Slow Joe evidently thinks that the Coast Guard, the branch of the Armed Forces responsible for rescuing boaters, interdicting drugs, and patrolling the coastline, is somehow going to fight “climate change”. Maybe he thinks it can spray water on the angry sun monster or something (that’s a joke, fact-checkers).
He articulated that claim, the claim that the Coast Guard would play a yuge role in fighting climate change, during a recent speech. Watch it here:
As you can hear, Biden, speaking on the U.S. Coast Guard change-of-command ceremony, said:
Our nation is grateful to all of you for your years of service and your continued service. And as we look to the years and the decades ahead, the Coast Guard is only going to play an increasingly prominent role in our homeland and our national security.
The challenges we face continue to evolve, and the choices we make today are literally going to shape the direction of the world throughout the 21st century. What we do the next 10 years are going to lay it down. We’ll be calling on the Coast Guard more and more frequently, as you know, to underwrite the international maritime security; to keep the sea lanes open and secure; to uphold a rules-based international order; to protect the waters, as was mentioned, through which nearly one quarter of United States’ GDP is transported; to manage the impact of changing climate becoming more extreme — more extreme weather and growing migration flows.
In addition, you see what’s happening in the Arctic. The Arctic is going to change drastically and become much — a place that is going to also potentially generate potential conflict, in terms of dominating the Arctic as it melts.
[…]And with the climate change accelerating, we’re seeing more frequent and more intense storms that carry devastating impacts across our nation and throughout the hemisphere.
Admiral Shultz, you oversaw the Coast Guard’s response to the most active hurricane season on record, in 2020. Thirty named storms, twelve of which impacted the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. And the Coast Guard was there for every single one of them.
Most of what he said is true. The US will need to keep maintaining sea lanes, protecting maritime trade, and the Arctic is turning into an increased place of competition as some of the ice melts.
But there’s a big problem there. The premise of the climate change bit, that storms are getting more frequent and thus that the Coast Guard will have to be more involved, isn’t really true. As FEE put it:
Before you take out a loan to build a storm shelter in your basement, it might be worthwhile to look at data from the American Meteorological Society recently published in the Wall Street Journal. The data show fewer hurricanes are landing on the continental US, not more.
“[D]espite what you may have heard, Atlantic hurricanes are not becoming more frequent,” explains Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg in the Journal. “In fact, the frequency of hurricanes making landfall in the continental U.S. has declined slightly since 1900.”
The WSJ is a respected publication, but it of course has a reputation for being right of center. So it’s important to note that Lomborg and the Journal are not out on a limb on this one. There is widespread consensus that hurricanes are not increasing in frequency.
“[A] new statistical analysis of historical records and satellite data suggests that there aren’t actually more Atlantic hurricanes now than there were roughly 150 years ago, researchers report July 13 in Nature Communications,” reportedScience News.
The findings reported in Nature Communications were not an outlier. As The Economistreported in 2017 and the Washington Postreported in 2015, a plethora of research shows hurricanes are becoming less frequent, not more frequent.
The referenced Science News Piece, for reference, notes that:
the researchers took a probabilistic approach to fill in likely gaps in the older record, assuming, for example, that modern storm tracks are representative of pre-satellite storm tracks to account for storms that would have stayed out at sea and unseen. The team found no clear increase in the number of storms in the Atlantic over that 168-year time frame. One possible reason for this, the researchers say, is a rebound from the aerosol pollution–induced lull in storms that may be obscuring some of the greenhouse gas signal in the data.
More surprisingly — even to Vecchi, he says — the data also seem to show no significant increase in hurricane intensity over that time. That’s despite “scientific consistency between theories and models indicating that the typical intensity of hurricanes is more likely to increase as the planet warms,” Vecchi says. But this conclusion is heavily caveated — and the study also doesn’t provide evidence against the hypothesis that global warming “has acted and will act to intensify hurricane activity,” he adds.
So, while “the science” insists that the storms could be getting more intense because of climate change (despite what the data says), it does appear that the point Biden made, that the storms are getting more frequent, just isn’t true. Politifact, reaching a similar conclusion, notes that:
Lomborg said that the frequency and strength of hurricanes hitting the U.S. had declined slightly since 1900. The small shift in some of Lomborg’s sources doesn’t amount to a statistically significant change over the past 120 years. Researchers broadly agree that given all the problems with the historic data, there is no discernable trend either way.
Studies of Atlantic storms since 1980, using more robust data, find that the hurricanes that form there tend to be stronger than in the past. Human-driven climate change might play a role, although the science is unsettled.
Biden made a fair point that the Coast Guard will be called upon in the coming years. But the storm bit, the part about there being more storms thanks to “climate change,” that doesn’t appear to be true.