Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Talk is Cheap

The recent spate of deadly tornadoes that have struck the United States has those who see doom and gloom in every weather event once again hyping how unusual such activity is and how it is further evidence of the calamities that lie ahead if we don't do something to prevent man-made global warming. Now. In today's WSJ, Donald Boudreax challenges these alarmists to put their money where their mouths are in a piece called More Weather Deaths? Wanna Bet?:

There's one problem with this global-warming chicken little-ism. It has little to do with reality. National Weather Service data on weather-related fatalities since 1940 show that the risks of Americans being killed by violent weather have fallen significantly over the past 70 years.

The annual number of deaths caused by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes, of course, varies. For example, the number of persons killed by these weather events in 1972 was 703 while the number killed in 1988 was 72. But amid this variance is a clear trend: The number of weather-related fatalities, especially since 1980, has dropped dramatically.

For the 30-year span of 1980-2009, the average annual number of Americans killed by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes was 194—fully one-third fewer deaths each year than during the 1940-1979 period. The average annual number of deaths for the years 1980-2009 falls even further, to 160 from 194, if we exclude the deaths attributed to Hurricane Katrina, most of which were caused by a levee that breached on the day after the storm struck land.
This decline in the absolute number of deaths caused by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes is even more impressive considering that the population of the United States more than doubled over these years—to 308 million in 2010 from 132 million in 1940.

More people and less weather-related deaths? That doesn’t fit the global warming doom and gloom template at all. Boudreax—who’s a professor of economics at George Washington University—is so confident that this trend in US weather-related deaths will continue to decease that he’s willing to lay $10,000 on the line with anyone willing to bet that the opposite will occur. Seems like that would be easy money for those who are so certain that we’re warming the planet and are on the tipping point of catastrophe.