Violent tornadoes throughout the southeastern U.S. must be a front-page reminder that no matter how successful climate deniers are in confusing the public or delaying action on climate change in Congress or globally, the science is clear: Our climate is worsening. . .
In the climate community, we call this “loading the dice.” Rolling loaded dice weighted toward more extreme and energetic weather means more death and destruction.
You can see in this graph that there is no upwards trend in US tornado deaths, 1940-2010 (PDF).
This year’s very active season and tragic loss of life won’t alter that conclusion. Actually there is a sharp downwards trend during a period when US population grew a great deal (consider this graph from Harold Brooks for a longer term perspective). There is obviously no evidence of “more death and destruction.” On the lack of trends in destruction see this paper.
On the significance of yesterday’s tragic tornado outbreak, consider this perspective from NOAA:
What’s the risk of another super-outbreak like April 3-4, 1974? It’s rare; but we don’t know how rare, because an outbreak like that has only happened once since tornado records have been kept. There is no way to know if the odds are one in every 50 years, 10 years or 1,000 years, since we just do not have the long climatology of reasonably accurate tornado numbers to use. So the bigger the outbreaks, the less we can reliably judge their potential to recur.
Gleick’s column is all the more ironic for this statement:
Climate deniers who have stymied action in Congress and confused the public — like the tobacco industry did before them — need to be held accountable for their systematic misrepresentation of the science, their misuse and falsification of data, and their trickery.
Obviously, it is not just climate deniers who are engaged in misrepresentation and trickery.