Climate change likely worsened the impacts of Hurricane Michael in 2018 and Missouri River flooding in 2019, claims a new article published by the Center for Climate and Security (CCS). The climate activist group’s article appears near the top of Google News searches today for the term “climate change.” However, scientific evidence and even the latest United Nations climate report on hurricanes and flooding contradict the alarmist claims.
In “Health-related costs of climate change add billions to damage assessments,” CCS points out that Hurricane Michael damaged Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida and the Missouri River flooding damaged Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. “Both Hurricane Michael and the Missouri River flooding were likely influenced by climate change,” claims CCS.
As shown here at Climate at a Glance: Hurricanes, however, hurricane activity has been remarkably low in recent years. The year 2018, when Hurricane Michael hit, marked the end of the longest period in recorded history – 12 years – without a major hurricane striking the mainland United States. 2018 also marked the end of the fewest number of U.S. hurricane strikes in any eight-year period (2009 through 2017) in recorded history. Even the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agrees that CCS and others cannot blame hurricanes on climate change. The IPCC 2018 Interim Report explains there is “only low confidence for the attribution of any detectable changes in tropical cyclone activity to anthropogenic influences.”
CCS’s claim about Missouri River flooding is just as flawed. The Missouri River floodplain exists precisely because the Missouri River has regularly flooded throughout history. The regular flooding of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers are a primary reason why the soil is so fertile and productive in the rivers’ floodplains. Missouri River floods happen.
Also, as documented here at Climate at a Glance: Floods, the IPCC examined flooding events and found only “low confidence” in any connection between climate change and the frequency or severity of floods. IPCC additionally admitted “low confidence” in even the “sign” of any changes. That means IPCC found it just as likely that climate change is making floods less frequent and less severe.
Climate activists love to claim anybody challenging the IPCC scientific “consensus” is denying climate science – until the activists themselves dispute the IPCC “consensus.” Either way, scientific evidence and the IPCC itself show that climate change did not worsen Hurricane Michael and Missouri River flooding.
James Taylor (JTaylor@heartland.org) is Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and President of the Heartland Institute.