averting what would have been a multiple billion, natural drouth caused crop failure (The winter wheat had not even germinated till March).
As warm means cold, does this qualify?

June 21, 2013 11:39 am

An amusing post. However, two wrongs do not make a right. Warming stopped 17 years ago. So, if we object to Alarmists trying to attribute storms to AGW, we should not be trying to attribute a lack of them to AGW. At least not without a lot more obvious /sarc.

June 21, 2013 11:42 am

Conservative perspectives on climate change and its solutions.

David in Texas
June 21, 2013 12:13 pm

Chip, what a great idea. We could also add “if only there were a little more global warming”. Such as, if only there were little more global warming those poor elderly would have did last winter from hypothermia. If only there were a little more global warming, it wouldn’t have rained and that car accident in the rain storm wouldn’t have happen, etc.

June 21, 2013 12:42 pm

30 years ago, I had a conversation with a teacher in 12th grade that went like this:
Teacher: some say that a butterfly flapping its wings can cause a hurricane
Me: if that’s so, couldn’t a butterfly flapping its wings PREVENT one?
Teacher: stop disrupting the class….

John West
June 21, 2013 1:28 pm

This is the first time in a long time I’ve read the words “consistent with” without wanting to slap somebody.

June 21, 2013 1:53 pm

You missed the sarcasm tag at the beginning and end sarcasm tag at the end of the article. Some of the commenters think this is for real. Funny.

Eugene WR Gallun
June 21, 2013 2:17 pm

Love your sense of humor. Argue from within their camp to show what fools they are. This is a method only employed by the great satirists. Nicely done.
Eugene WR Gallun

June 21, 2013 3:29 pm

I love this angle. It’s taking a leaf out of the Warmists book. Now, if the world cools we can blame every weather disaster on global cooling and demand worldwide governmental action. We can say that the evidence is everywhere maaan (while avoiding providing peer reviewed evidence of trends).

Abstract – 2012
Persistent non-solar forcing of Holocene storm dynamics in coastal sedimentary archives
“We find that high storm activity occurred periodically with a frequency of about 1,500 years, closely related to cold and windy periods diagnosed earlier”

DISCLAIMER: The following has NOT been peer reviewed and is for entertainment purposes only. 🙂

“So what does the future hold for us in terms of hurricanes? Based on the numerous empirical observations from the ocean basins described above, it is clear that there is no support for the climate-alarmist claim that global warming increases both the frequency and intensity of hurricanes. In fact, the data seem to suggest just the opposite.”

Gunga Din
June 21, 2013 3:40 pm

This is interesting.
Unfortunately, coming from the US Treasury Dept. and following Obama’s latest claims of climate calamity, it will probably be used to call for even more targeted taxes.

June 21, 2013 5:11 pm

Jimbo says:
June 21, 2013 at 3:29 pm
“I love this angle. It’s taking a leaf out of the Warmists book.”
They don’t care. They’re fighting a war of attrition. Catastrophist arguments have been refuted since Julian Simon, they never change their tactics. Their PR engine is adept at pushing a variation of alarmist memes without ever stopping. Alarmists switch seamlessly from one tactic to the other. Attack where the enemy is not. Case in point, do you think the German Greens have said ONE PEEP about global warming – let alone nature protection – in the run up to the German elections? Nope. Social justice it is.

June 21, 2013 5:45 pm

How about without global warming there would be many tax-payer funded global cooling doomsdayers gettting ever-increasing amounts of taxpayer funds; making reverse hockeysticks, blaming most of the cold on ‘human activities releasing aerosols into the atmospehere’, asking for ever more funding to reduce the increase in cold-related deaths, saying the reefs will die because the water will get too cold, predicting loss of species which can’t adapt to the cold (despite many recent ice ages), activitists travelling to warmer climates to highlight what will happen when it looks like the arctic, “people just won’t know what a thunderstorm is”, reducing government’s GDP with efforts to warm the planet, predicting water shortages in India and China due to reduced precipitation and snow cover in a colder world, showing whole towns that will disappear under glacial ice, saying tornadoes will increase due to more colder air mixing with the warmer air of the tropics, etc etc.
You get the idea.

June 21, 2013 5:54 pm

Even The Economist now admits that global warming has stopped for the past 16+ years. Let’s look at a chart made from a satellite database that is accepted by both sides of the debate.
Here is another view.
Global warming is entirely natural. And as we see, it has stopped.

June 22, 2013 4:46 am

Yes David,
ANYTHING from Tamino is totally BOGUS !

Bruce Cobb
June 22, 2013 8:56 am

That isn’t a chart David; it’s a graft. Something grifters like tamino like to use.

Janice Moore
June 22, 2013 9:02 pm

Chip Knappenberger in above WUWT post says:
1) “In reality, not a whole lot of creativity is really needed to come up with ways that anthropogenic climate change has made things better.”
2) “In fact, we are currently in the midst of the longest period since 1900 that the U.S. has gone without a major hurricane making landfall—and this despite human-caused climate change.”
3) “Florida Freeze, February 16-18th, 2013. *** Had anthropogenic global warming not been in operation, a billion dollar crop loss may have occurred … .”
4) “… probably several potential billion-dollar weather disasters that human-caused global warming averted… .”
What Knappenberger wrote above clearly implies that he assumes that humans can cause global climate change (warming, here). If he did not intend to communicate that message to us, then he needs to do a much better job of writing. That is, either his writing meant what its plain meaning says, or he is a sloppy writer. If he intended to be facetious, he did a very poor job of it.
Why have you not responded to the confusion evidenced by the above comments about your message, Mr. Knappenberger? Were you arguing purely ad argumentum as to human causation of “climate change?” Why did you not make that clear?
If not, why do you believe humans can cause global climate change? As several fine posters above already mentioned, THERE IS NO EVIDENCE for that fantastic assertion. None.
Thanks for sharing your work. It, without some serious revision, strongly supports the pro-Human CO2-Controls-Earth’s-Climate view.
Thus, at this point, your work is PROMOTING SCIENTIFIC FRAUD.

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