U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Majority Fact of the Day
Global Warming Not the Cause of Katrina

Global Warming Not the Cause of Katrina

“Everyone is clear global warming did not cause Katrina and that it is not causing more hurricanes. The worldwide rate has held pretty steady at 90 a year for decades, says Kerry Emanuel, professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” (Elizabeth Weise, “What led to Katrina? Jury still out on global warming,” USA Today, September 6, 2005)

Congratulations to USA Today for reporting Tuesday that Kerry Emanuel, author of a controversial MIT report on global warming and hurricanes, stated for the record that global warming did not cause Hurricane Katrina and is not behind others. We have consistently cautioned in previous Facts of the Day that climate alarmists would use the MIT study to frighten the public by attempting to pin extreme weather activity on human-induced emissions.

Fact: USA Today reviewed what several scientists and economists have said recently about hurricanes and hurricane intensity, and the overwhelming majority believe there is no link. In fact, the only opinion in its story favoring a link between global warming and hurricane intensity was that of a Wesleyan economics professor, Gary Yohe – not a climate scientist. Every scientist quoted disregarded any link.

· “William Gray of the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University has shown that hurricane activity waxes and wanes over 25 to 30 years. The 1910s and ‘20s were bad for hurricanes. Then came a period of calm, and another bad period in the 1940s and ‘50s. From the 1960s to 1995 was a period of calm.”

· “Robert Sheets, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami from 1987 to 1995, agrees. He doesn’t believe there’s any solid evidence that Katrina was strengthened by global warming. ‘Anything we’ve seen so far is not outside of what has occurred in the past,’ he says.”

· “…Christopher Landsea, a researcher meteorologist in the hurricane research division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says Katrina wasn’t caused by global warming but is simply a part of the natural cycle of hurricane activity.

· More Landsea: “We’ve seen very busy times before, but the big difference is there’s so many people living in hurricane alley. The coastal population is doubling roughly every 25 years from Texas to Carolina. That means the last time we were in a busy period there were many fewer people and less infrastructure in the way,’ Landsea says.”

And that’s an important point to consider as some will continue the failed attempt to link global warming and anthropogenic emissions to increased hurricane intensity, stating that as intensity increases, so does the amount of damage. To put it succinctly, more people = more structures = more destruction in any sized hurricane.