Discovery News Vid on YouTube

In which I discourse about hurricanes and global warming with Sarah Goforth of Discovery News:

What do folks think of the ending, where--following my lead--the video contrasts the number of Category 5 storms between 1970 and 2002 (8) with the number between 2003 and 2007 (7)? My own view is that while we shouldn't make too much of a comparison like this, it is still worrisome...

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Marginal. When I see that sort of comparison, I always want to go a level lower to check that the selection of time periods hasn't been fudged.

Example - if there had been no Cat 5's between 1989 and 2002, then one could also have said - "7 from 1970 to 1989; 8 from 1990 to 2007 - big deal."

I find the "4 in 2005 where no other year since 1970 has had more than 1" probably has more weight with me. Even there though, I wonder, "Why the 1970 cutoff?"

By Scott Belyea (not verified) on 31 Aug 2007 #permalink

I imagine the cutoffs generally involve either some form of accuracy (if wind speeds could not be properly registered < 1970), or some form of definition. I don't know enough about hurricane science to discuss why particular dates are used for statistics. All I know is 30 years isn't a whole lot.

By Brian Thompson (not verified) on 31 Aug 2007 #permalink

I understand why they did it, but I prefer graphs that show as much of the available data as possible...

Regardless, you again did a good job.

I imagine the cutoffs generally involve either some form of accuracy (if wind speeds could not be properly registered)

My point was not to wonder what the reason was, but to illustrate why it's worthwhile to read these sort of "simple stats" with a critical eye.

In this case, what if there were 4 Cat 5 hurricanes in 1969?

I'm not suggesting that Mooney is "cooking the books," just illustrating why I don't automatically accept stats that are potentially so easily manipulated.

By Scott Belyea (not verified) on 31 Aug 2007 #permalink

Scott -- You're right on the money. 1970 sounds like a nice round cut-off, doesn't it? Except that 1969 previously held the record for most hurricanes in a season (until the outlier year 2005). 1969 was also memorable for the catastrophic Hurricane Camille, a Category 5 that made nearly the same landfall as Katrina and killed 259 people.

By Neuro-conservative (not verified) on 01 Sep 2007 #permalink