In a slyly worded, selectively sourced article in the Daily Caller, self proclaimed climate change expert Michael Batasch wants readers to know that there is little convincing evidence linking global warming to the most powerful hurricane ever recorded hitting Mexico today. How does Batasch know this? He doesn't, but he found enough 'evidence' to assert that the data on climate change "shows the opposite," of what those pesky environmentalists have been saying.
Firstly, take the title of his article: "The Real ‘Consensus’: Global Warming Causes FEWER Hurricanes"
This of course isn't what environmentalists are mostly worried about - it is the severity of the storms and the enormous destruction they can cause. But Batasch has a narrative and he wants to stick with it. He writes:
Environmentalists are still trying to tie massive storms to global warming as Hurricane Patricia heads toward Mexico.
Oddly enough, the very science activists cite when claiming global warming will make hurricanes like Patricia more frequent and intense actually shows the opposite.
Scientists project fewer hurricanes in the future that may be slightly stronger. Research also suggests that even though hurricanes may become slightly stronger, wind patterns will drive them further out to sea, meaning fewer storms hitting Americans.
“I would characterize ‘mainstream’ science on global warming and hurricanes as thinking that there will be a slight decrease in frequency of storms but a slight increase in intensity on a global scale,” climate scientist Chip Knappenberger with the libertarian Cato Institute told The Daily Caller News Foundation Thursday.
Batasch goes on to cite a report by The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that states:
It is likely that the global frequency of tropical cyclones will either decrease or remain essentially unchanged...
Batasch does add the caveat that the report also predicted "increase in both global mean tropical cyclone maximum wind speed and rain rates," but adds that "scientists won’t even be able to detect global warming’s influence on storms for some time."
And with that, Batasch refutes his own argument (whatever it was in the first place). He is right in saying data collection on hurricanes is an evolving science. As Chris Mooney, a widely respected science reporter in the Washington Postnotes:
The issue [of hurricane intensity], however, is beset by data-related difficulties, since storm measurement techniques are continually improving (creating a kind of apples-and-oranges problem when comparing past strong storms with present ones) and are also highly variable around the world — thus, hurricane hunter flights are far more common in the Atlantic than in the Northeast Pacific, where Patricia formed.
But this does not mean Batasch an other deniers will be proved right over time. In fact, the exact opposite could well be just as likely.
Either way, the link between global warming and Hurricane Patricia is pretty obvious. Mooney spoke Michael Mann, a climate researcher at Penn State University, who asserted that:
As ocean temperatures continue to warm as a result of human-caused climate change, we expect hurricanes to intensify, and we expect to cross new thresholds. Hurricane Patricia and her unprecedented 200 mile-per-hour sustained winds appears to be one of them now, unfortunately.
It is impossible to directly link climate change to one specific hurricane, but the trend as noted by climate scientists, is obvious. Batasch doesn't deny this of course, but has penned an article designed to distract readers from the bigger picture. He has history of lying about climate change evidence, and his latest article is another attempt to distort reality without overtly saying so.