Facts indicate changing climate natural
Our Voice on Oct. 31 (“Don’t tell anybody, but the Earth’s climate is changing”) as I see it suggests a correlation between our national energy policy and natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy. This is a common media refrain whenever we experience natural disasters.
The problem with suggesting that man’s activities are causing ever greater and more frequent natural disasters is that the data suggest otherwise. For example, Roger Pielke, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, reports that “the U.S. is currently in an extended and intense hurricane ‘drought.’” It’s been seven years since the last Category 3 or stronger storm made landfall, the longest span in over a century. Yet the media suggest major storms are getting stronger and more frequent.
Adjusted for changing levels of development, tornado damage has also decreased since 1950. Flood damage, too, as a proportion of the economy, is down. And so on.
No doubt humans impact our climate, and action on energy policy is prudent. But trying to make a connection between natural disasters and our energy policy is more exploitation than science. There’s no data to suggest anthropogenic climate change (formerly known as global warming) has increased the devastation or frequency of natural disasters.
Our economic policies, though, have led to greater property loss and lives lost in recent disasters. The National Flood Insurance Program (offers subsidized flood insurance to homeowners and entrepreneurs), for instance, creates a moral hazard which induces more people to live in disaster prone areas than would be the case otherwise. Let’s start with reforming our economic policies.
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