NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Report Confounds "Global Warming" Predictions

January 14, 1999

Proponents of the theory of global warming predict more floods and droughts will occur unless their programs to reduce the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are carried out. But a new study to be published tomorrow in the journal Geophysical Research Letters reports there is little evidence that floods or droughts are becoming more severe.

  • In a survey going back as far as 1914 of 395 streams nationwide, researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey say streams are carrying more water on average, but there was "no signal of a trend toward increased flooding."
  • While damage from floods and droughts has been on the rise in the 1990s, most experts believe that is the result of people building more structures on flood plains and moving to areas with less reliable water supplies.
  • If anything, the researchers concluded, the trend since at least the 1940s -- and perhaps the beginning of the century -- is that the continental U.S. "is getting wetter, but less extreme."
  • Of the 36 days of the year when the most water is running -- the highest flow days -- only 4 percent of gauges showed increases, while 5 percent showed decreases.

The researchers found no evidence that increases in flood or drought damage was due to drastic changes in weather patterns.

Source: Lee Bowman (Scripps Howard), "Dire Global Warming Forecasts Unfulfilled," Washington Times, January 14, 1999.


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