As goes the cyclical nature of tropical weather goes the cyclical nature of the media tying tropical weather to anthropogenic global warming.
Both the September 7 “NBC Nightly News” and ABC “World News Sunday” included segments that suggested the spike in named tropical storms in 2008 is due to climate change caused by carbon dioxide emissions.
“A succession of dangerous storms [is] leading some to wonder if global warming, caused by manmade carbon dioxide pollution, is making a bad situation worse,” NBC chief environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson said. “This is the theory: carbon dioxide raises the ocean’s temperature, both at and below the water’s surface, providing more fuel for any storm.”
In a segment about the track of Hurricane Ike, ABC’s Dan Harris also seized an opportunity tie the two phenomena.
“This has been an enormously active year for hurricanes,” Harris said. “And we’re still three days away from the peak of the season. Ike will be the sixth consecutive named storm to hit the
However, some says that hurricane activity will actually decrease because of global warming. That is a conclusion from a study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Kerry Emanuel, published in the March 2008 issue of the “Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.”
Chris Landsea, science and operations director of the
Landsea has argued the storms haven’t been tracked enough to throughout history to make the connection. ‘It's not a trend, it's a cycle: 20-45 years quiet, 20-45 years busy,” Landsea said in a story published last February.
Time magazine recently bucked the media trend of linking climate change to hurricanes. On September 3 the publication’s Web site featured an article asserting that, “If climate change is having an effect on the intensities of storms, it’s not obvious in the historical weather data.”
The article, written by Amanda Ripley, said the storms only seem worse because there are bigger population centers to damage than there were decades ago. NBC’s Thompson made a similar claim.
“Some scientists believe we are just in a natural 40-year cycle of more hurricanes,”
Thompson said. “However, many do agree other manmade activities, such as coastal development, are why many of these storms seem to pack a bigger punch. Today as much as 50 percent of the nation’s population lives within 50 miles of our coastline, pressuring nature’s defense systems.