‘The Worst X Since Y’

From the Guardian:

The last time Georgia was struck by a hurricane of force Category 3 or higher happened in 1898. The last Category 5 storm to hit Florida was Andrew in 1992. Its winds topped 165 mph (265 kph), killing 65 people and inflicting $26 billion in damage. It was at the time the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history.

Climte catastrophists have a problem here. They are hoisted on the horns of a dilemma by a petard of their own making. “It’s the worst since (a recent date)” provokes the response: “So this happens all the time then?” while “It’s the worst since (a date in the distant past)” provokes the response: “So this was already happening long before man-made global warming?”

Except that there’s no dilemma for the journalists. They won’t pose the questions which would reveal the flagrant contradiction, because they’re too stupid or frightened or indoctrinated, and they want a story. And a generation of scientists raised on a Guinness Book of Records view of science is not going to enlighten them.

So Irma will be “the worst..” for President Macron, who has already attributed Hurricane Irma to Man-Made Global Warming, and convoked a COP21 bis for the 12th December to challenge Trump’s withdrawal from COP21.

Except that Irma’s death toll on the French Islands of St Martin and St Bart has been reduced from 10 to 4 without explanation. Could it be that buildings built to French specifications, housing French citizens, resist better than those in – say – Haiti?

French President Macron has promised to visit the devastated French Overseas Territories soon. It would be embarrassing for a French President, defending the principles of the COP21, to arrive in the next few days on French territory in the Caribbean to find that there have been hardly any casualties, while in nearby Haiti or Puerto Rico casualties were much worse.

It would demonstrate that it is not climate change that is the problem, but level of development. That a person killed when his house collapses during a hurricane is a victim, not of climate change, but of lousy building standards linkled to poverty.

There”s a silence around Hurricane Irma at the moment on the sceptic blogosphere. We sceptics insist often enough that our defence of fossil fuels against the fantasy of renewables is a defence of the right for the poor to have access to the cheap fossil fuels enjoyed by the rich like Richard Branson, with his private yacht and private plane, presently cowering in his concrete wine cellar/bunker on his private island.

Branson will be emerging from his bunker soon, full of arguments for combatting global warming which will enrich Virgin, just as Macron will be returning from the French Carribean terrtiories armed wih arguments for France defending the principles of COP21, While continuing to be the sole member of the European Union not subject to the Union’s rules on budget deficits.

The Western Media will be there to support them, the millionaire victims of climate change, and the millionaire elected president sworn to combat climate change.

Where will we be?


  1. Myles Allen has just been on Today claiming that 20 oil companies are to blame for climate change. He is making a direct claim that damages can be claimed against oil companies for Hurricane damage. Mind you his evidence is rather lacking

    Strikingly, nearly 30% of the rise in global sea level between 1880 and 2010 resulted from emissions traced to the 90 largest carbon producers. Emissions traced to the 20 companies named in California communities’ lawsuits contributed 10% of global sea level rise over the same period. More than 6% of the rise in global sea level resulted from emissions traced to ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP, the three largest contributors……. Determining who should pay what for climate damages is a social and political question. But this kind of scientific work can help inform public and policy debate over the issue and potentially offers an approach that can help juries and judges to monetize damages in cases like the California communities’ lawsuits.

    That means that he claims that oil companies are directly responsible for a sea level rise of 2 inches since 1880! The storm surge from Irma is about 15-20 feet. Normal tidal ranges are about 6 meters. The idea that an extra 2 inches is going to make flooding much worse is nonsense.

    It is true than warming ocean temperatures lead to stronger and more frequent hurricanes. However we are currently at a maximum of the AMO and this is more likely the main reason for Irma. Any underlying “climate change” effect is likely to be much smaller.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Clive, this latest bullshit from Myles Allen has been debunked even by the climate believers in the comments at the Guardian (“What a load of utter tosh. We have all benefited from the use of fossil fuels for a very long time and we all take responsibility”, “Surely you should be going after those hugely irresponsible people that burned the fuel. They made the CO2”) which brings us back to Geoff’s latest rant about super-rich oil-guzzlers Branson, Gore etc.

    It’s also up for discussion at WUWT.


  3. The “science” would appear to have become much more secure and definitive in recent months, especially in Oxford. Before, lip service was always given to the mantra that no individual storm, hurricane or typhoon could be attributed to man-made climate change (although whispered behind a hand we all know we are to blame). In contrast, now not only is Hurricane Irma definitely a product of our profligate pollution of our atmosphere, but Oxford academics can now identify just how much additional damage and loss of life can be laid at the feet of evil oil companies. With more money for research those ivory tower mandarins will be able to incriminate individuals who are directly responsible – John D. Rockefeller must be one of them.


  4. Given that China is responsible for 30% of GHG emissions currently, and the developing world for another 45%, maybe in the event of a law suit, oil companies could join in China and much of the rest of the world as 3rd parties to the claim? Or maybe they could join in the people to whom they sold the oil, as they are the ones who actually burned the oil? Maybe they could join in Richard Branson and Al Gore and Leonardo di Caprio, all of whom generate significant CO2 emissions?

    A moment’s though suggests that any such legal claim as posited would be fraught with difficulty.


  5. The charlatan posers who are claiming that Harvey and Irma are due to big oil are no better at all than some plaid jacketed televangelsit claiming that AIDs was God’s punishment on homosexuals.


  6. Well it is the worst x since y in z where |X| > 1, |Z| is >> 1 and both worst and since can be disputed because of changes in observation practices and evaluation methods.

    There are so many variables, so many places and so many ways to count worst.


  7. Judith Curry has a very sane post on Irma. It would appear, interestingly, that all this warmist talk of the Atlantic being unusually warm and therefore spawning a monster hurricane is basically BS. I quote:

    “In a matter of a few hours, Irma became a major hurricane. The surprising thing about this development into a major hurricane was that it developed over relatively cool waters in the Atlantic – 26.5C — the rule of thumb is 28.5C for a major hurricane (and that threshold has been inching higher in recent years). On 8/31, all the models were predicting a major hurricane to develop, with some hints of a Cat 5.

    So why did Irma develop into a major hurricane? We can’t blame 26.5 C temperatures in the mid Atlantic on global warming.

    The dynamical situation for Irma was unusually favorable. In particular, the wind shear was very weak.”


    That rather puts the hurricane force wind up the theory that ‘it was climate change wot dunnit because the Atlantic was boiling due to CO2, innit’. Afraid not Sherlock.


  8. As will inevitably happen things will cool off, but the ” worst x since y” will continue unabated. However, this time it will be ” the worst year for records since we started recording records” (and its the fault of all those electric cars).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t carry a torch for fossil fuel companies–large corporations in general act no better than they are forced to, and fossil fuel companies are no different.

    However, it strikes me as just… a wee bit… hypocritical to be blaming them when we are all such willing consumers of their products.

    I haven’t even see a Nancy Reagan ‘Just Say No’ campaign to try and diminish our usage.


    In France the government is going to Just Say No for us, by banning all petrol driven cars from 2040. No more foreign tourists, no more goods going from Spain to the rest of Europe. It’s going to be interesting.

    Our ecology minister (number three in the government) has just banned all fracking, and closed the few oil wells and coal mines (which only provide 1% of France’s energy) “as an example to the rest of the world.”

    Interestingly, when interviewed on the main TV news tonight, he made no link between these actions and the hurricane which just devastated a couple of French islands, but talked of the need for adaptation. The government seems to have understood that preaching to us about the evils of readily available energy when the TV is full of pictures of people without homes, transport, electricity or water will not go down well.


  11. The hurricane emergency plans for Florida sensibly prioritise the rapid restoration of electricity supply after the event. Meanwhile, the people at the other end of the reality spectrum are trying to foist unreliable windmill-electricity on whole populations who haven’t yet realized just how disconnected those crazy people are.

    It ought to be funny, if it wasn’t so sad.


  12. Michael, you sum up much of my life for the past few decades with your “It ought to be funny, if it wasn’t so sad.” I’m now in my mid-seventies and it’s getting to be oh so predictable – for example: severe hurricanes hitting mainland US and the Caribbean -> predict climate carpetbaggers will emerge making link to climate change -> “experts” then emerge spouting cod science backup (hotter atmosphere holds more moisture, hotter sea temperatures spawn more or stronger hurricanes -> no one speaks up to refute such nonsense -> evidence emerges that sea temperatures not warmer than usual -> real evidence ignored and overwhelmed by climate porn.
    So predictable, so boring and so very, very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

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