Last May Forourgrandchildren commented on the tragedy of Joplin, Missouri, a town that was wiped out – flattened! – by a severe tornado. The videos of the residents surveying the destruction were heart-wrenching: the speakers were in shock as they recognized they had lost everything!
Nobody wishes to exploit a tragedy this severe. But we could not help but think:
It is upsetting that general public recognition of climate change will be assisted by more events like the devastation of Joplin.
We have stated several times what we believe is the connection between these severe weather events and climate change.
Many events are linked to climate change by virtue of fitting a long-term trend. For example, the record-breaking “once in one thousand years” rains that drove the recent Nashville flood is part of the long-term trend of increasing heavy precipitation events in the Southeastern United States that has been fully documented and firmly attributed to climate change. While one cannot say with certainly that event was “caused” by climate change, one can and should say it is linked to climate change.
Judging by how 2012 has started off, the same comment applies to tornadoes.
Based on historical patterns, April through June is tornado season across most of the United States. And yet – when spring is not even on the horizon – several US states have been hit by tornadoes. On Wednesday, January 18, a “winter”tornado hit Louisville, Kentucky. One resident commented to a reporter: ““In January to have a tornado is rather unusual, but our weather is like that all the time now.”
On Monday, January 23, Alabama was hit by tornadoes. Alabama’s governor declared a state of emergency for the entire state. Ironically state officials had to reschedule a meeting to receive a report on their response to the spring twisters.
The US National Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration described the January outbreak as the most prolific ever. Faced with such realities, how much longer will denialists be able to influence public opinion in the United States?