It is all over Twitter. Salon and Right Wing Watch have stories about David Barton’s claim that legal abortion has triggered climate change and all sorts of other weather problems. Barton’s theometeorological pronouncement came during an appearance on Kenneth Copeland’s television broadcast. You can watch the segment here where he begins talking about abortion and the weather at about 18:55. Watch until the end to get the context.
At that point, Kenneth Copeland says that storms and hurricanes and murders don’t just happen. Barton agrees and adds that since we (meaning the U.S. I suppose) have embraced a wicked policy (legalized abortion), then God will take away his hand of protection. Because of God’s absence, then Barton claims:
Whap! Here comes storms like we’ve never seen before, here comes floods like, and here comes climate stuff that we can’t explain, all the hot times and all the cold times. Too much rain and not enough rain; we’re flooding over here, and we got droughts over here. And you know back in the early America days, when something like that happened, first thing they did was issue a call for a national day of prayer, repentance, humiliation, fasting and prayer. We have screwed up somewhere. We gotta get God’s help to get blessings back on this nation. And today we’re saying ‘oh no, it’s global warming.” No, we opened a door that lost God’s protection over our environment and that’s our choice.
Even if there was some theological merit to this line of thinking, the facts don’t support the link made by Barton and Copeland, as far I can tell. Just looking at hurricanes (this seems fair since Copeland specifically mentioned hurricanes), the worst hurricane in the U.S. was the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. The National Weather Service ranks U.S. hurricanes by number of deaths, cost and intensity. Most of the deadliest hurricanes happened before Roe v. Wade.
In fact, Katrina is the only hurricane after Roe v. Wade in the top ten. I only count seven hurricanes which happened after Roe v. Wade in the top 52. When it comes to cost (see the NWS report for that), the most recent hurricanes top the list because the amount of the losses are not adjusted for inflation. However, in terms of intensity, only two of the top ten storms occurred after Roe v. Wade. In terms of numbers of hurricanes, there has not been an increase in recent years. In fact, the NWS report says: “Table 6, which lists hurricanes by decades since 1851, shows that during the 40-year period 1961-2000 both the number and intensity of landfalling U.S. hurricanes decreased sharply.”
No support for the thesis there.
The murder rate (also mentioned by Copeland) does not support the theory. As I pointed out in an earlier post, violent crime including the murder rate has been falling since the early 1990s. The murder rate now is lower than it was in 1961.
When it comes to floods, prior to the current Colorado floods, the worst flood in history is the 1927 Mississippi River flood, followed by the 1937 Ohio River flood (this flood is famous in my home town of Portsmouth, Ohio since flood walls were built in response). While climate change may indeed bring about long term weather changes, including increased flooding, it does not appear that one can accurately associate meaningful weather disasters with the Roe v. Wade decision.