Fetishizing Extreme Weather

By Keith Kloor | March 5, 2009 1:48 pm

There is a simplistic way to talk about the link between climate change and catastrophic wildfires and other natural disasters:

The science makes clear that many extreme weather events have increased in recent years “” and that there is a link to climate change.

You can  shout from the rooftops:

CNN, ABC, WashPost, AP, blow Australian wildfire, drought, heatwave “Hell (and High Water) on Earth” story–never mention climate change

NBC News ignores climate change, blows bark beetle story

The NY Times Blows the Wildfire Story

The NY Times Blows the Drought Story, too

USA Today ignores the Link Between Extreme Weather and Climate Change

AP Blows the Extreme Weather Story

Or, you can be grounded firmly in science and still be declarative, as demonstrated by RealClimate in this post on the recent Australian wildfires:

So, did climate change cause these fires? The simple answer is “No!”

And you can still be nuanced and mature at the same time, in the same post:

While it is difficult to separate the influences of climate variability, climate change, and changes in fire management strategies on the observed increases in fire activity, it is clear that climate change is increasing the likelihood of environmental conditions associated with extreme fire danger in south-east Australia and a number of other parts of the world.

It’s your choice. In the next post I’ll talk about why the environmental community is going to have to decide on which which approach to take.

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    You do watch the Weather Channel?  Any more questions?


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Collide-a-Scape is an archived Discover blog. Keep up with Keith's current work at http://www.keithkloor.com/

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.


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