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Can extreme weather events be linked to climate change? Yes. Then, can specific events (Sandy, Nemo, the drought throughout Texas and the Midwest, etc.) be linked to the warming planet? Not yet, seemed to be the consensus at the annual AAAS meeting currently underway in Boston.
Four amazing and passionate scientists discussed different aspects of our changing world—wildlife, drought, storms and the tree-ring record—at a press conference titled, “Did Climate Change Cause Superstorm Sandy?”
Remember, these are scientists, not politicians (see more in Andy Revkin’s New York Times blog). They need evidence to see causal effect between one event and another. And for these recent storms and weather patterns, there just isn’t enough evidence. Yet.
But are these researchers glad that these events are focusing Americans’ attention (including the President in his recent State of the Union address) on climate change? Most definitely. Yes.
Here’s what they do know. Climate change is affecting the probability of storms like Sandy and Nemo. There is evidence that in our warming world, severe storms will happen more frequently.
Researchers understand that global warming and other human-related activities are affecting where animals live, move and mate, and when plants bloom.
Scientists also know that temperature increase is one factor in drought. Texas temperatures have risen steeply in just the past 15 years and drought has increased. And now Texans are talking about climate change, said John Nielsen-Gammon of Texas A&M University. The drought alone didn’t alarm them about climate change, but the decreased water supply has made people and politicians alike take notice.
And the speakers are hopeful and passionate that we’ll start doing something about these effects—reducing fuel emissions, restoring habitats, becoming more aware of climate change.
What do you know and feel? Share with us here.
Midwest drought image: cwwycoff1/Wikipedia