Guest opinion: Dr. Tim Ball
The east coast of America experienced a storm surge, heavy rain, flooding, and strong winds that blew down trees. Also, regrettably, a few people who live in the area lost their lives. These are all normal events, except the loss of lives which only began after people occupied the region. In fact, the total impact was below the normal for long-term averages of hurricanes in this region. Being surprised by the impacts of a hurricane in this region is like being surprised by flooding when you live on a floodplain.
The whole story of hurricane Florence underscores the degree of corruption of natural events for a political agenda. All the players, from the bureaucrats at the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), through the media, and the historical role of Insurance companies, created misinformation, misused and omitted data, to nakedly distort the reality. They took a perfectly normal, well within even brief historical sequence event, and turned it into a never before seen monster.
The role of NOAA in this is further evidence of their collusion in the deception that is anthropogenic global warming (AGW). With Florence, they got almost everything wrong. The computer model predictions of the path and strength were wrong even in such a short distance and in 48 hours; a period for which they claim a high level of accuracy. They claimed the hurricane path was very unusual because it was further north than usual. No, it wasn’t. I was in Bermuda in the early 1960s when we were forced to evacuate because of a hurricane moving in.
On Wednesday the 12th I did four radio programs across America explaining what was wrong with the hype and predictions about hurricane Florence. By Wednesday evening they already downgraded Florence from a Category 4 to a Category 2, and it came ashore barely as a Category 1. In fact, it was amusing to see how long they continued to report it with wind speeds of 75 mph because if it was 74 mph, it was no longer a hurricane. NOAA control the wind speed determinations with their estimates from one or two flights above the hurricane from which, using models they estimate surface speed. We know these are consistently higher than reality, but a higher speed allows for a higher hurricane category and greater media attention.
The major story with Florence was the level of exploitation and hype by every segment of society all driven by the so-called experts getting it wrong. In just that one small region of the world with a reasonable supply of information, several computers gave different paths and potential outcomes. The idea that a cone of potential paths is somehow helpful or is an improvement is laughable. All you have to do is look at the tracks of all previous hurricanes and with a known starting point draw a cone. It doesn’t need a computer. The truth is the forecasters got the most important parts of the dynamics wrong.
Apparently, the NOAA forecast ignored three major mechanisms. One was the presence of colder water as Florence moved north. The fuel source for a hurricane is the latent heat of evaporation carried up and released as sensible heat after condensation. Estimates are that a moderate hurricane, like Florence, evaporates 2 billion gallons of water an hour. This is why, when the system moves over land it dissipates very quickly. Another was the three-dimensional dynamics of a system that stretches from the surface to the Tropopause. That very distinct boundary is twice as high over the Equator (approximate average, 18 km) as it is over the Poles (approximate average, 8 km). This means the system gets flattened out as it moves north, which explains why Florence became much wider. As it widens the wind speed diminishes in the opposite effect to a skater spinning with arms spread spinning slowly and increasing spin rate as the arms are drawn in. Very simply, the speed of rotation is determined by the radius of the mass from the axis of rotation. The combination of the energy in the system and the reduced speed of rotation served to alter the path the system takes. The Coriolis Effect is changed, which is partly why they got the direction wrong in such a short distance.
As Florence’s Category decreased the wind speed decreased but also the atmospheric pressure decreased. At 955 mb it was above average, but this increased with the category change. This is very important because a major cause of the surge is the weight of the atmosphere pushing down on the ocean surface. With low pressure the surface bulges up and it moves along with the system. When this long low amplitude wave reaches shore it becomes the tidal surge. It is amplified on the windward side of the hurricane center and also if it coincides with high tide. These factors should be part of the estimate of flooding potential.
The media distortions were fully represented by the reporter pretending to lean over because of the wind when people in shorts stroll casually past. Unseen in all this, is the role insurance companies played in this history of this exploitation. They did far more to exploit the deception of AGW or profit than any energy company.
I was reminded of this with the misinformation and unadulterated exploitation of hurricane Florence by alarmists and the media. Attempts to present the hurricane as abnormal and link it to climate change were naked and almost desperate. It reached a nadir when the Washington Post wrote,
Yet when it comes to extreme weather, Mr. Trump is complicit. He plays down humans’ role in increasing the risks, and he continues to dismantle efforts to address those risks. It is hard to attribute any single weather event to climate change. But there is no reasonable doubt that humans are priming the Earth’s systems to produce disasters.
This is a reference to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. A good article about this distortion was presented by James Agresti on WUWT. I will only add two points. Bjorn Lomborg calculated that even if fully implemented the Paris Agreement would make no difference. He wrote,
The climate impact of all Paris INDC promises is minuscule: if we measure the impact of every nation fulfilling every promise by 2030, the total temperature reduction will be 0.048°C (0.086°F) by 2100. (His emphasis).
This reduction is within the error of the estimate, and it incorrectly assumes that CO2 is causing warming. To add insult to injury, China, Russia, and India, combined adding far more CO2 and not required to reduce production until 2030, are demanding money from the Green Climate Fund approved in Paris.
A hurricane is normal and is only defined as disastrous because of the damage, death, and destruction it does to humans and their constructions. Like the tree falling in the forest, all the other impacts of flooding and trees blown would occur even if humans were not present. Over time more and more people moved into the hurricane-prone region and suffered the consequences. All of the more severe consequences resulted from the enabling and false sense of security created by government and insurance companies. For example, two of the greatest loss of lives involved Galveston, Texas and New Orleans. In 1900, an estimated 12,000 people drowned in Galveston because an earthen dam failed. Authorities dramatically downplayed the loss of lives for political and economic reasons. In 2005, hurricane Katrina came ashore at New Orleans, and 1833 people died, most from the flooding. They were behind a dike that the US Army Corps of Engineers sought to fortify but were blocked by environmental groups. Katrina, like Florence, was hyped and even today Wikipedia still says,
Hurricane Katrina was an extremely destructive and deadly Category 5 hurricane that struck the Gulf Coast of the United States in August 2005.
In fact, Katrina was barely Category 3 when it came ashore.
Before Katrina, the most expensive in terms of claims for damage ($108 billion) was hurricane Andrew at $26.5 billion in 1992. This is important because the multiple small insurance companies were unable to satisfy all the claims. As a result, a few insurance companies were created to provide insurance to smaller companies, called re-insurance. They offered insurance to the smaller companies in the event of another similar overwhelming disaster. There are hundreds of them today because it is such a lucrative business. I know this because a former student of mine who is a manager handling a large portfolio (a few billion) is always looking for companies with very low overheads and extremely high cash assets. He identified a few for consideration but never invests without talking to management. He discovered that a short list of the largest early players, such as Swiss-Re and Munich-Re, established bases in Bermuda. He arranged to visit with a few of them and invited me to talk with them about how they build hurricane forecasting into their strategies.
The businesses were based in Bermuda because of a tax-free deal. Bermuda benefitted from the large amounts of cash moving through their banking systems. Ironically, the majority of staff at these companies in Bermuda were young men and women formally working for Lloyds of London. They all lost their jobs after Lloyds was unable to manage claims mostly from oil tanker spills.
As I recall, we visited with at least four companies and asked them all the same questions about hurricanes and research science and forecasting. I asked them if they followed the work of the late Dr. William (Bill) Gray at the University of Colorado. In every case, they said they did not pay any attention to weather or climate forecasting in general and hurricane forecasting specifically, and none knew about Dr. Gray. I asked them how they determined rates from year to year if they didn’t consider research and expert predictions. One answer represented the overall view, ‘We charge what the market will bear.’
The shameless part of all this was the overt activity by some of these companies, but especially Swiss-Re in promoting its business. They joined the Chicago Climate Exchange that was central to carbon credits trading and had Maurice Strong on the Board. They claimed they joined to “facilitate reduction of carbon emissions.” You could argue their intent was genuine as expressed here
Swiss Re uses its core skills in risk assessment and risk transfer to address sustainability challenges, including climate change. While its specialists foster the exchange of relevant knowledge within the company, they also collaborate with external experts to achieve a better understanding of environmental issues.
The trouble is even minimum research showed carbon credits increase CO2 in the atmosphere. Why didn’t they find this?
A UN-endorsed carbon offset scheme designed to reduce emissions has actually increased them massively, a study by a green think tank has found.
As well as pumping much as 600 million tonnes more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the carbon credits scheme has been abused by countries like Russia and the Ukraine which have used them as a money-making scam.
Then there is Swiss Re sponsorship of a documentary (here). They explain
“As part of our core focus on sustainability, Swiss Re has been committed to actively raising awareness of climate change issues for well over a decade and we believe that ‘The Great Warming’ is an important step forward,” said Mr. Simon Lam, General Manager for the Hong Kong Branch of Swiss Re.”
Here is a press release about the movie that pushes all the propaganda buttons.
Narrated by Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves, The Great Warming is a dramatic film about climate change that sweeps around the world to reveal how a changing climate is affecting the lives of people everywhere. It has been called “the best film about global warming ever shot,” and taps into the growing groundswell of public interest in this topic to present an emotional, accurate picture of our children’s planet.
The Great Warming includes hard-hitting comments from scientists and opinion-makers about America’s lack of leadership in what is certainly the most critical environmental issue of the 21st century, as well as new scenes documenting the emerging voice of the America’s faith communities urging action on climate change.
Why do they need to say “our children’s planet? What do “faith communities” have to do with climate change? The answer is because it is all about the political and emotional exploitation of natural events.
Perhaps the most egregious distortion created by the insurance industry was the claim that hurricanes were increasing in intensity. It turned out the data they used was the increasing cost of claims. Of course, this was almost all due to the increasing gouging for materials and labor before and after the event.
AGW is the biggest fake news story of all created and perpetuated by the bureaucrats who are the deep state. A single small moderate and normal hurricane named Florence demonstrated the level of deceptions across the social and political spectrum. We need to ask how much longer can people who consistently get their forecasts wrong, retain credibility and keep their jobs? If Upton Sinclair is correct,
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.
Then it will be a long time before they go, especially adding, for me, Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s even more disturbing observation that,
“To do evil, a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good.”
Finally, just a couple of many questions to underscore the insanity of it all. Consider how much infrastructure could be made hurricane proof with the billions of dollars spent by the Federal government on AGW. Why aren’t there mandatory building codes for a hurricane region that has existed for thousands of years and will continue, with or without climate change?