Alarmist Hurricane Predictions Take a Beating

Washington, D.C., November 30, 2006—With the end of the 2006 hurricane season today, residents in storm-prone areas can breathe a sigh of relief. Not a single hurricane made landfall in the U.S. this year – confounding alarmist predictions of more frequent and more destructive hurricanes due to global warming.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


“If global warming caused catastrophic hurricanes, then how do the alarmists explain this year?” asked Myron Ebell, Director of Energy and Global Warming Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Those who tried to use the tragedy of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to press for energy rationing legislation should apologize for their shameless exploitation of Gulf Coast victims.” 


Despite claims by global warming campaigners like former Vice President Al Gore, the connection between higher temperatures and hurricanes is far from clear or settled. Even given the simple premise that warmer waters will likely increase the number, strength, and/or formation area of hurricanes to some extent, recent research predicts that any likely change will be so small as to be difficult to measure.


“Since even the scientists who support the Kyoto Protocol estimate that it would only  avert an immeasurably small amount (0.07°C) of global warming by 2050, Kyoto-style approaches can provide no protection from hurricanes in the policy-relevant future,” said CEI Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis, Jr. “Therefore, it is disingenuous for activists to claim that a hurricane-warming link justifies changes in U.S. energy policy. Indeed, hyping the hurricane-warming link can be counterproductive. If people seek protection from hurricanes in climate change policy, they are apt to neglect the preparedness measures that can actually save lives.”


Scientists who specialize in the analysis of hurricanes have repeatedly advised policymakers that land use and population trends, not global warming, are the relevant issues for anyone concerned about loss of life and property from tropical storms.