Can we blame climate change for the tornado that took out Moore, Okla.?
It was a quiet year for tornadoes — until last week, that is. A string of twisters has ravaged the middle of the country over the past several days, culminating in a two-mile-wide tornado tearing up Moore, Okla., Monday afternoon. So far at least 37 people have been confirmed dead in Oklahoma, and that toll is expected to rise.
The weather has twisted a few of our fellow greenies on the internet into a tizzy. “Extreme storm, climate change, OMFG!” they cry. We almost had a seizure reading this missive from the Wonkette folks, and we’re fairly sure they had one while writing it.
But the science on tornadoes and climate change isn’t clear enough to OMFG about it just yet. As Grist’s John Upton reported recently, the number of twisters has been roller-coastering up and down from year to year. “It certainly feels like one of those boom-bust weather cycles that we expect from climate change. But there doesn’t appear to be any evidence directly linking the recent tornado cycle to global warming.”
The Associated Press wraps it up with this insight: “Will there be more or fewer twisters as global warming increases? There is no easy answer.”
“Most climate scientists believe that clearer answers will be forthcoming with better climate modeling tools — and patience,” according to the Huffington Post.
Post-Superstorm Sandy, we’ve entered a kind of fugue state when it comes to natural disaster, forgetting that there has been a long history of extreme weather events that sometimes have nothing to do with how much carbon is in our atmosphere. For as disastrous as Sandy was, be honest: You relished pointing out that climate change connection.
We really like to find reason in chaos, though, and we also like to blame things! At one point today there were several little kids trapped in the rubble of a building in Moore, Okla., that earlier today was their elementary school. If we can’t blame climate change, who can we blame?
Maybe scientists will conclude that this really is the fault of that atmospheric carbon. Maybe they won’t! For now, at least, the only thing I’ll be blaming for this mess is Sarah Palin. Because, you know.
Susie Cagle writes and draws news for Grist. She also writes and draws tweets for
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