|Q: Does the relationship between global warming and hurricanes matter?|
A: I have a paper that's currently under review that looks at future global economic impacts of hurricanes under the assumptions of the most bullish scientists saying there's a hurricane-global warming connection and the most conservative assumptions saying there's very little connection. And from the standpoint of impacts, perhaps counter-intuitively, it really doesn't matter that much. Why is that? It's because the pace of societal growth in coastal locations, the accumulation of wealth, occurs at such a rapid rate that it drowns out any signal of climate change over the long term. Modulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere makes sense for climate change, but it probably doesn't make sense for dealing with future hurricane impacts.
Geographers have been pushing this sort of view of natural hazards for decades, but it hasn't sunk in. It would be interesting to research why, when nature and society clash, we have such an inclination to think the fix lies on the nature side of the equation.