MANUFACTURING IMMEDIATE FEAR OF CLIMATE CHANGE: A New Subdivision of Climate-Change Research Known as "Attribution Science" Looks to Link Current Extreme Weather Events to Long-Term Global Warming

By Murphy, James | The New American, October 22, 2018 | Go to article overview

MANUFACTURING IMMEDIATE FEAR OF CLIMATE CHANGE: A New Subdivision of Climate-Change Research Known as "Attribution Science" Looks to Link Current Extreme Weather Events to Long-Term Global Warming


Murphy, James, The New American


The images are just too good to pass up. A rain-soaked journalist, his wet hair plastered against his face as he struggles to stand against a fierce wind, reporting from a hurricane-besieged coastal city. Another reporter wearing hip waders, standing in a flooded street, laments the coming cresting of a river. An exhausted, soot-stained fireman pours his heart out during a long-overdue break fighting wildfires in California. A wide shot of the hot sun bearing down on brown and dusty cracked soil, foreshadowing what global warming will ultimately bring.

These scenes of disaster--real or staged--have become common whenever the mainstream media reports on extreme weather while connecting the disaster to the scourge of anthropogenic, or man-made, global warming, which is now referred to more generically as climate change. Any significant or extreme weather event is now hailed as proof of man-made climate change.

During the recent coverage of Hurricane Florence, many media outlets went even further than that. The Washington Post editorial board went so far as to claim that one man--President Trump--was somehow complicit with the extreme weather and that his actions were, at least in part, responsible for the destruction the storm wrought.

"Yet when it comes to extreme weather, Mr. Trump is complicit," the Post's board claimed. "He plays down humans' role in increasing the risks. It is hard to attribute any single weather event to climate change. But there is no reasonable doubt that humans are priming the Earth's systems to produce disasters."

In the not-so-distant past, serious climate scientists would deny the Post's assertion and tell us that individual weather events could not be reasonably blamed on global warming. To do so, they said, was to not have a proper understanding of climate vs. weather, with weather being what we experience meteorologically over short periods of time and climate being an average of how the weather behaves over long periods of time.

So neither climate alarmists nor anthropogenic global-warming skeptics should use individual weather events to further their narrative. Fair enough.

But that has become an ever-increasingly one-sided rule. As Hurricane Florence recently showed us, individual weather events can now be blamed on man-made climate change, as long as the "right" people are doing it.

Back around the year 2000, no climate scientist worth his salt would ever blame a single weather event on climate change for one reason: Climate science was not yet understood to such a degree that a link could confidently be made. The world has always experienced extreme weather, after all. The best that the most committed climate-change alarmist could say about a single extreme weather event vis-a-vis global warming would be something like, "We can expect more of this type of weather in the future due to climate change." Other than that vague prediction, no link between extreme weather and climate change could be alleged.

Fast-forward to today, and such attributions are becoming quite common. "The public stance of the scientific community about individual event attribution in the year 2000 is that it's not something that science does," said Stanford climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh. "And so to go from that to now, that you'll find a paper every week ... that's why we say there's been an explosion of research. It's gone from zero to 60, basically."

Why? There are a couple of reasons for the recent surge in attributing extreme weather events to so-called climate change. Perhaps the most important of these is about the public conception of what climate change actually is, and why, in the opinion of climate alarmists, it must be quickly addressed.

A January 2018 article in Scientific American hailed the new development. "Scientists Can Now Blame Individual Natural Disasters on Climate Change," the headline blared. …

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