Democrats blaming climate change for Hurricane Ian at odds with science, experts say

Multiple experts contacted by Fox News Digital argued that there isn't sufficient evidence to suggest climate change caused Hurricane Ian or any individual natural disaster.

The experts' comments come as a series of media outlets, Democrats and progressive commentators continue to blame the hurricane on human-caused global warming. Hurricane Ian slammed into southwest Florida as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday, causing more than a million residents to lose power and prompting stark safety warnings from Florida officials.

"What they're trying to do is politicize the pain and suffering of these people to promote their green agenda," Gregory Wrightstone, the executive director of the climate policy think tank CO2 Coalition, told Fox News Digital in an interview. "Well, their policies and their agenda to promote renewables will do far greater economic destruction to the country and Florida."

Over the last several days, media outlets, including the New York Times, Associated Press, Politico, NPR and Axios, have published news stories reporting that climate change is to blame for Hurricane Ian and the storm's rapid intensification. A Time magazine article said the "science is well known" that climate change created the conditions for Hurricane Ian.

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The city of Naples, Florida, is pictured during Hurricane Ian on Wednesday.

The city of Naples, Florida, is pictured during Hurricane Ian on Wednesday. (City of Naples)

In addition, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., appeared to suggest that Americans need to vote for Democrats to avoid future hurricanes during an interview Tuesday. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., tweeted Thursday that "the rapid storm intensification we're seeing with Hurricane Ian will become more common and more dangerous" as the climate changes.

And a series of progressive commentators and climate activists took to social media to similarly peg the hurricane on global warming.

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"Ian is a climate change hurricane," Pam Keith, a former Democratic Senate candidate and founder of left-wing firm Center for Employment Justice, tweeted Wednesday.

"[Hurricane Ian] is a textbook example of climate change impacting people," Nina Turner, a senior fellow at progressive think tank Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy, added. "Climate change isn’t political, it’s reality."

However, Wrightstone and the other experts contacted by Fox News Digital rejected those arguments, arguing that individual storms cannot be linked to climate change.

"If you read what [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)] says on hurricanes, there's just not enough data," Steve Milloy, a senior legal fellow at the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, told Fox News Digital.

"There's nothing to back up what they're saying is," he continued. "There were about 16 major hurricanes between 1916 and 1965 but only six since 1965. So, clearly major hurricanes happen with lower levels of carbon dioxide. That doesn't add up for them."

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A NOAA study last revised in July concluded that its models and analysis didn't support the notion that greenhouse gas-induced warming leads to large increases in either tropical storm or overall hurricane numbers in the Atlantic. The study, authored by senior NOAA scientist Tom Knutson, added that it was "premature to conclude with high confidence" that human-caused increasing greenhouse gases have had any impact on hurricane activity in the Atlantic.

Jamie Rhome, the acting director of NOAA's National Hurricane Center, echoed the study's findings in an interview with CNN on Tuesday, pushing back against anchor Don Lemon's argument that Hurricane Ian's intensification is tied to climate change. Rhome said he "would caution against" linking any one storm to climate change.

A satellite image of Hurricane Ian approaching the coast of Florida.

A satellite image of Hurricane Ian approaching the coast of Florida. (NOAA via Getty Images)

"Trying to blame global warming for Hurricane Ian not only defies scientific evidence — the clear weight of scientific evidence — but it is a despicable politicization of a real tragedy that requires our attention and focus on the people negatively affected," James Taylor, the president of conservative think tank Heartland Institute, said in an interview with Fox News Digital.

"These types of hurricanes existed before SUVs and coal-fired power plants were invented," Taylor added. "In fact, they were much more frequent and severe before coal power plants and SUVs."

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Wrightstone, who also serves as an expert reviewer for the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), added that the number of hurricanes this year has actually been lower than previous years.

"The IPCC sees no correlation between warming temperatures and more hurricanes," he told Fox News Digital. "And we saw that this year. Up until this hurricane, which is massive, it had been almost historically low numbers of hurricanes."

Thomas Catenacci is a politics writer at Fox News Digital

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