I don’t believe it! That was the catchphrase of one of my all time heroes Victor Meldrew – an old curmudgeon just like me – not frightened to stand up to any injustice or to speak his mind about any old bollocks he might see or read. What’s got me going today is another report from the BBC and that erstwhile reporter on climate matters of theirs – Matt McGrath. He ‘s read another paper that’s trying to link the increase of damage caused by Hurricanes in the North Atlantic to AGW. Proving that AGW is increasing the number of hurricanes is the equivalent of finding the holy grail to climate scientists – in their never ending task in convincing the remaining skeptical public that AGW is responsible for just about everything bad. Here’s the piece I took from this morning’s BBC News:-
First I would just like to clarify one thing before I start – the headline as Matt penned is usually correct – a category 5 hurricane is definitely more powerful than hurricanes of category 1 through 4 when it makes landfall – but of course the damage a category 5 hurricane makes might be due predominantly to wind rather than rain, which might be the case with a tropical storm or lower category hurricane. So already the waters around the words “more damaging” are starting to get rather muddy.
What do the stats show?
The HURDAT4 database of tropical cyclones is a wonderous thing in that it lists all the known hurricanes since 1851. I say known because until the 1960’s we couldn’t categorically see tropical cyclone development or gauge their strengths as accurately as we do now. I think the database is its own worst enemy in that it gives people (and here I mean some climate scientists) the wrong idea about it’s accuracy regarding tropical cyclones before the 1960’s. Today, not one hour goes by without a tropical cyclone being dissected by satellites from above or having hunter aircraft dropping sondes through their “eyes”. So If you are going to do research into hurricanes and the amount of damage they cause don’t start in 1919, make it 1950 or even later because the data is slightly skewed in you proving that they are more damaging – and the chances of you convincing everyone small. Why not stick to the facts? Here are some graphs using the HURDAT4 data for you to consider in the following bar charts, I haven’t singled out just category 5 hurricanes in the analysis because there are so few of them since 1851.
As you can see the linear trend in the first two bar charts show an increase in category 3,4 and 5 hurricanes, but not of the magnitude of the 330% increase in damages caused by these hurricanes made in the report, more like an increase in number of 130% per century in the whole series, 100% per century since 1950, and a decrease in the last 25 years of 520%! Obviously I am not comparing like for like here, but these are the bare bones statistics about the frequency of hurricanes in the North Atlantic, which to me is not at all convincing considering that 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 (likely) have been the hottest (warmest please) on record globally. To be fair I haven’t read how they came up with the 330% increase, I’m sure they’ve factored in such things as inflation and increase in wealth, but what about the increases in the number of people now living close to or on the eastern and southern seaboard of America and how many of them have their property and belongings insured? Even if you could access all the insurance data for the last 100 years that would be one hell of an algorithm!