The Intersection

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I’ve already had much to say about this year’s puzzling Atlantic hurricane season. Indeed, I’ve called the year “schizophrenic.” But now, the Houston Chronicle’s crack science reporter Eric Berger has done an entire story on what the season does and doesn’t mean. I’m quoted in there several times, and I also have my reaction to the Berger piece up at the newly relaunched and revamped Daily Green.

In essence, I argue this: As we move further and further away from the dramatic 2005 hurricane season, the science actually seems to get more murky…but that’s no excuse for not protecting ourselves. We could easily have another disastrous hurricane very soon in the United States–if not this year, then perhaps as early as 2008.

Again, you can read my piece here, and Berger’s here.

Comments

  1. #1 Neuro-conservative
    November 5, 2007

    Chris — Shouldn’t the unpredictability of the last few hurricane seasons inspire a bit more humility in the AGW crowd? If we can’t predict a hurricane season months in advance, why should we have any confidence in models of temperature increase and sea level rise 100 years out?

  2. #2 Fred Bortz
    November 5, 2007

    Neuro,

    If you haven’t read Storm World, I can understand why you might make this comment. But if you have read it, then you should know that it discusses precisely how unpredictable hurricane seasons are.

    It also notes that it is reasonable to expect some effect on hurricanes from warmer water surface temperatures, but the precise effect in number of storms, their strength, or both is hard to determine.

    Click my name to see my review.

    By the way, I am among the many who see An Inconvenient Truth as effective but criticize certain details in the movie, including the overuse of the hurricane as icon for the effects of global warming.

    I believe that Chris has made similar comments about the hurricane image, perhaps even in Storm World.

  3. #3 Neuro-conservative
    November 6, 2007

    Fred — I appreciate your comment, and I am familiar with Chris’ non-dogmatic writing style (both in his book and in his columns and blog posts). At the same time, I think the dogmatism of his belief in AGW is evident over the totality of his work. Ultimately, he does not allow the data to alter his prior political commitments, and that is what I have been calling out in my comments here over the last few months.

  4. #4 Fred Bortz
    November 6, 2007

    Neuro,

    I’m confused. You say Chris’ writing is non-dogmatic, but that his conclusion that GW is anthropogenic is dogmatic.

    It seems to me that accepting the consensus view as expressed by the IPCC reports while keeping an open mind for other evidence is a reasonable approach. The evidence shows me that Chris does keep an open mind. His ability to lay out competing arguments fairly is, in my view as a book critic, one of two major reasons why Storm World has been so well received.

    The other is its excellent narrative style. I pride myself on being a teller of true tales for young readers (click my name). Chris manages to weave some great human stories from climate science history and today as he presents the science itself in that book.

    If anyone is dogmatic, it is more likely someone who refuses to accept the consensus and focuses on the outlying data.

    Of course, in the end, it doesn’t matter a whit whether the conclusion is arrived at dogmatically or not. What matters is the way climate is changing and whether we can or should do anything about it.

  5. #5 Lance
    November 6, 2007

    Neuro,

    While I am no conservative, I do agree with your assessment of Chris’ writings. He labors to give the appearance of objectivity but his underlying biases, both political and scientific, bear out in the end.

    Fred,

    I agree, at least, with your last paragraph.

    “Of course, in the end, it doesn’t matter a whit whether the conclusion is arrived at dogmatically or not. What matters is the way climate is changing and whether we can or should do anything about it.”

    A true assessment of these issues requires reliance on dispassionate, empirically based scientific investigation. I’m afraid the current “atmosphere” surrounding climate science is quite turbulent and Chris is bent on clouding the issue to suite his political goals.

    Has anyone forgotten “Hillary Week” here at the Intersection?

  6. #6 llewelly
    November 7, 2007

    The obvious explanation for the relatively low ACE is that the two category 5s made landfall early in their lifespans. Had they stayed at sea, they would have accummulated much higher ACE, and more hurricane days. Recall that ACE is a sum of the squares of the 6-hourly windspeed estimates – so the most powerful storms overwhelm the others.
    But if the topic is going to be the effect of AGW on hurricanes, attention should focus on the trend – not individual years. And the 2003 – 2005 period – with an uprecedented 3 consecutive seasons with 1 or more category 5s each, and 15 or more storms each, should not be the metric for deciding whether a season is ‘slow’. This has been, after all, a 14-storm season, which is more than the historical average number of storms.