German Media Panic Over Weather, Yet Tropical Storm Energy Near Record Lows.

Indeed here in Germany the media have stepped up the dramatic reporting in the wake of Deutsche Welle’s international conference on journalism and climate, reported here: Journalism for Dummkopfs.Driving home yesterday I heard a report on publicly funded German NDR News radio, asking a climate expert (paraphrasing):

Are the recent, numerous weather extremes seen worldwide ominous signs of the climate catastrophe?

NDR went on to mention the weather anomalies in Moscow, Pakistan, China and the local floods in the eastern part of Germany, and emphasized all the death and destruction along with it (They forgot to mention the severe cold in South America). Fortunately, the data tells the opposite story.

Cyclones and storms near all-time lows

Yet anyone taking a closer look will see that all the extraordinary drama is confined to the newsrooms, and is not what’s going on outside.  The latest tropical cyclone energy index shows that cyclones are near all-time lows. Where are all the big cyclones we were told would be coming in the wake of Katrina?

Tropical cyclone energy near record lows. Source: Ryan Maue’s 2010 Global Tropical Cyclone Activity Update


Nasty weather extremes have always occurred, and there are no statistics to show they’ve picked up. The number of deaths resulting from weather and natural disasters is also declining. There are many factors involved here, but the sky fell more often back then than today.

No upward trend in storms and bad weather since 1850

What about tornados in the USA? The following graphic also shows a downward trend.

Tornados occurring less frequently

The worst happened in the past

Indeed looking at the top 10 weather catsatrophes in the USA, the worst ones happened long ago. See Live Science here.

  1. 1900 Galveston  Hurricane, 8,000 dead
2. 2005 Hurricane Katrina, 1,836 dead
3. 1930’s Dust Bowl
4. 1906 San Francisco fire / earthquake 3,000 dead
5. 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane, at least 2,500 dead
6. 1980 Heat Wave, massive drought, and 10,000 dead
7. 1988 Heat Wave, between 5,000 and 10,000 dead.
8. 1889 Johnstown Flood, leveled 1,600 homes, killing 2,209
9. 1871 Peshtigo Fire; scorched 12 towns and left 1,200 dead
10. 1925 Tri-State Tornado, nearly 700 dead

But let’s not focus only on the USA, where statistics are easy to get. Let’s look at other parts of the world. Now here’s a graphic (sorry about the quality) showing cyclone activity in the bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea from 1890 until 2000. Looks downward to me. Here the vertical axis shows the annual frequency of cyclones and the x-axis shows the year. The dark line is the 10-year moving average.

Fewer people than ever are dying from weather extremes

And what about deaths globally? With all the bad climate change and growing populations, you’d think people would be getting killed on a massive scale. The following graphic shows the opposite is true.

All the panic is in the newsrooms

So why do some believe that extreme weather events are occurring more often than ever and that more people are dying and suffering? This is because the media stories have increased dramatically over the years, as they report on every Tiny Tim storm out there as if it were a Cat 5.  It’s overhyped.

Source of following graphic:

Mounting media reports

The above graphic shows the number of newspaper reports about climate change, which is often cited as the reason for every weather anomaly happening out there. Fortunately, things on this big blue planet of ours have been quieter weatherwise, and people have caught on with respect to what all the media hype is about.

All the commotion is coming from the over-agitated folks in the newrooms.

9 responses to “German Media Panic Over Weather, Yet Tropical Storm Energy Near Record Lows.”

  1. DennisA

    Usual stuff from Potsdam, still no mention of South America.

  2. Bob Wilson

    Excellent, excellent piece. Thank you, Pierre, for your wonderful posts! I note that Wm Gray’s predictions from 4 August hold at 16 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes; he is also predicting an ACE of 178 for the rest of this season. Joe Bastardi is also predicting an active season to come. So, as always, we’ll see! But, with each day that passes, I’m growing hopeful that this season turns out to be a flop, having been through a few of these potentially dreadful storms.

    Bob W.

    1. pgosselin

      That’s one reason I wrote this post now. Gray and Bastardi may be right. It would be odd not to get so many hurricanes. Activity is bound to pick up again because it’s normal. The media are making fools of themselves, all running out to a corner of Russia and to Pakistan to come up with a weather anomaly to fret about.

  3. Brian H

    Not to mention that warming would probably result in fewer major atmospheric disturbances, as the gradient between poles and tropics lessened. Don’t tell the press that the lower storm rate confirms warming!

  4. DirkH

    A quick check of what the public is intended to see is always the German google news frontpage (without personalization). ATM there’s only one vaguely climate-related headline; Russian forest fires vs. Russian nuclear plants. Checking the article… no mention of climate change BUT! they mention the very bad state of fire protection in Russia. And that from Der Stern. I’m positively impressed.

    So this looks not too bad. I know, that guy from Munich Re stirred up panic a few days ago, asserting we’re heading for ever greater disasters. The media guys&gals still need to learn that it’s the job of the Munich Re spokesperson to stir up panic; that much is true.

  5. R. de Haan

    “All the commotion is coming from the over-agitated folks in the news rooms”.

    Who don’t take their journalistic profession seriously.

    What about objectivity and checking the facts.

    Our news rooms only produce propaganda instead of news.

    This is something to worry about.

    Rabarberrabarberrabarberrabarberrabarber, especially in a country with a history like Germany.

  6. Indur Goklany

    Dr. Gosselin,

    The figure on deaths and death rates from extreme weathet events is not sourced correctly and, more importantly, it is dated.

    (1) The correct source is : Goklany, IM (2006), “Death and Death Rates Due to Extreme Weather Events: Global and U.S. Trends, 1900-2004,” prepared for the proceedings of the Climate Change & Disaster Losses Workshop, Hohenkammer, Germany, May 25–26, 2006. It’s available at

    (2) In any case, an update is available which spans 1900-2008 in Goklany, IM (2009), “Deaths and Death Rates from Extreme Weather Events: 1900-2008.” Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 14 (4): 102-09 (2009). That’s available at Feel free to use the figures (with attribution, of course).

    Thanks! Everyone here appreciates your contribution. -PG (please note that I’m not a doctor…I’m only an unpaid merchant of doubt!)

  7. Brian H

    R. de H.;
    Is that barberra thing a Dutch expression? Enquiring minds want to know.

  8. Richard C

    This comment more relevant to “Journalism For Dummkopfs” but thought it best to move to the new site. BTW, great to have this European perspective.

    Here in New Zealand, Deutsche Welle programme segments are available on a local free-to-air TV station providing welcome relief from our normal dumbed-down advert-ridden fare.

    My secondary observation in relation to climate propaganda (and the Nazi-esque salutes to US President Obama in Berlin) is: have the Germans learned nothing from their Hitler/Goebbels experience? This was also noted by R.Reagan June 13, 2010 at 8:49 am – previous site. Alternatively it may be that a great many Germans rather like the notion of world domination – by Germans of course, and if only they had a leader like Obama: what might be?

    There is some hypocrisy in Deutshe Welle pushing Germany’s (implied) superior influence and supposedly shining examples of green-ness and climate change responses both home and abroad in “Global 3000” then pushing German industrial exports in “Drive-it” or “Made in Germany”. That alternative scientific views of natural cycle climate drivers or a null hypothesis for CO2 are not presented are, to be fair, typical of world msm and although an indictment on journalism, it is not the sole domain of Deutsche Welle although its approach outlined in “Journalism for Dummkopfs” does smack of Pope Paul V’s efforts to stifle Galileo. Generally I find “Journal News” a reasonable watch (except for the sports which is total c***) and the clips unhindered by reporter intrusion and the obligatory (in NZ) split-second truncation and ad breaks.

    My primary observation is that DWTV offers an insight for us down-under knuckle-draggers into the prevailing German world-view and how in their post-normal scientific group-think way they subscribe unquestionably to CAGW, It is this world-view of one of our major (but declining in relation to Asia) markets that our government (centre-right) panders to with our Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). There is nothing altruistic about our ETS; it placates the Left-wing CAGWists (also of the post-normal scientific group-think mold) and of course we must validate our green-ness in the eyes of our markets and no amount of scientific evidence will shift their position. Although I suspect a cooling trend over the next 20 or so years might cause some embarrassment especially if NZ experiences a cold weather system such as the massively unreported South American weather change of late.

    It is refreshing and encouraging to find a European outpost of substantiated views contrary to main-stream thought in respect to weather and climate.

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