In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction in Texas and as Irma bears down on the coast of Florida, The New York Times published a surprisingly level-headed report Wednesday on the connection between this hurricane season and climate change.
“As to whether climate has somehow made this year worse, the links between climate change and hurricane activity are complex and there are still many uncertainties” reports Harvey Fountain for TheNYT. “Part of the problem, scientists say, is that there are just not that many storms.”
Just as it’s important to tear apart The New York Times when their reporting is flawed — often the case during the Trump era — it’s also important to point out the good. Particularly, when it comes to hotly debated issues like climate change.
“We’re seeing the activity we predicted” Dr. Gerry Bell told TheNYT. Bell is a seasonal hurricane forecaster with the Climate Prediction Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA. “This is the peak” he continued. “This is when 95 percent of hurricanes and major hurricanes form.”
Though there are multiple reports of scientists claiming climate change has made this hurricane season worse, “the links between climate change and hurricane activity are complex and there are still many uncertainties” reports Fountain. Part of problem is there just haven’t been enough storms to “form a huge data set to work with.”
Bloomberg declared that “Climate change didn’t cause Hurricane Irma … but did make it much stronger,” citing scientists in Germany and the U.K. Time boldly declared that “scientists” now say they can show the “connections” between hurricanes and climate change “better than ever before.” “Scientists and other experts,” began an Axios report, view Hurricane Harvey “as one of the most horrific teachable moments in modern history to show how climate change is affecting us now.”
Charitable to global warming arguments, Fountain reports that as warming increases — trapping more moisture in the atmosphere — it “could” cause more rainfall during hurricanes. Fountain stayed away from any declarative language that could sully the integrity of his report.
Not only were Dr. Bell’s predictions of this hurricane season accurate, Fountain reports that NOAA doesn’t take into account climate change in its forecasts. Instead it uses “a naturally occurring climate pattern called the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation,” that over a period of 25 to 40 years affects ocean surface temperatures.
“Dr. Bell and his team at NOAA had forecast that this season would be a busy one, and that is how it is playing out” reports Fountain after laying out the global warming arguments. “Storms that form in the Gulf of Mexico, as Katia did this week, are also not uncommon” said Dr. Bell.
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