Several weather and climate experts are debunking the mainstream media’s climate change disinformation in the wake of Hurricane Ian’s devastation. Ignoring official statements easily accessible on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) official website, numerous major media outlets are peddling misleading and inaccurate information regarding climate change as a supposed culprit behind major storms such as Hurricane Ian. The list includes NPR, Washington Post, New York Times and Boston Globe to name a few.
Joe D'Aleo, co-founder of The Weather Channel, published a report on Friday that analyzed hurricane trends dating back to 1850. D’Aleo, who currently serves as co-chief meteorologist with Weatherbell Analytics, created several simple charts using NOAA data on the number of landfalling hurricanes – the graphics (below) reveal no trend or steady increase.
Landfalling hurricanes prove a more reliable comparison across decades than those that dissipate at sea, given technological advancements that have allowed for better detection of the latter. The Financial Times failed to make this important distinction in an article claiming hurricane frequency is on the rise due to climate change.
ARE MAJOR HURRICANES INCREASING?
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) website states that “Over the 39-year period from 1979–2017, the number of major hurricanes has increased while the number of smaller hurricanes has decreased.”
The study referenced by C2ES curiously chose to start its data analysis in 1979, a year that falls during the most recent “inactive season” for hurricanes caused by Atlantic multi-decadal oscillation (AMO). NOAA defines AMO as “an ongoing series of long-duration changes in the sea surface temperature of the North Atlantic Ocean, with cool and warm phases that may last for 20–40 years at a time and a difference of about 1°F between extremes. These changes are natural and have been occurring for at least the last 1,000 years.”
During this period, NOAA points out that “the number of weak storms that mature into major hurricanes is noticeably increased.” Selectively pulling data that begins during an inactive season and ends during an active season does not provide an apples to apples comparison. Ryan Maue, a meteorologist and former chief scientist at NOAA, underscored this point in a tweet last year, that acknowledged “a linear trend line thru ATL activity from 1970 can be very misleading.”
MEDIA PUSHING THE NARRATIVE
In perhaps the most widely circulated clip of this topical shoehorning of climate rhetoric into the conversation, CNN’s Don Lemon insisted on getting Jamie Rohme, Acting Director of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, to affirm his thesis on climate change strengthening hurricanes. After Rhome downplayed any direct link, Lemon cited his anecdotal experience, saying: “Listen, I grew up there and these storms are intensifying. Something is causing them to intensify.”
Following the interview, Michael Mann, director of the Penn Center for Science, Sustainability, and the Media, accused Rhome of “spouting climate denial talking points” in a tweet.
Not surprisingly, NOAA’s official website supports Rohme’s reluctance to go along with Lemon’s theory, stating: “We conclude that the historical Atlantic hurricane data at this stage do not provide compelling evidence for a substantial greenhouse warming-induced century-scale increase in: frequency of tropical storms, hurricanes, or major hurricanes, or in the proportion of hurricanes that become major hurricanes.”
Meteorology student Chris Martz also exposed the false claims of increased intensity, tweeting: “As a simple fact-check, I accessed the NOAA HURDAT database and tabulated all 15 hurricanes to landfall in Florida as a C4 or 5. In the sample, 10 occurred at or before 1960, five of which made landfall between 1945 and 1950. Those saying it's the ‘new norm’ are full of crap.”
“A VOTE FOR DESANTIS IS A VOTE FOR MORE HURRICANE IANS”
Despite climate change being a global issue, Democrats and members of the press often draw straight lines from purported environmental problems to individual election outcomes.
Last week, Amy Klobuchar told MSNBC: “We just did something about climate change for the first time in decades. That’s why we have to win this as that hurricane bears down on Florida. We have to win in the midterms."
On Wednesday, The Florida Phoenix suggested that not only is Ron DeSantis to blame for “more Hurricane Ians” in the future, but those who vote for him also bear responsibility. The headline of Craig Pittman’s opinion column read “A vote to reelect Florida Gov. DeSantis is a vote for more Hurricane Ians.” Pittman chose the term “pro-hurricane” to describe the stance of one unnamed elected leader, likely DeSantis. The headline was later changed to “Hurricane Ian proves politicians are trying to fool us if they’re tackling climate change.”
CONTROLLING THE NARRATIVE
Mann’s attack on Rohme demonstrates a longstanding commitment among progressives to smear, discredit and even silence those who dare to question the party line on climate issues. On Monday, Disclose.tv tweeted a video of Melissa Fleming, adding: “UN Secretary for Global Comms says they ‘own the science’ on ‘climate change,’ and opposing viewpoints have now been pushed down in search results through their partnership with Google.”
Organizations like Climate of Denial and DeSmog – the latter boasts of being “the world’s number one source for accurate, fact-based information regarding global warming misinformation campaigns” – create blacklist-style profiles on any scientist willing to point out inconsistencies in the mainstream narrative. D’Aleo, who has been challenging the narrative for decades, is on DeSmog’s list.
“There’s a lot of people that were silenced. Some people were fired from network and local [stations] because of their position. It’s sad, these people were good scientists. They’re afraid to speak out,” D’Aleo told The Florida Standard. “We hope the tides will turn and reality will return.”