Few would be surprised if President Obama took aim at climate change during his visit Tuesday to survey the Louisiana flooding, which is why global warming skeptics are already raining on his parade.
The climate blame began in earnest last week with former Vice President Al Gore, who described the deluge as an example of “one of the manifestations of climate change.” Those remarks were followed by a rash of supportive articles.
“Flooding in the South looks a lot like climate change,” said an Aug. 16 headline on an article in The New York Times.
The Green Party of Louisiana issued a statement Friday calling the flooding “further evidence of the global crisis posed by climate change.”
“Until humans make global, sweeping changes to our economic and social systems, we must expect these types of disasters to continue regularly,” said the party. “The Green Party of Louisiana calls for the rapid elimination of the fossil fuel economy.”
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein called Saturday for declaring a “climate state of emergency,” saying disasters such as the Louisiana floods and California wildfires “are going to become day-to-day occurrences.”
Meteorologist Eric Holthaus, who hosts the Warm Regards podcast, wrote in an op-ed Sunday in Newsweek: “When no-name storms have the ability to become 500-year scale disasters, we should know we’ve reached a new meteorological era.”
The problem for skeptics lies in the proof. While warmer temperatures generally result in more precipitation, the Cato Institute’s Chip Knappenberger said, the scientific evidence needed to attribute the Louisiana flooding to human-caused increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases simply doesn’t exist.
“The science is not there to link this definitively to climate change,” said Mr. Knappenberger, assistant director of Cato’s Center for the Study of Science.
He and Cato’s Patrick J. Michaels pointed to two recently released studies showing that “attributing heavy precipitation events in the United States to human-caused climate change is a fool’s errand.”
An Aug. 10 paper by University of Iowa scientists found that while the number of storms is increasing, “the stronger storms are not getting stronger” and that natural variability driven by the Pacific and Atlantic oceans “can exert a large control on the precipitation frequency and magnitude over the contiguous USA.”
A second study on heavy rainfall events published Aug. 8, led by researchers at the NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, concluded, “In part because of large intrinsic variability, no evidence was found for changes in extreme precipitation attributable to climate change in the available observed record.”