- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
A steady stream of extreme weather events makes for a steady media drumbeat on climate change, but the stream can run dry, reported Richard Kerr. For example, the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season has produced just two short-lived, Category 1 hurricanes. Such mild weather can become an argument for climate skeptics.
The article opened with a quote from "a well-meaning non-scientist" who tried to use extreme weather to argue that global warming is real - President Obama.
"We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence," Obama said in his State-of-the-Union address. "Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science - and act before it's too late."
Indeed, the evidence for climate change is unequivocal, "but the science linking any one hurricane, drought or flood to climate change is shaky, at best," the article said.
For commentary on climate change and wildfires, Kerr spoke to Max Moritz, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley.
Moritz said it is plausible that a warming climate plays a role in fires in places like the western U.S. and Australia, but "fire is a couple steps removed from temperature and precipitation and our records are short. So detecting a trend is tough and attributing an event to climate change is really, really tough. We have to be very careful."