James Werrell states in his Friday column the following: (1) “Thirty one percent don't accept global warming” and (2) “tornados and hurricanes will be more powerful and frequent.” He wonders why more don’t agree with him.
Concerning item (1), yes, we may be currently in a warming period. From 900 AD until 1250 AD, the earth was in a warming period, and there was no industrial revolution to blame. From 1945 until 1977, the earth was in a cooling period, and Time Magazine had an article about the next Ice Age.
The Sahara Desert goes from dry to wet over a cycle of 15,000 years due to changes in the earth’s tilt on its axis from 22 degrees to 24.5 degrees. Over the last 500 years, the earth's temperatures have cycled between warming and cooling in 30-year cycles.
An intelligent friend of mine points out that when the large city airports were built on the outskirts of towns, weather stations were located there. Now that the cities have grown out to the airports, the weather stations are still there. Could the large buildings and paved areas instead of open fields affect the temperatures they report? Could any of the above explain some of the skepticism about climate change? Maybe we are just in a naturally occurring cycle.
Concerning item 2), according to Dr. Greg Forbes of The Weather Channel, we are in a “tornado drought.” In 2013, the US is 38 percent below normal for tornadoes thus far. Two large ones have hit populated areas, which made a lot of news.
Dr. Forbes also points out that some of the increase in reported tornadoes has to do with radars. He thinks that 20 percent of tornadoes in the past went unreported because they happened over rural areas before the advent of weather radars.
The same could also be true of hurricanes and tropical storms. Recent Tropical Storm Erin lasted for two or three days over the open Atlantic. Would it have gone unreported in past decades if it had not been seen by satellites?
This year, it is likely that for one of the few times in the last 50 years, no hurricane will have developed in the Atlantic in the first half of the hurricane season from June through August. Two major hurricanes hit South Carolina in the 1950s, Hazel in 1954 and Gracie in 1959. Thirty years passed before the next major hurricane, Hugo, hit South Carolina in 1989. Another 24 years have passed since then.
Do these facts and thoughts cause skepticism in some minds about an increase in frequency and power? All of this is food for thought.