the climatic consequences of truthertarianism
You keep lying, when you oughta be truthin'

-- from Nancy Sinatra's famous song about Truther Consequences

While I don't blog about them all that often, I always enjoy reading about the 9/11 Truthers -- a recent example being the man John Edwards took seriously enough that he made an apparent campaign promise to he'd "look into" the WTC-7 Bush demolition, um, "theory." (A Second Hand Conjecture has more on Edwards' failure to criticize 9/11 Trutherism.)

While they aren't quite as kooky, another type of Truther is the Katrina/Global Warming/More Hurricanes/More Tsunamis/ Truther. They not only continue to spout "the real truth" like this about Hurricane Katrina (a proposition rejected even by leading anthropogenic global warming advocate Kerry Emanual) but they've already started in on this year's killer tropical storms (and have given names to storms that don't rate as storms) despite a lack of any connection -- in this season or in general -- between storms and anthropogenic global warming.

I see a logistical problem with calling them "Truthers," though. There are already too many types of "Truthers" to keep track of, and I'm sure there will be more, because there's a seemingly inexhaustible supply of "real truths" to fuel the process collectively called "Trutherism."

I therefore modestly propose a new Truther category. Fortunately, it doesn't appear to have been spoken for.

The Storm Truthers.

Well, things could be worse.

At least there isn't a "Truthergate" scandal yet. (That's probably because there's no absolute Truthenfuhrer!)

UPDATE: Via Glenn Reynolds, I see that Tim Blair has been roundly attacked by members of a new Truther category, the Debunken Truthers.

No word on the emergence of a Debunkentruthenfuhrer!

UPDATE (05/12/07): This post somehow got accidentally depublished for a few hours, so I restored it in its entirety. My apologies for any confusion.

posted by Eric on 05.11.07 at 09:45 AM


Don't be too quick to dismiss the link between global warming and storm formation. While there is no basis for blaming any single storm on global warming, there is a solid theoretical basis to believe that global warming will produce more hurricanes. That basis is simple: warmer ocean surface temperatures are unquestionably a strong factor in hurricane formation. (There is a counterargument that reduced latitudinal thermal gradients would discourage hurricane formation, but that is not well-established.)

While the statistical relationship is highly likely, the specific assignment to any single storm is not justifiable. It's rather like cancer: you can prove a statistical relationship between, say, air pollution and lung cancer, but it's impossible to say that any particular case of lung cancer was due to air pollution.

Froblyx   ·  May 11, 2007 10:17 AM

Unfortunately for your solid theoretical basis, Froblyx, there doesn't seem to be a statistical link between higher average global temperatures and an increased number of hurricanes.

When the experiment and the hypothesis don't match, what should happen?

Socrates   ·  May 11, 2007 2:32 PM

The statistical proof of the hypothesis does not yet exist because we have not yet compiled a large enough database. There is no mismatch between data and theory; there simply isn't enough direct data yet to either confirm or deny the theory. There's a lot if indirect data, though.

Froblyx   ·  May 11, 2007 2:38 PM

Or it may be Frob that storms are fueled by the differences in temperature.

Which global warming should reduce.

M. Simon   ·  May 11, 2007 4:09 PM

BTW Frob,

What if the solar guys are right and we are due for a decline in solar output similar to what was thought to cause the Little Ice Age (Maunder Minimum).

I'm told the climate guys do not include such factors in their calculations.

However, I'm not totally opposed to your efforts. I think we should be doing something about the global warming happening on Mars first. Experiment on Mars first before trying anything drastic here.

M. Simon   ·  May 11, 2007 4:23 PM

The connection between climate change and hurricanes is tennuous at best and may not exist.

Which is a good reason why it is so hard to find.

M. Simon   ·  May 11, 2007 5:17 PM

"Or it may be Frob that storms are fueled by the differences in temperature."

Temperature differences between the equator and the high northern latitudes are the driving force for frontal storm systems in mid-latitudes. There's a great deal more to weather than frontal storm systems. In particular, hurricanes are NOT driven by the global circulation. They are independent heat engines driven by temperature differences between the ocean surface water and the upper troposphere -- not temperature differences between equatorial and temperate latitudes. Global warming affects the latter, but its effects on the former are known to be much lower. The overall assessment at this time is that the driving force in favor of stronger and more frequent hurricanes is greater than the inhibiting force, but our data on upper tropospheric temperatures remains uncertain enough that some reputable scientists question our certainty here. The general opinion seems to be that in fact hurricanes will intensify, but further research will be needed to be certain of this conclusion.

"What if the solar guys are right and we are due for a decline in solar output similar to what was thought to cause the Little Ice Age (Maunder Minimum)"

The link which you provide does not refer to any decline in solar output, it refers to a decline in sunspot numbers. There's a big difference between the two. Indeed, an examination of the graph provided of solar sunspot cycles clearly shows that the sunspot cycles have shown no secular change during the period during which global temperatures were rising. There's no linkage here.

"I'm told the climate guys do not include such factors in their calculations."

The climate guys don't bother including sunspot cycles in their models because sunspot cycles have shown no relationship to global weather, despite numerous attempts to find any such relationship.

"Experiment on Mars first before trying anything drastic here."

Actually, we're already carrying out a very drastic experiment here: releasing gigantic amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. The results of this experiment are now becoming fairly clear, and they appear to be catastrophic, with costs running into the many trillions of dollars.

Froblyx   ·  May 11, 2007 5:21 PM

You provide a link to World Climate Report; this source is second-rank; while the claims it makes are tolerable, they do not represent the general tenor of scientific opinion. A much more reputable source is RealClimate; here is their analysis of the same paper referred to by the World Climate Report. I think you'll find it a more thorough and carefully reasoned analysis. If you have questions about the underlying science, I'll be happy to answer them for you.

Froblyx   ·  May 11, 2007 5:34 PM

Steve McIntyre is first rate.

He debunked Mann and the hockey stick.

The "Real" Climate boys hung on to that one 'til the last. They may still be hanging on to it.

M. Simon   ·  May 12, 2007 10:07 AM

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