Are we ever going to put Katrina to bed? We have covered no end of articles clearly showing that hurricane activity is not increasing and likely will not increase in frequency or intensity due to the ongoing buildup of greenhouse gases. Virtually every prominent scientist involved in hurricane research agrees that it is brutally unfair to blame any one event on global warming, and yet to this day, almost every global warming presenter hints around that we caused Katrina, or at least we substantially added to its strength. As time passes, you would think this storyline would die. However, the recent tragedy in Myanmar associated with Cyclone Nargis left tens of thousands dead and reinvigorated the “global warming equals bigger hurricane” crusade.
Incredibly, more than a million websites come up for a search of Myanmar and Katrina! Countless titles appear such as “Cyclone’s path through Myanmar resembled Katrina’s wrath” or “Myanmar cyclone, Katrina, People in Glass Houses” or “ABC Calls Myanmar Cyclone ‘Asia’s Katrina’” or “Are devastating storms like Hurricane Katrina and Myanmar Cyclone a sure sign of global warming?” Throw in some pictures of Al Gore, and the connection is made loud and clear between global warming and hurricanes all over the world.
Yet another article has appeared in a major journal (Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems) entitled “Tropical cyclone variations in Louisiana, U.S.A., since the late eighteenth century.” The work was done by Cary Mock of the University of South Carolina and the research was funded by the National Science Foundation. Mock notes that “the current Atlantic Basin record is too short to encompass the full range of temporal variability needed to calculate accurate probabilities and recurrence intervals essential for long-range hurricane prediction and hazard assessment. A longer temporal perspective of hurricane activity would be quite reassuring, particularly since the characteristics of climatic forcing mechanisms of the previous centuries, as well as the last few decades, are different, and because increased coastal development and population is likely to continue in conjunction with anticipated future climate change.” We doubt anyone would argue that longer term records of hurricane activity would be very useful at this point.