CLIMATE change is, of course, big business nowadays. One particular niche is the provision of market intelligence, exemplified by an outfit called Four Twenty Seven.
According to its website: ‘Four Twenty Seven is the leading publisher and provider of market intelligence on the economic risk of climate change. Our mission is to catalyze climate adaptation and resilience investments by enabling the integration of climate science into business and policy decisions. In July 2019, Four Twenty Seven received a majority investment from Moody’s Corporation.’
Given that it is now majority-owned by the ratings agency Moody’s, one might have thought its research was reliable. Sadly this does not appear to be the case. At least not where its latest research note, The Compounding Challenges of Climate Hazards and Covid-19, is concerned.
It begins: ‘The devastating human health and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic are exacerbated by climate hazards, which threaten communities around the world. This analysis explores exposure to floods, heat stress, hurricanes and wildfires in US municipalities alongside the impacts of Covid-19 on the same regions. It discusses the compounding challenges for economies, infrastructure and human health and the importance of preparing for these overlapping disasters.’
It goes on to claim that climate change is leading to more extreme weather events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, heatwaves and wildfires. There is only one problem – none of this is true.
Take tornadoes, for instance. There has actually been a marked decline in both the frequency and intensity of tornadoes in the US since proper records began to be kept in the 1970s. It has now been almost seven years since the last EF-5 tornado, the strongest category, hit the US, the second-longest period on record.
There is a very good reason for this. Tornado formation feeds off the collision of cold polar air with warmer subtropical air. Warming in the Arctic has reduced this differential, and consequently the energy available.
And according to the US Hurricane Research Division, which keeps records of US landfalling hurricanes since 1851, there has been no increase in hurricane activity or the strength of them.
There have been only four of the most powerful Category 5 hurricanes on record, all well-spaced. The strongest was the Labour Day hurricane of 1935, and the next most powerful was Camille in 1969.
There is no evidence that floods are worse either. The US Geological Survey found in a recent study which looked at streamflows: Only one of four large regions of the United States showed a significant relationship between carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and the size of floods over the last 100 years. This was in the southwestern region, where floods have become smaller as CO2 has increased.
Surely though, heatwaves are now more intense? Nope.
The US National Climate Assessment in 2017 concluded that the opposite was the case. Heatwaves in the US were considerably more widespread and extreme in the first half of the 20th century than anything seen in recent years.
The assessment also found that extremely cold spells are much less common now. In other words, temperatures in the US are much less extreme nowadays.
And wildfires? Again, official data shows that the acreage lost to fires was much greater than now prior to the 1950s. This was when systematic fire suppression began, which has had the unintended effect of allowing the build-up of highly combustible dead wood and undergrowth, the main factor behind recent large fires.
It is, of course, a widely perpetuated myth that climate change is leading to more extreme weather. It is a pity that those behind Four Twenty Seven have chosen to base their work on this myth, instead of researching the facts for themselves.