If you thought the weather was getting worse…

Yes, there is an “inconvenient” part of this drumbeat of doom: The data doesn’t support it.

On the WattsUpWithThat website, Anthony Watts writes about a breathless article in USA Today, from a report put out by a company owned in part by Obama’s corporate maven Warren Buffett.  Buffet’s involvement made the news in 2010, when he bought $1 billion in stock in Munich Re, and again last year:

One other Berkshire purchase in 2010—Munich Re–deserves mention for one unusual reason: Buffett personally bought 100,000 shares of that stock while Berkshire was loading up with more than 19 million shares and making itself a 10% owner of Munich.  Buffett doesn’t normally telegraph what he’s doing with his personal cash, but he abandoned that practice here.

The significance of this ownership (as with Buffett’s ownership of other reinsurance companies including Swiss Re and General Re) is that if the market can be spooked into thinking that the future climate will be much more destructive (and expensive), then these companies can charge higher premiums. If the future is less destructive, the insurance companies will profit handsomely.

In other words, this is marketing.  The article begins:

The number of natural disasters per year has been rising dramatically on all continents since 1980, but the trend is steepest for North America where countries have been battered by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, searing heat and drought, a new report says.

The study being released today by Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance firm, sees climate change driving the increase and predicts those influences will continue in years ahead, though a number of experts question that conclusion.

Whatever the causes, the report shows that if you thought the weather has been getting worse, you’re right.

It is, of course, not true.

Watts’ article compares the USA today article’s “extreme” clamoring with a series of graphs showing reality over recent decades. The choice of 1980 is interesting — it nicely skips over the previous peak of the hurricane cycle (and all other past weather). But it doesn’t change the dishonesty of the approach.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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