Or, more precisely, lying while wearing a lab coat so people will think you’re all scientific-y and stuff. Here is the obligatory article saying that Sandy is the result of global warming. Be that as it may, the lie we’ll focus on today lies elsewhere – here, to be exact:
Last month, Mike Tidwell, director of Maryland’s Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the author of the 2006 book The Ravaging Tide — which detailed the expected rise in extreme weather events that will come with global warming — received a pamphlet in the mail from his insurance company, Travelers. The full-color flier depicted a typical suburban home with a lashing storm looming on the horizon.
Federal disaster declarations are up, the pamphlet declared. Average winter storm losses have doubled since the 1980s. Thunderstorms last year caused over $25 billion in damages, more than double the previous record.
“That flier was astonishing,” said Tidwell. “I couldn’t remember ever getting anything like that before.”
The implication was simple: Given the bounty of scientific and statistical evidence now in hand, insurance companies can’t afford to dither over whether climate change is real — and really, neither can anyone else.
What is wrong with this picture? Let me count the ways:
1. The actual Traveler’s Insurance brochure is not about global warming, more frequent and more damaging storms or even science at all. It’s not evidence that insurance companies are talking global warming seriously or not taking it seriously – it’s about how expensive it’s getting to fix stuff. It’s an attempt to sell more insurance:
Evidently no one has ever tried to sell Tidwell insurance before, as he claims to have never seen anything like this before. Perhaps his reading comprehension would improve if he took off the global warming colored glasses.
2. The claim that “average winter storm losses have doubled since the 1980s” is hardly surprising – between 1985 and 2011, the cost of pretty much *everything* has doubled – it’s called inflation.
3. And that’s not even counting the increase in population in Maryland – from about 4.2 million on 1980 to about 5.2 million in 2000 – around 22%% more people. More people generally means more stuff – houses and cars, for example – to get damaged in a storm.
4. Putting points 2 & 3 together, the reasonable conclusion would be that real, inflation-adjusted losses due to storms in Maryland have fallen per capita over the last 25 years. For whatever reason, storm losses when measured in any reasonable manner are declining.
But will such logic stop our intrepid fear-monger? Not in this space-time continuum. But what I sincerely hope is that some people might actually start to see how abusive and manipulative these clowns are, as they bluff and blunder their way through lie after lie, and disgrace the name of science in the process. But I’m not holding my breath.
As in all things, I blame Sagan.