Storms – and especially hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones – are the most interesting weather systems for people dedicated to preventing climate change. Satellite photographs of these swirling storms are seen as a symbol of a world growing progressively warmer – and of the considerable dangers that lurk in such a world.
The storm of the century, Hurricane Katrina, was seen as a warning sign, a harbinger of disasters to come. But six hurricane seasons have passed since then, and not a single massive, high-category storm has arrived to devastate the coasts of the United States. "Meteorologists last recorded such a calm phase between 1911 and 1914," explains Roger Pielke, Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, who is working to reconstruct the climate history of the United States.
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After years of combing through the data related to climate catastrophes, Pielke has concluded that: "Science cannot detect a clear trend. Some indicators even suggest that the number of hurricanes is more likely to decrease."
Indeed, Pielke admits he's given up wondering why environmentalists have ironically chosen hurricanes as their icons for climate change.