Apologists for the huge number of declarations issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) typically argue that climate change is the cause of the increase. The problem for these folks is that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just issued its 594-page special report on the topic and concluded in chapter 4 the following findings:
- There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized losses have not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change (page 268).
- The statement about the absence of trends in impacts attributable to natural or anthropogenic climate change holds for tropical and extratropical storms and tornadoes (page 269).
- The absence of an attributable climate change signal in losses also holds true for flood losses (page 269).
In layman’s terms, the IPCC is stating that climate change is likely not the cause of hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.
Another problem with the argument that FEMA’s increase in declarations is due to climate change is the very sudden and dramatic drop in declarations in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the first quarter of 2011. In the first three months of 2012, FEMA issued only 12 declarations. If this slow pace continues, FEMA would close the year with only 48 declarations. As the chart shows, that figure would be the lowest amount since 1997.
The number of declarations during the same time last year was 60, or five times as many.
We applaud the sudden restraint being exercised by FEMA, but we think the reason for the sudden drop is due to the political pressure generated last fall by Representative Eric Cantor (R–VA) and, if we may say, our work in pointing out President Barack Obama’s abuse of FEMA declarations.
This trend is one that we hopes continues.