Using Natural Droughts as a Political Tool

Droughts in 2011/2012 caused by global warming?

Sure, said the New York Times:

BY many measurements, this summer’s drought is one for the record books. But so was last year’s drought in the South Central states. And it has been only a decade since an extreme five-year drought hit the American West. Widespread annual droughts, once a rare calamity, have become more frequent and are set to become the “new normal.”

Until recently, many scientists spoke of climate change mainly as a “threat,” sometime in the future. But it is increasingly clear that we already live in the era of human-induced climate change, with a growing frequency of weather and climate extremes like heat waves, droughts, floods and fires.

Yep. No doubt about it said the CBC, going as far as to call it a “scientific fact”:

The relentless, weather-gone-crazy type of heat that has blistered the United States, Canada and other parts of the world in recent years is so rare it can’t be anything but man-made global warming, according to a new statistical analysis from a top American scientist.

The research by a man often called the “godfather of global warming” says that, from the 1950s through the 1980s, the likelihood of such sweltering temperatures occurring was rarer than 1 in 300. Now, the odds are closer to 1 in 10, according to the study by James Hansen. The NASA scientist says that statistically, what’s happening is not random or normal, but pure and simple climate change.

James E. Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, says global warming is no longer ‘some scientific theory.’ (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)

“This is not some scientific theory,” Hansen told The Associated Press in an interview. “We are now experiencing scientific fact.”

Well, darn it. Wouldn’t you know that the facts are something a little different? It appears that those climate deniers at NOAA have concluded that global warming had nothing to do with it:

A new federal study reveals that global warming is not to blame for last year’s extreme drought that crippled the central Great Plains.

The study conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Drought Task Force places the blame on natural variations in weather patterns that caused the “flash drought.”

The Plains saw very little rain last summer due to two key meteorological processes which NOAA states was a “sequence of unfortunate events.” First, the Plains states saw very little rain in May and June because low pressure systems that brought storms were shunted northward into Canada. Second, thunderstorms were infrequent in July and August and produced little precipitation.

The report states that there were “no strong indicators” a drought of this magnitude would have struck the Midwest last year.

“This is one of those events that comes along once every couple hundreds of years,” lead author Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist at NOAA, said. “Climate change was not a significant part, if any, of the event.”

I think it is called “nature”.

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