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Global agency sows fear with misinformation

January 22, 2022

By Paul Homewood


From CO2 Coalition:



A recent report by the World Meteorological Organization claims that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of natural disasters over the last 50 years. According to the WMO Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970 – 2019), there were more than 11,000 reported disasters attributed to these hazards globally, with just over 2 million deaths and U.S. $ 3.64 trillion in losses.

The report claims that the number of disasters “has increased by a factor of five” since 1970 and that human additions of carbon dioxide are to blame. Referring to this data, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas stated:

“The number of weather, climate and water extremes are increasing and will become more frequent and severe in many parts of the world as a result of climate change. That means more heatwaves, drought and forest fires such as those we have observed recently in Europe and North America.” He further warned: “The warming of the oceans has affected the frequency and area of existence of the most intense tropical storms.”

The chart used to support their alarming claims of a five-fold increase of disasters is shown below, and taken at face value appears alarming.

Figure 1 – Number of reported disasters

The claims of increasing numbers of these severe weather events should generate alarm if they were correct. Fortunately for the peoples of the world, the facts fly in the face of the reporting. The WMO and its authors chose to misrepresent disaster data as gathered by one of the most reputable agencies in the world, the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) in their EM-DAT database. The WMO based its reporting on the CRED data as shown below and displayed by Our World In Data.

Figure 2 – Global reported disasters by type

The claims of a five-fold increase in the numbers of disasters appears to be supported by a significant increase in calamities from 1970 until 2000 and a decline over the last twenty or so years. Why the change from increasing disasters over the first 30 years of data and a decline thereafter?

It turns out that the period from 1970 to about 2000 are the years in which CRED was building a data collection system that depends heavily on external reporting. Please note that the title of the WMO chart is “Number of reported disasters,” not “number of disasters.”

That the chart was driven by reporting rather than numbers was confirmed by CO2 Coalition Science Research Journalist Kip Hansen when he first questioned the validity of the data after its publication in 2019. At the time, he emailed Regina Below, CRED database manager and documentalist, asking her to confirm that the increase in the early period represented an increase in reporting, rather than an increase in actual natural disasters. Her response via email?

“Thank for your e-mail. You are right, it is an increase in reporting.”

In other words, the CRED system’s counts rose as it received reports from more and more sources over the years. Comparing totals from the 1970s with 21st century data is not only inappropriate, but also a blatant misuse of statistics to bolster a pre-ordained conclusion of increasing destruction.

To restate: The WMO released a “study” claiming climate disasters were increasing based on numbers that the authors knew were misleading at best. The actual numbers of disasters since proper reporting has been in place show a decline in disasters over the last twenty years, exactly opposite the hyperbolic claims of the WMO.

The World Meteorological Organization should immediately retract this flawed study and issue a formal statement publicly correcting the record.

  1. Is it just me? permalink
    January 22, 2022 10:57 am

    All of this relentless media hysteria is being further stoked by the likes of that irritating bell-end Tony Blair constantly banging on about carbon-zero and ground source heat pumps like he was still P.M of Britain – a position he hasn’t occupied since 2007! We need more high-profile, sensible and objective commentary from proper scientific opinion fit for purpose!

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      January 22, 2022 5:07 pm

      Some minor celebs you may be surprised to hear actually talk sense (as I discovered watching GB News):

      Lembit Opik – absolutely against Net Zero, will take on anyone in debating climate change and takes the view that its not a problem. Lembit really surprised me on this, so much I had to go and look it up. He says he has studied climate matters since the late 1980s/early1990s. Must be the ONLY LibDem who thinks its bollocks.

      Liz Kershaw – former Radio 1 breakfast DJ. Absolutely in favour of fracking and ending climate levies on bills

      Meat Loaf – RIP. Didn’t believe in AGW and was not afraid to say so. Gave the Daily Mail an expletive-laden personal view on Saint Greta

  2. Penda100 permalink
    January 22, 2022 11:20 am

    What a boring job the Secretary General of the WMO would have without a Climate Emergency/Crisis/Collapse to go on about. People might not even know he existed.

    • Mack permalink
      January 22, 2022 12:30 pm

      He might better spend his time launching an investigation into the ‘Adjustocene’, the scandal whereby national and international meteorological organisations (including his own) systematically corrupt raw data for activist purposes. He could start with our Aussie friends at the BoM, arguably the world’s worst serial data killers, but he would be spoilt for choice really as they’re all at it.

  3. David permalink
    January 22, 2022 11:29 am

    There also might be an increase in what amount to disasters owing to the increased world population and the resultant increase in activities that might be disrupted. This increase is obviously nothing to do with climate change.

    • Broadlands permalink
      January 22, 2022 5:36 pm

      Global warming inflation?

    • Matt Dalby permalink
      January 22, 2022 10:01 pm

      However the reliable data i.e. from 1998 onwards seems to show a slight decline in the number of disasters. Therefore the slight warming that was seen over the last 20 years actually seems to have been beneficial.

  4. Thomas Carr permalink
    January 22, 2022 11:29 am

    WMO pronouncements serve a useful hook for the insurance industry as a roundabout way to reconcile policy holders to an above average hike in their next renewal premiums. Some actuaries might approve.

  5. Ray Sanders permalink
    January 22, 2022 11:47 am

    Here is a classic example of how reporting changes can mislead and/or be deliberately used to mislead.
    A 2000 report into Greek forest fires was produced in the days before every report was almost legally obliged to blame everything on climate change.
    It states
    “After 1997 the number of fires, as shown in Table 1, nearly tripled. This is because the Fire Service, which became responsible for forest fires in 1998, records every call that they respond to, while the policy of the Forest Service until 1997 was to only record those fires on which they had to take action because they were spreading toward or burning on forest lands.”
    Obviously this must be wrong! If the number of “reported” fires tripled it simply must be due to

  6. January 22, 2022 11:52 am

    Even if the WMO did retract, the MSM wouldn’t.

  7. cookers52 permalink
    January 22, 2022 12:10 pm

    But net zero policies make us more vulnerable to extreme weather events.

    • January 23, 2022 7:58 am

      Ahaaaaa! Someone else has heard of the law of unintended consequences ( or are they intended)?

  8. January 22, 2022 12:46 pm

    The more surprising element of this is that the WMO would risk damage to its own reputation from publishing a story that is so clearly false. It is almost trivial to show that the claim is not sustained by the data – I find it hard to understand that the folk in the WMO would not be aware of this.

    Or perhaps it is a sign of the growing Climate Delusion that is enveloping so much of the developed world.

    • jimlemaistre permalink
      January 22, 2022 3:24 pm

      The WMO . . . CO-Founded The IPCC . . . Not surprising AT ALL …!

    • T Walker permalink
      January 23, 2022 12:13 am

      Their not stupid Mike. They just believe we are.

  9. Gamecock permalink
    January 22, 2022 12:51 pm

    By Figure 1, there is nearly a disaster EVERY DAY! How cause we aren’t hearing about them?

    And, by the way, which ones were caused by Climate Change™? Correlation is not causation.

    We have more disasters (undefined), sourced by self-reporting (unverified), caused by climate change (undefined). Scary!

  10. ThinkingScientist permalink
    January 22, 2022 2:33 pm

    I made a complaint to the BBC about this November last year, first answer was garbage and weaseled out by saying they did address my complaint (in the small print of the article, effectively). So I escalated the complaint and pointed out that the headline repeated the WMO lie “Climate Change: Big increase in weather disasters over the past five decades” and that weaseling in the small print didn’t cut it.

    The second response just proved to me that either the BBC just don’t get it or they are doing it deliberately. I always subscribe to Hanlon’s Razor, so the explanation is the BBC is just too stupid to comprehend (a) an increase is not an increase if the method of sampling is causing it and (b) there is such a thing as investigative journalism where a reporter does not just regurgitate a press release but actually investigates the validity of the claim and possible motive for misrepresenting the data.

    BBC reporters are just so thick and badly educated they don’t get it. Its not malice, its stupidity.

    • Gamecock permalink
      January 23, 2022 2:35 pm

      Consider Peterson’s Dictum:

      “If you can’t figure out what someone is doing, or why, look at the outcome. And infer the motivation. If it produces mayhem, perhaps it was aiming at mayhem.”

      Perhaps the BBC isn’t stupid at all, and is intentionally trying to destroy Western Civilization.

  11. Captain Flint permalink
    January 22, 2022 2:43 pm

    Is this frighteningly incompetent or frighteningly dishonest?…and where are the journalists keeping governments and their agencies honest?

    Thanks Paul. The subscribers here should be lobbying for a knighthood for you!

    Can I refer everyone here to this post:-

    I think this puts into perspective why the climate lobby has the power and influence it does. I am not in any way anti-business but I detest the lies and deception that are enabling the climate crusade.

  12. jimlemaistre permalink
    January 22, 2022 3:36 pm

    1998 was a Really bad year in the history books of ‘Climate Change’. A lot happened that year . . . Ocean temperatures rose dramatically in areas of the Pacific causing much distress for ocean life. That carried on for years afterwards. Thank goodness they have calmed down.

    The source for all that Change has finally been Identified . . . Not Humans . . . Volcanoes under the Pacific Ocean along Active Zones of the Mid Ocean Ridge . . .

    Again . . . Nature Rules . . . Humans are just here for the ride . . .

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