More dishonesty from the Intelligencer
The editorial begins by claiming that the president is "untruthful about climate change" and then quotes him:
"We know climate change is not a distant threat . . . most Americans see climate change hitting their communities through extreme weather events - from more severe droughts and wildfires to more powerful hurricanes and record heat waves . . ." (The ellipses are in the editorial. Note that the rest of the editorial will ignore the severe droughts, wildfires, and record heat waves that the president cites as the editorial focuses only on "more powerful hurricanes." Can we conclude that the Intelligencer agrees with the president on droughts, wild fires, and heat waves?)
On hurricanes the editorial argues that the frequency/severity of hurricanes has not increased:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists studied hurricanes since 1878 and found what may have been a slight increase. But statistically, "this trend is so small . . . that it is not significantly distinguishable from zero," they note.
"It is premature to conclude that human activities - and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming - have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane activity," NOAA concluded.
Looks mighty damning unless you look at the actual NOAA study and examine all of the study's conclusion: (The Intelligencer quote is underlined.)
- It is premature to conclude that human activities--and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming--have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane activity. That said, human activities may have already caused changes that are not yet detectable due to the small magnitude of the changes or observational limitations, or are not yet properly modeled (e.g., aerosol effects).
- Anthropogenic warming by the end of the 21st century will likely cause hurricanes globally to be more intense on average (by 2 to 11% according to model projections for an IPCC A1B scenario). This change would imply an even larger percentage increase in the destructive potential per storm, assuming no reduction in storm size.
- There are better than even odds that anthropogenic warming over the next century will lead to an increase in the numbers of very intense hurricanes in some basins—an increase that would be substantially larger in percentage terms than the 2-11% increase in the average storm intensity. This increase in intense storm numbers is projected despite a likely decrease (or little change) in the global numbers of all tropical storms.
- Anthropogenic warming by the end of the 21st century will likely cause hurricanes to have substantially higher rainfall rates than present-day hurricanes, with a model-projected increase of about 20% for rainfall rates averaged within about 100 km of the storm center.
Note that the Intelligencer cites only the first sentence and even that sentence ignores NOAA's qualifier ("that said") which undercuts that first sentence. Because the study is written by scientists it is careful about its conclusions yet look at the next three bullet points -- they believe that hurricanes will probably get worse in intensity, in their numbers, and produce higher rainfall when they occur, and all three are likely caused by anthropogenic warming. It is difficult to read the study's summary and not conclude that NOAA is very concerned about climate change. I guess, however, that if you're an ethically-challenged editorial writer who works for a publication that shills for the coal industry, the concept of being fair to what a source is saying overall never occurs to you.