Last year, Hawai’i saw its first hurricane in decades, while Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence pummeled the East Coast. And again and again, reports like the NCA and new studies conclude that climate change is making hurricanes more intense and frequent. This stems in part from warmer ocean temperatures. This is concerning, considering the recent reports that oceans are warming even faster than we thought.
But for some totally unknowable reason, Paul Homewood from the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) doesn’t accept all this evidence. GWPF is the UK-based climate denial organization which calls itself “open minded on the contested science of global warming” (though in 2014 the UK’s charity regulator called it more of a political group than an educational charity).
GWPF’s Chairman Lord Lawson happened to resign this week, saying he’s “happy to leave [GWPF] stronger than ever.”
What does that strength look like? Well, let’s see. The report by Homewood examined the relationship between hurricanes and global warming, coming to the (false) conclusion that “there is little evidence” that warming is making hurricanes more frequent or intense. The most interesting part is that Homewood claims the paper “strongly supports” a conclusion made in the 2013 IPCC AR5 report.
The IPCC conclusion he references is that climate change doesn’t appear to be increasing the overall number of hurricanes. But the report also says that the evidence shows an “increase in the frequency and intensity of the strongest tropical cyclones since the 1970s” in the Atlantic Basin Region.
That is completely at odds with Homewood’s overall conclusion. But he does admit (deep in the paper) that there has been “an increase in both the frequency and intensity of hurricanes in the North Atlantic,” though he attributes it to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. The irony here is remarkable--it was none other than Dr. Michael Mann who coined the phrase, and his views on hurricanes and climate are certainly not what GWPF would endorse. But as Mann wrote in his book, deniers have blamed all sorts of things on the AMO that “arguably have nothing to do with it at all. That hasn’t stopped climate change contrarians, however, from dragging out the AMO as a favorite catch-all explanation for just about any observed climate trend.”
That, of course, is exactly what Homewood’s doing here, in addition to misrepresenting the IPCC. And it’s not the only time GWPF has done that lately.
Last month it published a report titled “Deficiencies In the IPCC’s Special Report on 1.5 Degrees,” complaining that the IPCC has raised the level of alarm from previous iterations. John Gibbons at DeSmog UK explained that the report got some media coverage in Ireland despite it “not being peer-reviewed and containing numerous glaring deficiencies.” According to Peter Thorne, Director of the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Unit at Maynooth University, the report “willfully misinterprets” the IPCC, among other errors. Dr Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, gave a scathing breakdown of exactly what was wrong in the report, concluding that is was “incoherent” and “inconsistent,” which are apt descriptors of GWPF’s hurricane report as well.
Misinterpretations, deficiencies, and incoherence-- and Lawson says he’s leaving the GWPF “stronger than ever.”
Sad thing is, he’s probably right.
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