Tuesday's Morning Joe featured a discussion of Typhoon Haiyan, the horrible storm which struck the Philippines, and its relation to climate change which was not only dishonest in the way it was presented, but also in the "facts" used.
The guest was the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Economist Dr. Jeffrey Sachs. When Sachs was introduced, there was no mention of the fact that the Earth Institute was an organization whose main mission was "bringing together the people and tools needed to address some of the world's most difficult problems, from climate change and environmental degradation, to poverty, disease and the sustainable use of resources." In other words he was only going to present one side of the story.
And Sachs did not disappoint. When asked if the typhoon was anything like the tsunami that hit Japan, the Economist lunched into a fact-free speech about how the Philippines disaster was caused by global warming:
Well, the tsunami came from an earthquake, which is a very different kind of phenomenon. In terms of the devastation, of course, both were shocking and the tsunami in Japan was followed by the nuclear disaster. But what's happening here and this is the part that people have a hard time coming to grips with, we're partly causing this. We're causing this because there are more and more of these storms because of the way that humanity is changing the world's environment. I brought along from 2008 a scientific study showing that the number of extreme storms or not the frequency, but the power of them, has been rising decade by decade as the ocean water is warming. And so this kind of event, we're seeing more of it.
Most meteorologists would disagree with the assertion of Sachs, who is an economist. In fact, one of Germany's leading meteorologists, Dominik Jung, slammed this kind of reaction to Typhoon Haiyan:
For many ‘climate expert’ this recent event is a feeding frenzy that allows them to pound the drums of ‘evil climate change’. And here not a single one of these ladies and gentlemen are able to show that such storms never existed over the past hundreds of years, let alone that this storm is connected to a man-made climate change.
As for his contention that storms were getting worse, last year, three researchers at the University of Colorado and the Naval Research Laboratory did their best to reconstruct a worldwide database for hurricanes or typhoons that made landfalls between 1970 and 2010. Their conclusion was, "The analysis does not indicate significant long-period global or individual basin trends in the frequency or intensity of land-falling [tropical cyclones] of minor or major hurricane strength."