Have deaths from hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, heat waves, or cold spells generally increased in the U.S. over the past half century?
Contrary to repeated predictions that climate change would increase weather-related fatalities, datasets from the U.S. National Weather Service that extend back for three to seven decades don’t show rising death trends from hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, heat waves, or cold spells. This has occurred in spite of population increases in areas that are prone to extreme weather. Despite the failure of those predictions, politicians, journalists, and activists often use local anecdotes to argue that climate change is causing deadly weather. Such rhetoric exploits: (1) the geographic fact that the entire U.S. contains only 1.9% of the world’s surface area, (2) the statistical fact that anecdotes can be highly deceitful, and (3) the psychological fact that people are easily misled by anecdotes because it’s easier to grasp stories than data.