Tuesday, May 25, 2021

President Biden's Proposal, Part II - Mitigating Disasters in the United States

Disconnecting Disaster Mitigation From Climate 
Day after the 2007 F-5 Greensburg Tornado
Photo by Larry Schwarm
In part one yesterday, we discussed President Biden's proposal to mitigate weather/climate disasters and how it would work with a National Disaster Review Board

If President Biden's proposal is to do the most good, I believe we need to subtract global warming from the equation. I know that may seem counterintuitive, so please allow me to explain. 
White House

The Futility of Tying Disaster Mitigation to Global Warming
The White House's statement rationalizes its already meritorious proposal because of what they call "22 separate weather and climate released disasters" in 2021. Most of those are nonsense as we've explained on numerous occasions. Additionally, the White House's statement cites the February Texas winter storms and record cold as another reason for spending the money. Let's spend a little time on that one. 
Please click to enlarge
Thanks to graphic artist Trina Sanders, above is a graph of National Weather Service temperature data since January 1, 2019, for its station in Austin, Texas. Austin was the city hardest hit. Please click to enlarge. When you do, you'll see actual daily temperatures in dark green, the average range of temperatures in light green, warm temperatures in orange (above green zone) and record cold in blue (below green zone). Here's my point:
Can we really attribute those 5 terrible days  
to a change in climate?!
Of course not. It was weather.

Consider another example: remember the terrible 2012-13 drought in Texas? It was supposed to be a precursor to eternal drought in the Longhorn State caused by global warming. Showtime even did a one-hour documentary on it. The drought was put into the category of "abyss."  
Of course, that drought is long gone and things have been back to normal for several years. The drought was an unfortunate fluctuation of weather. Anthony Watts posted this great graph of Texas rainfall (below) from 1895 to 2021 to illustrate the point. When it was extremely dry it was "climate change." When it got wet and things returned to normal it was "weather." 
Texas' Yearly Rainfall Since 1895. From: Anthony Watts
The severe drought is sarcastically labeled "climate change."
Things back to normal = weather.

Speaking of bad science, there were a number of articles that attempted to tie the 2011 Joplin Tornado to global warming. This is what you get when you try to retrieve them today:
As of today, the U.S. has gone the longest period -- since records began -- without a F-5 intensity tornado! Fantastic news. All of 2011 the hand-wringing about worsening tornadoes was, like the cold wave and drought, proven wrong. 

Why am I spending all this time reviewing this?

I am concerned that tying disaster mitigation
 to global warming is a political non-starter. 

The above examples clearly indicates that global warming has little to do with U.S. disasters. When this is widely understood, a global warming foundation will crumble. 

When one side ties weather-disasters to global warming (even putting their fingers in their ears going nyah-nyah-nyah) while the other calls the contentions baseless, and vice-versa, nothing gets done. And, it will poison the well for future mitigation expenditures. 

Disaster Mitigation Is Worthy on Its Own and Will Pay Big Dividends
Economists have demonstrated, many times, that investing in better weather forecasting and in disaster mitigation will return at least $20 for every dollar spent. That is an amazing return-on-investment. That does not include lives saved. 

As discussed yesterday, the United States is so far in debt we simply can no longer tolerate the "lets throw money around" approach to disaster mitigation. 

An independent, non-political National Disaster Review Board can help guide the nation as to get the best value for our hard-earned tax dollars. 

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