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Booker And Hurricane Irma

September 10, 2017

By Paul Homewood



A welcome dose of common sense from Booker:



Terrible though the deaths and damage caused by Hurricane Irma may be, the way it has been reported makes one wonder whether, after more than 10 years that have seen Atlantic hurricane activity at its lowest level for decades, everyone has forgotten what these monster tropical storms are like.


The media have gone way over the top, with headlines such as “the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record”, even “the deadliest storm in history”.

But two minutes on the internet could show that, of the 10 “deadliest” such storms ever, Hurricane Mitch (1998) killed 11,000 people in Central America, the death toll there from Fifi-Orlene (1974) was 8,000, and 7,000 died in the Caribbean from Flora (1963).

As for the “most powerful” storms, measured by wind speed, Irma’s 185mph stands alongside Wilma in 2005, Gilbert in 1988 and the US Labor Day hurricane of 1935; Allen (1980), which killed 269, topped them all at 190mph.


So Irma hardly matches up to all its hysterical billing and was almost certainly outperformed by numerous hurricanes in history which happened before their intensity could be measured – the “Great Barbados Hurricane” of 1780 killed 20,000 or more in the Windward Islands.

But at least one person who got what he wanted from Irma was Justin Webb, of the Today programme on BBC Radio 4. Last week I wrote about how he tried in vain to persuade various interviewees to blame Storm Harvey on climate change. Finally, on Thursday, he got the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda to trot out all the required mantras, in a manner that not even Al Gore could have faulted.

“The science is very clear.” “Climate change is real.” This “unprecedented” disaster has been one of the consequences.

By Friday, Today had even found two “experts” to discuss whether the world’s top “CO2 polluting” fossil-fuel companies could be made to pay for the clean-up after Irma.

What a good thing the Today programme wasn’t around at the time of the Great Barbados Hurricane of 1780.


It is of course ironic that it was the Telegraph itself that was at the forefront of fake claims about “most powerful” and “most deadly”.

Indeed, it is still at it this morning, to the disgust of many commenters:



As for the BBC, nothing should surprise us any more about their biased handling of climate change.

I am sure he has many other abilities, but I am also pretty sure that Barbuda’s Prime Minister is not a meteorologist. So what is the purpose of Justin Webb asking him whether climate change was to blame for Hurricane Irma?


While we’re on the topic of the Telegraph, they currently have this video running on their website:



It is produced by one of the Telegraph “journalists” Laurence Dodds, who looks as if he has just left 6th Form

It makes the usual naive claims about how weather is getting more extreme, but concludes that we are all going to be saved by the Paris Agreement.

It is probably too much to expect young Master Dodds to actually check the facts!


  1. Joe Public permalink
    September 10, 2017 12:37 pm

    Help is at hand, the Hurrican Defence Corps has been deployed:

  2. Sheri permalink
    September 10, 2017 12:50 pm

    This looks more and more like Chicken Little and bunch of illiterates reporting the news. Even the governor of Florida has become clueless. One day, people are going to ignore what is obviously lies and hyperbole and stay. If a truly monster storm does it, the media and governor will have effectively caused the death of those staying by lying for years about the reality of the storms. These are evil people who do not like humanity.

  3. September 10, 2017 12:58 pm

    ‘In the Northern Atlantic Ocean, a distinct hurricane season occurs from June 1 to November 30, sharply peaking from late August through September; the season’s climatological peak of activity occurs around September 10 each season.’

    Today is September 10.

  4. Mike Jackson permalink
    September 10, 2017 1:18 pm

    I did suggest to Mr Dodds that he might like to carry out some proper research at least on the literature in the interests of truth. The comment, I note, is still there together with the predictable piece of trollery complaining that I’m cherry-picking because I didn’t include Sandy!

    According to his LinkedIn profile he has “a comprehensive understanding of current affairs, a wicked instinct for what will fire our readers up, and a keen imagination.”

    He specialises in “quickly understanding complex fields or disputes and explaining them to readers plainly but with a minimum loss of nuance”.

    Just sayin’!

    • Curious George permalink
      September 10, 2017 3:59 pm

      He found his niche – and it has nothing to do with objectivity.

  5. Fretslider permalink
    September 10, 2017 4:01 pm

    It wasn’t just Webb

    Sarah Montague ploughed the same furrow on PM

  6. Jack Broughton permalink
    September 10, 2017 4:58 pm

    Noted in the Sunday Torygraph that Jlilian Ambrose published two articles extoling the virtues of the Swansea Barrier and offshore wind: the desperation of the backers is obvious. The promise is that if we invest in the, horrendously expensive, Swansea white elephant, future, similar, white elephants won’t be as expensive …… Jam tomorrow.

    Noteworthy also that an Australian power engineer has suggested that refurbishing old coal fired power stations is the most economical way of securing reliable power. We are determinedly demolishing these superb power stations on the back of dogma.

    • RogerJC permalink
      September 11, 2017 7:57 am

      BBC reports that new build Offshore wind is now half the price of new build Nuclear.

      “Two firms said they were willing to build offshore wind farms for a subsidy of £57.50 per megawatt hour. That compares with new nuclear plants at a subsidy of £92.50 per megawatt hour for 2022-23.”

      But this is still subsidised generation and the article attempts to pull the wool over the readers eyes by not comparing to the cost of unsubsidised gas or coal generation. Typical BBC and Harrabin article.

  7. September 10, 2017 5:18 pm

    Well, I’m sure it’s no consolation, but on this side of the pond the dutiful eminences of Canada’s taxpayer funded broadcaster, the CBC, seem not to let a program air without mentioning the oh-so-deadly effects of “climate change”. Needless to say it is woven into all reports of the hurricanes south of the border.

    And, as an aside, Canada’s ever-twittering, know-nothing Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment & Climate Change – who recently declared in her best Valley-girl voice that she was “so done” with something or other – has declared that Canada will double its contribution to the evidently cash-struggling IPCC.

    • Curious George permalink
      September 10, 2017 6:27 pm

      They could use twenty times as much easily.

      • Tim permalink
        September 10, 2017 7:01 pm

        Depends what you mean by use.

      • Curious George permalink
        September 10, 2017 8:02 pm

        Whatever they mean by use.

    • September 10, 2017 7:29 pm

      How is the IPCC going to stop hurricanes? If only there were journalists who would ask that kind of question.

  8. September 10, 2017 7:22 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  9. christopher booker permalink
    September 10, 2017 7:33 pm

    Paul, you obviously noted that when I quoted two particularly mad headlines on Hurricane Irma, I tactfully didn’t add that they were both taken from the Daily Telegraph, It now seems to have been competing with the BBC (and the Governor of Florida) to see who can hype up the “unprecedented” horrors of Irma in the most apocalyptically lurid language, without any reference to facts, At least I am still allowed to chip in from the back of the class in my severely shrunken new column, tucked away at the back of a supplement. But it somehow seems appropriate that only this weekend have I completed a long paper for the Global Warming Policy Foundation analysing the entire panic over global warming in terms of the rules which govern that contagious disease of our age, “groupthink”,

  10. Athelstan permalink
    September 10, 2017 10:31 pm

    Remember remember this the other October?

    biggest most ginormous evah, evah!!

    Can you recall the incontinent hyperbole?

    Patricia, the excuses came quickest.

    Plainly it’s not about the calamity, something else this ways spins and we’re not talking about CAT5 wind speeds either.

    One really begins to wonder, the alarmist idiots in the bbc and elsewhere in the world media, do they actually hope for a major disaster death toll and what are they going to say when one – a major catastrophe really hits………..fu kinnel they’ll have run out of exaggerated language, chicken little doom mongering and adjectives. The asteroid belt is but a a stone’s throw, yon and we’ll never see it coming until it’s far too late..Or a corner of Wyoming might go up.

    Aye true enough Irma provides great and spectacular photo’s to frighten and vicariously in some cases, it is also, a grandstanding opportunity for the ghouls[ gruaniadistas] to peddle their wicked warmunist wares.
    Evidently, YES this storm Irma, has been an absolute tragedy for many poor souls not least for those who lost their lives. But please, lets get a grip; better building construction, preferably away from the beaches, plan for these major storms, have facilities available train civil defence units.
    Finally, as I said the other day, the quid pro quo for living on mainly volcanic islands in a sun drenched, glorious semi tropical paradise are – cyclones and eruptions, period.

  11. Europeanonion permalink
    September 11, 2017 8:56 am

    The ‘Today Programme’ called on two celebrities this morning to pass judgement on political Britain, an extension of BBC’s scurrilous attitude towards matters of climate. It is all to easy to see the chatterati bubble in which their star performer, Roger Harrabin, can gain credibility. Sir Simon Rattle waxed lyrical about the EU in the same airy and uncritical manner that you see in the governor of Antigua/Barbuda dispensing his wisdom concerning science.

    When my house was burgled some years ago the police rolled-up in their own time. They had less than a cursory look around and then expressed the idea that the criminals were, “…not from around here”, that such people use the motorways in hit and run expeditions and in that light are virtually impossible to catch. Great, so the police can wash their hands of such criminal activity because they have manufactured a scenario which denies their obligation to investigate.

    The manner is which the climate is discussed is in the same vein. It is a ready made excuse for lack of investment, denial of the insinuation of bad planning on the environment and a soto voce rebuke to those that agonise about intemperate growth in population. It is anti intellectual and idle. A once respected newspaper, and a public broadcaster once of world renown, have declined into purgery to favour a catch-all shorthand for general incompetence, the portrayal of climate as being the embodiment of some ancient deity that requires obeisance to mollify.

    To think that a modern technological society can fall foul of observers who specialise in novelty and drama to describe the modern world and its challenges. We are little but sun worshippers, Druidic in our understanding of natures phenomenon. Reduced to offering up our sinfulness in hope of appeasement, relief.

  12. September 11, 2017 10:26 am

    Apparently “imperialism & colonialism” are in some way connected to “climate change in the Caribbean” and there are now “climate debts owed to the region”…

    I haven’t read the article, perhaps those of you who are informed and enlightened, may care to comment…..

    Alison Bajaican Greetings

    My latest research article on climate change in the Caribbean has just been published open access (freely available – see below). This feels (sadly) very relevant in light of the hurricanes currently hitting the Caribbean, so I thought I’d share it.

    ‘Treating the threat of climate change in the Caribbean as a case study instructive for responses globally, this article examines the social and political relations of climate change. It argues for an analysis taking into account the ways in which the histories of imperialism and colonialism have shaped contemporary global ‘development’ pathways. The article charts how Caribbean vulnerability to temperature rises of more than 1.5°C of warming comprise an existential threat structured by contemporary social relations that are imperialist in character. Hope can be taken from a politics of climate justice which acknowledges the climate debts owed to the region.’

    Access the full article for free here:…/10.1080/01436597.2017.1368013

    Comments and feedback welcome.

    In solidarity,

    Dr Leon Sealey-Huggins
    Global Sustainable Development
    University of Warwick

    ‘1.5°C to stay alive’: climate change, imperialism and justice for the Caribbean

    (2017). ‘1.5°C to stay alive’: climate change,…

  13. September 11, 2017 1:45 pm

    Irma is no more; it’s not even a hurricane. It made landfall briefly as Cat 4 in the Keys, quickly weakened to Cat 3 prior to making landfall in Florida proper and then faded rapidly as it made its way north. Better news for Florida; bad news for the opportunist climate activists cynically hoping to make the argument for Trump to rejoin Paris by exploiting an ‘unprecedented’ environmental disaster. ‘Twas not to be. At landfall, Irma the climate changed hurricane was cunningly disguised as a naturally occurring storm, not even a particularly remarkable one at that. Still, they will point to the impressive stats Irma achieved in the open ocean and say it was molecules in the atmosphere which did it, but apparently, we must also assume that the CO2 spell wore off very quickly when the storm made landfall in the US.

  14. G stuart permalink
    September 12, 2017 4:19 pm

    BBC / Telegraph Axis on climate change alarmism is symptomatic of lazy modern journalism Shameful . If only the great trio of Homewood / Booker / Peiser gwpf got the same coverage we might see some sense creep slowly into the current energy policy madness .


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