Energy & Environment

FEMA chief refuses to attribute recent tornado activity to global warming

Although the official line of the Obama White House is that global warming is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with, the president’s point man on disaster relief refused Wednesday to attribute the recent increased tornado activity to the alleged climate threat.

Following his briefing of the president on preparations to deal with hurricanes, Federal Emergency Management Administrator (FEMA) Craig Fugate spoke to reporters at the regular White House briefing Wednesday.  Asked by radio talk show host Bill Press whether he would attribute any of the recent increased tornado activity to global warming, the FEMA chief replied: “I’m not a meteorologist.”

“[And] I’m not a climate scientist, and hurricanes are cyclic,” Fugate continued “I do know history. And if you look at history and you look at hurricane activity, there are periods of increased and decreased activity that occurs over decades. Throughout the ’60s, ’70s, early ’80s, up until about ’95, the Atlantic was actually in a period of below average activity, even though you had significant storms like Andrew, Frederic, and David.”

Citing his agency’s history of collecting data on hurricane activity going back to the 19th Century, Fugate said: “[Y]ou’ll see a cycle, and it’s over decades of increased activity and decreased activity. And so that cycle has been there.”

He did say that, in terms of what is driving that activity, he would “really defer to climate scientists.” But Fugate himself would not cite global warming as a reason and instead cited history.  And “the reality is the history says we’ve had this period of activity,” he explained, “we’ve had a period of quiet. We’ve had a period of activity, we’ve had a period of quiet. And so what we’ve seen is not what we — we’ve seen this in history before.”