The Hurricane Lull Couldn’t Last

Photo Texas Military Dept‏Activists, journalists, and scientists have pounced on the still-unfolding disaster in Houston and along the Gulf Coast in an attempt to focus the policy discussion narrowly on climate change. Such single-issue myopia takes precious attention away from policies that could improve our ability to prepare for and respond to disasters. More thoughtful and effective disaster policies are needed because the future will bring many more weather disasters like Hurricane Harvey, with larger impacts than those of the recent past.

For many years, those seeking to justify carbon restrictions argued that hurricanes had become more common and intense. That hasn’t happened. Scientific assessments, including those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. government’s latest National Climate Assessment, indicate no long-term increases in the frequency or strength of hurricanes in the U.S. Neither has there been an increase in floods, droughts, and tornadoes, though heat waves and heavy precipitation have become more common.

Prior to Harvey, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm, the U.S. had gone a remarkable 12 years without being hit by a hurricane of Category 3 strength or stronger. Since 1970 the U.S. has only seen four hurricanes of Category 4 or 5 strength. In the previous 47 years, the country was struck by 14 such storms. President Obama presided over the lowest rate of hurricane landfalls—0.5 a year—of any president since at least 1900. Eight presidents dealt with more than two a year, but George W. Bush (18 storms) is the only one to have done so since Lyndon B. Johnson. The rest occurred before 1960.

Without data to support their wilder claims, climate partisans have now resorted to shouting that every extreme weather event was somehow “made worse” by the emission of greenhouse gases. Earlier this week, New York Times columnist David Leonhardt directed researchers “to shed some of the fussy over-precision about the relationship between climate change and weather.”

Turning away from empirical science—or “fussy over-precision”—comes with risks. But whatever one’s views on climate, there should be a broad agreement today that bigger disasters are coming. Some may blame greenhouse gases while others may believe it to be some sort of karmic retribution. But there is a simpler explanation: Because the world has experienced a remarkable period of good fortune when it comes to catastrophes, we are due.

Agreement that more big disasters are on their way should provide opportunity for those otherwise opposed on matters of climate policy to come together and make some smart decisions. Here is where they might start:

• Establish disaster review boards. In the aftermath of every plane crash, the federal government convenes experts under the auspices of the National Transportation Safety Board to find out what went wrong and what might be done to prevent it happening again. Meteorologist Michael Smith of AccuWeather (a scientist who decades ago helped identify the “microburst” weather phenomena and its role in plane crashes) has long argued that the nation needs a National Disaster Review Board. After every disaster, it would evaluate what went wrong—and right—and distill lessons. The Trump administration should create such a board in the wake of Harvey.

• Encourage resilient growth. Disaster researcher Dennis Mileti has explained that the choices made at the local level—such as where to build—determine how a community will experience disasters. As communities develop, it can be difficult to see how local decisions might affect disasters years or decades down the road. This is particularly the case in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, when the push to “return to normal” might mean simply reinforcing the conditions that led to problems. Local communities need to take better advantage of experts who can explore development choices with an eye toward better preparing for an uncertain future.

• Enhance federal capacity. The federal government plays a crucial role in supporting states and local communities to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. When Harvey was out at sea, accurate forecasts from the National Weather Service saved many lives. The National Flood Insurance Program shapes how communities develop, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies provide resources for those whose lives are upturned by natural disasters. President Trump should also appoint a science adviser, whose primary job traditionally has been to coordinate federal science agencies, facilitate budget requests and assess performance. There is no reason to go more than seven months without one.

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Comments (7)

  • Avatar

    Sonnyhill

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    “Because the world has enjoyed a remarkable period of good fortune when it comes to catastrophies, we are due”
    I disagree. That line of thinking is just a hunch.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    Just like in Europe in the 1500’s they blamed witches for the Black Death and during the salem Whitch Trials many were hanged as witches and even one was pressed to death under rocks for refusing to confess to witchcraft this is no different the Greens are looking for witches to burn and that all of us who refuse their false religio of Enviromenetalism

    Reply

  • Avatar

    JayPee

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    And why wasn’t the nearly 12 year hurricane lull blamed on the global warming semi-hypothesis ?

    I’ll tell you why !

    There was no way the leftist pigs could use it to advance their agenda.

    Therefor the MSM would not tell you about it because
    you were not supposed to

    Think about it.

    Remember

    The MSM

    is allowed to dictate
    what you’re allowed to

    THINK !

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sonnyhill

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      I liked the situation, CO2 was increasing and hurricanes were decreasing. There could be a case made for a relationship there, but it would be just another hypothesis way back in the queue wanting for attention.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    Green nutcases Burnt Toast ITS GLOBAL WARMING,Car wont Start ITS GLOBAL WARMING, Lightbulb burns out ITS GLOBAL WARMING,Fuse blows ITS GLOBAL WARMING,Sido and Fluffy run away ITS GLOBAL WARMING,Their TV gose Kaput ITS GLOBAL WARMING 12 inches of snow ITS GLOBAL WARMING and they trip and fall ITS GLOBAL WARMING and so we all must all live a life as wild and uncivlized beasts

    Reply

  • Avatar

    G

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    The natural odds of a major storm being delayed so long are staggering and of course no where near the doomsday predictions of Al Gore and his band of alarmists for he past 20 years.

    Having this long of a lull was like drawing hundreds of poker hands in a row with nothing better than a pair of fours. This sudden full-house hand is hardly the result of an “expert” prediction made over and over – instead it’s simply a function of the natural odds come to fruition.

    Al Gore was finally dealt his long predicted full-house on the 678th hand, and now he wants to crow about his poker prowess. Al’s the proverbial blind squirrel who has FINALLY found his nut… I don’t think Planters got started like this.

    Reply

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