Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III is no smelly hippie.
North Korea just annulled the 1953 armistice ending its war with South Korea. China and Japan are locked in a dispute over an island chain. But the greatest long-term threat to the peace of East Asia and Pacific Ocean — the part of the world at the heart of the Obama administration’s aspirational defense strategy — is climate change, according to the admiral in charge of U.S. military operations there.
Via The Climate Desk
Admiral Locklear: “Certainly weather patterns are more severe than they have been in the past. We are on super typhoon 27 or 28 this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about 17.”
Cripes, that is severe! The typhoon season hasn’t even started properly yet.
Locklear apparently said this last Friday. Perhaps he was misquoted and was talking about last year. If so, it’d be interesting to know where he got his numbers from and what he means by ‘Western Pacific’ and ‘super typhoons’.
(Yep, nitpicking again. It’s a shitty job but someone’s got to do it. This nutty claim has been propelled several times around the world by Grist, Mother Jones, HuffPo and other respected commentators and not one has given it the sniff test. Perhaps on this occasion their noses were stuffed with scrambled egg but it looks like the usual credulous alarmism to me: bad news is good news no matter where it comes from or how likely it is.)
I follow this kind of thing in a desultory kind of way, and there have been a spectacularly large number including a lot of supertyphoons recently. Consider Bopha.
Perhaps Earth Observatory would be a resource, since they have pictures of many if not all of them. Of course, Wunderground lists them regularly. There should be some kind of summary somewhere:
Chris Mooney wrote a wonderful book that includes a rather complete history of cyclones/typhoons/hurricanes, Storm World, . I seem to remember the whole dynamic in the Pacific is quite different and the count not as uniform (though one could not say there is really anything uniform about superstorms).
Do take a look at Bopha.
Susan A, the admiral’s mangled numbers will ultimately have come from this report or an earlier version of it:
2012 super-typhoon frequency: normal (4). Other categories: below normal. Long-term trends: tropical cyclone activity low in recent years, perhaps edging upwards again.
As you can see, the admiral’s ’27 or 28′ super-typhoons were most likely the 27 tropical cyclones and his average for super-typhoons (17) was the average for typhoons (that report says 18; the last one said 17). Shameful. Some dunderhead on his staff probably gave him the numbers but that’s no excuse. An admiral in charge of the world’s mightiest battle fleet should have a feel for whether such numbers are plausible – and they aren’t, not even remotely. (And if his ‘this year’ wasn’t a slip of the tongue or a misquote … Well, colour me scared.)
Re Bopha, yes it was unusual in a couple of ways (low latitude, lateish) but it says nothing about trends. I know it’s not popular around here to pooh-pooh the recruitment of one-off anomalies to the climageddon narrative but BOPHA WAS JUST ONE STORM. No, it didn’t obey the normal rules of track and timing but is every anomaly in every aspect of everything proof that global warming has arrived at last? Apart from wreaking havoc and killing a lot of people, Bopha’s main effect was to nudge annual cyclone activity back up towards something approaching the long-term norms. A nudge-towards-the-norm, however violent, doesn’t offer much proof of an imminent apocalypse.
Vinny, I didn’t keep a tally, but I’ve been watching typhoons in the Pacific for several years now, and there was a new one every few days for months this past year. Sometimes two. Like I said, it’s not about the “admiral’s mangled numbers” but my specific memory. I will see what I can find. Yelling at me doesn’t change a thing.
Meanwhile, I suggest you read Mooney’s book, which is readable, unbiased, and gives all the history.
North Western Pacific, North and South Indian, and South Western Pacific tropical cyclone summaries can be found in the USAF/USN Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s Annual Tropical Cyclone Report (ATCR) published annually in around April and publicly available from their website (http://www.usno.navy.mil/JTWC/annual-tropical-cyclone-reports)