‘Alarmism enforcement’ on hurricanes and global warming

From Dr. Judith Curry’s Climate Etc.

‘Alarmism enforcement’ on hurricanes and global warming

Posted on September 7, 2019 by curryja | 1 Comment

by Judith Curry

I used to be concerned about ‘consensus enforcement’ on the topic of climate change.  Now I am concerned about ‘alarmism enforcement.’

Ever since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, any hurricane causing catastrophic damage has been seized upon  by climate alarmists as evidence of the horrors of global warming.

As if the record-holding hurricanes from the 1920’s through the 1950’s never happened.

The catastrophic damage to the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian is no different.  The ‘official’ statement from the alarmist contingent of climate scientists appears to be this article in the Guardian, by Mann and Dessler:

Unfortunately for the alarmists, there are several factors that are getting in the way of the public promotion of the Mann/Dessler narrative:

Alabama-gate: President Trump’s insistence on defending his erroneous statements about the forecasts for Dorian impacting Alabama.  A good article summarizing all this was coauthored by one of my former students at Georgia Tech, Brandon Miller [link].

After the Alabama National Weather Service office made a statement that Alabama was not at risk from Dorian, NOAA issued a statement defending President Trump  [link].  A WaPo article describes this latest development [link], and the subsequent outrage among scientists and NOAA employees (past and present.

This whole situation is taking the oxygen out of the room in terms of discussions regarding Dorian and global warming.  Gotta wonder if this was the strategy?

New statement from GFDL:  For about a decade (or even longer), the NOAA GFDL group has annually updated their statement on hurricanes and climate change [link].

Michael Mann is not happy with the GFDL statement, see this twitter thread: (well you can see it if you aren’t blocked)

New assessment from the WMO: The other factor getting in the way of the Dorian alarmism is the recent publication of two papers by a distinguished international group of scientists who serve on the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Task Team on Tropical Cyclones:

These two papers are discussed in the following section of this post.  The punchline is that these papers do not support the narrative of the Mann/Dessler piece with any kind of confidence.

GFDL scientists Tom Knutson is first author on both of the WMO papers, and also involved in preparing the GFDL statement.

The alarmist/activists are not happy:

In the old days, we had to rely on computer hackers (e.g. ClimateGate) and FOIA requests to provide insights into the back-channel thuggery of these activist climate scientists.  Now this  thuggish behavior has been normalized, and we can see it all on twitter (that is, if you aren’t blocked).

Possible unanticipated fallout from all this:  NOAA and GFDL will be discredited by the climate alarmists.

New publications from the WMO

The two new publications by Knutson et al. deserve further discussion.  Both papers have the same 11 authors. There are multiple authors from the U.S., but also China, Japan, India, Korea and Australia.  From the U.S., names you might recognize are Kerry Emanuel and Jim Kossin.  As I understand it, the whole issue of hurricanes and climate change is less politicized outside the U.S.

“The authors of this report include some former members of the expert team for the WMO 2010 assessment (Knutson et al. 2010) along with current membership of a WMO Task Team on Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change. The Task Team members were invited to become members by the WMO World Weather Research Program’s Working Group on Tropical Meteorology Research.”

It is difficult to argue that the authors are anything but a very distinguished group  of hurricane scientists with expertise on the dynamics of hurricanes and climate change.

My recent post Extremes included a brief discussion of Part I:

<begin quote>

“In this assessment, we have focused on the question: Can an anthropogenic influence on TC activity be detected in past data? We explore this question from two perspectives: avoiding/reducing either Type I or Type II errors, since we presume that different audiences will have different preferences on which type of error should be avoided to a greater extent.

Using the conventional perspective of avoiding Type I error, the strongest case for a detectable change in TC activity is the observed poleward migration of the latitude of maximum intensity in  the northwest Pacific basin, with eight of 11 authors rating the observed change as low-to-medium confidence for detection (with one other author having medium and two other authors having medium-to-high confidence). A slight majority of authors (six of 11) had only low confidence that anthropogenic forcing had contributed to the poleward shift. The majority of the author team also had only low confidence that any other observed TC changes represented either detectable changes or attributable anthropogenic changes.

Regarding storm surge, our expectation is that a widespread worsening of total inundation levels during storms is occurring due to the global mean sea level rise associated with anthropogenic warming, assuming all other factors equal, although we note that no TC climate change signal has been convincingly detected in sea level extremes data. To date, there is not convincing evidence of a detectable anthropogenic influence on hurricane precipitation rates, in contrast to the case for extreme precipitation in general, where some anthropogenic influence has been detected.

The relatively low confidence in TC change detection results from several factors, including: observational limitations, the smallness of the expected human-caused change (signal) relative to the expected natural variability (noise), or the lack of confident estimates of the expected signal and noise levels.”

<end quote>

The Knutson et al. paper is distinguished by clearly explaining the evidence and and arguments that the individual scientists are considering, and discussing the nature and reasons for disagreement among the scientists.

Overall, I give this paper an A for accurately portraying the current state of knowledge and level of (dis)agreement among experts on the topic of hurricanes and climate change.

Compare this with statements made by Mann and Dessler in the Dorian article.  No wonder they are ‘upset.’  By the way, I don’t think any atmospheric or climate scientists would regard either Mann or Dessler as experts on hurricanes.

Apparently ‘consensus’ surrounding hurricanes and climate change has become the enemy of the activist scientist ‘alarmism enforcers.’

JC’s Special Report on Hurricanes and Climate Change

I suppose it deserves its own blog post, but around the time of my recent Congressional Testimony, I made available my Special Report on Hurricanes and Climate Change, which followed a series of blog posts on the same topic.  I recently updated the Report to include the 2 WMO papers plus a few others.

From the twitter thread (summary) I prepared for this Report:

Every damaging hurricane is now greeted with alarm about manmade global warming. If you are concerned and/or confused, my new Report can help you understand the evidence.

My Report is not inconsistent with any of the recent assessment reports on hurricanes and climate change.

This Report is distinguished from recent assessments of hurricanes and climate change by the following:

  • a focus on hurricane aspects that contribute to landfall impacts
  • an emphasis on geologic evidence and interpretation of natural variability
  • an approach to ‘detection and attribution’ that does not rely on global climate models
  • a perspective on future projections that that accounts for uncertainties in climate models and also includes natural climate variability
  • a longer format that allows for more in depth explanation suitable for a non-expert audience.

1. There is low confidence in any detection of a change in hurricanes caused by global warming, owing to observational limitations, natural variability, and uncertainty in the size and nature of the expected signal.

2. Any recent signal of increased hurricane activity has not risen above the background variability of natural climate variations.

3. The primary driver for increased economic losses from landfalling hurricanes is the massive population buildup along coastlines.

4. There is low confidence in projections of future changes to hurricane activity. Projected change in hurricane activity is expected to be small relative to the magnitude of natural variability in hurricane activity.

This Report is in the nature of a Working Paper; I look forward to your feedback and will revise in the future as warranted.

JC message to the ‘alarmism enforcers’

Well there’s probably a better chance of President Trump listening to me than there is of the climate scientists who are alarmism enforcers listening to me, but here goes anyways.

Your behavior is violating the norms of science, and in my opinion is unethical:

  • failure to acknowledge uncertainty and low levels of confidence in much of the research surrounding hurricanes and climate change.
  • cherry picking research that supports your personal narrative of alarm, without acknowledging disagreement among scientists and other research and assessment reports that do not support your  narrative of alarm.
  • misleading the public and policy makers as a result of the above two practices
  • and last but not least, bullying other respected scientists who have different perspectives on evaluating the evidence.

The above is what happens when scientists become political activists. I hope I am not seeing signs of GFDL’s Tom Knutson becoming the latest bullying victim of these activist scientists.

Scientists are gonna do what scientists are gonna do.  Short of plagiarism, fabrication, and falsification, it seems no one cares what they do.  What astonishes me is that there is no pushback from their universities and professional societies on this unethical behavior.  Instead these activists are actually rewarded by the universities and professional societies.

The damage that these activist scientists are doing to climate science and the public debate on climate change is incalculable.

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38 thoughts on “‘Alarmism enforcement’ on hurricanes and global warming

  1. My obvious question is this: why are people like Mann, et al., unwilling to acknowledge historical reports?

    Best answer: if they do so, they’ll most likely lose money?

    It is a difficult pill to swallow when a control freak finds he has no control over something as random as Acts of Nature.

    • “Best answer: if they do so, they’ll most likely lose money?”

      Worse, they’ll lose influence power.

    • Mann has been in a tactical rearguard action for the past decade or more. It was only going to end one way, as we are seeing, and he only has one life. He deserves to have wasted it for being the a$shole that he clearly is.

      …. and it’s not going to get any better. He and Phil Jones could have actually come clean, but it’s now up to others to take them to the cleaners. God speed Peter Ridd and Mark Steyn.

    • From Orwell: he who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.

      Operative word control. In his book the past was mutable by a Totalitarian Bureaucratic State. Mann et al. view themselves as heads of state. To control the future they will adjust the past and attempt to silence those who speak out against their adjustments.

  2. Knutson et al: “Regarding storm surge, our expectation is that a widespread worsening of total inundation levels during storms is occurring due to the global mean sea level rise associated with anthropogenic warming…”

    Assumes facts not in evidence.

  3. So a nincompoop can make a weather projection and get more press than a “professional meteorologist” when both were wrong? Which projection cost more? Which upset more lives? Which saved more lives? I’m not defending one or the other but just saying.

  4. “The damage that these activist scientists are doing to climate science and the public debate on climate change is incalculable.

    It is not just damage to “climate science” it (will) hurt. The public perception of all science and scientist is suffer when the climate scam finally collapses under the weight of decades of built-up unethical behaviors to promote their politically motivated outcome (their activism).

    And when you have a Central Perp in this fraud on science sitting as the President of the National Academy… well that’s like the Mafia having a Gambino family Captain in control of the US banking system.

  5. Another point Judith makes on the rot in the universities, “Instead these activists are actually rewarded by the universities and professional societies.”

    The rot started with the total take-over of the humanities departments by Liberal activists. The scientists in the hard science colleges thought they were immune to this destructive force that political correctness and enforcement of consensus would bring. The Liberals then got administrators and Deans in charge where PC and PC enforcement could control hiring and tenure. Controlling tenure committees with liberal views enforcement then followed.
    Once the rigorous acknowledgement of scientific uncertainty as a bedrock principle of the scientific method was allowed to lapse in one area, others saw the financial benefits that could accrue to the deception practitioners. The race for funding grants and tenure was across all of academia… a free for all, a sort Bill Clinton-era, “It matters what the definition of “is” is.”
    As an effect we originally saw the emergence of the “replication crisis” coming out of the publications of the humanities and then spreading to to “soft” social sciences (primarily psychology and economics which deals with consumer motives and rationalizations of market behaviors), and then to biological/bio-medicine sciences. The race for grants and tenure meant gate-keeping publications could be the method to ensure only the politically correct would survive the massacre of science.

    Thus the rot that started in the humanities departments with PC enforcement was more like a metastatic tumor that was ignored and allowed to grow beyond its original tissue niche. Excision now would require the entire institution to die to cure the patient. But die the universities will as parents will eventually find alternative means to get their children educated and prepared for professional life. Elites already do not send their children to public schools for K-12 educations for this very reason. And more and more affluent middle class are making financial sacrifices to do this as well, either through charter schools and/or private schools/academies if they can afford it.

  6. “the global mean sea level rise associated with anthropogenic warming…”

    Yep, the above has yet to announce itself above the background. Looking like it probably never will, although if it does, this site will be the first place where you will find it.

  7. As far as Mann’s twitter comment thread goes, he wrote (tweeted):
    -Among the problems are indefensible claims about the supposed non-significance of trends in hurricane activity. This includes tropical cyclone and hurricane counts and the proportion of storms that reach the highest (cat 4 and 5) categories.

    -These claims are based on fitting linear trends to the associated time series.
    More than a decade ago, Kerry Emanuel and I showed (http://www.meteo.psu.edu/holocene/public_html/Mann/articles/articles/MannEmanuelEos06.pdf …) that this approach is problematic.

    – It treats externally- forced multidecadal variability (from aerosols, volcanoes, etc.) as if it is simply internal multidecadal (“AMO”) variability.

    – This artificial inflation of the amplitude of the putative internal variability artificially increases the apparent “noise”, thereby reducing the signal-to-noise ratio and yielding false inferences regarding statistical significance.

    – A correct approach employs a statistical model that explicitly accounts for the total forced component of variability and then isolates the residual internal variability component.

    – Doing so yields a highly significant statistical relationship between rising temperatures and measures of tropical cyclone activity.

    ====
    (my bold for emphasis)
    There Mann goes again. He didn’t like what others had done (like find the WMP and LIA in paleo-recons) so using PCA lies, damn lies and creative statics to make a new hockey stick he gets the results he wants…:
    ==============
    And he tweeted still with this new hockey stick:

    – Using sound statistical methods, hurricane expert @JBElsner and collaborators have demonstrated a very clear, statistically-significant relationship between sea surface temperature and the intensity of the strongest storms (https://www.nature.com/articles/nature07234 …).
    (blah, blah, blah……. ad nauseum he went on)

    ========

    I find it comical that Mann, who is a documented serial statistical abuser, liar, and bully and employs creative statistics of his own, complains about others who find no statistical significance using accepted methods.

    This guy is not short on hubris. Or lies.

  8. Excellent article Judith. It is a tough uphill battle against the global climate change movement which uses our tax monies to create policies and educate our young via science deception. It is a hoax on a global scale that is magnified with instant broadcasting by social media. I fear that our traditional scientific institutions may not be strong enough to withstand the massive alarmists’ onslaught against logical science. While WUWT is a tremendous asset in the fight for science truth, we also need a comparable, twitter-like social media vehicle. In addition to a highly-responsive, climate science knowledge base, we also need a highly effective communications out-reach capability. A new state-of-the-art, science/media partnership must be formed to achieve this goal.

    • You just have to have faith. It won’t be the science that brings them down but their prescriptions. Backing solar and wind power plus EVs to change the climate is a certain loser technically and economically and sooner or later that will become bleedingly obvious and the natural corollary will be what other snake oil did they peddle?
      You can be frustrated at the cost of them and their propaganda machine but hey it’s a democracy and you can have the tyranny of the dopey majority from time to time. Don’t worry as their lights are going out sometime and keep an eye on this summer in Oz for that. As for coastal RE prices crashing? LOL

      • “You just have to have faith. It won’t be the science that brings them down but their prescriptions. Backing solar and wind power plus EVs to change the climate is a certain loser technically and economically and sooner or later that will become bleedingly obvious and the natural corollary will be what other snake oil did they peddle?”

        I think that describes the situation quite well.

        When voters see what the CAGW fraud requires of them, they are going to reject the “solutions”.

  9. Good timing CtM. Dovetails nicely with Pat Frank’s article. As Anthony says, we are at war. A war that we didn’t start. Good news is that our defence is solid, the other side lives in a house of cards.

  10. Interesting Twitter thread. It reads like the Climate Gate emails. They are all saying that NOAA is now ‘compromised’ until the current administration is gone. So, to me, what they’re saying is that they can’t use the NOAA as a propaganda arm again, until a leftist is in office. For those with PhD’s any way related to climate research: you need to speak out against these fascists before they ruin science for an entire generation or two.

    • The public is being manipulated by 1.Media seeking readership with bleeding leading story lines. 2.Politicians seeking election by virtue signalling 3.Revenue departments seeking tax dollars. 4.Govt employed scientists seeking continued employment 5.Movie stars seeking free advertising. 6.Do-gooder’s seeking their 15 minutes of fame 7.Enviro-orgs seeking more presses of the “donate” button on their website. 8.Business interests seeking profits from “green” product lines.
      It is difficult for “truth” to be the winner in such an onslaught.

  11. This extreme weather attribution nonsense really took off in 2014/15 as an Obama era project.

    The Podesta email leaks, showed a proposed a strategy in the attachment here:-

    https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/58929

    “Establishment of an extreme weather SWAT team prepared to work together and engage
    when extreme weather happens — including response; local outreach; media; science
    information about historic nature of the event; ”

    And then groups like the WWA Project started appearing.

    “WWA was initiated in late 2014 after the scientific community concluded that the emerging science of extreme event attribution could be operationalised.”

    https://www.worldweatherattribution.org/about/

    Everything the climate alarmist industry does is carefully strategized and globally coordinated, from Gore, to Greta, to shifting the narrative from CO2 to air quality when the warming paused a few years back, to the language used in the MSM.

    • “Everything the climate alarmist industry does is carefully strategized and globally coordinated, from Gore, to Greta, to shifting the narrative from CO2 to air quality when the warming paused a few years back, to the language used in the MSM.”

      Thanks for that info, MrGN.

      So it’s no wonder that millions of people have been fooled into thinking CO2 is dangerous. There is a whole industry promoting this disinformation.

  12. A good example of the alarmism is the Capital Weather Gang column in the Washington Post. Here is a link to the Sept 1 column,
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/09/01/hurricane-dorian-has-smashed-all-sorts-intensity-records/
    In the article Hurricane Dorian is considered a record storm due to wind speed in the Atlantic basin. Barometric pressure not so much. I compared the low pressure to Hazel, Hugo and Andrew and these were all lower. Maybe it is safer for planes to approach and penetrate storms now and the probes register a higher wind velocity for a given barametric pressure. A plane they entered Hazel was tossed around so much one crew went to the hospital with injuries and no other flights were attempted for 6 days. Dorian did not come ashore on the continental NA during a full moon the way superstorm Sandy did and I am sure the bar shoes of tide our way the small increases of sea level rise for causing flooding. The Capital Weather Gang seems to take great interest into warning what might happen. Dorian lingering over the Abaco island is a tragedy for the Bahamas and the people who brave the risk there. What course of action as rescue turns to recovery in a risky environment is best remains to be seen.

    • And when mentioning Hurricane Sandy, we should always keep in mind that Sandy was actually a combination of two huge storms. There was Hurricane Sandy and then there was a powerful northeaster at the same time and place that both combined to make Hurricane Sandy worse than if Sandy had been all by herself.

  13. It’s causing damage to *all* science, not just climate science, as the public can’t distinguish between true scientists and climate charlatans.

  14. I laughed when I read Michael Mann saying that to count hurricanes one needed to use a model. The guy is irredeemable.

  15. Mann and Dessler made a big mistake in their assessment. They claim that that the damage is a function to the third power ie cubed. Damage is caused by wind pressures. The American society of civil engineers “minimum design loads for buildings and other structures” commonly known as Asce7 says that the basic wind pressure p=0.00256v2. So it’s a function of the velocity squared

  16. This has been my worry for some time now – that the actions of the activists will damage not only the practice of science, but the public’s perception of science and the way it’s practiced.

    We are all going to suffer immensely if the broader public begins rejecting actual science because of thex way these clowns act.

    And I don’t just mean Mann and company. There’s shenanigans in many other areas of scientific endeavor that have been infected with intersectional thinking.

  17. To me there seems to be sleight of hand here.

    I thought we recorded hurricanes based on the sustained wind speed when the event/eye made landfall on the continental US.

    Are we moving the goal posts here to to use the maximum intensity anywhere now, knowing we have much more such information today, so we can have an advantage over Camille and the Labor Day Hurricane?

    • But, of course, what you say has been going on for some time. With satellites and other methods we now know about tropical storms far out to sea and so can count and measure objects whose existence was completely unknown in past decades. But yet current counts that include almost any low pressure system in the Atlantic are compared to counts which only covered major storms which made landfall (or near landfall).

  18. Judy Curry, “What astonishes me is that there is no pushback from their universities and professional societies on this unethical behavior. Instead these activists are actually rewarded by the universities and professional societies.

    That astonishes me, too. And has done for some long time.

    In my opinion, the silence from, if not collusion of, the scientific societies in climate alarm is the core of the problem.

    If they had done due diligence and spoken up earlier, none of the bullying by alarmists and the wrecking of science would have happened.

    • If you are truly astonished, then you are naive and ignorant. No offense. There was a time when I was also astonished, and that forced me to do a lot study and research into a field for which I was not formally trained. I began a study of human psychology. I can look back and see how naive and ignorant I was back then. (If I last another 10 years, I will look back at me today and marvel at how naive and ignorant I am now!)

      I am no longer astonished at all by what is happening in the field of climate science, and science in general. It is very much in line with human behaviour, and very much in line with the history of science. We have all been brainwashed to believe that science is the noble pursuit of ultimate truth by individual and independent thinkers, because it is those thinkers that are largely responsible for the advancement of science. But those thinkers are extremely rare. The rest of the scientific community, just like any other collection of human beings, is largely under the influence of the social fabric and accepted paradigms of that community (including us at WUWT)!

      The search for truth is a noble and worthy purpose, but that search is not entirely legitimate, or even possible, until we understand and acknowledge the influence of the ‘social’ context of the world around us. Scientists, with no awareness of the paradigm in which they operate, will naturally believe they are pursuing ultimate truth, when in fact they are pursuing the ‘truth’ as prescribed by the paradigm. That is why science is said to advance one death at a time. Good science will survive the scientist, but the paradigm may not, enabling progress.

      The only reason we are astonished by what is happening in science is because we have an expectation that it would not be this way. It should not be this way, but it always has been. The current situation demands our anger, disapproval and opposition, but it does not warrant our astonishment.

  19. Nothing gets people excited like fear porn. Jump into the twit-o-sphere with some less than significant claim that has been group-tested to elicit fear and you’ve triumphed. Limbaugh quoted the term “drive-by-media” years ago to annoy and explain how the main stream information machines work: lead with an attention grabbing claim (more likely than not with less than full disclosure) and watch the chaos unfold. And by the time some folks drill down to check what really occurred and present greater context, the media has long departed this episode and has made numerous others. Wash, rinse, dry and repeat.

    Our educational institutes have become infested (trigger word) with soft science wizards that do not seem to want to teach our young critical thinking skills while at the same time we reduce the personal response-reward time to nano-seconds. How else do you produce beings with no interest in diving into details while you enlarge your personal sphere of influence to mentor (control) others?

  20. Talking about the damage to science by the inevitable collapse of current ‘climate science’, note that the nutrition advice in the standard food pyramid is also on the point of failing as more and more people with metabolic syndrome discovering low carb diets. I suspect there will be a few (th smarter ones) who are bitter about the deceptions, but most will just switch with the wind, repeating what they have heard in an echo chamber. Average IQ does not get you much reasoning power.

    I speak as one who now lives in a really socioeconomically mixed community. At present we are trying to explain the concept of fixed costs of water delivery (>85%) to people who think they will save money if water is metered. They seem to have a lot of trouble with the idea that the meters will raise the fixed costs even higher so that the potential savings are minescule, particularly since the costs of meters must be amortized over 10 years under provincial law.

    I think the Greenheads are already preparing for the collapse of the climate story and moving on to pollution and free medicare.

  21. Science demands quantitative measurements. But when did a count of “scientists” “confidence levels” become an actual physical measurement?

  22. “What astonishes me is that there is no pushback from their universities and professional societies on this unethical behavior. Instead these activists are actually rewarded by the universities and professional societies.”

    Be astonished no longer. If these activists are attracting funds their careers are safe and their prospects Elysian. Scientific rigour is for losers who have no useful understanding of how the system works. Sure, there may well be a long, slow build-up to disaster, but well-connected funding ‘performers’ will have their golden parachutes.

    The system is actually designed to work this way. Troublesome individuals who deliver inconvenient results are weeded out while those who deliver desired outcomes are appropriately rewarded.

    This is modern Science!

  23. The alarmists are alarmingly ignorant – there is no human attribution via CO2 to hurricanes or warming.

    Hurricanes via ACE are lagged heat releases of solar-stored ENSO energy, with a solar cycle dependence.

    At decadal scales ACE falls under 96 SN, and rises above 96, essentially verifying my nominal HadSST3 decadal solar warming threshold of 95 SN that I determined in 2014, the foundation of all my sun-climate work.

    https://i.postimg.cc/G3GMLDK8/Total-ACE-is-driven-by-Sun-via-ENSO.jpg

    https://i.postimg.cc/9MkD2b33/Sun-powered-Climate-Extremes-2019-09-02.jpg

    The sun causes warming/cooling and extreme events, not CO2.

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