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Flogging the Climate Dog

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorApril 30, 2011 4:19 PM


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At first I dismissed this crude post from Brad Johnson at Think Progress on Thursday as just another unfortunate example of an overexcited climate blogger looking to score some cheap political points. Then, on the same day, I read this from scientist Peter Gleick at the Huffington Post:

Violent tornadoes throughout the southeastern U.S. must be a front-page reminder that no matter how successful climate deniers are in confusing the public or delaying action on climate change in Congress or globally, the science is clear: Our climate is worsening.

Roger Pielke, Jr. deconstructs the Gleick article here. Then, yesterday, Johnson followed up with another post that includes this:

In an email interview with ThinkProgress, Dr. Kevin Trenberth, one of the world's top climate scientists, who has been exploring for years how greenhouse pollution influences extreme weather, said he believes that it is "irresponsible not to mention climate change" in the context of these extreme tornadoes.

There are are also quotes from Michael Mann (who says that "climate change is present in every meteorological event") and Gavin Schmidt, the latter who Johnson describes as concurring with Trenberth and Mann, which I'm not seeing, based on Schmidt's quote. (Gavin, if you're reading this, feel free to correct me or clarify.) Over at Climate Central, Andrew Freedman injects some much needed sanity into the discussion:

Those of us who write about climate change are often accused of attempting to link every unusual weather event to climate change, as if increasing air and ocean temperatures can explain everything from hurricanes to snowstorms. In this case, with the worst tornado outbreak since at least the 1974 "Super Outbreak", and with the most tornadoes for any April since records began in the early 1950s, it's important to understand that the scientific evidence indicates that climate change probably played a very small role, if any, in stirring up this violent weather. This might disappoint some advocates who are already using this to highlight the risks of climate change-related extreme weather.

It might, but that won't stop them from flogging this climate dog.

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