Hillary Clinton Is No Hurricane Expert—But I Am

Photo of Neil L. Frank

Neil L. Frank
Former Director, National Hurricane Center

Daily Caller

As former Director of the National Hurricane Center (1974–1987), I was appalled when, in a campaign rally at Miami-Dade College October 11, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said, “Hurricane Matthew was likely more destructive because of climate change.” That is false.

We were extremely fortunate that Matthew—category 5 through much of the Caribbean—weakened to category 2 before landfall in South Carolina. It could have been much worse.

In 1893 a much stronger hurricane followed nearly the same track. When its eye reached the Georgia and South Carolina coasts, a 15–20 ft. storm surge inundated the coastal islands. Though population was a small fraction of today’s, between 2,000 and 3,000 died, making that the second deadliest hurricane in U.S. history. The same year another major hurricane killed 2,000 in Louisiana.

All together five hurricanes hit the U.S. in 1893, something that’s happened only 4 times in over 150 years (1886, 1893, 1916, 1933)—all long before CO2 levels rose enough to theoretically cause rapid global warming.

Clinton wants us to believe CO2, emitted when we burn fossil fuels for electricity and transportation vital to life, health, and prosperity, causes global warming that causes more and stronger hurricanes. She’s wrong.

There has been a worldwide 30-year lull in hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones despite the simultaneous warming—manmade or natural. It has been 11 years since a major hurricane hit the U.S. Before that we expected, on average, 1 every 2 years. In the 7 years 1944–1950, well before the rapid rise of CO2, 6 hit Florida alone.

Clinton is ignorant about more than hurricanes. Based on computer climate models that fail test after test, predicting two to three times the observed warming, she claimed that because of rising sea level driven by manmade warming, “one in eight homes in Florida could be underwater by the end of the century.”

Empirical observation says otherwise. Since 1992 sea level in Miami has risen only a little over 1 inch—a rate of 4.2 inches per century, no faster than for millennia. Mrs. Clinton is wrong. It’s not time to move to the mountains.

Yes, Earth’s atmosphere is warming. It has been, off and on, for 150 years. What causes it? CO2, natural cycles, or some combination? Sun and ocean current cycles correlate better with global temperature than CO2.

If CO2 doesn’t control Earth’s temperature, why has our government spent some $150 billion on “green energy” alone—not to mention billions on research to bolster belief in man-made warming—over the last 15 years?

What do we have to show for it? We lost $500 million when solar panel maker Solyndra went bankrupt. In 2009 we subsidized 11 electric car companies for $2.5 billion. Six are bankrupt and 5 floundering. In 2015 Sun Edison, America’s largest “green energy” company, went bankrupt, costing us $3 billion. Abergeo, the largest international solar energy company, threatens bankruptcy costing us $2.5 billion. We’ve committed $3.5 billion toward a $100 billion climate fund for developing nations.

Projected future costs are staggering. Clinton wants to build and install 500 million new solar panels in the next four years. The Institute for Energy Research estimates this will cost $205 billion—plus higher electric rates for consumers. She wants all residential energy to be “green” by 2025.

A peer-reviewed study concludes that full implementation of the Paris climate agreement, which Clinton supports, would cost $1–$2 trillion per year ($70–$144 trillion from 2030–2100). The payoff? An inconsequential 0.3˚F reduction in global average temperature.

If climate alarmists want to protect life, why aren’t they as concerned about the 1.5 billion people without electricity and the 2–3 billion without pure water? Millions die each year from these two factors. At a fraction of the cost of fighting global warming, electricity from abundant, affordable, reliable fossil fuels, not diffuse, expensive, intermittent wind and solar, could prevent those deaths.

Neil L. Frank, Ph.D. (Meteorology), the longest-serving Director of the National Hurricane Center (1974–1987) and retired Chief Meteorologist of KHOU-TV, Houston (1987–2008), is a Fellow of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation

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