March 2, 2012 on Twister Alley

The Governor of Indiana declared that Mother Nature was responsibile for the Black Friday March 2 tornado disasters that devastated small towns in that State.  A meteorologist said it was plain “bad luck.”  Another called it “natural variability”.

Why is there such reluctance to make an association between extreme weather events and climate change?    Perhaps the authoritative National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is financed by Federal US funds, does not wish to engage in controversy with denialists who control the US Senate. Perhaps because it is hard to spot longer- term trends in extreme weather events.  Perhaps it is the provisional nature of scientific research that seeks certainty.  Like anybody else, scientists want to be sure of their conclusion before asserting any unpleasant facts.

The NOAA Website does not yet make any link between tornadoes and climate change.  Its summary refers to the 2007 report of the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change and the 2008 US Climate Change Synthesis Report, and concludes: “This must be the topic of further research”.  This conclusion is exactly what the US fossil-fuel industry wishes.

That does not mean that the NOAA is not taking practical steps that recognize the increased frequency and severity of tornadoes.  The very day the tornadoes struck the NOAA was wrestling with the problem of making the US “weather ready”.   Its website refers to its severe weather workshop and states:

“The way we communicate about weather hazards has become more important to communities across the country that are increasingly vulnerable to severe weather events. This workshop will address lessons learned from recent severe weather to identify partnerships and progress that will help foster better prepared communities,” said Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist at NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center and co-chair of the 12th annual workshop.”

For Our Grandchildren has previously stressed that the public cannot wait for the last word on the debate.  Steps must be taken now to slow and ultimately reverse the effects of climate change.

The nickname for Sir John A. MacDonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada, was “Old Tomorrow”, a reference to his inclination to put off making tough decisions.  That sobriquet applies to just about every member of the current Canadian Parliament.

When will they realize that the world can’t wait!


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