Will the storms change public opinion?

by on September 14, 2017 at 2:06 am in Political Science, Science | Permalink


Individuals experiencing extreme weather activity more likely to support climate adaptation policy.

Effect of extreme weather activity on opinion is modest and not consistent across specific adaptation policies.

Effect of extreme weather activity on opinion diminishes over time.

Here is the paper, via the excellent Kevin Lewis.

1 Just Another MR Commentor September 14, 2017 at 2:36 am


2 The Other Jim September 14, 2017 at 8:09 am

The 12 consecutive prior years with no hurricanes at all definitely did a good job of showing everyone that Al Gore was full of crap.

Nice of Ty to ignore that, though.

Surely 2 hurricanes during hurricane season is apocolyptic!! Right? Am I right, fellas?!?

3 anon September 14, 2017 at 8:45 am

Jody’s link disproves that.

But for the kids who never read the science, I’ll explain it. NOAA recognizes a link and mechanism from CO2 to hurricane strength. They also understand that hurricanes are highly random. (The Butterfly Effect was even illustrated that way.) And so they have been saying the CO2 effect is unlikely to show up as a clear signal in the noise.

Thus you are ignoring science if you say one hurricane (or its absence) proves anything.

That said, the prediction is that with even more CO2 and more years of experience, a signal will become apparent.

4 aMichael September 14, 2017 at 11:08 am

Yes. I’m totally on board with that, but that’s now how many experts and journalists are responding. Instead, there are news articles that imply that people in Florida and Texas are idiots for not believing in global warming after they experienced a major hurricane, which is exactly what you say we shouldn’t do — think that one or two hurricanes proves something!

5 anon September 14, 2017 at 5:09 pm

If you squint real hard “leave the house that just flooded, because global warming” might make a little sense. But the better one is “leave low lying gulf coast’s because they are an under appreciated risk.”

6 TMC September 14, 2017 at 11:26 am

From the science kids: “It is premature to conclude that human activities–and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming–have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity.” It continues that hopefully they’ll be able to establish a link in the future as it would really help funding.


7 anon September 14, 2017 at 5:18 pm

That you can’t see this is what I said is greatly worrying.

8 anon September 14, 2017 at 8:53 am

(Given how random hurricanes are, they are a very bad way to prove AGW. By the time the signal is clear in that noise, it would be way too late to make a climate “choice.”)

9 msgkings September 14, 2017 at 12:09 pm

“The 12 consecutive prior years with no hurricanes at all”

Da fuq?

10 Chip September 14, 2017 at 3:20 am

2007 – IPCC predicts increased hurricane activity

2007 to 2016 – hurricane activity slumps to 45-year low

2017 – first hurricane in years proves AGW is real

11 Will September 14, 2017 at 3:50 am

The ten most active hurricane seasons (measured by by named storms) since 1851 include 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012. So you’re cherrypicking your way to a factual inaccuracy in service of a strawman argument.

Yeah, that’s about what I would expect.

12 Jody September 14, 2017 at 4:04 am

None of the top 10 years for ACE is in 2007-2016


13 Arnold Layne September 14, 2017 at 7:14 am

Facts or nuance don’t matter to tribalists.

14 anon September 14, 2017 at 7:29 am

How about statistics?

15 anon September 14, 2017 at 7:37 am

(One hell of a noisy time series at that link.)

16 TMC September 14, 2017 at 11:30 am

Statistics is where the bulk of the valid criticism for the warmists comes from. Typically climate science is brutally bad at stats.

17 Ricardo September 14, 2017 at 2:28 pm

I’m sure ACE is a scientifically important metric but it is hardly the only one that matters. It measures total energy over the course of an entire season. Yet it is obvious that a short burst of energy expended over a small interval of time is much more devastating than a sustained series of low-energy storms over the course of a year. 2014 had a low recorded ACE but that is cold comfort to the families of the more than 6,000 Filipinos who were killed by Typhoon Haiyan.

18 Ricardo September 14, 2017 at 3:50 am

One of the biggest tropical storms in recorded history wiped out a big chunk of the Visayas region of the Philippines in 2014 during this “45-year low.” Looking at measures of average tropical storm intensity can hide “black swan” weather events.

19 anon September 14, 2017 at 6:18 am

People are pretty dumb, and one way they are dumb is to pick and choose their science along tribal lines. Often with monumental lack of self-awareness.

20 Brian Donohue September 14, 2017 at 9:33 am

Does any serious person doubt AGW is real?

That’s not the conversation.

21 A Truth Seeker September 14, 2017 at 9:48 am

Famous American TV-man/writer Mr. “Bill” O’Reilly (yes, we can watch Fox News in Brazil, most of time we have better things to do, though) has said it is the Sun heating things. Since if someone turned off the Sun things would get colder, he seems to have some reason. He was replying to a viewer who said things weren’t get warmer, so I guess he himself is somewhat Communist according to Amwrican political standards.

22 TMC September 14, 2017 at 11:33 am

AWG can still be real if the sun cycles are the major cause of the earth warming. Much can be debates as to the human portion and the severity of warming that’s happening.

23 A Truth Seeker September 14, 2017 at 12:10 pm

“AWG can still be real if the sun cycles are the major cause of the earth warming.”
If it is rpthe Sun, it is the Sun. It is just a matter of waiting it cool down.

24 Anonymous September 14, 2017 at 11:12 am

Are humans contributing to global warming? <- you are here
How big is the human contribution to global warming exactly?
What are the consequences of GW? Does it delay an ice age (beneficial), cause us to lose the Netherlands and some species nobody gave a shit about until they heard they're endangered (bad), force us to live in high-tech domes (terrible), turn the planet into Mars (terrible)?
Is stopping GW possible?
Is stopping GW worth it? If the consequences of GW are that we lose Africa and the Netherlands, and the cost to stopping it is to go back to pre-industrial, I'd rather condemn the Netherlands.

I don't know if OP doubts the first point, it would be pretty stupid, but his post highlights how unreliable the science on the topic is currently. The debate is on the points after the first, and since they too have to be answered by the science, the fact that it has a way to go is relevant.

25 TMC September 14, 2017 at 11:35 am


26 anon September 14, 2017 at 5:15 pm

That is really dumb, but as I say, idiocy in the service of partisanship is tried and true.

(hint: the factors you name have been investigated and numbers have been assigned)

27 anon September 14, 2017 at 5:17 pm

I guess you got your answer, Brian: yup.

But as always the partisans are so close to parody trolls that it is hard to know for sure.

28 Rick Trolling September 14, 2017 at 3:24 am

Only major weather events, like meteors, that caused the dinosaurs to believe in man-made global warming.

29 mulp September 14, 2017 at 4:31 am

By looking at buildings still standing vs those destroyed or seriously damaged in parts of Florida hit by severe storms in the past two decades, you see that some people learn from past extremes.

And the lessons that are codified in local laws will only be strengthened, not weakened, so even people yet to be born will benefit from learning and adapting.

The biggest problem in Florida is no one learned from Sandy where extended lack of power in a region highly dependent on cars to do anything, leading to gas station requirements for backup power. Plenty of gas was available in Florida within a couple of days, but no way existed to pump it.

30 dearieme September 14, 2017 at 6:36 am

Store the gasoline in elevated vessels and use gravity feed. Easy-peasy. What could go wrong?

Or install pumps that you could work by using the cranks off a bike. Or – can I be serious? – install a gasoline-powered generator.

31 anon September 14, 2017 at 6:44 am

Florida requires new gas stations and those along evacuation routes to be wired for generators.

32 Evans_KY September 14, 2017 at 6:47 am

My husband’s family is from Chattanooga, TN. In 2016 the area experienced almost 100 days of 90+ degree weather. At the Thanksgiving dinner table that year, a relative brings up climate change. And I quote, “I think they might be lying to us.” (Warning. Warning. An alarm at the propaganda network is activated. This subject needs further conditioning.)

Evolution is real. The Earth is round. Climate change is happening. “When you have an established scientific emergent truth it is true, whether or not you believe in it. And the sooner you understand that, the faster we can get on with the political conversations about how to solve the problems that face us.”-Neil DeGrasse Tyson

33 A Truth Seeker September 14, 2017 at 9:50 am

“Evolution is real. The Earth is round. Climate change is happening.”
Yet you can not prove two out three.

34 Thomas September 14, 2017 at 10:22 am

Neil misunderstands the political dilemma. If the Republicans came out and declared that AGW is real and we can do something about it and we should do something about it, they would be placing themselves in a Democrat framework wherein “solutions” look a lot like things that Democrats like independent of AGW. I’m confident that an AGW policy which wasn’t explicitly anti-business, anti-market, anti-rural, and anti-west could pass the congress and be signed by the President. The Democrats could concede The Wall, concede on corporate taxes, and concede PP funding in exchange for Saving The World, but Saving The World just ain’t that important.

35 msgkings September 14, 2017 at 12:13 pm

“an AGW policy which wasn’t explicitly anti-business, anti-market, anti-rural, and anti-west”

Sounds like a carbon tax to me.

36 Thomas September 14, 2017 at 2:58 pm

That’s probably the best solution, but we’ve seen at least one example of revenue-neutral carbon tax defeated by Tom Steyer and the Greenies. Hard to take these people seriously, when Saving The World is less important than increasing tax receipts.

37 Ricardo September 14, 2017 at 1:35 pm

To follow on msgkings’s comment, a carbon tax may well wind up benefiting several red states and red districts. Iowa and Texas are two of the biggest beneficiaries of wind power and states like Nebraska and Oklahoma stand to benefit in the long-run as well. Natural gas production (and natural gas is a cleaner fuel than oil or coal on a CO2 per unit mass basis), nuclear power and solar also don’t obviously benefit blue states or blue districts.

38 Thomas September 14, 2017 at 2:59 pm

I’m with you but we have to overcome opposition to tracking and nuclear.

39 Anonymous September 14, 2017 at 6:59 am

“climate adaptation” doesn’t necessarily involve belief in AGW. One could want houses built to withstand hurricane season. If the local climate includes a hurricane season, that measure is a form of “climate adaptation”, AGW or not. The local climate could have included a hurricane season for thousands of years.

Why did they ask about “climate adaptation” instead of a term actually related to AGW? Smells like a sleight of hand.

40 Borjigid September 14, 2017 at 8:13 am

You saw through their sleight of hand. I saw through their sleight of hand. Not much reason to think anybody failed to, in which case it probably wasn’t sleight of hand.

41 Alex September 14, 2017 at 9:42 am

If they phrased their questions poorly, then maybe, but there is a difference

42 Arnold Layne September 14, 2017 at 7:11 am

MR is talking about weather, ant colonies, dubious STEM/gender associations, etc. and, like all econ and libertarian sites, ignoring the Equifax breach. Why? Is the largest hack of SSNs in US history not significant? Are the workings of the credit reporting agencies not relevant to economists? Or, does the fact that a well-functioning market (between the CRAs and lenders) failed the citizens, not fit with our priors?

43 anon September 14, 2017 at 7:18 am

The US system is broken in a lot of ways, starting with the dual use of SSN as ID and security code. I think the dual culprits are lazy corporations and a security services that would prefer citizens not to have two much security. Others do better.


44 derek September 14, 2017 at 11:11 am

The weather can be fixed, easy peasy.

But to change the US financial system and regulatory structure that defines what it looks like is utterly impossible. The whole thing is incomprehensible, too many powerful influences beyond our control, never predictable.

45 rayward September 14, 2017 at 7:23 am

My community has been hit twice in consecutive years by devastating hurricanes, Matthew and Irma. Matthew did very little to change attitudes because the boom in housing prices has escalated. With Irma I would expect a different reaction in my community because the devastation is far worse from flooding. The evacuees are allowed to return starting today. They will be shocked by what they find, as many homes are not habitable and power has not been restored in many areas. Indeed, I fear the potential for panic. I stayed, which was not a wise choice as the storm was much worse in my community than forecast. The past two days could be described as the calm before the storm as few people stayed. The question is how the real estate market reacts. Will the boom in housing prices continue or will housing prices collapse? The answer will shape the attitudes of people in my community.

46 rayward September 14, 2017 at 7:47 am

Speaking of rising housing prices, is there cause for concern when someone from Morgan Stanley writes this:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/14/opinion/trump-federal-reserve-markets.html

47 DJF September 14, 2017 at 7:24 am

“””Will the storms change public opinion?”””

Will the storms change the elites actions or will they continue to fly around in private jets, chauffeured around in limos, live in large homes, while lecturing the public?

48 anon September 14, 2017 at 7:33 am

You are right. Scolding (pro or con) can’t fix a tragedy of the commons. We need binding regulation.

49 Blue Toque September 14, 2017 at 9:10 am

It ain’t a “tragedy of the commons”. Why should anyone care if someone builds a home in the eventual path of a hurricane? You probably cheer the efforts made to eliminate teen smoking, sugary soft drinks and helmet-less cyclists. Get a life.

50 Republican Insane Only September 14, 2017 at 9:22 am

Acting dumb to annoy smart people, a cause we can believe in.

51 A Truth Seeker September 14, 2017 at 7:50 am

Is sad to see American selfishness and partisanship prevailing once again. America has become a house divided against itself.

52 The Other Jim September 14, 2017 at 8:11 am

Hey, Thiago has a new name. I guess that whole “They speak Spanish in Brazil” thing really did kill his prior incarnation.

53 A Truth Seeker September 14, 2017 at 9:37 am

1) I had been banned, prevented from publish under my name for over a week.
2) You are misquoting it. The mistake was to say it was the ONLY Spanish-speaking country (I obviously meant to say it was the only Portuguese-speaking country – surrounded by Spanish-speaking hostile countries), but who caresa bout facts?!

54 Thiago Ribeiro September 14, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Stop impersonating me!

55 Tom T. September 14, 2017 at 8:16 am

The storms may indeed turn public opinion against subsidies for building and rebuilding on flood plains. Beyond that, I think the public had learned well the maxim that climate scientists used to insist on, “weather is not climate.”

56 prior_test3 September 14, 2017 at 9:01 am

‘The storms may indeed turn public opinion against subsidies for building and rebuilding on flood plains.’

Not if past experience is any guide.

‘In response to the flooding, the county started the first of five dams to hold back flows from the Brandywine. The first one, Struble Dam, was completed in 1970.

Two years later, Hurricane Agnes, the worst hurricane ever to hit Pennsylvania, struck killing 48 people in the state and causing $2.1 billion (in 1972 dollars) in damages.

Four other dams, including Marsh Creek dam, were completed in 1974, 1983 and 1994.

Some longtime Downingtown residents who replied to surveys conducted by the Army Corps in 2003 mention damages sustained during Agnes, but the very next hurricane mentioned is Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Based on this anecdotal evidence, between Agnes in 1972 and Floyd in 1999, there was little flooding. The dams were working as they were intended.

But after Floyd, the flooding started again.

A rainstorm in 2002 flooded homes on Jefferson Avenue in Downingtown as well as other residences.

Tropical Storm Henri in September 2003 dumped 8.2 inches of rain in 24 hours in the Downingtown area, nearly the equivalent of a 500-year storm, causing widespread flooding. The county was declared a major disaster area with 389 structures damaged and claims paid of $1.2 million.

One year later, Hurricane Jeanne slammed into Chester County and the East Branch of Brandywine Creek rose nearly six feet above flood stage.

Less than two years later, in June 2006, a stalled weather system resulted in nearly 14 inches of rain to fall in areas of Chester County over six days according to data gathered by the volunteer network of Chester County Water Resources Authority.

According to the National Weather Service in Mt. Holly, N.J., which uses a precipitation gauge at Philadelphia International Airport, 3.26 inches of rain fell between June 23 and June 28. Downingtown residents were flooded twice during those six days. The Brandywine registered four feet above flood stage on June 25. By June 28 it was 7.5 feet over flood stage.

Since the flooding was spread out over six days, probably no one day received the equivalent of a 100-year storm, which is 7.1 inches of rain in 24 hours. On June 2, 2006, Caln received seven inches of rain.

There has been a major flood in Downingtown every year since 2002, except for 2005. Area residents attribute it to Main Street Village, which started construction in 1999.

In the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ report of 2003 on flooding in the borough from Tropical Storm Henri, the government noted that structures located directly below and above Main Street Village experienced the greatest depth of flooding as well as the highest damages. The report said that two conditions contribute to flooding problems – increased development both in Downingtown and the surrounding municipalities and short duration, high intensity storms.’ http://www.dailylocal.com/article/DL/20061224/TMP01/312249994

57 megamike September 14, 2017 at 8:57 am

The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists
Isaac Asimov

58 Axa September 14, 2017 at 9:02 am

Extreme weather effect on opinion?

Well, the never rebuilt the Florida Overseas Railroad to Key West destroyed by a hurricane in 1935. Also “By 1889, Key West was the largest and wealthiest city in Florida.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_West,_Florida

On 2017 the richest county in Florida is Collier (Naples). What a coincidence, the hurricane made landfall just there.

It doesn’t matter if warming is caused by coal/oil or it’s just part of glacial cycles. Sea-level is rising 3-4 millimeters per year and it’s accelerating. Every 10 years and inch and a half. Basically, when the next storm hits the sea will be 2 inches (or more) higher.

59 Alex September 14, 2017 at 9:46 am

If I was going to try to get involved with climate action then I would want climate adaptation to be at least as large on my organization’s agenda as climate change mitigation. Climate adaptation is more feasible, since it only requires coordination on the scale of a state or a city as opposed to the whole world. Also, climate adaptation can yield large benefits.

60 Todd Kreider September 14, 2017 at 11:23 am

“Also, climate adaptation can yield large benefits.”

That is great, but the Climate Adaptation Committee is supposed to figure out, and I assume lobby for specific adaptation policies that *might* be needed 50 to 70 years from now based on 2017 technology?

61 prior_test3 September 14, 2017 at 2:34 pm

I’m fairly confident that the Dutch have no problems thinking this way – but then, they seem to have a different attitude to the future than Americans, at least when it comes to viewing the future and what it might bring in terms of a country that relies on keeping the ocean at bay.

62 Todd Kreider September 14, 2017 at 4:43 pm

Obviously the Dutch know what 2070 energy and adaptation technology will be but their Climate Adaptation Committee will be just a tiny voice in a sea of Climate Adaptation Committees.

63 nastycanasta September 15, 2017 at 9:22 am

It’s amazing to watch the AGW faithful cling to their scientistic guns and religion.

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