Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

02/24/2008 (5:52 pm)

Rise in Hurricane Damage Not Due to Climate Change, says NOAA

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration of the US Department of Commerce (NOAA) announced last Thursday that a team of scientists studying the economic impact of hurricanes over the past century have discovered that the rise in hurricane damages are due entirely to increases in population, wealth, and infrastructure, not any increase in the frequency or destructiveness of hurricanes.

A team of scientists have found that the economic damages from hurricanes have increased in the U.S. over time due to greater population, infrastructure, and wealth on the U.S. coastlines, and not to any spike in the number or intensity of hurricanes.

“We found that although some decades were quieter and less damaging in the U.S. and others had more land-falling hurricanes and more damage, the economic costs of land-falling hurricanes have steadily increased over time,” said Chris Landsea, one of the researchers as well as the science and operations officer at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami. “There is nothing in the U.S. hurricane damage record that indicates global warming has caused a significant increase in destruction along our coasts.”

You can find the actual paper here.

Question: did you read about this in the newspaper, or hear about it on TV news? If not, why not?

Answer: I could find no news organization on the Internet that reported this story, though a number of conservative blogs picked it up. The news media, wholeheartedly invested in promoting the political agenda underlying the Human-Caused Global Climate Change hoax, will not report scientific findings that do not support their thesis. Therefore, if it happens to be true that humans are not causing global warming, you will never know about it unless you research the topic for yourself.

Below is a chart from JunkScience.com showing hurricane activity by decade from 1851 through 2001. The fact that hurricane activity has not increased due to climate change — or anything else — is obvious from the chart. Click on the link to get a larger display.

Credit the find of the article to JunkScience.com, and before them, a blog called Watts Up With That?

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February 24, 2008 @ 8:06 pm #

Leaving aside the complex questions of what is and what is not true in the controversy about “global warming, ” I have to say that the claims about hurricanes and flood damage being related to warming (as Al Gore has said) have always been viewed by scientists and geographers as pretty much bunk. The conclusions of the paper have been well known and are obvious to any serious (or even casual) students of the problem.

Now…I’m not saying this proves the warming crowd are all full of HOT AIR, but this point is just absurd.

February 24, 2008 @ 8:26 pm #

BTW, I forgot this comment of yours:

… you will never know about it unless you research the topic for yourself.

Is this a bad thing? Heavens! Doing research on your own? Couldn’t we same the same about just about any non-trivial topic? Why do so many bloggers and other critics rant against the media for not purveying their critique du jour and then act aggrieved that the same mass media conspiracy machine is NOT force feeding the world with their point of view. You just want “balance?” Everyone says that. If people want to think about things, there’s no end to the ways they can get good information, in this country at least.

February 24, 2008 @ 9:07 pm #


The reason I say “You will never know about the topic until you research it for yourself” is because we are being systematically misinformed by the press. This is clear from the context. There’s certainly nothing wrong with researching for ourselves, and if you seriously took anything I said to imply that, then you simply can’t read. But there most certainly is something wrong with a press corps that reports only the half of the story that comports with their personal view of the world… and again, if you didn’t get that from the paragraph you’re so snidely rebuffing, you simply can’t read.

Short version: you’re an ass, and you’re going out of your way to pretend that comments are less cogent than they really are. That’s not welcome here. If you want to discuss what’s written, feel free, but if you want to sneer (after misreading), take it somewhere else.

February 24, 2008 @ 10:36 pm #

The lack of exposure of this story in the nainstream media is a good example of the filtering of stories to promote those that fit the template and agenda the media favors. and to let others which provide potential counterpoints die on the vine. This was the subject of a discussion on this blog a few days ago, and it’s disheartening to see how quickly examples surface.

As to research, that’s fine but most people do not have the time or inclination to spend hours blogging and sifting to try to ascertain what is fact and what is propaganda. We can’t control (and don’t want to) whether a magazine like say, Vanity Fair, is liberal or not. But I don’t think it is too much to ask that the daily newspapers and the nightly news which consider themselves exemplars of ethical, unbiased reporting make the facts available to the public with some common sense, objective follow up as to the implications of the news item. Leave the propaganda to the editorial page. As a matter of fact, expand the editorial pages if you must, but let the people have the unvarnished truth so they can have a shot at making informed decisions.

February 24, 2008 @ 10:42 pm #


Maybe it’s just me, but I do not ever recall seeing a liberal post that asks for a media outlet to simply publish the truth and let the people make an informed decision. I think any conservative worth his or her salt would be more than happy to take that deal.

February 25, 2008 @ 1:54 am #

Yes, it has been patently obvious from the getgo that increased damage has everything to do with increased housing near coastlines (and probably with real increase in housing value as well).

And the hurricane record is a matter of, well, record. Not to mention the “Tiny Tim” scandal of pinning a name on every passing Zephyr and hooting about the increase in “named storms”. And even the legit record is affected by the lack of effective observation prior to the space age (many severe storms going unremarked before satellite data). This is not politics. It’s empiricism.

I am a bleeding-heart liberal, and I would LOVE it if the news media would report fairly on obvious empirical issues. And how are we going to save the dang world (as we have done so well) if we blow trillions of our coins on probably ineffective ways of dealing with a most-probably exaggerated issue?

You want a conservative “takeover”, my brothers? Hint: You are cruising for a WELL deserved bruising! Have you forgotten, my brothers, that liberalism is supposed to be all about both sides of any given issue?

At any rate, policy makers have to be able to rely on an unbiased reportage. It has not been forthcoming on this issue. And THAT is an offense to liberalism.

Measure the data correctly, adjust it fairly and (above all) openly. Let the chips fall where they may. And report it square. THAT is what liberalism is supposed to be willing to die for.

February 25, 2008 @ 9:24 am #

Well, I may be an ass, but at least I don’t call people names. Snide? Well, I am tired of hearing critics – left and right -rail endlessly about The Media. Curious, but both sides seem to feel that people are a passive mush into which The Media plugs its message.

It IS true that the “mainstream” media has badly reported the controversy over warming of the earth, but I would venture to say that this is because it is a scientific question, and few people, let alone journalists, including SCIENCE journalists, have a good understanding of science. And the issue is esoteric – it takes a long time to understand. Journalists have deadlines…They have to sell papers.

You are upset because you feel “WE” are being propagandized or “brainwashed.” Well, that’s politics in a relatively free and open democracy. There is no such thing as a totally objective press that reports ONLY the facts! Who decides what is fact and what is not? That’s what scientists are arguing over now! (The comment of Evan Jones on a ‘conservative takeover’ are very relevant here. Be careful what you wish for! You might get it.)

Some would say, “Teach the controversy.” In the case of warming, I agree. In the case of Darwin, where this slogan is used often, it’s just pabulum. There is NO controversy. But if you read the scientific reports on warming, the backup papers to the IPCC report, you will get a very different sense of the issues than what comes through in the “Summary for Policy Makers.” Remember, policy making is NOT science, and shouldn’t be, but you have to keep the two straight.

You may feel that you “we” are being “systematically misinformed,” but I have to ask, “Who are we?” The people who watch the evening news and read editorials but have no further interest? Yes, perhaps. Is this new? Would you like a list of topics that ultra-liberals like me feel that the media systematically distorts or under-reports? I bet you would respond to me as I have to you!

And really, outlets like Junk Science are just as tendentious and polemical as any pro-warming pap you can get from the EDF or Greenpeace.

February 25, 2008 @ 10:28 am #

There are certain things that are not liberal-conservative issues (or shouldn’t be). They are observable and measurable.

I think GW reporting–so far–has been very one-sided, however, and it is not the “controversy” that is being taught, it’s the “consensus”.

I think GW is real. I think GH gasses are a contributing factor. But I also think Pacific Decadal Oscillation may well be a much greater contributing factor. And I think that microsite violation and encroaching exurbanity have conpromised the surface stations resulting in an artificially high reading.

To br brief, I suspect GW is real, but mostly due to natural causes and exaggerated by about a factor of two. But I don’t know this, and I am not going to be the one to provide the answer. Science, contrarian and not consensus, is going to do that.

This is not a popular opinion, but I think it very misguided to shut down the engine of progress (industrial expansion) which I think will overtake the crisis even if it is real. If AGW is severe, it will require wealth and tech to deal with it. So I don’t think restricting wealth and tech is going to help us solve anything.

Meanwhile, I don’t think it is a liberal-conservative question. It is a scientific question (like the debate over resources and population, which should have remained scientific but unfortunately did not).

I think the lberal-consrvative argument should be left to value judgements, not factual evaluation. Calling for the jailing of opponents (as Dr. Suzuki has done) is particularly undesirable and perversely unliberal.

February 25, 2008 @ 10:30 am #


Your reply is not polite, but civil enough to keep me from deleting it and banning you from the site. Thanks to you, though, I’m going to go find out what it would take to block a site from posting here.

Who are we?

In the context, we are the consumers of news broadcasts. That’s clear enough.

both sides seem to feel that people are a passive mush

Some people don’t have the time, or can’t make the time, to research at the level you and I might. What’s more — and forgive me for sounding elitist here — I have a high IQ, a gift for analytical reasoning, and a post-graduate education, so I’m equipped to dig through studies. I’ve long since adjusted to the fact, though, that not everybody functions at my level, and that some people require explanation and interpretation. That’s part of why this blog exists — I understand and explain clearly, for the benefit of those who don’t have the same gift.

Of course, that’s also the purpose of the news media; and no matter how tired you are of hearing about it, the fact remains that there exists an enormous edifice for reporting and explaining the news to Americans, and that it’s pretty badly broken. That’s why I keep harping about it. I’m not going to stop, so I suggest you either brace yourself, or read elsewhere.

Would you like a list of topics that ultra-liberals like me feel that the media systematically distorts or under-reports?

Sure, why not? Although, I’ve seen such before, and generally speaking, the complaint seems to be that they’re not hammering the conspiracy theorist line, just the moderate-liberal line. I’ll gladly grant that the media are not hard-left, just moderate-left. So what’s the point? They’re still unreliable.

I guarantee you, my response to you will not be “Research on your own? You must be an idiot!” like yours was to me.

In the case of Darwin, where this slogan is used often, it’s just pabulum. There is NO controversy.

Are you sure? ’cause last time I looked, Mendelian genetics is taking a pretty serious beating, and it’s becoming increasingly clear to biologists that the genome contains no information at all about the general forms living things take. If this information isn’t in the genes, then it cannot be affected by any of the mechanisms neo-Darwinists claim explain all the diversity around us. It’s becoming increasingly likely that natural selection and genetic drift can only explain small deviations from species and fine detail in living beings, and large-scale changes have to come from somewhere else.

Also, I’m kinda curious to know what’s going to happen to those Darwinian “ancestry tree” diagrams now that we’ve discovered lateral gene transfer.

And then, of course, none of this addresses the other fact, which is that the average textbook on evolution is full of outright bullshit, like “the Miller-Urey experiment shows how life can arise from non-life, ” or “Kettlewell’s peppered moths show how natural selection can change a population.” Up-to-date biology aside, there’s no reason for putting discredited crap into textbooks. And yes, controversial questions like “How does gradualization explain the appearance of nearly all modern phyla during the Cambrian Explosion?” ought to be presented in high school textbooks. There might be a bit more contraversy if young biologists had straight facts, don’t you think?

“No contraversy?” Hogwash. Get a clue.

February 25, 2008 @ 10:57 am #

Mr. Phil:

I may be vehement, but I believe I am polite. I certainly try to be civil always. You either have an extremely high standard for politesse in blog-exchanges, or you just don’t like being gainsaid. I did not call you an idiot – please don’t imply that I did.

You say the media are broken and unreliable – I agree. Problem is, our reasons for saying so are probably opposites. Where does that leave one? With the inescapable conclusion that there is no solution. Just resignation and constant criticism. But criticize the stories I would say, not The Media. I have no qualm with your critique of coverage of warming – I just don’t see it as a conspiracy.

Regarding Darwin – there will always be controversy in science, but none has come close to requiring a major revision, let alone an abandonment of the theory of evolution. Yes, it may change, but until many experiments and observations have unseated it as a tenable theory, AND have supplied a replacment theory, it is the scientific explanation for species diversity. You may hope (why, I don’t know) that these ideas you cite will result in the destruction of neo-Darwinism, and IF they do, the scientists who accomplish this will get the Nobel Prize without a doubt (it would be an earth-shaking achievement) but until then, there really is no controversy of note.

February 25, 2008 @ 11:10 am #

Problem is, our reasons for saying so are probably opposites. Where does that leave one?

Those are easily harmonized, actually. I’m on the right, saying “They’re way to the left of me.” You’re far to the left, saying “They’re to the right of me.” These do not conflict; they’re consistent with the conclusion that most media outlets land somewhere in the moderate-to-left range — which, in fact, is what I think is the truth.

About Darwin, 30 years ago I questioned Darwin for theological reasons. I’ve long since resolved my theological issues — I actually expect, because of my theology, that we’ll discover in the end that the diversity of our universe arose in a continuous process without obvious points of intervention. However, having once stepped outside the neo-Darwinist fold, the level of groupthink and philosophically-based self-protection became obvious. I don’t actually hope that neo-Darwinism will be destroyed; what I hope for is a loosening in the rigidity in evolutionist thinking, the separation of science from Materialist philosophy, and the resulting correction of the scientific process.

February 25, 2008 @ 11:13 am #

For what it’s worth, Lichanos, I’ll admit that you’re being polite while being vehement, and I apologize for my earlier unfriendliness.

February 25, 2008 @ 4:09 pm #

I looked at your stuff about gene transfer. Why you see this as a threat to the edifice of Darwinian theory is beyond me. It would be a change, yes, but only below a certain species level, and it is, in the end, transfer of genetic material by different means. It’s still genes, and mutations that don’t fit in still die out. So mutation + natural selection still runs the show.

Scientific debates about how steady or gradual evolution is are nothing new. S.J. Gould’s ideas were a new twist on the precise timing of evolutionary change, not the fundamental process.

You have questioned Darwinism because of your theology – okay, good questions come from anywhere at all, not just science texts – but you seem to think your theology provides you with scientific answers. It does not.

February 25, 2008 @ 4:53 pm #

Why you see this as a threat to the edifice of Darwinian theory is beyond me.

It breaks the chain of inheritance.

I don’t necessarily think this confounds Darwin; it might possibly provide a means for something akin to Gould’s saltation. But it’s definitely a change, and makes the inheritance tree into something more like a network.

you seem to think your theology provides you with scientific answers. It does not.

I think theology provides me with useful answers. It does. I also think theology provides me with true answers. It sometimes does, when my theology is correct. This is similar to science, which provides me with useful, true answers when scientists have got the facts right.

You seem to confuse “true” with “scientific”. They are not the same thing.

February 25, 2008 @ 11:29 pm #

I think there are all sorts of radical changes of conditions and these result in radical departures in evolution.

There’s also gradualism or we wouldn’t be spitballing over protecting minor subspecies because the populations got split by some river valley or other.

FWIW, I am an atheist (agnostic, I suppose, because what do I actually know for sure?) who is stuck on the two great mysteries: First Cause (which religion doesn’t “solve”, it merely inserts an additional layer) and intelligence.

As for global warming, I don’t think God will protect us. I just think the surface temperature measurements are wrong (for a number of logical reasons). I also thnik homeostasis clicks in or else we’d have “gone Venus” a long time ago.

February 26, 2008 @ 7:47 am #

I just think the surface temperature measurements are wrong (for a number of logical reasons)

You know, I’ve been starting to say this myself lately. Maybe I’ll blog about it. If you’d be kind enough to post your thinking here, I’ll incorporate your thinking into the article and credit you.

February 26, 2008 @ 11:42 pm #

Here is a revised version of how I have put it elsewhere:

First, I have to give credit to Anthony Watts, whose blog you linked to. He and his hardy band of volunteers record (photograph) surface temperature stations. He archives this data publicly for all to see and for scientists to review.

He has discovered such things as changes from whitewash to paint, which create a shift in the historical record. There is, for example, a downward adjustment for before the days when the stations were hooded. All well and good. But where are the adjustments now?

But the paint issue is the very least of it.

This is the gold seam: The stations are not properly sited. They have been woefully overtaken by urban, suburban, and exurban creep, resulting in astounding warm biases.

Of the 500+ stations (of 1221) observed, over 6 out of 7 have a 1+ degree C warm bias. Over 2 of 3 have a 2+ degree C warm bias. 1 in 7 has a FIVE+ degree C warm bias.

Only 4% of surface stations are properly sited and only 9% more are minimally acceptable (possible bias, but less than 1C).

He is using NOAA’s own published standards and estimated evaluations. When one averages these standards together, the result is a whopping 2.0C degree warm bias in the stations observed so far. Even if the NOAA/CRN estimates of effect are off by a factor of three, well, that’s the entirety the NOAA estimate of 20th century Global Warming then and there.

He is not factoring in Urban Heat Island effect. UHI masks the effects of site violations, but, on the other hand, it seems that UHI effect itself has been scandalously lowballed.

At any rate, many of the worst violations occur with rural stations.

That’s the Offset.

On to the Delta:

If these shocking violations had been with the system from the outset, one might have argued that while the readings were too high, the measurements of the increases were accurate. But this is clearly not the case.

Most surface stations were originally located on the outskirts of cities. Well sited, and away from contaminating factors. But what has been occurring over the decades is that suburban and exurban creep has been overtaking the stations at a rate far greater than it has been taking over the surface of the earth. So this has affected the official rate [sic] of change in the temperature record, especially since 1980.

Heat sinks such as parking lots, roads, shopping malls have severely encroached on the station net. (If you want to warm a greenhouse, all you have to do is add a large rock–the heat sink effect pumps up T-Max and then knocks the bottom off the T-Mins as it releases accumulated Joules at night. Temps are measured by a function of T-Max, T-Min. So the effects are obvious.)

Of especial consideration is the absolute scandal of the MMTS switchover (beginning in the 1980s, note well), which has by the nature of the equipment (which includes a cable) drawn the stations next to buildings. That’s the main reason that over half the stations observed are biased by CRN-4 site violation.

Waste heat, particularly from the Air Conditioning Revolution since 1980, spews in the vicinity of many of the stations which used to be separated and isolated. And exhaust. And heating units. Even Barbeque pits. (The photographs of the site violations are often as amusing as they are shocking.)

All this is particularly sobering when one considers that the alleged temperature increase during the entire 20th century is well under 1 degree C.

We are not talking isolated incidents or cherry-picking, here. We are talking massive and ubiquitous–and mostly recent–spurious warming bias. None of the above is adjusted for. None of it. Until Anthony Watts came along no one had any idea such appalling conditions existed.

Even the (unrelated) UHI adjustment has been called into serious question (most recently by LaDochy et al, 2007), and, as previously stated, many of the worst violations occur in unlighted areas. “Lights=0” (as per Hansen, 2001) is fast becoming a standing joke.

And a heat sink, by its nature, continually exaggerates a small temperature increase. Waste heat produces a onetime offset. But a heat sink is the gift that keeps on giving. (Also consider that a heat sink will exaggerate the rate of a cooling, as the process “undoes” itself.)

From what I can tell, there has been a modest, real rise in temperatures since 1980, partly due to man, but mostly the Pacific Decadal Oscillation swing, the measurement of which has been exaggerated by site violations introduced since that time.

It is also noteworthy that the US system is considered the cream of the crop and that most foreign systems (even Europe’s) is considered much worse. (Australia’s seems pretty good.) Once the US system has been observed, there are plans to take the show on the road.

And I haven’t even touched on the astounding adjustments that have (and have not) been applied to the raw data. I have looked at GISS and NOAA examples, the former of which adjusts the past records down and the latter of which adjusts the current records up! All I can say (to quote Al Gore), that “everything that’s supposed to be UP is DOWN and everything that’s supposed to be DOWN is UP!”

I am trying to put together some rational semblence of the world temperature records, and compare the semi-raw and adjusted figures. Still a WIP …

So look at the meat of Mr. Watts’ site. Pay particular attention to sections entitled “How Not to Measure Temperature”!


“Lights=0”, Out!

February 28, 2008 @ 11:25 am #

[…] A recent comment on my blog by Evan Jones (you have to scroll down, it’s the long one at the bottom) reintroduced me to the work of Anthony Watts, whose blog site, Watts Up With That?, seems to come up every time I google climate change issues. Watts is a retired weatherman who does science for fun. Guys who do science for fun are responsible for a surprising number of epochal changes in science, things like genetics and relativity. I don’t know if Watts is in that league, but he’s making quite a stir in climate science these days. […]

February 27, 2009 @ 10:54 am #

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(Author notes: Welcome.)

August 30, 2009 @ 8:23 pm #

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