Hearing on climate change and natural disasters: Today (Now)

Reposted from Dr. Curry’s Climate Etc.

Posted on June 25, 2019 by curryja |

by Judith Curry

The House Oversight and Reform Environmental Subcommittee in a Hearing on Recovery, Resilience and Readiness – Contending with Natural Disasters in the Wake of Climate Change begins at 2 pm EDT.

The announcement for the Hearing is posted [here].  Based on previous Hearings from the Committee, live streaming should be available at the above link (and links to the written testimonies), and also a podcast for later viewing.

The link to my written testimony is here [Testimony Oversight and Reform 2019 v2].

Link to Mann’s testimony is here [ ]Mann.20190612.Testimony.

Verbal remarks

Below is the text of my prepared verbal remarks:

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 manmade 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 manmade global warming.

The elevated wildfires in the western U.S. since the 1980’s is partly caused by state and federal polices 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 manmade global warming 
would not be noticeable for a number of decades.

Blaming extreme weather events on manmade climate change, and focusing only on what to do after lives 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.

This concludes my testimony.

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38 thoughts on “Hearing on climate change and natural disasters: Today (Now)

  1. Our side is way too nice….would it hurt anyone to just flat out …in their face…say they are lying?

    • I am a big fan of Judith, since she ‘edited’ many of my CE guest posts that then became part of my ebook Blowing Smoke, and then also wrote a gracious foreword.
      She is spot on here, and really knows her CFAN stuff. Her IRMA track forecast is just one example, which saved me a messy unnecessary evacuation from Fort Lauderdale.

      • Yes, this testimony is short and to the point. Clearly states the points without hyperbole and politics. A true scientist in an ocean of “activists”.

    • The point of her commentary is to educate and to persuade, not to engage in angry rhetoric.

      The facts are what matter. Armed with facts, reasonable government policies can be put to use.

      Just this week I read a book,.”A Cold Welcome”, published in 2017 by a Harvard historian, Sam White. The book delved into how the extreme weather events that accompanied the Little Ice Age as the Europeans began to colonize North America north of Mexico affected the early rather tragic results, including the “Starving Time” experienced by the Jamestown settlers in the first decade of the 17th century. A very interesting and well written book combining both primary historical sources and recreations of climate via various proxies to describe the bitter results of global cooling, including extreme weather events.

      So the currently popular notion that global warming causes extreme weather is effectively debunked using actual historical knowledge.

  2. That is not going to cut it for the people bound and determined to tax every molecule of CO2 for the benefit of the global green blob. I am sure Dr. Curry was shown the light be the incredible intellect of AOC — and her claims of impending climate disaster.

  3. People are starting to get clues. Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s take is complementary to that of Dr. Curry.

    I hesitate to give advice because every major single piece of advice I was given turned out to be wrong and I am glad I didn’t follow them. I was told to focus and I never did. I was told to never procrastinate and I waited 20 years for The Black Swan and it sold 3 million copies. I was told to avoid putting fictional characters in my books and I did put in Nero Tulip and Fat Tony because I got bored otherwise. I was told to not insult the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, the more I insulted them the nicer they were to me and solicit op-eds. I was told to avoid lifting weights for a back pain and became a weightlifter: never had a back problem since.

    If I had to relive my life I would be even more stubborn and uncompromising than I have been. One should never do anything without skin in the game. If you give advice, you need to be exposed to losses from it.

    These are the people everyone should be listening to. Experts such as Mann and Ehrlich should be avoided at all costs. They are experts because that is the definition of someone with a lot of knowledge. The other definition of expert describes someone who can actually do something. The Mann-Ehrlich kind of expert has opinions which have no more predictive value than those generated by a dart-throwing monkey.

    Prediction is difficult, especially about the future. In his books, Taleb tells us exactly why that is the case and why we should act accordingly.

    • I always thought that the definition of an expert (exspurt)t was that an “ex” is a has been and a “spurt” was a drip under pressure.

    • cB,

      Thanks for the link to the wiki. I did not know who this person was. However, I have independently thought along these same lines for a long time.

      His basic meme is one we have all heard before, “necessity is the mother of invention”.

    • “The Mann-Ehrlich kind of expert has opinions which have no more predictive value than those generated by a drunken, blindfolded, dart-throwing monkey.”

      Fixed!

  4. There were no major hurricanes at US landfall in 2017.
    Michael 2018 was not a hurricane at US landfall (October 10, 2018) based on NDBC surface station data.
    The highest sustained winds were 61 knots at the offshore Tyndall AFB tower (NDBC SGOF1) with anemometer height of 35 meters above sea level. Here is a plot of winds recorded at the time of the storm.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/108196908@N08/43439968280

    Just now checking the NDBC data for that station, the historical data for 2018 show no data listing for October.

    Another NDBC station (APCF1) on shore near Apalachicola, FL landfall recorded maximum sustained winds of 54 knots. Hurricane sustained wind threshold for Saffir-Simpson category 1 is 64 knots.

    Photos of surface damage are consistent with the winds recorded by the NDBC surface anemometers.
    There is NO WAY that surface damage during Michael is in any way comparable to hurrican Andrew 1992 which was a legitamate category 5.

    The last legitimate major hurricane landfall in the US was Wilma in 2005

      • There wasn’t much wind damage beyond the beachfront neighborhood that got wiped out by the storm surge. Not much roof or tree damage directly across the street from that destroyed neighborhood that would be characteristic of a category 5 storm. Storm surge damage isn’t a factor in hurricane category ratings.

      • Mexico Beach had so little beach front before it hit the water that it was inevitable storm surge would eventually wipe some of it out. I stayed there a few times, once within a year of the hurricane. Beautiful, quiet place. Extremely short beach.

        • I’ve spent time there too, most recently fall of ‘17. Beach may be short in places but the water tower went down along with forest several hundred feet from the beach & up the hill. icisil says not much damage but I see roofs missing up the hill. More damage on western side near eye wall. I’m not going to argue cat 4 vs 5 and from a historical weather frequency perspective, I don’t think it would change the analysis. We still have the record hurricane drought.

    • Dude,

      I never reply to people’s comments, but I had to here. I live in Mexico Beach. Look at the satellite images. Homes are destroyed and pine forests snapped off clear up to I-10 60 miles North of Mexico Beach. The house beside me to the South blew off its pilings and disintegrated into my house. We were past the surge line, so all the damage was wind related. I have lived most of my life on the gulf coast and have been through many hurricanes. To say that Michael was not even a category 1 storm and only hit 61 knots is just plain crazy.
      I am a global warming skeptic, and I think the movement has become a religion for un-thinking people, but facts are facts, and hurricane Michael was a monster.

      • As I posted, recorded wind speeds were 61 knots. The live video of reporters at the time of the storm was consistent with 60 knot winds. Flagging of palm tree fronds, etc.
        The Saffir-Simpson scale of wind damage is consistent with tropical storm force winds. The Saffir-Simpson scale for Category 1 winds equates wind speeds to surface damage across the storm path that was not seen in post storm photos and videos I saw. People take photos that cherry pick damage because it supports their egos.
        If Michael was a major hurricane, Mexico Beach would have been wiped off the face of the Earth.
        I saw the damage path of Andrew 1992 first hand a few weeks after the storm. It looked like an Atomic Bomb had gone off.
        I have seen extensive views of the post storm damage of Mexico Beach, people who post photos are cherry picking dramatic damage. Take a video tour of the damage driving along the highway from Apalachicola to Pensacola and look at all the evidence, along the entire path of the storm.
        Video shows what kind of damage a tropical storm can cause to ground structures of mixed age and quality. The weaker and poorly made structures show damage, some newer houses had some siding pulled off, but mostly are intact with even the glass windows surviving. Stop signs and flag poles are still standing. Wooden utility poles and wires are up. Palm trees along the highway show no damage generally.
        Go to the google street view that shows post storm damage along highway 98 to see what everyone sees. The damage is typical of what a tropical storm can do. If you want to call Michael a major hurricane then it is up to you to explain the consistent lack of damage that supports you claim.
        Or show one anemometer recording sustained winds over 61 knots.

        • All I can say is stupid is as stupid does. I live there. I see the damage every day. Get off of Google maps and come see. Tyndall AFB and Mexico Beach were destroyed. There were no street signs or stop signs left. Whoever the authorities are upgraded the thing to a category 5. They did that off a 60 mph anemometer?

          This has proven to me you can read anything on the internet. God bless uninformed free speech.

      • I’ve driven through there, many years ago. I’ve also driven along Hwy 98 from Apalachicola to New Orleans. The *worst* storm damage that I’ve ever seen was from 1969’s Camille; and that was *years* later when I did it. I’ve also seen what Hugo and Ivan and a few others have done. Ivan damaged my old house, some 170 miles *inland*; where it was still producing hurricane force winds, as measured hurricane force gusts, as far inland as Tuscaloosa!

        I won’t say that Mexico Beach was not badly damaged. It was; but more likely from localized tropical system’s landfall induced tornadoes, especially ones in the eyewall. I’ve also seen what F5s can do. The damage is localized along its path. Along the path, it’s horrid. Far enough away from it, it isn’t much.

  5. From the article: “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.”

    What do you know, the NCA got one thing right! 🙂

    So I guess that means current temperatures are not unprecedented. Which means we are not experiencing CAGW. Trump was right, CAGW was and is a hoax.

  6. The best way to deal with problems resulting from weather events is to have
    sufficient money available in a Federal fund, safe from persons wanting
    to use it for other purposes.

    So how do we create such a fund, why by increasing overall productivity.
    So how do we do that?

    Simple by removing every rule and regulation which is against the
    responsible use of energy. Its simple, a rich country can afford to both
    prepare for and adopt to coming weather events. Get rid of this Green
    nonsense, they only want to destroy the economy for their own reasons.

    MJE VK5ELL

    • … safe from persons wanting to use it for other purposes.

      I can’t find the link but it compared flood readiness in the Netherlands with that in New Orleans before Katrina. It wasn’t flattering.

      A lot of the difference had to do with considerable corruption both before and after Katrina. Corruption has become a major problem in America and I don’t see an easy fix. link

      • Trump’s second term will be the fix. When (if) he shuts down the excessive federal government spending to reduce the size of the trough, the pigs will need to find a new place to feed.

        It will bring on Californication of all liberal controlled states, that is where the corrupt will go to feed.

  7. I felt sick reading Mann’s garbage submission, preaching death and destruction without actually providing evidence of any physical link between anthropogenic CO2 and climate change (much less global warming), other than the discredited computer models. Fortunately Dr Curry’s written submission does provide actual data countermanding just about all of Mann’s claims.

    However, we all know that the whole thing is driven by politics and vested interests and so facts are of little significance. The frustrating thing is it will always be this way while research agencies depend upon government funding. I can’t imagine the head of a research agency going before the government committee allocating funds and saying that actually things are fine and just following natural processes. Nor can I imagine a player in the green industrial complex ever admitting that solar and wind are in fact not viable alternatives to fossil fuel or nuclear for global energy needs. Nor can I ever imagine an editor knocking back a disaster lead article. Nor can I imagine any politician passing over an issue that might give political advantage. Nor can I imagine a radical protestor turning down any issue that might provide a platform to vent their anger.

    The only hope seems to be those few remaining experts who have enough integrity to stand up and call out the scam, whatever the cost. May they continue to receive our gratitude and support. Ultimately the whole issue will be resolved by nature herself, though sadly by then countless billions of dollars that could otherwise have been used to solve some real world problems like disease and poverty will have been wasted lining the pockets of rent-seekers and pushing political agendas.

  8. no passion, which may help get ones point across,
    or is that not allowed in these hearings

  9. Through the ages, and apparently still today, people have faith in a priesthood to stop storms, the govt has an obligation to spend its money on resilience, not on obviously inconsequential attempts to change the composition of the atmosphere.

  10. I would not be consistent if I did not mention the over use and reliance on too many of models. For people that live and work in the technical fields especially multi-variable, non-linear chaotic systems, models and their use are necessary and required. However, your normal layperson does not have a enough knowledge of the world and the universe to appreciate a particular model’s usefulness and where it falls apart. My example would be the Newtonian physics model as applied to the macro world versus Quantum Mechanical Model. Both are tools and both have their places and both are validated for answering questions of our particular universe or even a subset thereof. However, they both have places where they fall apart. Climate and weather models are no different.

    I wished more consideration and more time was spent to education our policy makers as what a model is and is not. A model may or may not equal 2 + 2 = 4. Or a particular model may fall apart within a given event progression. Models are tools and those tools need a documented validation review just like any other scientific tool. Those who do not understand should come to direction of people who do understand. None of us are served by dumbing down the conversation…

    Another mistake that is often made is the equality of:

    Knowledge = Intellectual prowess

    Anybody can read a book so clearly Knowledge =! Intellectual prowess (pointing to Mann, Ehrlich, Schmidt)

    Otherwise known as expert confirmation bias – maybe the SJW’s should take note of their unconscious biases. Any so-called experts could be morons. A true high integrity expert says, “I do not know”.

    I digressed….
    /soapbox off

    Thank you to Dr. Curry for pointing out what did happen versus what the doom and gloom alarmists predicated.

    • Don’t you worry your little head about that as the climate changers are busily beavering away with the global thermostat to get the temperature back to where they know it should be. You’ll be advised in due course when the correct temperature has been reached and your layperson role is simply to keep up the sustainability.

  11. No contest. Not a fact in Mann and ad hominem at that. Enjoyed JC’s use of one of Mann’s madder quotes. And in Mann “droughts.. think Syria and California”. How’s the Nevada snow pack today?

  12. Joe Bastardi has been commenting on the current length of time of zero global tropical storms is at a near-record.

  13. A model that shows that increased CO2 from fossil fuels will cause a 5% increase in Atlantic hurricane strength? My intuitive math tells me there isn’t enough energy in this tiny increase to cause a fricken hurricane season to increase in strength a whopping 5%. Where’s my BS button! Now I am nowhere near Judith’s intellect here and I understand she only referred to the model, but I can say with certainty that my seat of the pants grandparents, were they alive today, would have called BS on that one. The wisdom of those who experienced the swings of weather patterns from the early 1900’s through the 1980’s, combined with two World Wars, have a better “model”. It’s called plant like hell and store up during pleasant weather patterns in order to survive during drought patterns, AGW need not apply. Based on their model, I can predict that the cost of natural and non-climate related disasters will FAR outweigh the cost of weather pattern changes.

    • Satellite data show OLR has gone up from 238 to 242 watts per square meter, which indicates a small drop in planetary albedo. Most of that was a step change in 1998, so it can not be caused by CO2 which is linear. Probably northern hemisphere surface soot.
      If global temperature increased from 288K to 289k, then the percent change is 289/288 = 0.3 percent

      There is overwhelming scientific evidence that temperatures in 2019 have not significantly increased, but those observations are always ignored. Ex. plots of total rainfall, zero trends in absolute humidty, etc. There are some well maintained surface stations that have temperature trends of zero for decades.
      See Humlum’s climate4you site for a good summary.

      When I took a graduate level class in atmospheric chemistry in the 1980s, no one cared about temperatures. The “ozone hole” was the latest issue that researchers tried to use to extract grant money.
      But the evidence already showed the chemistry was self-correcting. Some refrigerant gas makers made some money, but that’s it. Same goes today for “global warming” in that the science really says the issue is self-correcting and no human action is needed. That’s why I lost interest decades ago. At least agriculture will improve, but now that the politicians are involved, the science is moot.
      Honest scientists who understand the issue know the same facts, and the same solution.

  14. 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.

    –>

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

    https://www.google.com/search?q=depleting+the+ogallala+aquifer&oq=depleting+the+ogallala+&aqs=chrome.

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