While Joe Romm, Bill McKibben, and others follow the fear card script to do everything and anything they can to link severe weather to global warming, they are clearly fighting a losing battle for public opinion on the issue. Now, even Andy Revkin at the New York Times doesn’t believe it anymore when it comes to tornadoes.*
You can’t exclude climate change, but there’s simply no evidence through a half century of tornado history in the United States of a connection to warming.
Of course one of the strongest pieces of evidence has to do with the trend in the frequency of strong tornadoes, as shown in this somewhat dated graph from NCDC:
I’m looking forward to NCDC updating this data and graph. Obviously, there will be a new spike in 2011 rivaling 1974. But clearly, even with improved detection technology, the trend is down.
But this graph only goes back to 1950, and of course if we presented climate data only back that far, critics like the nefarious “Tamino” aka Grant Foster would have a cherry flavored cow, which is the typical M.O. for him. NCDC of course gets a pass.
Fortunately, I have some new tornado data to present that goes back further.
These two graphs below, courtesy of Dr. Indur Goklany, go back to 1900 and show the trend in death rates yearly, and by decade, since 1900:
Clearly death rates per million are down, which is testament to the improved warning technology, plus the skills and dedication of the National Weather Service and volunteer storm spotters at getting “eyes on” tornadoes to provide advance warning.
*UPDATE: Andrew Revkin writes in via email with this comment, which I am happy to reprint at his request – Anthony
You’ve cast my concerns about overstated discussions of tornadoes in the context of climate change as if this is new.
You must have missed my 2008 piece, including this section: