NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 8, 2004

Recent summer hurricanes have prompted new political rhetoric and media claims that global warming is contributing to their frequency and severity, and that the United States can expect more destruction in the future unless steps are taken to control carbon dioxide emissions.

Hurricane experts disagree and debunk the myth that global warming will contribute to greater hurricane seasons. According to Chris Landsea of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

  • El Nino, which generates a westerly wind that wrecks hurricanes and reduces their wind speed, contributes to years where hurricanes have been less frequent and severe; if global warming produces periods of El Nino, then global warming essentially reduces hurricanes.
  • Earth has warmed slightly, but maximum hurricane winds measured by aircraft have declined by about 15 miles per hour since 1950.
  • Policies designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions do not guarantee that future hurricanes can be controlled; scientists cannot reliably predict future hurricane occurrences.

Moreover, says Landsea, policies should focus on reducing society's vulnerability to hurricanes through preparedness measures rather than controlling for carbon dioxide emissions.

Source: CO2 and Climate Team, "Sowing the Whirlwind," Greening Earth Society, November 8, 2004.


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