With the U.S. presidential election just days away, Hurricane Sandy brought climate change roaring back into the conversation, with the news media focusing on the question of whether the superstorm could be linked to global warming.
Our chief scientist, Dr. Steven C. Amstrup, says that while it’s true that no individual storm, drought, or other weather extreme can be definitively linked to climate warming, all the information that we have indicates that warmer temperatures will lead to greater fluctuations and larger extremes in high and low temperatures, precipitation, and wind—and, indeed, that is already happening, as the chart below tracking FEMA reported disasters and rising temperatures shows.
Steve adds that statistical predisposition outweighs the need for a disclaimer.
“No one ever follows a report on a high speed car collision by saying that although the probability of death is higher at higher speeds we cannot say this particular death was caused by the excessive speed they were driving,” he says. “And no one ever says that although there is a statistical link between obesity and type II diabetes we cannot attribute this person's diabetes to his obesity.”
It's time to recognize that global warming is real and is happening now—and that inaction will cost more than action.