Friday, December 01, 2006 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Weak 2006 hurricane season

The 2006 Atlantic hurricane season officially ended yesterday. We have seen nine storms. Five of them were hurricanes and two of those were "major hurricanes" although both of these Category 3 "major hurricanes" only exceeded the "major" threshold by a tiny amount.

All these three numbers are below the average of the last 50 years. The spring predictions of the hurricane center were higher by a factor of 2 or more. It's even more interesting to see the damages expressed in 2005 U.S. dollars - the approximate numbers are according to Wikipedia:

  • 1998: 14 billion
  • 1999: 7 billion
  • 2000: 1.3 billion
  • 2001: 7 billion
  • 2002: 1.3 billion
  • 2003: 4 billion
  • 2004: 43 billion
  • 2005: 120+ billion
  • 2006: 0.18 billion (later raised to 0.5 billion)

No kidding, the damages decreased by more than two orders of magnitude from 2005, and they were by about 1 order of magnitude smaller than almost all other years. The previous silent season was 1997 which was comparable to 2006. Most recent years before 1997 caused multi-billion damages, too.

If someone happened to be interested in science, the reason for a weak 1997 season was really the 1998 El Nino. We have lived with another El Nino for two months or so and this El Nino has eliminated all conceivable tropical storms since October 2nd when Isaac disappeared.




The lesson? It is difficult to predict the hurricane activity. Bill Grey used his hypotheses about decadal cycles. Advocates of the global warming theory have used their universally dark picture of the future to make similar predictions. All of them were spectacularly wrong. I don't know whether the hurricane science can ever become predictive, reliable, and quantitative, but it is clear that their field is not yet there now.

You should also notice how the discussions about possible links between the hurricanes and the CO2 emissions dramatically evaporated. Whenever record cold temperatures are broken somewhere, the global warming apologists immediately tell you that you are not allowed to talk about them because it is just weather.

Last year when we happened to see many hurricanes which - you might think - are also just weather, they would be speculating about the links between the hurricane intensity and the CO2 emissions. Some of the slightly more honest ones wouldn't directly argue that these two things are linked because there is clearly no evidence - but they still wanted you to think about this possible link.

That's the most efficient way to create myths: if you induce the atmosphere in which the laymen start to invent these irrational relationships themselves, you're the winner.

In 2006, with the hurricane rate plummeting by 70 percent from 2005, they no longer invite you to think about such links because such a reasoning could have the opposite effect than they want: it could lead to you think that our activity is actually making things safer with time instead of more dangerous because the hurricanes are disappearing as we pump record amounts of CO2 into air. Needless to say, neither of these two conclusions can be supported by any existing statistically significant data or reliable theories.

The global warming theory with its possible impact on the hurricanes or anything else you can think about is just a new example of an old, pre-historical form of religion. Ten thousand years ago, people would be afraid of many things and they would invent irrational links between them and gods who were responsible for them but they didn't yet know how to look at all these phenomena without bias, how to eliminate wrong hypotheses, and how make scientifically justifiable conclusions.

Unfortunately, Marx was qualitatively right in this case: the history resembles a spiral. The believers in these very primitive forms of religion have the same logic as their counterparts who lived 10,000 years ago but they have much more powerful tools to cause damage which could be a reason to be concerned.

And that's the memo.

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