Meghan McCain to GOP after Sandy: Do you still doubt climate change?

Political analyst Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), is challenging widespread GOP skepticism about climate change in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

“So are we still going to go with climate change not being real fellow republicans [sic]?” McCain wrote, via Twitter, around midnight as the storm was slamming ashore.

McCain’s father has advocated for curbing greenhouse gas emissions and co-sponsored cap-and-trade bills several years ago.

However, substantial numbers of Republicans now dispute widely held scientific views about global warming and the extent of humans’ contribution.

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As Sandy menaced the East Coast, some climate activists and scientists used the storm to point out links between climate change and extreme weather.

Scientists urge caution about attributing specific weather events to climate change. But experts warn that warmer ocean waters, greater atmospheric moisture and other factors are fueling the intensity of storms, and that rising sea levels will make coastal impacts worse.

A number of science writers in recent days have pointed to research on Atlantic cyclones published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by the University of Copenhagen’s Aslak Grinsted.

He concludes that warm years are more active, the largest cyclones are most affected by warmer conditions and that there’s a “statistically significant trend in the frequency of large surge events” over the last 90 years.

The Washington Post
closely examines the climate change-storm nexus here, while NPR explores it here.

Both outlets look at a 2012 study by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on extreme weather and climate change.

That study finds that researchers currently have “low confidence” in tying cyclone activity in recent decades to climate change.

They’re more confident in links between climate change and heatwaves, record temperatures and heavy precipitation over the past half-century.