Climate change is causing more storms, politically speaking that is

On the VRT news of January 22, 2014 there was the item of the new climate plan of the European Commission. It was brought as some kind of triumph. Although there are no binding targets to the member states, we, the European, were doing their part, now it is waiting for the rest of the world. Something like that.

New is that also some objections from some politicians were noted and there was even a representative of the industry who was asked for their standpoint. The representative was, how would you guessed it, very sympathetic to the cause, although making the remark that less binding targets is good for the industry.

But of course there was the rigid hyperbole from the environmental organization, this time from Mathias Bienstman of Bond Beter Leefmilieu (translatable as Federation Better Environment). This is what he, clearly displeased, said (translated from Dutch):

The proposal falls somewhat short. The first objective of the plan is to protect the population against dangerous climate change. Against more storms, rising sea levels. And we know from the science that these objectives being pushed forward, do not do that sufficient. So we demand a larger reduction of pollution from greenhouse gases by 2030.

They didn’t like the plan, no surprises here. The statements that the population has “to be protected against dangerous climate change” and pollution from greenhouse gases are rather dramatic. In a situation that gets better than any time before. Crying wolf come to mind. As far as I know the greenhouse gas theory is still a theory, something that is not proven yet. But yet it was stated as if it is the absolute truth with a certainty that frightens me. I didn’t expect anything else. Het probably didn’t even questioned it anymore, he took that for granted.

But what surprised me was very much was that he said “more storms”, huh, more STORMS?!?! Did he really say that? Yes, he certainly said that. But this belief that greenhouse gases create more storms has been debunked thoroughly. The observations show a decline of storm events. Even the IPCC didn’t had much faith in it.

That is not surpising. In a world where the poles warm faster than the rest of the planet, wouldn’t it be more logical that there is less temperature difference and therefor less storms?

Did scientists said that storms would be more frequent? As far as I know scientists exhaust themselfs that they can’t attribute a storm to global warming or climate change? At best they compare it to a loaded dice, but add much more studies still need to be done. Even the IPCC had low confidence in an increase in storms due to anthropogenic causes.

But maybe he meant storms not somewhere else in the world, but here in our area? So, are there more storms in our little country? Not according to Frank Deboosere (a Belgian weatherman) (translated from Dutch)

[…]

Between January 25, 1990 and March 1, 1990 our country was hit by several severe storms. Back then it was stated that there would be more such storms in the future. That has not happened. On the contrary, Belgium was spared from fierce storms in recent years.

[…]

On average, the frequency of storms is not higher or lower than before. However it is true that bad weather is now much more discussed in the media than before.

That is something I can agree with, storms do have more covearge by the media than ever in the past, therefor it could give the impression that storms are more frequent or stronger than before. This is more frequent coverage of storms, not more frequent storms. This is also true globally.

But maybe he meant there are more heavy storms in our area? I couldn’t find data from Belgium, but I did find data about strong storms in The Netherlands (Dutch). There is a list of storms with winds of at least 100 km/hour (highest value per hour):

Year Date
1911 September 30-Okt 1
1913 December 26-27
1914 December 28-29
1920 January 11
1921 November 6
1928 November 25
1943 April 7
1944 September 7
1949 March 1
1953 January 31-February 1
1954 December 21
1972 November 13
1973 April 2
1976 January 2-3
1978 March 16
1983 November 27
1990 January 25
2002 Oktober 27
2013 Oktober 28

What strikes me when looking at the numbers is that there were much more heavy storms in the first half than the second half of this period. If we calculate the number of days of storms, this becomes even more clear. This seem to be in line with global data.

vrtnieuws_donderwolk

But maybe he meant thunderstorms? The background in the newstudio was a picture of a thunderstorm. But in Dutch there is no “storm” in thunderstorm, we call it “onweer”.

But, but, weren’t there many reports and articles that stated that there would be an increase and that storms are linked to global warming? Well yes, there were numerous. Just look at the coverage of Katrina, Sandy, Haiyan. Politicians and green activists did their very best to claim this link. The climate expert from Bond Beter Leefmilieu seems to be no exception.

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