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Climate Hustle

Explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation

Scientific skepticism is healthy. Scientists should always challenge themselves to improve their understanding. Yet this isn't what happens with climate change denial. Skeptics vigorously criticise any evidence that supports man-made global warming and yet embrace any argument, op-ed, blog or study that purports to refute global warming. This website gets skeptical about global warming skepticism. Do their arguments have any scientific basis? What does the peer reviewed scientific literature say?


New research, January 8-14, 2018

Posted on 19 January 2018 by Ari Jokimäki

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.

The Figure is from paper #30.

Climate change impacts

Impacts to mankind

1. Structural property losses from tornadoes in Florida

2. Evaluating Efficacy of Landsat-Derived Environmental Covariates for Predicting Malaria Distribution in Rural Villages of Vhembe District, South Africa

"The study has shown that suitable habitats of malaria vectors are generally found within a radius of 10 km in semi-arid environments, and this insight can be useful to aid efforts aimed at putting in place evidence-based preventative measures against malaria infections. Furthermore, this result is important in understanding malaria dynamics under the current climate and environmental changes. The study has also demonstrated the use of Landsat data and the ability to extract environmental conditions which favour the distribution of malaria vector (An. arabiensis) such as the canopy moisture content in vegetation, which serves as a surrogate for rainfall."



A ‘new’ measurement of climate sensitivity?

Posted on 18 January 2018 by MarkR

This was first posted on and Then There's Physics by SkS contributor Mark Richardson, who is currently a Caltech Postdoctoral Scholar at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Mark has a particular interest in the role of clouds in climate change. This post is a response to a suggestion that it is possible to more tightly constrain Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS). This article is all personal opinion and does not represent NASA, JPL or Caltech in any way.

The oceans are massive and their deeper layers haven’t caught up with today’s fast global warming. Unfortunately we don’t know exactly how far behind they are so it’s hard to pin down “equilibrium climate sensitivity” (ECS), or the eventual warming after CO2 in the air is doubled.

Blogger Clive Best proposes that data support an ECS range of 2–3°C, with a best estimate of 2.5°C. The 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) consensus range was 1.5–4.5°C with a best estimate of 3°C. He asks “why is there still so much IPCC uncertainty?” Here we’ll see that part of the reason relates to the oceans, and that surprisingly Best’s results actually agree with IPCC climate models.

Clive Best mixes temperature data with a record of heating due to changes in gases in the air, solar activity, volcanic eruptions, air pollution and so on. Apparently without realising it, he accurately reproduced a textbook calculation including a reasonable way to try and account for the oceans lagging behind surface warming. This is a good start!

This calculation is often called a “one-box energy balance model” but by 2010 it was known to have issues with calculating ECS. Clive Best misses some of these because he uses a 1983 climate model to estimate that the oceans lag about 12 years behind the surface, which combined with the HadCRUT4 data gives an ECS of about 2.5°C.

But in a like-with-like comparison HadCRUT4 warms about as much as the IPCC climate model average since 1861. Given this agreement, anything that uses HadCRUT4 and gets a lower ECS than the model average 3.2°C has some explaining to do!

Fig 1

Figure 1: Temperature change over 150 years in abrupt 4xCO2 simulations of four climate models. Black lines are a one-box fit with ECS and response time (τ) allowed to vary. Legend lists model name, true ECS and fit parameters.



Scott Pruitt insincerely asked what's Earth's ideal temperature. Scientists answer

Posted on 17 January 2018 by dana1981

In an interview with Reuters last week, Trump’s EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said,

The climate is changing. That’s not the debate. The debate is how do we know what the ideal surface temperature is in 2100?

Pruitt’s goal is to sow doubt on behalf of his oil industry allies in order to weaken and delay climate policies. Shifting the ‘debate’ toward ‘the ideal surface temperature’ achieves that goal by creating the perception that we don’t know what temperature we should aim for. It’s in line with his boss’ recent ignorant tweet suggesting that “Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming.”

I spoke with a number of climate scientists who agreed that to minimize the risks associated with rapid human-caused climate change, from a practical standpoint the ‘ideal temperature’ is as close to the current one as possible.

Temperature isn’t the issue - temperature change is

Stefan Rahmstorf, Head of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research pointed out that we’re not concerned about specific temperatures; it’s rapid temperature changes that cause problems:

Pruitt of course is trying to have a strawman debate, distracting from the fact that not a certain temperature as such is better or worse, but that a change from what we are adapted to is a problem, especially a very rapid change - in either direction, cooling or warming, this causes big disruption.

We should not stray too far away from what we and the currently existing ecosystems have evolved for. That is the optimum, simply because it is what we’re highly adapted to, and any major change is going to be very painful.

Civilization developed in a stable climate

Texas Tech’s Katharine Hayhoe agreed, noting that human civilization has developed in the relatively stable climate of the past 10,000 years.



Flaws of Lüdecke & Weiss

Posted on 16 January 2018 by Ari Jokimäki

Once again a paper that looks at solar-climate connection turns out to be deeply flawed. It contains bad methodology, bad result handling, bad conclusions, and a biased reference list.

Data handling process of Lüdecke & Weiss (2017).

A few months ago, a new paper was published by Lüdecke and Weiss (LW17). Both Lüdecke and Weiss are known climate change contrarians. Serious problems have been reported from their previous work, which used some of the same methods that were used in this new one. The new paper has been published by Bentham Open, which has somewhat questionable reputation.

Climate change contrarians are liking this of course and recently I also encountered the paper when it was shown to me as a proof for something. I decided to take a more thorough look at the paper.



Study finds that global warming exacerbates refugee crises

Posted on 15 January 2018 by John Abraham

The refugee crisis – particularly in the Mediterranean area – has received large amounts of new attention in the past few years, with people fleeing from Syria and entering the European Union emblematic of the problem. There has been some research connecting this refugee problem with changes to the climate. In particular, the years preceding the Syrian refugee crisis were characterized by a severe drought that reduced farm output and led to economic and social strife there.

Separating out the influences of climate change from general social instability may be impossible, because they are intimately linked. But we do know that climate change can cause social and economic instability. We also know that these instabilities can boil over into larger problems that lead to mass exodus. The problem isn’t knowing the connection between climate and refugees exists – rather the problem is quantifying it. 

All of this is important because we want to be able to plan for the “now” as well as the “tomorrow.” If we are already seeing climate-related migrations, can you imagine what’s in store in the next few decades as temperatures and extreme weather continue to increase?

A very recent publication appearing in the journal Science investigates this complex subject. The paper, Asylum Applications Respond to Temperature Fluctuations, was published by Anouch Missirian and Wolfram Schlenker from Columbia University. It focused not just on Syria and the Mediterranean area, but expanded their study to be worldwide.

The researchers identified 103 countries that contributed to asylum applications to the European Union. Collectively, these nations submitted 350,000 applications to the EU per year. The authors combed the weather histories from these 103 source sites and explored how the weather varied in the 2000–2014 time period. 



2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #2

Posted on 14 January 2018 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Opinion of the Week... El Niño/La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Graphic of the Week... SkS Spotlights... Video of the Week... Report of Note... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

Story of the Week...

 Exxon Ramps Up Free Speech Argument in Fighting Climate Fraud Investigations

The oil giant wants a court to block state investigations into whether it misled investors on climate change, while it continues to promote a degree of uncertainty.

 ExxonMobile Refinery

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced in 2015 that his office was investigating whether Exxon misled investors about climate change-related risks. Credit: Joel Sagget/Getty Images 

ExxonMobil turned the volume back up this week in its ongoing fight to block two states' investigations into what it told investors about climate change risk, asserting once again that its First Amendment rights are being violated by politically motivated efforts to muzzle it.

In a 45-page document filed in federal court in New York, the oil giant continued to denounce New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey for what it called illegal investigations.

"Attorneys General, acting individually and as members of an unlawful conspiracy, determined that certain speech about climate change presented a barrier to their policy objectives, identified ExxonMobil as one source of that speech, launched investigations based on the thinnest of pretexts to impose costs and burdens on ExxonMobil for having spoken, and hoped their official actions would shift public discourse about climate policy," Exxon's lawyers wrote.

Healey and Schneiderman are challenging Exxon's demand for a halt to their investigations into how much of what Exxon knew about climate change was disclosed to shareholders and consumers.

The two attorneys general have consistently maintained they are not trying to impose their will on Exxon in regard to climate change, but rather are exercising their power to protect their constituents from fraud. They have until Jan. 19 to respond to Exxon's latest filing.

Exxon Ramps Up Free Speech Argument in Fighting Climate Fraud Investigations by David Hasmyer, InsideClimate News, Jan 13, 2018 



2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #2

Posted on 13 January 2018 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week. 

Editor's Pick

Climate change is triggering a migrant crisis in Vietnam 

Rice Harvesting in Viet Nam

Harvesting rice. Phuong D. Nguyen /

The Vietnamese Mekong Delta is one of Earth’s most agriculturally productive regions and is of global importance for its exports of rice, shrimp, and fruit. The 18m inhabitants of this low-lying river delta are also some of the world’s most vulnerable to climate change. Over the last ten years around 1.7m people have migrated out of its vast expanse of fields, rivers and canals while only 700,000 have arrived.

On a global level migration to urban areas remains as high as ever: one person in every 200moves from rural areas to the city every year. Against this backdrop it is difficult to attribute migration to individual causes, not least because it can be challenging to find people who have left a region in order to ask why they went and because every local context is unique. But the high net rate of migration away from Mekong Delta provinces is more than double the national average, and even higher in its most climate-vulnerable areas. This implies that there is something else – probably climate-related – going on here.

Climate change is triggering a migrant crisis in Vietnam by Alex Chapman & Van Pham Dang Tri, The Conversation UK, Jan 9, 2018 



New research, January 1-7, 2018

Posted on 12 January 2018 by Ari Jokimäki

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.

The figure is from paper #20.

Climate change

1. Climate Change on Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves: Results From a Regional Downscaled Ocean and Sea-Ice Model Under an A1B Forcing Scenario 2011–2069

"Over the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves during the projection period, the model shows general trends of warming, freshening, and decreasing ice. From 2011 to 2069, the model projects that under A1B sea surface temperature will increase by 1.4°C; bottom temperature will increase by 1.6°C; sea surface salinity will decrease by 0.7; bottom salinity will decrease by 0.3; and sea-ice extent will decrease by 70%. The sea level will rise by 0.11 m at the St. John's tide-gauge station because of oceanographic change, and the freshwater transport of the Labrador Current will double as a result of freshening."

2. Quantifying the effects of historical land cover conversion uncertainty on global carbon and climate estimates

Temperature and precipitation

3. A Comparative Study of Atmospheric Moisture Recycling Rate Between Observations and Models

4. Long-term rainfall regression surfaces for the Kruger National Park, South Africa: a spatio-temporal review of patterns from 1981 to 2015

5. The land and its climate knows no transition, no middle ground, everywhere too much or too little: a documentary-based climate chronology for central Namibia, 1845–1900

Extreme events



With science under siege in 2017, scientists regrouped and fought back: 5 essential reads

Posted on 11 January 2018 by Guest Author

by Maggie Villiger, Science + Technology Editor, The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

2017 may well be remembered as the year of alternative facts and fake news. Truth took a hit, and experts seemed to lose the public’s trust. Scientists felt under siege as the Trump administration purged information from government websites, appointed inexperienced or adversarial individuals to science-related posts and left important advisory positions empty. Researchers braced for cuts to federally funded science.

So where did that leave science and its supporters? Here we spotlight five stories from our archive that show how scholars took stock of where scientists stand in this new climate and various ways to consider the value their research holds for society.

1. A risk to standing up for science

In April, the March for Science mobilized more than a million protesters worldwide to push back against what they saw as attacks on science and evidence-based policy. But some people in the research community worried about a downside to scientists being perceived as advocates.

Emily Vraga, assistant professor in political communication at George Mason University, put the conundrum this way:

“On one hand, scientists have relevant expertise to contribute to conversations about public policy…. On the other hand, scientists who advocate may risk losing the trust of the public.”

Maintaining that trust is imperative for scientists, both to be able to communicate public risks appropriately and to preserve public funding for research, she wrote.

Vraga and her colleagues’ research suggests that scientists don’t lose credibility when they advocate for policies based on their expertise. But there’s a distinction to be made between advocacy and mere partisanship – statements motivated by the science are received differently than if they’re perceived as driven by political beliefs.



The Key To Slowing Global Warming

Posted on 10 January 2018 by Riduna

We all know that global warming is causing climate change characterised by increasingly severe weather events which damage property, destroy food crops and is likely to have catastrophic effects with multi metre sea level rise later this century. Strong winds and floods, forest fires and droughts are more common and cause damage which, each year, is more expensive to repair and may eventually be beyond repair.

We also know that the prime cause of global warming is human activity involving the burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – to meet our energy needs for transport propulsion and electricity generation. At the same time, we are actively engaged in destruction of carbon sinks – forests and woodlands, warming oceans - in order to meet the needs of a burgeoning population, while also increasing the number of methane producing animals and crops such as cattle, chickens and rice.

Most of us realise that if we are to avoid catastrophic events in the future – or indeed survive as a species on this planet – we must, at the very least, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What has to be done?  It’s simple. Reduce and eventually stop burning fossil fuels, the major source of greenhouse gasses, and do so as rapidly as possible. We recognize the need to plant trees to replace those cut down and to modify our diet by replacing meat with other similar tasting nutritious products enabling reduction of animal herds and their emissions. Yet action taken globally is just the opposite of these measures.

There are two approaches to curbing use of fossil fuels: (a) make them more expensive by imposing a carbon tax on them and (b) provide an alternative renewable energy source which is cheaper, cleaner and more readily available.



The 'imminent mini ice age' myth is back, and it's still wrong

Posted on 9 January 2018 by dana1981

This post has been incorporated into the rebuttal to the myth A grand solar minimum could trigger another ice age

Roughly every two years we’re treated to headlines repeating the myth that Earth is headed for an imminent “mini ice age.” It happened in 20132015, and again just recently at the tail end of 2017.

This time around, the myth appears to have been sparked by a Sky News interview with Northumbria University mathematics professor Valentina Zharkova. The story was quickly echoed by the Daily MailInternational Business TimesSputnik NewsMetroTru News, and others. Zharkova was also behind the ‘mini ice age’ stories in 2015, based on her research predicting that the sun will soon enter a quiet phase.

The most important takeaway point is that the scientific research is clear – were one to occur, a grand solar minimum would temporarily reduce global temperatures by less than 0.3°C, while humans are already causing 0.2°C warming per decade

solar minimum temp

The global mean temperature difference is shown for the time period 1900 to 2100 for the IPCC A2 emissions scenario. The red line shows predicted temperature change for the current level of solar activity, the blue line shows predicted temperature change for solar activity at the much lower level of the Maunder Minimum, and the black line shows observed temperatures through 2010. Illustration: Adapted from Feulner & Rahmstorf (2010) in Geophysical Research Letters by

So the sun could only offset at most 15 years’ worth of human-caused global warming, and once its quiet phase ended, the sun would then help accelerate global warming once again.



Evaluating biases in Sea Surface Temperature records using coastal weather stations

Posted on 8 January 2018 by Kevin C

Science is hard. Some easy problems you can solve by hard work, if you are in the right place at the right time and have the right skills. Hard problems take the combined effort of multiple groups looking at the problem, publishing results and finding fault with eachother's work, until hopefully no-one can find any more problems. When problems are hard, you may have to publish something that even you don't think is right, but that might advance the discussion.

The calculation of an unbiased sea surface temperature record is a hard problem. Historical sea surface temperature observations come from a variety of sources, with early records being measured using wooden, canvas or rubber buckets (figure 1), later readings being taken from engine room intakes or hull sensors, and the most recent data coming from drifting buoys and from satellites.

Figure 1: Three types of buckets used in early sea surface temperature observations. From Folland (1995).

These different measurement methods give slightly different readings, with the transition from bucket to engine room observations during the second world war being particularly large: this represents the single largest correction to the historical temperature record, and reduces the estimated warming since the mid 19th century by 0.2-0.3 C compared to the uncorrected data (figure 2).

Figure 2: Difference between the historical temperature record using only raw observations, and using observations corrected for the effects of different measurement methods. The corrected data show less warming on a centenial timescale. From Zeke Hausfather.



2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #1

Posted on 7 January 2018 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... El Niño/La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... SkS Spotlights... Video of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

Story of the Week...

Empowering Women Could Reduce Climate Change

Empowerting Women Article_Vice Impact 


Didja Djibrillah sits alone in a booth at COP23, the annual Conference of the Parties (COP23), a yearly meeting for member states of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to address global progress in fighting climate change. A video plays, to an empty room, about the effects of climate change on her nomadic community. “Each day begins at 5 am to grind couscous in 50-degree [Celsius] heat,” she explains to VICE Impact. There are no grocery stores, and it’s the women’s role to search for food and water. Climate change makes their journeys longer.

The United Nations’ new  Gender Action Plan (GAP), finalized by UNFCCC member states at COP23, aims to recognize the adverse effects of climate change on women, like Didja. It also recognizes they’re key to their communities’ long-and-short-term survival, and aims to ensure disenfranchised women can help spearhead solutions - both at global policy making and local grassroots levels. Based on current trends, women won’t have equal representation in government until 2134. In the UNFCCC, comprised of 197 different nations, gender equality will not be reached until 2040 - and that number is declining

Yannick Glemarec, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director for Policy and Programme for UN Women, tells VICE Impact, “What is becoming extremely powerful is the recognition that women are not only a vulnerable group, but they’re also agents of change. We have basically one of the most powerful solutions to address climate change at scale.”

Empowering Women Could Reduce Climate Change by Jessica Williamson, Vice Impact, Jan 4, 2018



2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #1

Posted on 6 January 2018 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week. 

Editor's Pick

Show this cartoon to anyone who doubts we need huge action on climate change

Climate Cartoon Article Vox 

This story focuses on a scenario from climate scientist Joeri Rogelj, which would give us a 66 percent chance at limiting warming to 2 degrees, which would requires no emissions by 2065, followed by negative emissions. But a previous version of this story said we would need to reach no emissions by 2050, which is part of a scenario in which we give ourselves a 50 percent chance at staying under 1.5 degrees warming — a far less realistic goal.

Show this cartoon to anyone who doubts we need huge action on climate change by Alvin Chang and David Roberts, Energy & Environment, Vox, Jan 5, 2018 



New research, December 25-31, 2017

Posted on 5 January 2018 by Ari Jokimäki

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.

Climate change mitigation

1. Renewable technologies in Karnataka, India: jobs potential and co-benefits

"We show that enhancing green economy offers benefits that include the creation of jobs, but also delivers a much wider set of socio-economic and environmental welfare gains for emerging economies such as India."

2. Social acceptance of new energy technology in developing countries: A framing experiment in rural India

3. Public acceptance of household energy-saving measures in Beijing: Heterogeneous preferences and policy implications

4. Conceptualization of energy security in resource-poor economies: The role of the nature of economy

5. Climate Risk Management and the Electricity Sector

6. Multidimensional stress test for hydropower investments facing climate, geophysical and financial uncertainty

7. Assessing the role of artificially drained agricultural land for climate change mitigation in Ireland

8. Changing climate policy paradigms in Bangladesh and Nepal



Climate Chats - New Year, New Life, New Climate

Posted on 4 January 2018 by Guest Author

On the 29th December 2017, I met the newest member of my family for the first time. And - being ClimateAdam - my mind turned to global warming pretty soon after.



2017 in Review: looking back at 10 years of SkS and more

Posted on 3 January 2018 by BaerbelW

A lot of things happened at Skeptical Science in 2017.  Many will leave good memories, like celebrating our 10th birthday in August or the publication of several impactful papers, but there's also a sad memory to include: losing our dear friend Andy Skuce in September. Andy was a valued colleague to all of us for many years. A geologist's geologist, Andy was a calm, rational and erudite voice, a gentleman in the true sense of the word, and a wonderful sounding board. As his illness progressed Andy didn't talk much about it, remaining focused on the task at hand. In the end his passing came suddenly to all of us. Andy was a friend, a mate, a buddy, a 'good egg'. We miss him.

Vale Andy Skuce.


Below, you'll find an overview of our activities during 2017:

John Cook moves to Virginia

Scholary publications and books

Other publications and activities

Our MOOC Denial101x

Conferences and presentations

Website activities and translations



2017 was the hottest year on record without an El Niño, thanks to global warming

Posted on 2 January 2018 by dana1981

2017 was the second-hottest year on record according to Nasa data, and was the hottest year without the short-term warming influence of an El Niño event:

1964–2017 global surface temperature data from Nasa, divided into El Niño (red), La Niña (blue), and neutral (black) years, with linear trends added.

In fact, 2017 was the hottest year without an El Niño by a wide margin – a whopping 0.17°C hotter than 2014, which previously held that record. Remarkably, 2017 was also hotter than 2015, which at the time was by far the hottest year on record thanks in part to a strong El Niño event that year.

For comparison, the neutral El Niño conditions and the level of solar activity in 1972 were quite similar to those in 2017. 45 years later, the latter was 0.9°C hotter than the former. For each type of year – La Niña, El Niño, and neutral – the global surface warming trend between 1964 and 2017 is 0.17–0.18°C per decade, which is consistent with climate model predictions.



On its hundredth birthday in 1959, Edward Teller warned the oil industry about global warming

Posted on 1 January 2018 by Guest Author, qwertie

Benjamin Franta (@BenFranta) is a PhD student in history of science at Stanford University who studies the history of climate change science and politics. He has a PhD in applied physics from Harvard University and is a former research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

It was a typical November day in New York City. The year: 1959. Robert Dunlop, 50 years old and photographed later as clean-shaven, hair carefully parted, his earnest face donning horn-rimmed glasses, passed under the Ionian columns of Columbia University’s iconic Low Library. He was a guest of honor for a grand occasion: the centennial of the American oil industry. 

Over 300 government officials, economists, historians, scientists, and industry executives were present for the Energy and Man symposium – organized by the American Petroleum Institute and the Columbia Graduate School of Business – and Dunlop was to address the entire congregation on the “prime mover” of the last century – energy – and its major source: oil. As President of the Sun OilCompany, he new the business well, and as a director of the American Petroleum Institute – the industry’s largest and oldest trade association in the land of Uncle Sam – he was responsible for representing the interests of all those many oilmen gathered around him.

Four others joined Dunlop at the podium that day, one of whom had made the journey from California – and Hungary before that. The nuclear weapons physicist Edward Teller had, by 1959, become ostracized by the scientific community for betraying his colleague J. Robert Oppenheimer, but he retained the embrace of industry and government. Teller’s task that November fourth was to address the crowd on “energy patterns of the future,” and his words carried an unexpected warning:



2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #52

Posted on 31 December 2017 by John Hartz

Happy New Year!... Story of the Week... Analysis of the Week... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week...  SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

Happy New Year!

2017 Poster 52 

Happy New Year from the all-volunteer, SkS author team!

Story of the Week...

How We Know It Was Climate Change

Houston Floding_Hurricane Harvey Sep 2017 

Flooding south of Houston in September in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Credit Barbara Davidson for The New York Times

This was a year of devastating weather, including historic hurricanes and wildfires here in the United States. Did climate change play a role? Increasingly, scientists are able to answer that question — and increasingly, the answer is yes.

My lab recently published a new framework for examining connections between global warming and extreme events. Other scientists are doing similar research. How would we go about testing whether global warming has influenced the events that occurred this year?

Consider Hurricane Harvey, which caused enormous destruction along the Gulf Coast; it will cost an estimated $180 billion to recover from the hurricane’s storm surge, high winds and record-setting precipitation and flooding. Did global warming contribute to this disaster?

The word “contribute” is key. This doesn’t mean that without global warming, there wouldn’t have been a hurricane. Rather, the question is whether changes in the climate raised the odds of producing extreme conditions. 

How We Know It Was Climate Change, Opinion by Noah S Diffenbach, Sunday Review, New York Times, Dec 29, 2017



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