In her attempt to refute any link between climate change and Typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines last week, Margaret Wente has once again publicized her ignorance of the subject. Her arguments are not only stale, they’re also scientifically inaccurate.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) did not predict that climate change would affect the number of tropical cyclones (which is the core of Ms. Wente’s straw man argument); however. they did predict that it would affect their intensity. (They reported in 2007 that “it is likely that future tropical cyclones…will become more intense, with larger peak wind speeds and more heavy precipitation associated with ongoing increases of tropical sea-surface temperatures”.) Case in point: Typhoon Haiyan may be the strongest ever recorded.
What I find more interesting, however, is how Ms. Wente resorts to ad hominem attacks on environmental and climate scientists by labeling them as “the usual environmental scaremongers”. She then offers up this gem of breathtaking hypocrisy:
“Needless to say, this lesson is anathema to people who demand “climate justice.” If they had their way, we’d all be living like poor Filipinos instead of the other way around. And a lot more of us would probably be in peril.”
Who’s calling who a “scaremonger” here? Not only is her conclusion completely non sequitur, but it screams of the very doomsday alarmist hysteria that she has continuously accused environmentalists of exhibiting. To assume that a reduction in global carbon emissions or that efforts to improve the environmental quality of the natural and built environment would put most of us in “peril” and drive us into abject poverty is not only as irrational and hysterical a fear as they get, but it also lacks any creativity or imagination for how these problems can be solved.
Which brings me to my more general opinion: when it comes to discussing options for how to deal with climate change and environmental degradation, anti-environmentalists are often more hysterical, alarmist and fear mongering than than their adversaries. (In their case, it’s related to what will happen to human civilization if we do act on solving these issues.) At the core of the anti-environmentalist message is an irrational hysteria that if economic growth isn’t left unimpeded, civilization is doomed.
Isn’t it time they start to be called out for it?