As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, a series of devastating storms recently swept through significant parts of the country spawning huge, long-track tornadoes. Many lives were lost and the damage to some areas was staggering. Some of the worst was seen in Kentucky. You’d think that this sort of natural disaster would be enough to put on our plates in the middle of everything else that’s going on without politicizing it, but you would be incorrect. When President Joe Biden gave his initial remarks about federal relief for the storm damage he took some questions from the press. The very first question that any of our intrepid reporters from the White House press corps deigned to ask was whether or not the storm system was attributable to climate change. Biden somewhat admirably began his answer by saying that he “can’t say” in terms of these specific storms and couldn’t offer a “quantitative read.” But he clearly couldn’t help himself and said that it “obviously had some impact here” and told the reporters that he would be “looking into it.” (Is that the same as saying that he would “circle back” later? White House, emphasis added)
Q Mr. President, does this say anything to you about climate change? Is this — or do you conclude that these storms and the intensity has to do with climate change?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, all that I know is that the intensity of the weather across the board has some impact as a consequence of the warming of the planet and the climate change.
The specific impact on these specific storms, I can’t say at this point. I’m going to be asking the EPA and others to take a look at that. But the fact is that we all know everything is more intense when the climate is warming — everything. And, obviously, it has some impact here, but I can’t give you a — a quantitative read on that.
Apparently, not everyone agrees that “we all know” about the impact and it’s not “obvious” across the board. That includes some meteorologists, even the ones who are generally ready to talk about the impacts of global warming on trends in the planet’s weather systems. Over at Climate Depot, they heard from meteorologist Joe Bastardi who pointed out that making such a leap when looking at global weather patterns is “insanity.”
“Insanity. It’s a below-average tornado, wind damage, and hail season. No credibility No knowledge of past weather, We are in the hands of leftists who weaponize weather for their purposes. Deceit and deception.”
so is here forecast that what is a 1 in 96 year occurrence assuming it did beat the tri state tornado is now a once in a year occurrence in the fact of strong to violent tornadoes going the other way? I try to respect people serving my country,honest he statement is madness pic.twitter.com/J243u8iBEd
— Joe Bastardi (@BigJoeBastardi) December 13, 2021
It gets worse. The linked report notes that even the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change disagrees. “UN IPCC AR6 WG1 states: “trends in tornadoes… associated w/ severe convective storms are not robustly detected” … “attribution of certain classes of extreme weather (eg, tornadoes) is beyond current modeling & theoretical capabilities” … “how tornadoes… will change is an open question”
On top of that, the historical record shows that over past decades, heavy tornadic activity has steadily decreased even as carbon emissions increased. The last peak came in the late 1960s and early 1970s when we were being warned about the dangers of global cooling and the possibility of another ice age being upon us. This is from yet another meteorologist.
Here are the facts:
• No overall trend in U.S. tornado activity since 1954; but EF-3+ down 50%.
• Climate models cannot resolve mesoscale features.
• Some enviro conditions may become more favorable in future, others less.
• Low confidence in climate change linkage. pic.twitter.com/G3vYVolpRf
— Chris Martz (@ChrisMartzWX) December 11, 2021
Also, it’s worth noting that tornadic outbreaks in December are not rare. In fact, they’re fairly common. Check out this map tracking tornado touchdowns in the month of December from 1950 to 2013. Kentucky isn’t the hottest of the hotspot areas, but it’s well above more than half of the country.
This was some weird weather to be sure the toll it took was horrendous. A lot of work is in front of us to recover from a storm system such as this one and the families of the lost and injured have much healing to do. But we live on a continent that generates a lot of tornadic storms. They’ve been recorded for as long as we’ve had a country, and some parts of the country are worse than others. We had a serious spike of E3+ tornadoes in 2011 and people tried to blame it on climate change then, also. That was followed by five years where the number was roughly one-third as many and you didn’t hear a peep out of anyone.
I agree with the scientists already weighing in on this. “Madness” is one of the only words. The convenient abuse of “the science” (which now serves as a religion) for political purposes. And the President of the United States is gleefully playing into the narrative.