Year 2, Month 5, Day 8: Don’t Blame Me!

USA Today notes the recent insane tornado season, and makes the connection to climate change, with the necessary caveats. Those damned caveats’ll get you every time.

As with any major weather disaster these days — from floods and hurricanes to wildfires and this week’s tornado outbreak in the South — people ask questions about its relation to the huge elephant that’s lurking in the corner, global climate change.

Two separate studies in 2007 reported that global warming could bring a dramatic increase in the frequency of weather conditions that feed severe thunderstorms and tornadoes by the end of the 21st century.

Sent April 29:

As climatologists remind us, no specific fires, floods, droughts or tornadoes can be unequivocally attributed to the effects of climate change. However, scientists’ reluctance to make unilateral statements does not change an all-important fact: by increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere, we are “loading the dice” in favor of extreme weather. Because the professional punditocracy prefers to remain ignorant about the way probability works, our national discussion has continued to overlook this critical factor. Sure, those storms, tornadoes, droughts and fires may well be triggered by other factors — but do we really want to make them even more likely by continuing to load the atmosphere with carbon dioxide through our profligate consumption of fossil fuels? Just because a particular case of lung cancer wasn’t caused by tobacco doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to smoke five packs a day.

Warren Senders

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