Group wants hurricanes named after politicians who “deny climate change”

Maybe, in the not too distant future, we’ll have a Category Six hurricane named John Boehner.

The environmental advocacy group 350.org is petitioning the World Meteorological Organization to name hurricanes after politicians who are skeptical or dismissive of manmade climate change.

“The campaign, at ClimateNameChange.org, kicks off with a video that brings the proposed naming system to life and features prominent climate deniers like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH),” the 350.org press release says.

The campaign is odd on a couple of counts.

1) The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has a pre-set list of names that it rotates every six years.  It only adds a new name into the cycle on the rare occasion a storm is “retired.”  For a storm to be retired, it must cause extreme damage and/or loss of life (e.g. Katrina and Sandy).  So, in the next several years, there are likely to be just a few opportunities for any politicians’ names to be considered for the list!

Also, the WMO’s naming convention involves first names only. So the last names of politicians, which would identify them, are excluded by definition.

Related: The reasoning for hurricane names and their history (keep suggestions to yourself)

I realize the campaigners probably appreciate the WMO isn’t going to take them seriously, but it might be a more effective campaign if the stated goal was realistic.

2) While scientists generally agree the climate change will make hurricanes more intense in future decades, a definitive link between the strength of today’s storms and global warming has not been made.

I understand 350.org’s effort to cast light on politicians who make unscientific statements about climate change, but hurricanes – whose climate change connections are a bit foggy – aren’t the best poster children.

Here’s the campaign’s promotional video referred to above…

(On its face, the video is amusing in some ways, but it’s also over the top in directly implicating politicians in the impacts of hurricanes. Climate change is/will be a relatively small player in the toll of hurricanes on the coastline – compared to development/infrastructure.)

Related: Global warming activists launch misguided campaign against skeptical TV weathercasters

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
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Jason Samenow · August 26, 2013