The Washington Post

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 is petitioning the World Meteorological Organization to name hurricanes after politicians who are skeptical or dismissive of manmade climate change.

“The campaign, at, 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 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’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 the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
Show Comments
Most Read

At a Glance


-- /47°
Drop 80%


44° /54°
Drop 90%


47° /59°
Drop 80%


40° /51°


35° /52°


36° /52°
National Airport

Right Now

Washington, D.C., Snow Tracker

Current Snow Total
Record Most Snow
Record Least Snow
(1997-98, 1972-73)
Last Winter's Snow Total

D.C. Area Almanac

Avg. High
Avg. Low
Rec. High
Rec. Low
Next Story
Jason Samenow · August 26, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.