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We Can't Blame Tornadoes on Climate Change

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Let’s face it: this weekend’s tornadoes in Kentucky, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri were a horrific and tragic event. We mourn for the lives lost, and the loss of property is heartbreaking as well.

After the devastating storms, the left wasted little time in attributing the tornadoes to climate change. In fact, they almost tripped over each other to rush out and ring the alarm bells.

Meteorologist-in-chief Joe Biden is calling in the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the tornado outbreak, and blamed the storms on global warming:

“The specific impact on these specific storms, I can’t say at this point. I’m going to be asking the EPA and others to take a look at that,” the president said in an afternoon briefing in his home town of Wilmington, Delaware.

“But the fact is that we know everything is more intense when the climate is warming. And obviously it has some impact here.”

Of course, we all know that President Teleprompter has more in common with the Weather Underground than he does with actual meteorologists, but that didn’t stop him from making the boilerplate leftist claim that any weather event other than sunny-and-75 is the result of climate change.

The truth is that as awful as Friday’s tornadoes were — and I never, ever want to minimize how bad the damage was — that line of storms was a weather event, not a harbinger of climate change.

Related: It’s Not a Weather Tragedy Until the Left Blames It On Climate Change

December tornadoes aren’t terribly uncommon; in fact, we’re coming up on the anniversary of another devastating outbreak in nearly the same area where Friday’s storms took place.

Gregory Wrightstone at CO2 Coalition has done some terrific work at pointing out the lack of a link between carbon dioxide emissions and tornadic activity, and he notes that the federal government is messing around with the numbers:

It appears that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is playing games with tornado data. In 2017, while researching tornado data, I archived the NOAA site’s page on tornadoes and data. At the time, NOAA specifically warned that pre-Doppler radar records of tornadoes (before 1995) are unreliable:

“One of the main difficulties with tornado records is that a tornado, or evidence of a tornado, must have been observed. Unlike rainfall or temperature, which may be measured by a fixed instrument, tornadoes are short-lived and very unpredictable. A tornado in a largely unoccupied region is not likely to be documented. Many significant tornadoes may not have made it into the historical record since Tornado Alley was very sparsely populated during the early 20th Century.”

Wrightstone added carbon dioxide emissions to a 2017 chart to prove his point.

Tornadoes: NOAA (2017) NCEI Historical Records and Trends, https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/climate-information/extreme-events/us-tornado-climatology/trends CO2: Boden 2016 Global Regional and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions. CDIAC, with additional data from Gregory Wrightstone

Wrightstone looked at the NOAA website today, and he discovered that it’s currently using the same pre-1995 data that it decried as inaccurate just four years ago:

NCEI Historical Records and Trends, https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/climate-information/extreme-events/us-tornado-climatology/trends

“Why would a government agency promote flawed data?” he asks. “The answer is simple: It ‘confirms’ their preconceived notion of increasing severe weather and provides support for alarming claims of ever-increasing death and destruction.”

U.S.Tornadoes points out that the increase in the number of tornadoes is due to increased reporting, not increased activity.

The advent of Doppler radar has been critical in catching shy tornadoes. Its full adoption, technical advancements since, and increases in storm observation more broadly, have allowed for lots of quick-hitting or weak tornadoes that would have once been missed to now be found. The 1995-2019 average is 1,239 tornadoes per year.

The increase in annual tornadoes predates full doppler adoption, but it is again largely tied to observational betterment.

Meteorological professor John T. Allen writes at USA Today that we just don’t have the know-how yet to determine whether climate change and individual weather events go hand in hand.

“Event-based attribution for climate change is still in development, particularly for tornadoes that need fine scales to model, ” Allen writes. “Given the historical precedent, it would be misleading to definitively state a relationship to climate change without further assessment.”

Even the Associated Press is urging caution when attempting to link out-of-season tornadoes with climate change.

Warm weather was a crucial ingredient in this tornado outbreak, but whether climate change is a factor is not quite as clear, meteorologists say.

Scientists say figuring out how climate change is affecting the frequency of tornadoes is complicated and their understanding is still evolving.

The AP calls untangling the science behind tornadoes and a warming atmosphere is “complicated.”

Attributing a specific storm like Friday’s to the effects of climate change remains very challenging. Less than 10% of severe thunderstorms produce tornadoes, which makes drawing conclusions about climate change and the processes leading up to them tricky, said Harold Brooks, a tornado scientist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory.

None of this will deter the left from attributing weather events that are random, yet horrible, to climate change, because environmental catastrophe is central to their plans to remake the U.S. into their left-wing utopia.

Related: Quad-State Tornadoes Likely Among Deadliest in U.S. History

As Erick Erickson points out:

Time and time again, the media and leftwing politicians want to attribute everything weather and climate-related to climate change to advance a fear-based agenda designed to up-end the American economy. But time and time again, the data and facts do not support their claims.

The problem with climate change is that the seventies were filled with people screaming about global cooling and now about global warming and the solutions to both are always about western capitalism moving to command and control economies. It is no wonder the Soviet Union used to fund western environmentalist movements.

Rahm Emanuel once said, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” This is why leftist politicians want to pin every weather event on climate change because they want to use it as an opportunity to toss capitalism out the window, exert greater government control over the economy, and radically change our everyday lives.

No amount of speechifying can bring back any of the precious souls who have been lost, nor can any grandstanding rebuild houses and other buildings. And these tornado victims need our prayers and support — not a federal climate change investigation.

But that’s not going to stop Joe Biden and others on the left from hijacking a grievous tragedy in their attempts to advance a radical agenda, no matter how false their equivalence is.

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