Friday, October 07, 2022

Media Falsely Links Hurricanes to Climate Change. Here Are the Facts

The weather is difficult to predict. Media narratives aren’t. The media bat signal is up to exploit the latest crisis for left-wing policy goals.

As Florida deals with the cleanup from Hurricane Ian—which ravaged the state, killed hundreds, and displaced thousands more—media outlets have peddled the idea that this tragedy is the result of climate change.

Some even suggested that Florida shouldn’t get aid because some of its elected officials oppose federal legislation that would pump billions of dollars into various green initiatives.

The New York Times ran a piece headlined “Florida Leaders Rejected Major Climate Laws. Now They’re Seeking Storm Aid.” The subheadline read, “Senior Republican politicians in the state have opposed federal action against global warming, which is making storms like Hurricane Ian more destructive.”

The Times report said that while Republicans in the state are requesting aid, they “don’t want to discuss the underlying problem that is making hurricanes more powerful and destructive.”

What was the cause, according to the Times? “The burning of fossil fuels.” Of course.

There was a somewhat amusing admission in the Times piece, pointed out by commentator Erick Erickson on Twitter. The “climate” legislation the writers highlighted was the “Inflation Reduction Act.”

It turns out, President Joe Biden’s spending bill—labeled and sold as a method to reduce inflation—had little to do with stopping inflation and was a whole lot more about jamming through Democrat spending priorities and controlling people’s lives. Now that it’s passed into law, the media doesn’t even have to maintain the pretense.

The Times wasn’t alone in saying that supermassive hurricanes are on the rise while insinuating that more big storms are on the way if we don’t spend billions to tackle man-caused climate change as the Democrat Party suggests.

Of course, the Biden administration uses this kind of information to enact sweeping climate initiatives.

Corporate media outlets like ABC, The Washington Post, and others ran with headlines suggesting that we got Hurricane Ian and other big, recent hurricanes because of man-caused climate change. ABC rolled with the headline, “Here’s how climate change intensifies hurricanes.” The Washington Post went with “How climate change is rapidly fueling super hurricanes.”

But is any of it true? Are fossil fuels and climate change really causing more and larger hurricanes?

Evidence suggests that the narrative about an increase in deadly hurricanes is more a media creation than anything else. In fact, it appears that there has been a slight decline in major hurricanes making landfall in the United States in the past century.

Michael Shellenberger, author of “Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All,” wrote a brilliant takedown of the “fossil fuels + climate change + Republicans = deadly hurricanes” thesis on Substack.

First, Shellenberger explained that the “increasing cost of hurricane damage can be explained entirely by more people and more property in harm’s way.” He compared pictures of Miami Beach to what it looked like a century ago. It’s clearly filled out a great deal in the past hundred years as the area built up.

It’s a similar phenomenon to how wildfires in California burn down many more homes now. The cost of housing in cities pushed more people to live in areas with significant fire hazards, so the property damage is naturally much higher than in the past.

As far as numbers, Shellenberger pointed to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that shows “no long-term trend in hurricane counts” since the 1880s.

NOAA expects a 25% decline in hurricane frequency in the future. Sure, the prediction could be wrong, but available information clearly demonstrates that there is no sudden increase in hurricanes as media headlines suggest.

Furthermore, Shellenberger pointed to NOAA data about increasing hurricane intensity. The numbers showed no evidence of an increase in the size of storms during the same time frame. From NOAA:

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.

The study predicts a 5% increase in hurricane intensity by 2100, but so far there is no evidence of an increase up to this point. And this predicted intensity increase will happen as the overall numbers of hurricanes decrease.

What’s truly deceptive from the Times and other outlets is that they use the 1980s as the starting point from when they say hurricanes have increased. But the 1980s were a historic low point for hurricanes

Shellenberger concluded that much of the reporting on hurricanes has been an exercise in subtle and sometimes direct distortion of the truth. Numbers have been cherry-picked and the data has been misrepresented to concoct the narrative corporate media wants to present to the public.

“It’s clear that reporters are deliberately seeking to convince their readers and listeners of the false impression that hurricanes are becoming more frequent and intense,” he wrote.

It’s also important to note that while there has been more property damage from hurricanes, due to more people living in areas they commonly hit, there has actually been a sharp decrease in death and overall economic impact as a result of them.

Bjorn Lomborg, former director of the Danish government’s Environmental Assessment Institute in Copenhagen and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, wrote in 2021 about how the world is getting better at mitigating the deadliness of hurricanes.

Even though the total damage due to hurricanes has gone up—mostly because more properties are in their way—the overall cost to societies has gone down.

“The trend of weather-related damages from 1990 to 2020 declined from 0.26% of global [gross domestic product] to 0.18%,” Lomborg wrote. “A landmark study shows this has been the trend for poor and rich countries alike, regardless of the types of disaster. Economic growth and innovation have insulated all sorts of people from floods, droughts, wind, heat and cold.”

It’s worth pointing out that the economic growth that’s allowed societies to better tackle the impact of hurricanes and other natural disasters was largely made possible by fossil fuels.

What’s more dramatic than the economic numbers is how much death tolls have gone down.

A century ago, Lomborg wrote, half a million people a year used to die in natural disasters like “storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and extreme temperature.” Since then, according to Lomborg, global annual deaths from natural disasters “declined 96%, to 18,000. In 2020, they dropped to 14,000.”

So if anything, the news is generally good, but you certainly wouldn’t guess this based on media coverage. Instead, we are led to believe that hurricanes are getting worse. If you don’t buy it, then you clearly don’t believe in capital “s” Science, according to the Left and its media allies.


Electric vehicles catching fire in Florida after Hurricane Ian

As the Sunshine State recovers from the punishing Category 4 storm that made landfall last week, first responders have faced further destruction from electric vehicles that were submerged in water from the extensive flooding and later caught fire, Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s chief financial officer and state fire marshal, said on Twitter.

“There’s a ton of EVs disabled from Ian,” he tweeted. “As those batteries corrode, fires start.

“That’s a new challenge that our firefighters haven’t faced before. At least on this kind of scale.”

In his tweet, Patronis posted a video of firefighters with the North Collier Fire Rescue District in Naples putting an electric vehicle fire out as a bystander is heard saying it’s taken thousands of gallons of water to extinguish it.

“It takes special training and understanding of EVs to ensure these fires are put out quickly and safely,” Patronis tweeted.

Additional footage of the same vehicle fire posted on Facebook by the North Collier Fire Rescue District shows firefighters dousing the car’s top and underbelly with water to eliminate any sparks.

The rescue district said firefighters received the call while Patronis and state Rep. Bob Rommel visited the area. The two state officials were brought to the incident so they could see the difficulty of putting EV fires out and said it took firefighters hours to ensure the blaze was extinguished.

“This is an issue many fire departments across [southwest] Florida are experiencing right now,” the district wrote on Facebook. “These vehicles have been submerged in salt water; they have extensive damage and can potentially be serious fire hazards.”

Florida is only behind California for most electric vehicles on the road at more than 95,000 registered in the state, according to the US Department of Energy.


The Choking of Our Energy Industry Is to the Detriment of Both Canada and the World

What is the number one most essential resource in the world today?

Obviously, it is energy. Oil and gas and (yes, it’s making a return) coal during this fretful time have a value enhanced beyond their normal use. And considering that normal use is nothing less than powering the way of life of—literally—all of us, any “added” or enhanced value makes every energy source vital beyond value.

Mr. Putin’s wicked actions in Ukraine in addition to their cruelty have for the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis thrown up the shadow of possible nuclear conflict. We may speculate forever, and it seems we have, on his psychology, on what goes on in that dark mind, and whether—due to pride or the deep ruthlessness of which he has given much evidence—he would indeed move to the ultimate terror.

The anxious truth is, we do not know. What we do know, and it is utterly unconnected with Putin’s mindset, is that he has been “allowed” or better still been given licence to act as he has acted because of his energy leverage over Europe. The European press is full of warnings and cautions about a possible energy shortage—it is already in evidence—for the coming winter.

The European Union, that tattered and failing project, gave Putin that leverage. Under the mesmeric fascination with global warming and the careless and even negligent pursuit of so-called green energy, the commitment to the industrial mirage of “net zero” goals, and tying their economies to the unproven (and by any logic unattainable) renewables such as solar and wind power—while maintaining their dependence on Russia for the proven resource—EU nations have made themselves vulnerable and weak. And so it comes to pass that in 2022, with all our magnificent technology, all our advances in a computer age, some of the greatest economies in the world are wondering if they can make it through the coming winter without tragedy.

The radical embrace of green thought and green ambitions by the most progressive of Western leaders may prove to be one of the most costly and incompetent moves in governance of the century. Those who pushed feverishly for the abandonment of the energy sources that have served well for the last 100 years and went on a rabbit’s chase for the folly and fantasy of net-zero carbon-dioxide-emitting energy supplies now see the grim harvest in the present crisis.

Will it wake them up? Will the desperate actions of continental governments (and ours and the United States) to underwrite fuel costs, pouring out money from already COVID-depleted treasuries, and soaring inflation finally alert them to how foolish and dangerous the lure of green energy has been?

I doubt it greatly. Very greatly indeed. The woke are the very last to awake. And for irrefutable evidence of that we may leave Europe and the UK and look at the sad and mad Canadian experience.

We have in abundance the most critical resource of all the world. Yet for the last seven years under the Trudeau administration, “climate change” has been both the official and number one priority policy of the Canadian government.

And as a marker of that policy, as a definitional illustration of how absurd it is, the increase of carbon taxes to $50 a tonne on April 1 (an unnoticed or deliberate choice of day) by Messrs. Guilbeault and Trudeau cannot be matched.

Except of course that same day’s sweet promise to raise them to $65 a tonne in 2023. And except again the even sweeter promise (please play the Hallelujah Chorus here) to $170 by 2030!

The world needs real energy supplies. Inflation is biting every lower-income Canadian severely. Gasoline prices are unreal. The economy is burdened by debt and huge deficits. Food prices flare upwards. The housing market is spinning.

And in defiance of reality, the facts of global geopolitics, the urgencies in Europe, and Putin’s uncontrollable rage, our country—which has in abundance a product that could provide real strength and benefit to us and half the world—is blunderingly piling on taxes to our greatest resource under an obsessive climate change government. And, not at all incidentally, aiming at Canadian agriculture at the same time. Hobble the oilfields, wound our agriculture—that seems to be the plan.

This government has choked the energy industry. Fastened itself like no other Western country to the fata morgana of climate change and the insolent ambitions of the Davos world masters—to our detriment at home, and our (lost) ability to play a significant part in the current world crisis.

No sadder sentence could I find from that April announcement than this one: “Guilbeault says the government is not going to stall or move backward on its climate action plan, of which the carbon price is seen as a ‘cornerstone’ policy.”

Madness. It’s enough to make you want to climb some very tall building as a protest.


Australia: Coal is booming but you won’t hear about it from Green/Left sources

Having seen the disastrous economic and social outcomes of Europe’s energy crisis, Australia, perversely, perhaps uniquely, is determined to inflict similar damage on itself. The decisions of the Queensland government, and AGL, to get rid of coal-generated electricity by 2035 will likely be, if implemented fully, disastrous.

I say “likely” because it’s possible that some great technology fix may show up in the meantime. But based on what we know of technology today, these moves mean much higher electricity prices and in time almost certainly unreliable supply and intermittent crises.

Nothing is certain, of course, least of all the future. But if as a nation we wanted to replicate the European mess, this is the way we’d go about it.

There are times in Australia when the plain truth is so unfashionable that almost no one speaks it. Here is one simple truth about Australia. We are a wealthy society – with first-class hospitals, affluent universities that can indulge their postmodern critical theory nuttiness, modern transport, modern if ineffective defence forces, a vast welfare system and everything else – for one reason: we make an enormous amount of money exporting commodities.

But the anti-fossil fuel sentiment has become so great that now there is a corporate wariness even about gas exploration and development. Yet we are completely dependent on coal and gas ourselves, as well as for export income. Incidentally, substituting gas for coal has been the main way many developed nations have actually reduced their greenhouse gas emissions.

However, remark this central fact which is never allowed into the debate. Coal is booming. That’s right. Coal is booming.

I am indebted to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute website for highlighting two recent international reports that make this clear, one from the International Energy Agency and one from BloombergNEF. No rhetoric or argument could be as powerful as the facts. So let me offer you a selection of facts from these reports.

Last year, global coal-fired electricity jumped a staggering 8.5 per cent, far in excess of the 5.6 per cent rise in total global power generation. Overall, never in human history has more electricity been generated by coal.

Yet how many times per day do we hear on the ABC that the world has turned away from coal? Whenever I’m on an ABC panel and point out that coal is booming, I cause the most terrible conniptions among my fellow panellists and ABC hosts. It’s as though I’ve committed a morally shocking crime of modern heresy speak. But there’s something else. Their view of climate change is religious but, while fervently religious, it’s also intellectually fragile, and if they admit certain unarguable facts, such as global coal use, the whole dogmatic structure underlying their world view threatens to collapse. Thus the moral panic in the reaction.

But I digress. Some more fun facts. The majority of countries pledged to phasing coal out altogether actually increased their coal-fired power production in 2021. Coal, in fact, accounted for the majority of the global net energy increase in 2021. It’s not only in Australia that climate change happy-talk bears only a glancing relationship with reality.

One of the special wrinkles in the Australian debate is the way we ignore Asia. Here are the 10 top countries, in order, for coal power expansion in 2021: China, India, Vietnam, South Africa, The Philippines, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Japan. Eight out of 10 of those nations are in Asia. Economic growth is still centred much more in Asia than anywhere else. Power usage tracks economic growth, and coal use tracks overall power usage. Those basic equations haven’t changed.

When people talk airily about the world transitioning away from fossil fuels, what they are really describing, so far at least, is that Europe has cut fossil fuels a bit and is in crisis as a consequence, while the US has partly moved from coal to gas.

There’s a lot of renewable energy being installed as well, vast amounts in fact. If your story is only about the uptake of renewables you can produce an alternative set of facts that seem pretty impressive. But you can’t pretend that coal, gas and other fossil fuels have suffered absolute decline. In 2021 coal surged not only absolutely but also proportionally.

It’s also fair to remember that 2021 was a special case. The world economy was recovering from Covid, droughts produced shortages of hydro-electricity and Russia caused high gas prices in Europe. But every year is a special year. Not only that, the long-term trends do not suggest the world is ditching coal either. Indonesia relied on coal for 49 per cent of its power in 2012 and 61 per cent in 2021. The Philippines went from 39 per cent coal power in 2012 to 59 per cent in 2021. Indonesia and The Philippines are high-population, big-growth economies as far as the eye can see.

Of course they themselves are small fry compared with China and India, still the fastest-growing big economies in the world. Between them they accounted for 83 per cent of new coal power in 2021. According to Climate Action Tracker, China increased its greenhouse emissions by 11 per cent from 2015 to 2021. In the same period, the US, that world imperialist neoliberal terrible progenitor of every Western ill, which moreover was ruled for most of that time by Donald Trump, reduced its emissions by 6 per cent. Much of that was switching from coal to gas. Yet the Australian green-left demonises gas almost as wildly as it demonises coal.

Coal provided 64 per cent of China’s energy in 2021. Despite being told endlessly by wish-fulfilment-addicted government climate agencies that China is committed to action on greenhouse gases – I’ve often in ABC appearances encountered that amiable chimera, the China national carbon market – China is expanding coal massively.

The Wall Street Journal reports the Global Energy Monitor assessing that by July 2022 China had 258 separate coal-fired power stations, involving 515 individual units, proposed, permitted or under construction.

Further, the vast majority of zero-emissions energy the world does have is either nuclear or hydro. Chris Bowen scoffs at nuclear energy. He might want to let France’s Emmanuel Macron in on the joke. The French President won re-election promising 14 new nuclear power plants. France gets 70 per cent of its electricity from nuclear and is the world’s biggest electricity exporter. Nuclear is much more reliable than hydro. Sometimes it doesn’t rain, and some countries, like Australia, are topographically difficult for hydro.

Nationals senator Matt Canavan deserves praise for introducing a bill to remove the legal prohibition on nuclear energy in Australia. Our greenhouse emissions are down to about 1 per cent of the world’s total.

Bankrupting our economy won’t help the global climate. We should gradually reduce our emissions and replace high-emissions energy with lower-emissions sources such as gas, or zero-emissions sources such as nuclear. And before that, we should occasionally allow the facts to participate in the debate.




No comments: