Hurricane expert brushes off Don Lemon climate change question: ‘I want to talk about the here and now’

Don Lemon attends the 15th annual CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Don Lemon attends the 15th annual CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute in 2021.

A leading expert on hurricanes on Tuesday declined to draw a connection between the intensity of Hurricane Ian, which is bearing down on the Florida Gulf Coast, and climate change when pressed by CNN anchor Don Lemon.

“Can you tell us what this is and what effect climate change is having on this phenomenon?” Lemon asked Jamie Rhome, the acting director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hurricane Center during Lemon’s prime-time program on CNN.

Lemon pressed Rhome, asking him again “what effect climate change has on this phenomenon, because it seems these storms are intensifying.”

“I don’t think you can link climate change to any one event,” the hurricane expert responded. “On the whole on the cumulative, climate change may be making storms worse, but to link it to any one event, I would caution against that.”

“We can come back and talk about climate change at a later time, I want to talk about the here and now,” Rhome said before providing an analysis of the storm’s development and projected path.

Recent studies have shown that climate change is producing more rain in hurricanes and expanding their reach farther north.

A study, published in April in the journal Nature Communications, found that human-caused climate change led to a 5 percent increase in rainfall in all named storms and an 8 percent increase in rainfall during hurricane-strength storms.

Another study published in 2020 showed that climate change is contributing to increased power in hurricanes, making them more likely to cause more damage.

Ian was upgraded to a Category 4 storm overnight ahead of its expected landfall on Florida’s west coast, with areas from Englewood to Bonita Beach and Charlotte Harbor expected to experience a predicted 12 feet to 18 feet of storm surge.

“Listen, I grew up there, and these storms are intensifying, something is causing them to intensify,” Lemon said in response to Rohme’s comments.

Tags Climate change CNN Don Lemon Don Lemon Hurricane Ian storm surge
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