Some climate scientists, in a shift, link weather to global warming – latimes.com
One of those scientists is NASA climatologist James Hansen. In a study published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he noted that dramatic events like droughts and heat waves affected just 1% of Earth’s surface between 1950 and 1980; in the last 30 years, that figure has jumped to 10%.
“We can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies … were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small,” he and his colleagues wrote.
Hansen isn’t the only one who suspects that the signature of climate change can be seen in recent weather trends.
Around the world, “the incidence of drought is consistent with what the climate models are predicting,” said John Seinfeld, an atmospheric researcher at Caltech. “It certainly doesn’t appear to be out of line to conclude that this last summer could be statistically attributed to global warming.”
In the U.S., the summer ranked as the third-hottest in the nation’s history.
Among laypeople, the perception that extreme weather is getting worse — and that it’s linked to climate change — is increasingly taking hold.
Nearly 75% of Americans now say global warming is affecting the weather in the U.S., according to a poll released this week by scientists at Yale University. The poll found that about 60% of Americans reported experiencing an extreme heat wave or drought this year, while an equal percentage said weather had worsened over the last several years. A companion poll reported earlier this year that 8 in 10 Americans had personally experienced at least one extreme weather event in the last year, and more than one-third said they had suffered as a result.
Jerry Lubell narrowly missed being one of them this summer, as a 100-foot wall of flames approached his Colorado Springs, Colo., home. The fire spared his house but left him shaken.
“It has me thinking,” said the retired nuclear engineer, a longtime skeptic of the idea that human activity is behind global warming. “I haven’t changed any fundamental opinions yet, but I might.”
Climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that the planet is getting hotter and that mankind’s use of fossil fuels is largely responsible.