Guest essay by Eric Worrall
James Hamblin of The Atlantic seems to think it is OK to use hurricane disasters to raise awareness of climate change, because most Americans are not currently threatened by extreme weather.
It Is a Time to Talk About Climate Change
A note on the false dichotomy between prevention and treatment
In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said that now is not the time to talk about climate change.
“Here’s the issue,” he said. “To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm, versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced.”
Fortunately this is not a choice that need be made. There is vulgarity in politicizing tragedies for the sake of gaining power, and crassness in pointing fingers and placing blame instead of mourning a tragedy. But of course these aren’t the only options. In the interest of minimizing harm to people, it’s always an important time to talk about climate change. We don’t have to choose between helping current victims and working to prevent the next tragedy.
Even amid this unprecedented sequence of hurricanes and destruction, most Americans are not in the path of danger. Those who want to lend a hand—to save lives and minimize harm and do something—stand to do much good by using this moment of awareness to prepare for a severe-weather event that does eventually affect their community.
Doing so does not require litigating the exact degree to which carbon emissions contributed or didn’t contribute to these exact hurricanes. It only means acknowledging that climate change is occurring, and it increases the likelihood of severe weather that will harm people.
In addition to preparing homes and communities accordingly, we make daily and hourly decisions about how much we contribute to that risk, and how much we do to mitigate it. It’s more than possible to talk simultaneously about prevention and treatment; it’s irresponsible not to.
As I noted in a previous post, NOAA doesn’t think the alleged impact of anthropogenic CO2 on storm intensity is detectable. (h/t Benny Peiser)
… It is premature to conclude that human activities–and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming–have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity. That said, human activities may have already caused changes that are not yet detectable due to the small magnitude of the changes or observational limitations, or are not yet confidently modeled (e.g., aerosol effects on regional climate). …
Here is what the IPCC says about climate change and hurricanes;
… Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin … In summary, confidence in large scale changes in the intensity of extreme extratropical cyclones since 1900 is low …
You don’t have to be in the path of a disaster to feel its impact.
My opinion, if organisations like NOAA and the IPCC have both concluded there is currently no discernible anthropogenic influence on hurricanes and cyclones, what James Hamblin is pushing isn’t science.