Matt Sinclair is terribly concerned about pre-industrial hurricanes. It would appear, according to Matt, that the existence of hurricanes before the industrial revolution disproves or seriously damages the case that global warming exists. He links to a photo of a pre-industrial hurricane, dated 1897. The idea that the industrial revolution occured after 1897 is faintly amusing. Indeed, Abraham Darby built the second furnace at Coalbrookdale in 1709.

It's not really an inconvenient truth, as Matt describes it. Indeed, the first reference I can find quickly for hurricanes is from AD77, in Pliny the Elder's Natural History. There have been hurricanes for a long time, and we all knew this. As I understand it, Tropical cyclones form when the energy released by the condensation of moisture in rising air causes a positive feedback loop over warm ocean waters. The existence of hurricanes merely shows that there are energy differentials within the world.

What matters is the frequency and strength of hurricanes. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory performed a simulation that concluded "the strongest hurricanes in the present climate may be upstaged by even more intense hurricanes over the next century as the earth's climate is warmed by increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."

Matt finishes with this quote:
"I just hope this doesn't set back our efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels use..", said Dr. Cruddy, "..we all know it is the right thing to do, and the last thing we need is to have the oil lobby in Washington stop progress over some fuzzy, black-and-white photograph."
This could well be a reference to the supposed tendency of the oil lobby to underplay or deny the effects of global warming. I'm sure, though, that the oil lobby and Matt would never try to base an argument on a single photo.



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