Over at Capital Weather Gang, the always-perceptive Jason Samenow details a recent Twitterspat between Dot Earth’s (aka The New York Times’) Andrew Revkin and Penn State’s Michael Mann over attributing extreme weather events to anthropogenic climate change—tornadoes, in particular.
Revkin tweeted to ask whether the folks who were alluding to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions being behind the major (and deadly) tornado outbreak during the spring of 2011 were willing to attribute the record lack of tornado occurrences during the past 12 months to the same cause.
Revkin could have very well asked this same question about all kinds of bad weather—blizzards, hurricanes, droughts, floods, record heat, record cold, summer in Washington, winter in Chicago, etc.
Used to be, when the weather was bad, folks would logically cite Mark Twain’s “if you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.” Now, someone will show up on TV who is quick to point out that this sort of thing “is consistent with” expectations of global warming. These same folks tend nap when the weather is hunky-dory, and to go into hibernation when the extreme weather category of their previous pronouncement has a hiatus.
Since the bang-up year of 2011, the number of tornadoes has dropped off the table, with the last 12 months showing the fewest since systematic observations began in the 1950s.
And like tornados, major hurricane strikes have also become scarce, in fact, they are so in remission that someone might soon announce they have been cured. It has currently been more than 7 years since a Category 3 made landfall in the U.S., the longest time in more than 100 years—and all this when overall hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin has been elevated. Maybe there is something to research that finds that while anthropogenic climate change may increase the frequency of major hurricanes in the Atlantic, it changes the circulation patterns such that they are more likely to remain offshore (see page 30-32 of our comments on the draft National Assessment Report)
But we digress…
Apparently the folks who rally around the anthropogenic climate change/extreme weather linkage don’t like being awoken when all is calm.