Tornadoes revive debate about climate change and extreme weather

“US meteorologists warned Thursday it would be a mistake to blame climate change for a seeming increase in tornadoes in the wake of deadly storms that have ripped through the US south,” the AFP story says.

Media Matters criticized Drudge and others for pouncing on the story. “Right-wing media have used the recent tornadoes that killed nearly 300 people throughout the South to cast doubt on global warming or to attack global warming activists,” Media Matters said on its website Friday.

The group also blasted a Washington Times editorial on the subject.

“This year is seeing one of the worst tornado seasons in decades, and speculation is rampant about whether climate change is involved. When the dust settles, it’s obvious that the rolling collapse of the case for global warming has forced alarmists to argue that even without scientific evidence, the risk is too great to reach any other conclusion,” the paper’s editorial board wrote Thursday night.

Meanwhile, left-leaning groups such as the Center for American Progress have drawn a connection between the tornadoes and climate change.

Think Progress, the think tank’s blog, ran this headline Thursday: “Storms Kill Over 250 Americans In States Represented By Climate Pollution Deniers.”

And the center published a report Friday called “The Year of Living Dangerously: 2010 Extreme Weather Cost Lives, Health and Economy.”

The report “gathers, condenses, and synthesizes scientific data regarding extreme weather and its links to global warming to provide context to the recent surge in extreme weather events,” it says.

Though meteorologists say climate change is not the cause of the recent tornadoes, new research indicates that climate change is causing more extreme weather generally. A lead scientist at the National Weather Service told The Hill last year that the changing climate will lead to more extreme weather events.