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Hurricane Irene: End Of The World? Obligatory Global Warming Post

If global warming was responsible for the vicious Irene, was it also responsible for the many years of tropical quiescence? For those years when nothing happened? For the falls where the skies were clear, the temperature clement, the waters warm, and life good?

Hurricanes are no joke. Particularly this one, which the media assures us is the official frontman of the Four Horsemen of the—make that the—apocalypse. The headline at Yahoo news is:

Hurricane-force winds from Irene battered the North Carolina coast early Saturday as the storm started wreaking havoc even before a potentially catastrophic run up the Eastern Seaboard. [emphasis mine]

On the radio is a reporter saying something like, “I’m here in at the hotel Whatsitsname, Bob, in the Outer Banks. It’s raining and I see wind. That’s why I’m shouting, even though I’m safely ensconced in the room near the mini bar. If I look carefully I can see things blowing around. If you were in the path of one of these blowing objects, it would be almost certain execution. I urge all my listeners to take cover now! Unfortunately, I can’t see much damage.”

The reporter didn’t use the word unfortunately, but you can hear the gloom in his voice. The potential for winning an award for covering a horrific disaster has been blown away by anemic winds.

Hurricane IreneI am, very unfortunately in California, feeling sharp, stabbing pains of jealousy. I missed the earthquake and am going to miss the hurricane of the century! I do not jest. I started life as a meteorologist and love storms, as all weather people do. At least there is the internet. Sigh.

There has been criticism of the mayor for his storm preparations. Shutting down the subways makes sense, however. Even a brisk rain floods parts of the system, which is century old and looks it. And if the city didn’t announce the shutdown long in advance, New Yorkers would count on the lines running.

Same thing for the airlines canceling flights. Can you imagine the lawsuits if a plane flew through high winds and a passenger spilled coffee on herself? One shudders.

Meanwhile, we hear that Irene is the spawn of global warming. Sure, there hasn’t been a hurricane that hit us in years, and this one is not the Pinwheel of Death as hoped for by televisions journalists, but it is a hurricane, and hurricanes are storms, and Al Gore did promise that we would see more and stronger storms because of global warming. Therefore rampant, out of control global warming is real. Quod erat demonstrandum.

But I ask you: If global warming was responsible for the vicious Irene, was it also responsible for the many years of tropical quiescence? For those years when nothing happened? For the falls where the skies were clear, the temperature clement, the waters warm, and life good?

Why, if global warming is real, does it only cause bad things? Why not good ones, too?

Well, we know the answer. Listen: this storm can still cause a lot of trouble. So if you are in her path, don’t act stupidly. Stay home and keep the television off, lest you are needlessly panicked.

Update It is interesting to consider the earlier model runs showed Irene to be bigger than she turned out to be. These models were not predicting events many years into the future, just those for tomorrow. Our observations along Irene’s path are pretty good, not like the global temperature network, which is spotty at best. So even though our storm models aren’t perfected, surely our global climate models are.

William M Briggs, 27 August 2011