Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Less Particulate Air Pollution Causing More Tropical Storms And Hurricanes: Is EPA Considering The Negative Effects of Storm Related Deaths And Property Damage From Cleaner Air In Its Cost Benefit Studies

From The Washington Post, "An unintended consequence of reduced pollution: More storms" by Cristy Gelling:
The Clean Air Act, which has benefited breathing in many American cities over the past few decades, may have worsened the weather in some places.

New climate simulations suggest that reducing the level of atmospheric aerosol particles produced by human activity might have been the main cause of a recent increase in tropical storm frequency in the North Atlantic.

Aerosol levels have increased since the Industrial Revolution began, but there have been periods when emissions stalled or fell, such as the Great Depression, World War II and after clean air legislation was enacted in Europe and the United States in the 1970s and 1980s.

The climate simulations suggest that these periods of lower emissions eventually increased tropical storm frequency. “It seems the Clean Air Act in particular has led to an increased number of hurricanes over the last decade or so,” says Doug Smith of Met Office Hadley Centre in England, a co-author of the research published last week in the journal Nature Geoscience.
According to the National Hurricane Center (Table 3A, Page 9), the cost of the damage from the ten costliest tropical storms and hurricanes up to 2010 was over a quarter of a trillion dollars on a non-inflation adjusted basis. With the addition of Hurricane Sandy, the damage cost is over a third of a trillion dollars. When EPA does a cost benefit analysis, it also includes a dollar amount for the loss of a human life. Adding a dollar figure for the deaths from hurricanes and tropical storms can easily bring the costs of the costliest tropical storms and hurricanes closer to a half trillion dollars.

Unless EPA adds an amount for the cost of property damage and deaths from the increased likelihood of severe tropical storms and hurricanes from cleaner air, its studies are overstating the benefits of its regulations and rules, especially rules and regulations that target aerosol and particulate producers.

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