Whatever You Do, DO NOT Draw A Connection Between Tornadoes And Climate Change

Today’s article is cross-posted from 350.org. It was published in Monday’s Washington Post and is written by Bill McKibbon, founder of the global climate campaign 350.org, and Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College.

Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Missouri, you should not ask yourself: I wonder if this is somehow related to the huge tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that—together they comprised the most active April for tornadoes in our history. But that doesn’t mean a thing.

It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advised to try and connect them in your mind with, say, the fires now burning across Texas—fires that have burned more of America by this date than any year in our history. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been—the drought is worse than the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if it’s somehow connected.

If you did wonder, you’d have to also wonder about whether this year’s record snowfalls and rainfalls across the Midwest—resulting in record flooding across the Mississippi—could somehow be related. And if you did that, then you might find your thoughts wandering to, oh, global warming. To the fact that climatologists have been predicting for years that as we flood the atmosphere with carbon we will also start both drying and flooding the planet, since warm air holds more water vapor than cold.

It’s far smarter to repeat to yourself, over and over, the comforting mantra that no single weather event can ever be directly tied to climate change. There have been tornadoes before, and floods—that’s the important thing. Just be careful to make sure you don’t let yourself wonder why all these records are happening at once: why we’ve had unprecedented megafloods from Australia to Pakistan in the last year. Why it’s just now that the Arctic has melted for the first time in thousands of years. Focus on the immediate casualties, watch the videotape from the store cameras as the shelves are blown over. Look at the anchorman up to the chest of his waders in the rising river. Click here to read the rest of the article on the Washington Post.


To find out how to help those devastated by the recent tornadoes, go to the Salvation Army or Red Cross websites.


More links:

Floods, Tornadoes, And Climate Change

Joplin Disaster Spurs Media Whirlwind on Link Between Climate Change Extreme Weather and Tornadoes

2 thoughts on “Whatever You Do, DO NOT Draw A Connection Between Tornadoes And Climate Change”

  1. Well, of course all these things can’t be related to climate change, or global warming, take your pick.

    Just ask any oil company executive, or coal fired generating plant manager, or senior level politician, or auto manufacturer or – well, the list goes on, doesn’t it? There’s more than enough climate change deniers to go around.

    Even our benign little part of the world has demonstrated – and continues to do so – that something is definitely amiss with our weather patterns. Here we are at the end of May, and it looks like a nice day – for December.

  2. Did you catch this morning’s “weather weirding” discussion on The Current? It was a good discussion, except they felt they had to include fossil fuel-funded climate scientists John Christy in the discussion for some reason.


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