Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

‘The Core of the Message Still Has to Be About the Reality We’re Facing’

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BP: Now, whenever a natural disaster happens—say, a flood or a wildfire—you typically see scientists quoted in the press saying, “Well, it’s hard to attribute any single event to global warming, although this is the sort of event we should see more of as the planet warms.” As I understand it, this sort of extra-careful hedge is becoming outdated. Scientists actually are making tighter connections between current disasters and climate change, correct?

AG: Yes, that shift in the way scientists describe the linkage is one of the elements of this new slideshow. It’s a subtle but extremely important shift. They used to say that the climate crisis changes the odds of extreme weather events—this was the old metaphor of “loading the dice.” Now, they say there’s not only a greater likelihood of rolling 12s, but we’re actually loading 13s and could soon be rolling 15s and 16s. As scientists like James Hansen [of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies] and Kevin Trenberth [of the National Center for Atmospheric Research] point out, the changes brought about by man-made global-warming pollution have reached the stage that every event is now being affected by it in some way.

In the last 30 years, for instance, we’ve seen water vapor above the oceans increase by 4 percent, and many storms reach as far as 2,000 miles out to collect water vapor. So when you have a 4 percent increase over such a large area, the storms are now fueled with more water vapor than was the case 30 years ago. That means we’re getting larger downpours. And in drought-prone areas, we’re seeing increasing intervals between downpours, which is one of several reasons why we’re seeing extreme droughts.

Brad Plumer interviews Al Gore at the Washington Post.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 12, 2011 at 11:20 am

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