By Tom Harris
As I described in my Citizens Journal Florida article “Climate Scare Threatens Pro-life Movement,” climate alarmists are pushing increased access to abortion to supposedly help “stop climate change.” Equally concerning for pro-lifers, the abortion industry has jumped on the climate change bandwagon to promote their agenda as well.
This is why the pro-life movement needs to present solid arguments to show that the climate scare is not based on sound science.
In part 2 of this four part series, “Pro-lifers Can Beat the Climate Scare Threatening Their Movement,” I explained how to contest the mistaken idea that the rise in so-called “global average temperature” is of concern. Next, let’s consider the supposed increase in extreme weather than climate activists are always wailing about.
Extreme weather expert and former Environment Canada scientist Dr. Madhav L. Khandekar explained:
“Extreme weather is an integral part of weather and climate that has always been with us whether our climate was cooler or warmer. Reducing CO2 levels in order to reduce extreme weather is a fantasy.”
Pro-lifers should tell the public that the most severe weather of recent centuries occurred during the far colder Little Ice Age which ended about 1880. The worst weather of the past century, however, was generally during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. The “dirty thirties” were miserable for farmers on the American and Canadian prairies, far worse than anything we are seeing today. Well-known American climatologist Stanley Changnon has documented how the 1920s and 1930s also witnessed significantly higher numbers of thunderstorms and associated violent weather than today. University of Alberta Emeritus Professor Keith Hage’s research showed that severe and destructive windstorms over Alberta and Saskatchewan peaked during the 1920s and 1930s and have lessened since.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s State Climate Extremes Committee database of extreme weather records is the best of its kind in the world. It clearly shows that the incidence of extreme weather records today is far less than in the 1930s. A plot of records set at all U.S. Historical Climatology Network Stations supports this observation:
Note that, in 1936, 27 extreme weather records were set on a state-wide basis, records that still stand today. Contrast that with the number of records set in 2022, namely ZERO.
Largely as a consequence of this reduction in extreme events, we have seen a continual decrease in deaths due to natural events:
Joe Bastardi is Chief Forecaster for WeatherBELL, an organization that is paid to forecast weather by companies whose economic futures depend on it. Bastardi, who just published a new book titled The Weaponization of Weather in the Phony Climate War, explained:
“There were one quarter the number of human beings on the planet in 1930, but there were 28 times more deaths caused by climate and natural disasters than today. This was because the weather then was more extreme than now and we lacked the early warnings we get today when extreme weather is approaching.”
Former Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s comments about Ottawa tornadoes being the result of climate change is also unjustified. The actual causes of the September 2018 Ottawa/Gatineau tornadoes were natural. As unseasonably cold and dry air from western Canada advanced toward the warm and moist air over southern Ontario, it produced a major thunderstorm with a funnel cloud. This then produced the two severe Ottawa tornadoes. Without that trigger of western cold air, there would not have been a severe thunderstorm and tornadoes in the Ottawa region.
In “Politicians were wrong to blame the tornadoes on climate change,” (Sun chain of newspapers across Canada, October 1, 2018), Dr. Khandekar and I explained:
“The July 31, 1987 Edmonton tornado had wind speeds up to 417 km/h (Ottawa’s tornadoes peaked at 265 km/h) and destroyed over 300 homes and killed 27 people. Only the Regina tornado of June 30, 1912 was deadlier, killing 28 people. Other severe Canadian tornadoes include the 1946 tornado hit on the Detroit River (17 fatalities), the July 14, 2000 Pine Lake tornado (12 fatalities and at least 140 injured), and the June 22, 2007 Elie, Manitoba tornado that had wind speeds of between 420 to 510 km/h.”
And, generally speaking, the same is happening in the United States. As can be seen in the following graph, almost all tornado activity is either at or below the average. Moreover, there is no correlation between tornado activity and either emissions or “average global temperature.”
Historical data show that weather has usually been more extreme during colder periods. This was especially the case during the centuries-long Little Ice Age. For example, Chinese researchers found that “typhoon frequency seemed to have increased at least regionally during the coldest phases of the Little Ice Age.” And during the most recent extended period when Earth’s climate was generally cooling (1945 – 1977), we saw twelve tropical cyclones in the north Atlantic reach hurricane intensity in 1969, far above normal. A year later a tropical cyclone in the Bay of Bengal killed about 250,000 people, the greatest number ever in a single weather-related disaster.
Global warming apparently reduces tropical cyclone activity over all time frames. Perhaps this is why we have seen a slight reduction in the frequency of all hurricanes in the past four decades (see graph below. Other tropical cyclone metrics may be seen here).
In his presentation at the 14th International Conference on Climate Change in Las Vegas on Oct. 17, 2021, atmospheric scientist Dr. Neil L. Frank, former Director of the National Hurricane Center and chairman for the World Meteorological Organization’s Hurricane Committee for North and Central America, showed the graph to the right and said: “There has been a decrease in hurricane activity in the Atlantic, certainly a major decrease from the 40s and the 50s.”
For more on this topic, see “U.S. Landfalling Hurricanes Trend Down in 2020 – Despite Claims of ‘Record-Breaking’ Season,” by meteorologist Anthony Watts (January 5, 2021).
Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor emeritus of atmospheric meteorology Dr. Richard Lindzen’s statement in the November 30, 2009 The Wall Street Journal still applies today:
“The notion that complex ‘catastrophes’ are simply a matter of the response … to a single forcing, CO2 (or solar forcing for that matter), represent a gigantic step backward in the science of climate. Many disasters associated with warming are simply normal occurrences whose existence is falsely claimed to be evidence of warming. And all these examples involve phenomena that are dependent on a confluence of many factors.”
Ottawa politicians, former Mayor Watson in particular, really take the cake when it comes to sensationalism about flooding as well. In reality, we have not seen any increase in flooding in the City in the past decades. Indeed, there has been a decrease in extreme rainfall throughout Ontario. There are twice as many statistically significant decreasing trends as increasing ones in southern Ontario (per the version 2.3 Engineering Climate Datasets on the slides here). Moreover, the relationship between temperature and extreme rainfall has been disproved by research at MIT, Columbia and the University of Western Ontario.
There have always been floods in history, and nothing we see now is abnormal. Data from Environment Canada since the 1950s has shown that there has been no significant change in the frequency of flooding, and the UN IPCC has also admitted that there is no increase in climate-driven changes in the magnitude and frequencies of floods in the 20th and 21st centuries around the world.
Oh but what about Wildfires that so concerned Ottawa politicians that,in the city’s nonsensical Declaration of Climate Emergency, they blamed climate change for supposedly increasing intense wildfires. There is no convincing historical evidence to support this idea. It doesn’t even make sense on a theoretical science basis.
In “Extreme wildfires caused by extreme stupidity, not global warming,” published on February 1, 2021, by historical climatologist Dr. Tim Ball and myself, we explained:
“Rising temperatures and increasing CO2 both act to increase soil moisture and so reduce the potential of fires. When temperatures rise, evaporation increases, causing more precipitation which increases soil moisture and so lessens fire risk. As CO2 rises, stomata, the pores in plant’s leaves, are open for shorter lengths of time. Plants therefore lose less water to the air and so more of it stays in the soil, again reducing fire potential.
“The natural cycle of forest fires creates what are called crown fires. They move through quickly, burning off dead debris but leaving most of the plants still alive. When governments decided to stop forest fires, they upset the natural dynamics completely. The bureaucracies, now populated by graduates of the biased environmental education system, willingly allowed the environmental extremists’ demands to end the former sensible practice of cleaning the undergrowth. Activists complained that such forest tending was not ‘natural,’ when it was, in fact, a reasonable facsimile of ‘nature.’
“So, the debris built up, leaving the forest a tinder box all ready to ignite. Making matters worse, when a fire takes hold, it now often creates what is referred to as a base fire. These fires are very difficult to extinguish — the heat allows such fires to burn into the ground and, days after a fire is supposedly out, it will flare up again.”
What this means, of course, is that intense wildfires are not caused by global warming or CO2 rise, but by inept policy decisions by those responsible for managing our forests.
In the final part of this series, I will explain why sea level rise is yet another issue we need not concern ourselves about and why the rise in carbon dioxide emissions from our burning of fossil fuels may have saved life on Earth!
The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal Florida.