EarthTalk: Extreme Weather and Climate Change – www.elizabethton.com
EarthTalk: Extreme weather and climate change
Published at 11:22 AM Tuesday, November 14, 2023
Dear EarthTalk: What is the scientific consensus on all the extreme weather we face — from monster hurricanes to massive floods and wildfires? Is there a clear connection to climate change? If so, what do we do to be prepared?
— Jason Devine, Summit, Pennsylvania
Extreme weather does not prove the existence of global warming, but climate change is likely to exacerbate it – by tampering with ocean currents, providing additional heat to form hurricanes, enhancing heat waves, prolonging droughts, and causing more precipitation. And floods.
“Climate change leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration and timing of extreme weather and climate events, and could lead to unprecedented extreme weather and climate events,” says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an international organization working on climate change. . An independent group of leading climate scientists convened by the United Nations to provide the world with a clear scientific view of the current state of knowledge about climate change and its potential environmental, social and economic impacts.
While most scientists do not question the connection between global warming and extreme weather, a once-skeptical public is now beginning to emerge — especially after 2011, when floods, droughts, heat waves, and hurricanes took their toll on the United States. A survey conducted by researchers at Yale University’s Project on Climate Change Communication found that four out of five Americans reported that they were personally exposed to one or more types of severe weather or natural disaster in 2011, while more than a third experienced either great or moderate personal damage. or more of these events. A large majority of Americans believe that global warming has exacerbated many notable extreme weather events, including high summer temperatures across the country, drought in Texas and Oklahoma, catastrophic flooding on the Mississippi River, Hurricane Irene, and a surprisingly warm winter. abnormal.
The IPCC wants world leaders to err on the side of caution in preparing their citizens for extreme weather events that are likely to become more frequent; Earlier this year, they released a report titled “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Promote Climate Change Adaptation” to help policymakers do just that. The report is essential reading in coastal, arid and other particularly vulnerable areas.
As for the US government, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tracks weather and storms, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) deals with the impacts of extreme weather and other disasters. But critics would like to see Congress and the White House do more to increase Americans’ preparedness. “The United States (in 2011) saw a record 14 weather-related disasters worth more than $1 billion each – and many more of smaller magnitude,” according to the nonprofit Climate Science Watch (CSW) report. However, the United States does not have a national climate change preparedness strategy; Federal efforts to address the growing risks have been undermined through budget cuts and other means. The Commission on the Status of Women and others are calling for the creation of a new ministerial-level agency called the National Climate Service to oversee climate change mitigation as well as preparedness for increasingly extreme weather events.