More Industrial Emissions, Fewer Hurricanes

by Hans Bader on July 2, 2013

in Blog, Politics, Science

People who are unfamiliar with science — like President Obama — have erroneously blamed hurricanes on greenhouse gas emissions, even though they do not trigger more hurricanes.

Ironically, hurricanes may actually diminish due to greenhouse gases and aerosols, as the Washington Post and Daily Caller note. As the Washington Post points out, research suggests that “by the end of the 21st century, greenhouse gases will reduce tropical storm frequency.”  Right now, other emissions — aerosols — are already reducing the frequency of tropical storms such as hurricanes, notes the the Daily Caller:

Stricter pollution controls may lead to an increase in tropical storms in the Atlantic Ocean, according to an article published Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The article, written by scientists from the Met Office Hadley Center in the United Kingdom, suggested that environmental protection laws will lead to more hurricanes for at least 20 years, reports the New Scientist.

Nick Dunstone of the Hadley Center explained that man-made aerosols lead to longer low-level clouds over the ocean. The clouds keep the water temperature cooler and therefore less likely to birth hurricanes.

Dunstone specifically said that pollution controls that reduce aerosols will produce ”record numbers of tropical storms for the next decade or two.”

There also appears to be a direct correlation between the economy and hurricanes. During economic boom times, there is more pollution in the atmosphere due to industrialization, leading to lower numbers of hurricanes. Recession periods mean less aerosols and therefore more hurricanes.

This pattern has been seen with fewer hurricanes in the 1960s to the mid-1990s, versus higher numbers during 1930s through 1950s. The number drastically increased however in 1995 when aerosol bans went into effect. There were 28 hurricanes reported in 2008 and 19 every year since then.

Similarly, the Washington Post notes that

The Clean Air Act, which has benefited breathing in many American cities over the past few decades, may have worsened the weather in some places.

New climate simulations suggest that reducing the level of atmospheric aerosol particles produced by human activity might have been the main cause of a recent increase in tropical storm frequency in the North Atlantic. . . .lower emissions eventually increased tropical storm frequency. “It seems the Clean Air Act in particular has led to an increased number of hurricanes over the last decade or so,” says Doug Smith of Met Office Hadley Centre in England, a co-author of the research published last week in the journal Nature Geoscience.Aerosol particles come from fuels burned in power plants and cars, as well as from natural sources such as volcanoes, sea spray and dust.

Note that certain types of aerosols can have adverse health effects on those who inhale them or absorb them (unlike the principal greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, which does not harm those who inhale it at all, is consumed by plants, and is colorless and odorless, and whose regulation under the Clean Air Act is thus controversial).  So the mere fact that aerosols do not increase hurricanes is not a reason to ignore their health impacts, nor is it a reason to leave them unregulated, even if they do reduce the frequency of hurricanes.

In addition to falsely suggesting that greenhouse gas emissions increase the number of hurricanes, the Obama Administration has also peddled other discredited claims that have been debunked by scientists and researchers.  For example, in violation of the federal Data Quality Act, it has pretended that ethanol mandates ((which enrich politically-connected agribusinesses) help the environment, even though they are clearly harmful, as leading environmentalists such as Lester Pearson and Jonathan Lewis have noted. Ethanol mandates are also harmful to poor people, note anti-hunger groups like ActionAid, and ethanol mandates have caused malnutrition in developing countries.  As the Wall Street Journal noted in October 2011, the Obama Administration has ignored “multiple peer-reviewed studies documenting the link between ethanol and world hunger in its public health literature review, as required by law. That includes one paper that concludes that biofuel mandates are responsible for at least 192,000 premature deaths every year.”

The Obama Administration has forced up the ethanol content of gasoline, heedless of the fact that ethanol makes gas costlier and dirtier, increases ozone pollution, and increases the death toll from smog and air pollution. Ethanol mandates also result in deforestation, soil erosion, and water pollution.  By driving up food prices, they have fueled Islamic extremism in Afghanistan, Egypt, Yemen and other poor countries in the Middle East. In Human Events, Deroy Murdock chronicled how rising food prices resulting from ethanol forced starving Haitians to literally eat dirt (dirt cookies made of vegetable oil, salt, and dirt), and fueled violent protests in unstable “powder kegs” like Pakistan and Egypt.

The Obama Administration persists in supporting ethanol mandates despite widespread criticism from experts across the political spectrum.  The legislation in Congress that it backed in the name of fighting global warming contained ethanol subsidies, even though ethanol subsidies have been linked to famine, hunger, food riots, and political unrest in poor countries.  That “cap-and-trade” legislation contained so many special-interest giveaways that it would have fleeced American consumers without helping the environment, even while driving industry overseas to countries with less environmental protections.

The Obama Administration has also sought to restrict access to certain foods based on scientific ignorance, as I explain at this link.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: