A pet peeve of mine–the only one, really, since I’m so accepting of other’s thoughts and behaviors–is blaming every extreme weather incident on global warming and related climate change. I understand global warming enough to be confident of three things:
- It exists
- Mankind exacerbates it
- Its effects are complicated, nuanced, and not always obvious
So I appreciated the Times’ response to this question:
Q: Can the intensity of this year’s tornadoes be blamed on climate change?
A: Probably not. Over all, the number of violent tornadoes has been declining in the United States, even as temperatures have increased, making it likely that this year’s twister outbreak is simply a remarkable and terrifying — but natural — event. Climate science has long predicted that global warming will cause more weather extremes, however, and statistics suggest that this has started to happen . . . That said, scientists are reluctant to attribute any specific weather event to global warming. And, at least so far, only a handful of studies have suggested that tornadoes are likely to become more frequent or more intense on a warming planet. Frustratingly, it is likely to be a year or two before we get good published analyses of the causes for this season’s strange weather — and it may be decades before science can conclusively demonstrate whether or not human-driven warming is affecting tornado frequency.
This is part of a continuing series titled “It’s a Handy Explanation, But It’s Wrong.”