Media Re-actions to Extreme Weather

December 2015 was the hottest in the UK since temperature records began.  And it deserved that record by a wide margin:  the December average temperature for England was more than double the long-term average and more than 2 degrees warmer than the previous high set in 1934.

UK scientists don’t have to draw graphs, analyse years of experience or circulate learned studies to relate these phenomena to climate change.  They tell it like it is.  Professor Myles Allen of the University of Oxford observed:

 “Normal weather, unchanged over generations, is a thing of the past. You are not meant to beat records by those margins and if you do so, just like in athletics, it is a sign something has changed.”

Allen noted that it had been predicted as far back as 1990 that global warming would mean warmer, wetter winters for the UK, with more intense rainstorms.

“Temperature and rainfall records will inevitably tumble as climate change intensifies,” said Prof David Reay, at the University of Edinburgh.

The flooding caused by Storm Desmond, centred on Cumbria in the North of England, is estimated to have been made 40% more likely by climate change.

The Government of David Cameron unequivocally attributes these weather events to climate change.  The British public agrees with Cameron but doesn’t let his Government get off easily.  They have to answer tough questions like:

“Why weren’t you better prepared for the consequences of climate change?”

Or: “Why did you cut the monies for flood defences in 2011 – 2012?”

The Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization linked El Nino and climate change, saying:

“So this naturally occurring El Nino event and human-induced climate change may interact and modify each other in ways which we have never before experienced.”

Go across the Atlantic to the US Midwest that has seen devastating tornadoes and record flooding.  The US media explanation for these extreme weather events frequently has the words “El Nino” in the headline or in the first paragraph of the commentary.

USA Today wrote a full page on the rain, snow and tornadoes that hit Texas and adjoining states without mentioning climate change. NBC weather news referred to a Godzilla El Nino, which out-devastated the two previous record El Nino years, 1997 and 1982.

Wired Magazine had a contrarian headline: Don’t Blame all those Rains and Floods on El Nino. Wired referred to hotter than average temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, the source of the El Nino weather systems. But the actual weather could only be explained by natural variability:  With all the advances in science of climatology and meteorology we just don’t know what weather we will experience.

Source for UK information:  Manchester Guardian


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