REPORT: Focus on Climate Change Takes Away from REAL Disaster Planning

‘The more urgent problem of our lemming-like march to the sea requires immediate and sustained attention…’

(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) A leading climatologist said that blaming things like carbon-dioxide emissions while ignoring the real policy issues surrounding natural disasters left regions more vulnerable for future catastrophe.

Judith Curry, president of the Climate Forecast Applications Network and a professor emeritus of Georgia Tech’s climatology department, became a leading climate-change skeptic after looking at the scientific evidence.

Curry was among the expert witnesses to testify recently before a House Oversight subcommittee on the topic of “Recovery, Resilience and Readiness,” where she was pitted against climate-change dogmatists and research manipulators including Penn State’s Michael Mann.

Curry followed up on her written testimony for the committee by adapting it into a report, which was released Monday by The Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Even if evidence fails to support man-made climate change as a cause for natural disasters, she said, the recurrence and unpredictability of extreme weather patterns meant more should be done to anticipate them in order to minimize risk.

“Many regions of the U.S. are not well adapted to the current weather and climate variability or to the extremes that were seen earlier in the 20th century,” Curry said in a GWPF press release. “We can do much to improve our resilience to extreme weather regardless of climate change.”

In fact, the illusion of climate change—which taps into a long continuum throughout history of blaming extreme weather on the sins of mankind—creates greater risk in suggesting that the weather will somehow become less severe simply by going green.

“Since no level of decarbonisation will prevent hurricanes or wildfires from hitting towns and cities, only a pragmatic policy of preparedness and adaptation will make communities saver and more resilient,” said the GWPF press release.

To illustrate the point, Curry noted, as have some in Congress, that a discrepancy between wildfires on public and private lands proved it was poor forest management that was, in effect, fueling fires in places like California, where environmental regulations prevented foresters from clearing brush.

“The abundance of fuels is the most important controlling variable in fire regimes of these semi-arid forests,” noted the report. “Reduction of widespread fires over the last century reflects extensive human impacts on forests and fire regimes.”

To the extent that climate variability factored into the equation—such as periods of drought—the current uptick mirrors one from the early part of the 20th century when the fires were even more prevalent.

Curry’s report also examined the alleged man-made impact on Atlantic hurricanes.

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2018’s Hurricane Michael, the fourth deadliest U.S. hurricane on record since the 20th century recording began, left parts of southern Florida in rubble. /IMAGE: The Washington Post via Youtube

“In spite of the low confidence in attributing changes in hurricane activity to human influence, the public discourse on the threat of hurricanes in a changing climate is often characterized by exaggerated alarm, fueled by statements from some climate scientists,” she wrote, taking a dig at Mann’s claims of major cities being lost.

Although a period in the mid-2000s saw back-to-back years with four and three major hurricanes, lending to the perception of increased weather severity, it was immediately followed by a span of nearly that broke records for having no major hurricanes.

This results in a negative overall trend, a slight downturn in the number of hurricanes, since the early 20th century.

The fact that there was no consensus on the 2019 hurricane season underscored the challenges scientists continued to face in predicting the weather, Curry said.

“The variation among these forecasts reflects different assumptions about the important factors that drive seasonal hurricane activity,” she said. “The relatively low skill of seasonal hurricane forecasts reflects a combination of incomplete understanding and unpredictable weather variability.”

Curry’s own models, based on the prevalence of La Niña events—essentially the cooling phase of ocean surface temperatures—would indicate a 2019 season with heavy hurricanes and an overall upward trend of hurricanes lasting into the 2020s before shifting into another period of decline, noted the report.

Curry said that adapting a “resilience” mindset geared more toward recovering from extreme weather than trying to prevent it would lessen the impact.

“A focus on policies that support resilience, anti-fragility and thrivability reduces our vulnerability to extreme weather events and doesn’t rely on highly uncertain predictions of the future climate,” she noted in the report.

However, in terms of prevention efforts, one of the leading factors was that government policies encouraged risk. While Western states’ tree-thinning regulations increased risk of fires, so, also, did its insurance industry regulations, by inviting people to build near coastal areas prone to greater risk, increase the devastation caused by the major events.

“[T]he more urgent problem of our lemming-like march to the sea requires immediate and sustained attention,” noted Curry and a coalition of scientists in a 2006 statement. “We call upon leaders of government and industry to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of building practices, and insurance, land use, and disaster relief policies that currently serve to promote an ever-increasing vulnerability to hurricanes.”