As a young boy on an Atlantic beach, building a sandcastle was mandatory, just as defending it from the encroaching ocean waves required ever more elaborate defenses. Moats, walls, even shells and pebbles from the surf, were required to buttress the mighty fortress walls. When completed, it truly appeared invincible, until the first small wave of surf made contact with the moat, which immediately filled with water. The next wave of the relentlessly advancing tide began to systematically erode my elaborate defenses despite desperate attempts to replace cracks in the walls with more buckets of sand. Finally, a large wave demolished the outer walls, and a following wave submerged my fortress under a half foot of water. All that was left was a wet lump where once stood, I thought, a mighty fortress against the sea. So, too, will be the fate of the climate hysteria foisted upon the American people by an uncritical and unthinking media.
On Sept. 4, CNN hosted what I am calling a seven-hour climate apocalypse propaganda epic, leading Democrat presidential candidates by the nose down the road of climate hysteria, demanding promises to "fight climate change."
The advance of Hurricane Dorian in the background provided excellent fodder for those promulgating climate alarmism and impending doom: "Only 11 years left to act before it's too late ... ." Unfortunately for CNN, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) pointed out via its Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, that after reviewing the research on global warming and hurricanes in August, "It is premature to conclude with high confidence that human activities—and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming—have already had a detectable impact on hurricane activity."
The late Dr. William Grey, considered the foremost hurricane authority in America, had repeatedly echoed similar statements chastising both media and academics who misused hurricane research to push climate change agendas. He said that historical data did not support the assertion that hurricanes were more frequent, more powerful, or more dangerous than in the past or that greenhouse gas emissions played any significant role in hurricane activity or landfalls.
We've had many hurricanes in the past equally or more powerful than anything we've experienced in the last several decades without the presence of elevated greenhouse gas emissions. The problem with the current reporting is a lack of historical perspective or even interest in what has historically occurred. Our record-keeping database is only 140 years old and only fairly accurate since the 1970s when satellite coverage came into routine use in hurricane detection and tracking. Geologists doing lakebed research in hurricane-prone areas have actually detected evidence of massive hurricanes making landfall more frequently and with considerably more power 1,000 to 2,000 years ago (Dr. Roy Spencer, Inevitable Disasters, chapter 7.1, "Evidence of Catastrophic Hurricanes from Ancient Lake Sediments"). Why they were more powerful or more frequent in making landfall is still a scientific mystery.
Looking back just a few centuries from the time North America was first colonized in the 1600s is a stark record of major hurricanes striking the East Coast and Gulf Coast of America. According to Dr. Spencer's book Inevitable Disasters, some of those hurricanes were exceptional for their strength, the frequency with which the same location was hit, and the re-shaping of the coastline that resulted. "Obviously, these hurricanes were not influenced by humanity's greenhouse gas emissions," he states.
The 1935 Labor Day hurricane was the strongest hurricane known to strike America, but nearly 300 years previously, almost to the day (Aug. 25, 1635) a major hurricane struck New England. The storm, with 130 mph winds, produced a storm surge between 14 and 22 feet and killed at least 46 members of the sparsely populated settlements, including a number of Native Americans (Brian R. Hall, Harvard University). David Ludlam's book, Early American Hurricanes 1492-1870, records many major hurricanes occurring in Colonial America of equal strength and ferocity, again long before any major use of fossil fuels could have an impact upon the climate.
The most deadly hurricane to strike North America was the September 1900 hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas, virtually without warning as documented in the book Isaac's Storm, which killed between 6,000 to 12,000 people. It was a storm with a nearly 20-foot storm surge. The conflicting messages from the Weather Bureau resulted in the island not being evacuated, and the public was caught unaware until it was too late. Again, no greenhouse gases were around to impact this storm.
CNN did a major disservice to America with its promotion of climate hysteria, but it did a political service in revealing the ignorance-driven agendas of Democratic presidential candidates. Each candidate seemed to desire or advocate for ever more radical solutions to "fight climate change," including a total ban on fossil fuels, offshore drilling, and more.
No hurricane will ever do as much damage to America as the ignorance and venality of political opportunists feeding upon the fears of a misinformed public. Δ
Al Fonzi is an Army lieutenant colonel of military intelligence who had a 35-year military career, serving in both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Send comments through the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.