Let’s cut through the rhetoric and answer the global warming question of the week: Was there a link between global warming and Hurricane Irene? The answer is definitely yes.
Hurricane Irene had not even made landfall before the debate began on whether or not global warming was to blame for the storm. Bill McKibbon, founder of the prominent global warming advocacy group 350.org, wrote in the Daily Beast last Thursday
while Irene was still hanging out in the Bahamas, “Irene’s got a middle name, and it’s Global Warming.”
The Newark Star-Ledger
, in language similar to that of other media outlets, followed up a day later while Irene was paralleling the coast of Florida. “We can now add Hurricane Irene among the symptoms that scientists warned we’d experience as global warming occurs,” wrote the Star-Ledger editorial board.
McKibbon, the Star-Ledger, and others claiming a link between Hurricane Irene and global warming were absolutely correct – although not necessarily in the nature of the link.
When Hurricane Irene made landfall in North Carolina, it marked the first time in over 1,000 days – just shy of three years – that a hurricane struck the contiguous United States. This matched the periods from 1980 through 1983 and 1999 through 2002 as the longest periods in recorded history that a hurricane did not strike the United States. So, we have over 100 years of human-caused global warming, yet the three longest stretches of hurricane-free conditions have occurred within the past three decades. This seems a little odd if global warming causes more hurricanes, doesn’t it?