Global Warming? No. Just Hot Air from Politicians; the Mail's Science Editor on How Those Hurricanes Have Become Weather of Mass Deception for Both Labour and the Tories

Daily Mail (London), September 15, 2004 | Go to article overview

Global Warming? No. Just Hot Air from Politicians; the Mail's Science Editor on How Those Hurricanes Have Become Weather of Mass Deception for Both Labour and the Tories


Byline: MICHAEL HANLON

YOU WOULD have a hard job convincing the people of Cuba, the Cayman Islands or Florida that the reality of global warming is in doubt.

This summer, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico have been battered by no fewer than three massive hurricanes which have brought devastation to the region.

You would have a hard job, too, convincing the residents of Boscastle that there was any doubt about the greenhouse effect. Last month, this little Cornish village was smashed to bits by a wall of water generated by more than seven inches of rain which fell in just one afternoon.

And across Britain, this summer has been one of the wettest on record.

So it should come as no surprise that our cynical politicians are now signing up to the global warming cause with great gusto, eager to jump aboard any bandwagon.

Yesterday, Tony Blair threw down the gauntlet on global warming, calling for a 'green industrial revolution' to tackle climate change. At the same time, shamefully, the Tories unveiled a series of policies to 'tackle' global warming, including tax incentives to build more energy-efficient homes. All very worthy, all very misguided.

Consider those hurricanes.

Like any extreme weather event these days, they have been blamed by the environmentalist brigade on that old bogeyman, global warming.

But is there any evidence that in recent years extreme weather events such as these tropical storms are more frequent or severe?

Influence The answer is a categorical 'no'. In fact, there have been rather fewer hurricanes in the past 50 years than in the preceding half-century. The Caribbean region saw twice as many during the 19th century as it does today.

In reality, the relationship between temperatures and storm-frequency is far more complicated than the Greens would have us believe.

Little-understood natural fluctuations in the ocean currents that drive our weather probably have a far greater influence on storms than the relatively modest rise in air temperatures - some 0.7C - seen since 1900.

Of course, in one sense, hurricanes are getting worse. But the reason is not the storms themselves.

It is simply that more people live in areas in their path.

A hundred years ago, Florida was an unpopulated swamp; hurricanes came and went and nobody much noticed.

Now it is one of the most populous states in America. Any adverse weather event will, naturally, have a disproportionately greater effect than before.

But closer to home, what about the Boscastle flood? Yes, it was unusual, but it was by no means unprecedented. The small town of Lynmouth in Devon, just up the coast, was subjected to a far more severe deluge 52 years ago.

Freak Boscastle itself has been flooded several times. Although the environmentalists were quick to try to blame global warming, even scientists at the Met Office, who normally rush to back this thesis, were at pains to point out that this single event could not be attributed to long-term climate change, but rather to a freak set of local circumstances, unrelated to global environmental patterns.

Yet still the green lobby persists in blaming every changing aspect of our planet on man's wanton negligence.

Recently, there has been a sequence of scare stories that the Arctic Ocean will soon be free from ice every summer again, so the environmentalists say, thanks to global warming.

But there has been almost no reporting of a recent study in which samples of sediment were taken from the Lomonosov Ridge between Greenland and Siberia. Analysis showed that 55 million years ago not only was there no ice in the Arctic at all, but the waters would have been warm enough to swim in without a wetsuit. …

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