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Cyclones don't surge

01 May 2019 | Science Notes

Spare a thought for Mozambique, recently hit by a second cyclone in two months. News coverage has been relatively restrained, not yet lapsing into the usual claims that such storms are becoming far more frequent and it’s surely a signal of climate change a.k.a. all your fault. Perhaps (an optimistic thought) the restraint is because someone thought to look up the numbers. A few years ago scientists in South Africa examined 66 years worth of data and found no trend towards increasing tropical storm activity in the southwest Indian Ocean. And over a longer interval, the perceived increase in storm numbers was likely due to better monitoring. Bad news for ambulance-chasers in the global warming movement, but good news for the people in southeast Africa.

The absence of increasing trends in extreme weather is no secret. For instance, in their special report on extreme weather a few years ago, the IPCC concluded "There have been no significant trends observed in global tropical cyclone frequency records, including over the present 40-year period of satellite observations." (see here p. 159). Closer to home, Environment Canada's recent report on the state of the climate was notably un-alarmed about increasing extreme rainfall in Canada:

"There is medium confidence, given the available observing network across Canada, that annual mean precipitation has increased, on average, in Canada... the observational record has not yet shown evidence of consistent changes in short-duration precipitation extremes across the country."

Meanwhile in Australia, researchers again confirmed that weather-related damage losses from the 1960s to today are not increasing once you adjust for inflation, property values, etc. Yes the weather does more damage now than before, not because the weather is worse, but because there is more stuff to be damaged.

The exasperation is palpable in the words of that paper's authors:

"Despite broad agreement in the scientific literature and assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that there is little evidence that insurance or economic losses arising from natural disasters are becoming more costly because of anthropogenic climate change, the topic remains highly politicised. Many commentators assume a direct causal relationship between disaster losses and rising global air temperatures".

For instance, here in Canada as the annual spring floods return to communities built on, um, floodplains, Justin Trudeau can't help insisting it's an unprecedented event attributable to climate change, it's the new normal and again it's all your fault (so pay those carbon taxes and stop whining). One would be tempted to call this denialism, if the word were not so inappropriate for use in civilized society.

One comment on “Cyclones don't surge”

  1. This article makes our government a bunch of liars. Especial JT and Climate Barbie.
    But we knew that already, right.

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