Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Sad Case of Opportunism

Anyone who watched television and saw the devastation in Oklahoma this past week-end cannot help but be moved, especially by the sad loss of children. For a region used to such extreme weather events over its history, it is still a shock each time it occurs.

Sadly, however, this tragic event has created a storm of ideologically driven statements about how the underlying cause of the devastation is climate change - something that couldn't be further from the truth.

All of those who have spent their careers studying extreme weather events agree with the IPCC assessment that there is not an established link between climate, CO2 and the frequency and severity of tornadoes. Anyone who says that there is such a link has not ready the science, seen the systematic reviews of the literature or understands the dynamics of climate.

Yet we have Senator Boxer declaring that "this is climate change" and that "CO2 could cost us the planet". She goes on to say "the scientists all agreed that what we’d start to see was extreme weather" - which is not true. The IPCC systematic review of this issue suggests something quite different. The IPCC SREX report concluded that there is no evidence that warming is increasing extreme weather, droughts, floods, hurricanes, etc. and no evidence of a human fingerprint on such extremes. In fact, the data shows such extremes have decreased over time, even though CO2 has been rising.

So, expect more of this. Rather than focusing on questions like "why wasnt there a shelter in the elementary school?" we will, if we are not careful, be distracted by spurious claims about science and climate which cannot be supported by evidence.

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