Hurrichange is here: Denial in the time of accelerating climate change


170907-hurricane-irma-katia-jose-satellite-njs-406p_c8851aa4245f314c3e93bb62fae72af6.nbcnews-fp-1200-80011:15 am EDT September 7. NOAA.

“So there is a desire to advance this climate change agenda, and hurricanes are one of the fastest and best ways to do it. You can accomplish a lot just by creating fear and panic, you don’t need a hurricane to hit anywhere.”
Rush Limbaugh 7 September 2017 a day before he evacuated from his South Florida home.

Late last week I left my comfortable, dry, overpriced apartment in Alexandria, VA, to return to my home in Gainesville, FL, to face Irma with my partner Michele and our dogpersons, Heather and Keeper. As I write this Sunday morning, projections continue to indicate that winds in North Central Florida will exceed any in memory for this region. It is likely that the destruction of infrastructure in the region will be severe. Lives will be lost. My heart goes out to those in Ft. Myers, Tampa, Sarasota, Cedar Key, and all the west coast communities likely to be devastated by this monster. Yesterday, our climate denying governor, Rick Scott, announced with great authority, “The storm is here,” while earlier in the week two of Florida’s federal representatives voted against a debt ceiling bill that included relief for victims of Irma. Continue reading “Hurrichange is here: Denial in the time of accelerating climate change”

Linkage between extreme weather and climate change

This is a posting from 2011 about extreme weather. Obviously, this is an appropriate topic this winter.  Since writing this several years ago, I have come to see all weather as taking place in a human altered climate.  Thus, the appropriate question is not whether a particular event such as Superstorm Sandy was caused by climate change, but instead to understand those characteristics of the event that have been altered by climate change.  For Katrina such an association is not particularly compelling, although the sea surface temperatures in the Gulf were very high.  For Superstorm Sandy, there are several characteristics that may be linked to human caused climate change.


Intermountain Climate

When I speak about climate change I always remind my audiences to not conflate climate with weather.  For example, Katrina is best seen as an extreme weather event that cannot be mechanistically linked to anthropogenic climate change.  Even scientists, including me, can lapse into sloppy thinking about individual weather events and declare, as I did in the heat of the moment, that events like Katrina are the smoking gun of human-caused climate change.  Nonsense.  Although I am embarrassed by my early lack of rigor, this mistake provided me with an important opportunity to study the stochastic nature of weather and its linkage to ongoing climate change.  The term stochastic means that a weather event such as Katrina is driven by both deterministic and random factors.  To be sure, Katrina was perhaps indicative of the kind of storm that modelers think will be increasingly typical of storms in the Anthropocene.  As an…

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Climate lessons from Sandy and the political economy of mitigation

There is compelling evidence that certain features of Sandy can be linked to climate change, and it is clear that scientific studies of this linkage will be undertaken over the next few months and years.  That said, as a scientist I am increasingly impressed with the emphasis that many folks place on weather as an indicator of human caused climate disruption. Continue reading “Climate lessons from Sandy and the political economy of mitigation”