Since I have mentioned my concern with global warming, but also tend to get annoyed with all the hyperventilating, I thought the following piece was very much on point. The last link (the red one) is just really cool “eye-candy.” It also made for a fun mix-up title for this post. Ht on both to The Big Picture.
By Maggie Koresh-Baker, World Science Festival, 27 may 2011.
There are many things that can affect these factors that make tornadoes more likely. Scientists have found that climate change is something that can affect tornado conditions. But when NOAA looked at data for the past 30 years’ worth of Aprils in the Mississippi Valley, they didn’t see evidence of any trends that would mean tornado weather is already becoming more frequent.
Because of that, NOAA says it would be problematic to claim the recent spate of tornadoes in the Southeast were caused by climate change. But that’s not the same as saying tornadoes can’t be caused by climate change. It’s not the same thing as saying that climate change isn’t a contributing factor. Or that tornadoes won’t be caused by climate change in the future. It’s not even the same as saying that, years from now, with better data and technology, we won’t look back and see a trend happening that isn’t obvious today. NOAA’s assessment is based on indirect evidence focused on one area of one country. The big question—Are tornadoes caused by climate change?—is made up of lots of little questions. And we don’t know all the answers to the little questions yet. This is still good science. We still have enough information to say something about how the world works. But that statement comes with a lot of caveats.
It’s not really just a “yes” or “no” answer. It doesn’t follow party lines. And it doesn’t tell us what we should expect in the future.
This is scientific uncertainty—where the things we know and the things we don’t know collide, and we are left to figure out how to use what we have to make decisions anyway.
For some very cool pictures of tornadoes sucking up fire and water, I recommend this link at Washington’s Blog.
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