My own research, cited in a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, found that during the past half-century tropical storms and hurricanes have not shown an upward trend in frequency or accumulated energy. Instead they remain naturally variable from year-to-year. The global prevalence of the most intense storms (Category 4 and 5) has not shown a significant upward trend either. Historical observations of extreme cyclones in the 1980s, especially in the Southern Hemisphere, are in sore need of reanalysis.
By focusing on whether climate change caused a hurricane, journalists fail to appreciate the complexity of extreme weather events. While most details are still hazy with the best climate modeling tools, the bigger issue than global warming is that more people are choosing to live in coastal areas, where hurricanes certainly will be most destructive.
The historical record books contain dozens of devastating hurricane landfalls over the past century, any of which, if repeated, would be catastrophic regardless of additional climate-change effects. To prepare for the next hurricane, the U.S. needs the best weather forecasts, evacuation plans and leadership. These plans should be built on sound science, not speculation, overselling or exaggeration. Hurricane science in this political climate already has enough spin.
Mr. Maue, a research meteorologist, is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute.