Environment

Romm: Global Warming is the Only Correct Answer

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorJul 12, 2011 7:19 PM

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Just for kicks, here's my revisions to the opening paragraph in this Climate Progress post:

Another week, another New York Times articleJoe Romm post on extreme weather that fails to stretches climate science to simplistically connect the dots to global warming for the public. The NYTRomm blew the Arizona wildfire story. TheyHe blew theDust Bowl story.

And now, "one of the most influential global-warming blogs on the Internet" (according to Time magazine) has blown the Southwestern drought story. As Romm has so often reminded us, the media is remiss when it doesn't connect disasters such as Australian wildfires and Russian heat waves to global warming. (The same goes for Arab revolts.) So, predictably perturbed at this NYT story, Romm titles his post:

NY Times Asks Why "Horrible" U.S. Drought "Has Come on Extra Hot and extra Early." Their Answer is...La Nina, Of Course!"

Well, actually, that's what NOAA's David Miskus says in the NYT story:

A strong La Niña shut off the southern pipeline of moisture.

And, as I pointed out yesterday, that's also what Climate Central's Andrew Freedman reported in his WaPo's Capital Weather Gang blog:

The drought was caused in part by La Nina conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which altered the main storm track across North America, helping to steer storms across the northern tier, leaving southern areas desperate for rain. Although La Nina has waned, there are increasing signs that it may redevelop this fall or winter, according to the latest outlook from the Climate Prediction Center.

But if you absolutely, positively must mention global warming when discussing the Southwestern drought, Freedman shows us how to do it in a responsible fashion, in his next passage (my emphasis):

However, La Nina wasn't the only force behind the drought, says [Marty] Hoerling, who leads a group of climate change attribution sleuths at NOAA. For now, though, the co-conspirators remain unknown. Although climate science research shows that droughts are likely to become more intense and more frequent in a warming world, particularly in the Southwestern US, observational evidence does not yet show clear trends in drought conditions in the U.S. to date. Hoerling says his quick analysis led him to conclude that climate change has not played a major role in this event. "This is not a climate change drought by all indications," he said, adding that this view does not in any way refute the fact that global warming is occurring, either.

Joe Romm, for all his blustery criticism of journalism, could take some pointers from an actual climate journalist like Freedman.

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