Politics of Attributing Extreme Events and Disasters to Climate Change

Focus Article Open Access

Myanna Lahsen, Jesse Ribot

First published: 08 December 2021 | https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.750

Edited by:: Simone Rödder, Domain Editor and Mike Hulme, Editor-in-Chief

Funding information: Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Grant/Award Number: 483099/2009-0; Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, Grant/Award Number: 1544589; International Center for Local Democracy Grant

Abstract

Climate change certainly shapes weather events. However, describing climate and weather as the cause of disasters can be misleading, since disasters are caused by pre-existing fragilities and inequalities on the ground. Analytic frames that attribute disaster to climate can divert attention from these place-based vulnerabilities and their socio-political causes. Thus, while politicians may want to blame crises on climate change, members of the public may prefer to hold government accountable for inadequate investments in flood or drought prevention and precarious living conditions. To be both strategic and moral, framing choices must therefore be sensitive to context-dependent political meanings and particularities, and to how the values implicit within analytic frames about the causes of disasters shape policy responses. Such sensitivity requires multicausal analysis of weather-linked disasters to illuminate a broader range of means to reduce the damages associated with climate change and weather extremes. Through examples from around the world, and especially Brazil, we discuss how and why climate-centric disaster framing can erase from view—and, thus, from policy agendas—the very socio-economic and political factors that most centrally cause vulnerability and suffering in weather extremes and disasters. We also offer a theoretical discussion of why attribution is not neutral. Analytic frameworks always embed choices about factors that matter, and thus are inherently normative and consequential for understandings of responsibility and action.This article is categorized under:

  • Social Status of Climate Change Knowledge > Climate Science and Decision Making

Highlight

  1. Attributing crises only to climate is inadequate from a mechanical, moral, and strategic policy points of view.

Abstract

Attributing extreme events and associated crises to climate change is neither a neutral enterprise nor always strategic for advancing mitigation or societal adaptation. Because they affect policy responses, communications about the causes of such events should be presented with sensitivity to particularities of political and social positions, causal frames, and lived experiences.

1 INTRODUCTION: ATTRIBUTING—AND CONFLATING—WEATHER EXTREMES AND ENSUING CRISES

Powerful science leaders hope that identification of the role of climate change in extreme weather events will “spur more immediate action” to mitigate climate change and to avert the damages associated with such events (McNutt, 2019). Scientists thus have an understandable “tremendous desire” (Trenberth et al., 2015, p. 725) to use “attribution science” to show the extent to which particular weather events, such as heat waves, storms, droughts, and floods, are caused by climate change (Trenberth et al., 2015, p. 725). Encouraged by improved scientific capacity to discern the role of climate change in individual extreme events, the next step often taken to inform journalists and the public is to also attribute damages that follow these climate events to the events and their anthropogenic components. The specious assumption is that better, more-precise attribution of extreme events to climate change also can be used to attribute damages that follow to climate change, as pointed out by Hulme et al. (2011).

We review literature and evidence that illustrates why climate-centric framings of disasters can be misleading and problematic, even from a policy point of view. We urge caution to avoid conflation of the causes of extreme weather events and associated crises. Even where science can attribute such events to human emissions of greenhouse gases with some rigor, the damages that follow are centrally a function of vulnerabilities on the ground. Our narrative review thus argues for multi-causal analysis of weather-linked disasters, as such analysis illuminates a broader range of means to reduce the damages associated with climate change and extreme weather. To be strategic, framing choices must be sensitive to context-dependent political meanings and particularities, and to the values implicit within analytic frames about the causes of disasters and how they shape policy responses. Through examples from around the world, and especially Brazil, we show how the climate-centric disaster framing can contradict the experiences of those who suffer disasters because it erases from view—and, thus, from policy agendas—the very socio-economic and political factors that most centrally cause their vulnerability and suffering. In a final section, we offer a theoretical discussion of why attribution is not neutral, as analytic frameworks always embed choices about factors that matter, and thus are inherently normative and consequential for understandings of responsibility and action. At the level of policy, the tension between climate-centric framings of disasters and attributions that foreground political factors, not least poverty and socio-economic inequality, is a function of the current climate regime’s focus on greenhouse gas reductions (climate mitigation) over the reduction of deeper, social causes of both the pollution and the vulnerability.

2 PRESSURES IN FAVOR OF CLIMATE-CENTRIC DISASTER FRAMING

The desire to persuade the public of the dangers of climate change via attributions of climate events pressures scientists and the media alike to attribute extreme climate events (and associated crises) to climate change. Dedicated to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct climate skepticism and related misinformation circulating in U.S. media and society, the progressive research and information center Media Matters for America regularly scolds U.S. media outlets for failing to mention that climate change is driving the conditions that create this “new normal” of frequent crises—as, for example, in the form of destructive wildfires (Robbins, 2015). Similarly, leading climatology communications advisors associated with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) invoke examples from around the world to criticize media outlets for “far too often” failing to seize on “clear opportunity” to call attention to the climate as cause (Hassol et al., 2016). They coach experts to begin communications about such events by clearly defining climate change as cause, “[r]ather than starting with caveats, uncertainties, and what we cannot say,” as scientists often do (ibid.).

This climate-centric attribution communications strategy is further backed by a large body of literature that explicitly understands extreme weather events and related crises as valuable opportunities to raise public attention and drive discussion about climate change (e.g., see Albright & Crow, 2019; Davidson et al., 2019, among others reviewed in Lahsen et al., 2020). Thus, both scientific and popular discourses can end up framing disasters that follow extreme weather as if they were result of stressors “from the sky,” rather than outcomes of pre-existing vulnerabilities on the ground (Foote, 2016; Friedman, 2016; Janković & Schultz, 2017; Lustgarten, 2020; Rigaud et al., 2018). These attributions divert attention from other important—and treatable causes. Such “climate reductionism” (Hulme, 2011)—the attribution of crises to climate alone—also has implications for social and political understandings of potential responses, and for responsibility (Ribot, 2019).

Decision makers interviewed in a study of U.S. stakeholder perceptions of scientific attributions of California’s recent drought were, without exception, doubtful that the scientific attributions of extreme events to climate change would improve policy decisions, at least at the level of adaptation planning (Osaka & Bellamy, 2020, p. 10). Nevertheless, journalists interviewed as part of the same study expressed increasing inclination to attribute instances of extreme events to climate change in their reporting in recent years, responding to attribution science and to increased acceptance of this framing. Some journalists reported covering attribution science in response to perceived “pressure” from green groups or from the general public who were “asking the question” about the connection between climate change and events like the drought to highlight the climate factor (Osaka & Bellamy, 2020, pp. 6–7). Mindful of the importance of proper attribution, the study’s authors conclude that if extreme event attribution is to be used as a tool for public communication, further research is needed into the effects of pressures and framing choices on publics’ climate perceptions and beliefs (Osaka & Bellamy, 2020, p. 10).

3 MULTIPLE CAUSES OF CRISIS

It is well established that disasters are caused by many factors, even when weather plays a role (Blaikie et al., 1994; Davis, 2002; Drèze & Sen, 1989; O’Brien et al., 2007; Ribot, 2014; Sen, 1982; Watts & Bohle, 1993). Similarly, it is well established that climate change is not a primary reason that migrants leave their homes, whether in Central America, the Sahel, Syria, or elsewhere (Boas, 2015; Mayer et al., 2013; Ribot et al., 2020). So, despite extreme weather, these outcomes cannot be attributed to weather alone—if at all.

Security on the ground—conditions and policies in place—mediate damages that follow climate events. Further, these conditions have causes, which must be understood if we are to improve prevention of crises. Thus, the effects of these anthropogenic elements of climate remain contingent on conditions on the ground and the chains of causality that produce them (Blaikie, 1985). As an example, the complex causes of dangerous migration across the Sahara are illustrated by Figure 1, which shows many of causal chains that lead to what has been wrongly called a “climate migration” (Ribot et al., 2020). Climate events and trends are, however, inseparable from the many other interacting causes of departure.

FIGURE 1 Open in figure viewerPowerPoint
Putting climate in place among causes of migration from Senegal (Ribot et al., 2020)

People understand that the damages they sustain are due to their pre-existing vulnerabilities. Indeed, there is no crisis without vulnerability (see Wisner et al., 2004). An extreme event may cause no damage in a well-prepared community. However, a vulnerable community may have damages that scale, or even multiply, with the force of the hazard. Vulnerability plays an empirical causal role in the losses and damages. A vulnerable community may attribute the damages to their vulnerabilities even if the triggering weather event carries an evident climate change signature. Affected populations rightly perceive cause within their local conditions (Ribot et al., 2020).

It is one thing to link weather events such as heat waves, droughts, storms, and floods to anthropogenic climate change. It is a separate analytical step to attribute the associated crisis, losses, and damages, to these climate events. The two kinds of attribution are often linked by the assumption that better, more precise attribution of extreme events to climate change can be commutatively attributed to damages that follow (Hulme et al., 2011). Regardless of the magnitude of a climate event or the degree to which it is anthropogenic, however, the damages that follow depend on conditions in place (Sherbinin, 2020). Vulnerabilities on the ground must be analyzed and explained before attributions of damage can be made (Blaikie et al., 1994; Sen, 1982; Watts, 1983; Wisner et al., 2004). The role of weather can never be separated from pre-existing precarities (Ribot, 2014).

Failing to capture the place-based social causes of observed or projected damage, the climate-centric narrative is not likely to resonate with lived realities. It may ring especially false to those who live displacement or who know about socio-economic marginalization and absent or weakly enforced social and legal protections (Ribot et al., 2020). Subject to violence and oppression and exploitation, few Honduran and other Latin American migrants are traveling north merely to escape climate change (Semple, 2019; see also Lustgarten, 2020; Rigaud et al., 2018). In 1000 household surveys and 100 migrant interviews, almost no Sahelian crossing the Sahara toward Europe mentions that they are fleeing drought. Rather, they explain their plight in terms of low prices for their crops, inadequate access to markets, and the lack of social services (Ribot et al., 2020). Similarly, people who fled an extremely violent Syria also do not think they were pushed by climate change (Fröhlich, 2016; Selby et al., 2017). In such cases, people are not likely to feel climate change is an important factor—for it is much less important than the precarity (a la Bourdieu 1997) that they must contend with day to day. Thus, attribution to climate or climate change may read false to those affected when they view their precarity as a result of their local and broader political–economic situation. It is, of course, good scientific practice to provide the most accurate causal attribution of climate events—identifying as far as possible their anthropogenic component. Yet the role, meaning, and effect of this information are contingent on local politics that shape the conditions of security and vulnerability that the climate event finds in place.

To the extent that these framings are intended to draw attention to anthropogenic climate change to prevent future crises, it is ironic that they can divert attention from deeper social and political–economic causes of suffering, including the problematic conditions of violence and exploitation that fundamentally strain and diminish the very human lives that most analysts hope to protect.

4 DISASTERS AND RESPONSIBILITY ATTRIBUTIONS: THE POLITICS OF CLIMATE-CENTRIC FRAMINGS IN BRAZIL

Socio-economic and political conditions turn extreme weather events into disasters (IPCC, 20122014; Ribot, 2014; Sen, 1982; Watts & Bohle, 1993). For those in the Global South who live in precarious situations, such conditions, or associated vulnerabilities, are starkly visible. They have also been revealed in Northern cases (see Somers, 2008, on Katrina). Attribution of crisis only to a climate event is therefore inadequate as a mechanical explanation (Hulme et al., 2011), but also from a moral and strategic policy point of view. Attributing disaster to human-induced or human-augmented climate events reduces the anthropogenic cause to far away greenhouse gas emissions, and this occludes the role of local poverty, precarious housing and the myriad other social and political–economic conditions that result from inequities, politics, and poor decision making (Castree et al., 2014). Moreover, these two levels are not sufficiently joined and addressed through current policy mechanisms; at both national and international levels, there is an avoidance of deep-cutting analysis and interventions into the systemic causes of pollution and inertia (Dimitrov, 2020; Harris, 2021; Park et al., 2008). Insufficient follow-through on early pledges from developed countries to fund climate adaptation under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Hulme et al., 2011) offers limited opportunity to address poverty and other structural conditions that undermine adaptation and resilience (L. Friedman, 2021); addressing both remains centrally dependent on national and local funds and decision-making (Council of Foreign Relations, 2013). Traditional international development institutions do not fill the gaps (Lahsen et al., 2020, p. 226).

Evidence shows that Brazilians are aware of the difficulty of simultaneously attributing disasters to climate change and to more local and socio-economic and political causes. Lahsen et al.’s (2020) study of Brazilian scientists, journalists, and civic leaders’ discourses around two flooding and landslide disasters which occurred in 2008 and 2011, respectively, shows that even climate-concerned Brazilian environmental leaders systematically avoid adopting the climate frame for recurring weather-linked disasters, and that they sometimes even actively contest that frame. They show acute awareness of the political opportunity costs of attributing such recurring disasters to climate change, because it plays down the role of imprudent decision making by national and local decision makers. In the wake of the 2011 rain-induced flooding and mudslides in the mountains of the state of Rio de Janeiro, for instance—one of Brazil’s most costly and tragic rain-induced disasters in recent decades—Brazilian climate scientists pushed back against climate-centric framings. Their headline-disseminated message asserted unequivocally that “Warming did not Cause [the] Tragedy” (Lahsen et al., 2020, p. 219). As they rightly noted, events like these have been occurring for decades, and yet national mapping and early warning systems were persistently left sub-par. Vulnerabilities on the ground set people up for crisis; inadequately prepared for, the disasters caused by the flooding and landslides were expected events, even if their intensity was unprecedented. The Brazilian scientists called for urgent disaster prevention policies, including disaster mapping, warning systems, re-urbanization, relocation of houses, and helping poor people to secure housing in less disaster-prone areas (Folha de São Paulo, 2011). A climate-centric framing was not compatible with these urgent policy goals (Lahsen et al., 2020).

Later scientific attribution studies (Otto et al., 2015) support these Brazilians’ disinclination to frame the two disasters as functions of climate change. However, the considerations were primarily political. As another indication, the associated actors and national media criticized Brazilian decision makers who attributed the disaster to climate change, describing this as efforts to shirk responsibility for societal vulnerabilities caused by their poor decision making. For example, after the tragic 2008 flooding and landslide event in the same Southern state of Santa Catarina, national and international experts refuted then President “Lula” da Silva singular framing of the disaster as “certainly” and “intimately” linked to climate change and, as such, caused by “many developed countries that are not assuming proper responsibility” in policy negotiations under international climate treaties (Zero Hora, 2011). Noting that extreme flooding events are a long-standing problem in the region independently of anthropogenic climate change, they instead attributed the tragic disaster to unwise development decisions and inaction despite science-based recommendations for measures to reduce societal vulnerability (Correio do Brasil, 2011). A local environmental engineer denounced the climate-centric framing of the disaster as a “deliberate attempt to naturalize the catastrophe, to eliminate governmental responsibility” (ibid.). Experts emphatically noted that the most important adaptive response went unheeded: poverty reduction and proper government control of land occupation in areas at risk for land slides and flooding.

Climate-centric framings of disasters can usefully call attention to the primary responsibility of Northern countries for causing climate change, but at the cost of displacing blame and responsibility from more local decision makers who could have reduced societal vulnerability in the face of extreme weather events, whatever the role of climate change in them. Here, as in many other places around the world, societal vulnerability in the face of such events has roots in investment practices and in a long history of colonial and post-colonial exploitation (Ribot, 2014, p. 673; see also Farmer et al., 2004; Franke & Chasin, 1980). For local elites, however, it is politically more comfortable and convenient to blame global climate change than it is to trace crises to histories of underdevelopment (Rodney, 1973) and exploitative international systems (Davis, 2002, p. 11014), which (like climate change attributions) lead responsibility attributions back to the over-developed counties (Ribot, 2014). To the extent that climate narratives have led to policies to guard against climate extremes, efforts have targeted things such as water retention or pumping, rather than policies that might support local security via agricultural prices, access to markets and credit, or social services (Brottem & Brooks, 2018; Ribot et al., 2020; Tschakert, 2007).

Climate-centric attributions of recent flooding events have similarly been rejected in other parts of Brazil, also on the grounds of being overly convenient for national decision makers. Although recognizing that flooding events happen in the city of São Paulo “every year more frequently, with greater intensity and greater geographic distribution,” a geologist protested: “We will not believe that global warming and urban waste are causing flooding.” Instead, he unequivocally blamed policymakers’ poor decision-making, stressing that concrete constructions and absence of investment bearing on land-use and drainage systems, among other types of sound planning, have left the cities without drainage (Santos, 2013; see Colette, 2019, for a similar case in Argentina). The persistent reality of lacking disaster preparedness in Brazil, as elsewhere, despite many years of domestic and international climate policy, illustrates the tenuous value of the climate frame as stimulant of improved mitigation or adaptation in many places (Lahsen et al., 2020), and might make disaster preparedness for its own sake a more strategic framing (Lahsen et al., 2020).

These policy implications are unrelated to the science of climate change attribution—which may indeed be accurate. Attribution of disasters to both climate and to more local expressions and causes of vulnerability may be objectively correct in many instances. Popular communication tends toward simplification, however, as scientific nuances and qualifications can undermine clarity, sow confusion among publics, and fail to promote desired action paths (Hassol et al., 2016). Recognition of this also seems to inform climate-centric disaster framing (Lahsen et al., 2020). Against simplification, others advocate for a “cosmopolitan moment” in the public life of science (Raman & Pearce, 2020), hoping for “opportunity to forge a public culture comfortable with the epistemic diversity and ambiguity inherent to climate change, and yet a culture that can also reason together in the public good” (ibid., p. 1).

But there are important obstacles to easy reconciliation of climate-centric disaster framing with vulnerability reduction, as we have suggested, including the long-standing tendency for developing countries to stress Northern, rich countries’ primary responsibility for causing and, thus, morally, for also addressing responsibility. As noted, this prevalent discourse, supported by climate-centric framings of disasters, serves to hide developing countries’ decision makers’ co-responsibility. That is very apparent in Brazil, whose diplomats have led developing countries’ emphasis on Northern primary responsibility in the climate regime (Viola & Franchini, 2017). This framing is difficult for Brazilians to challenge, since they tend to agree with the premise of differential responsibility, even if they desire stronger climate action (Lahsen et al., 2020), and that might contribute to their inclination toward alternative disaster framings. Governments are known to manage blame strategically, to avoid public awareness and pressure in response to their decisions against substantial policy on climate change (Howlett, 2017, p. 625). Finally is reason to challenge the pressures to always attribute crises to the weather or to climate change, and the underpinning assumption that doing so always will bring optimal policy outcomes.

Who, then, is to decide the frame that Brazilians should adopt? Any objective judgment on that would require a reasoned, multiple-perspective-informed evidence analysis. Sometimes frames other than climate as cause might better serve public concerns and, even, achieve the hoped for “climate action.” For example, although it does not come under the heading of climate policy, a strong National Forest Code in Brazil—if enforced—is a form of climate action to the extent that it preserves vegetation that is a carbon sink, including in strategic places where it can reduce the threat of floods and landslides (Silva, 2012). Here human wellbeing (via ecological sustainability) is central—and policy is aimed first at security. While climate change-related policies may also be worthy and have positive effect, forestry policy may be much more effective and perhaps more feasible, for reasons that Lahsen et al. (2020) discuss. Forest protection is certainly more within the purview of Brazil’s government compared to tangible reduction of global climate change. Moreover, Brazilians have multiple more-immediate concerns. While they worry about climate change more than most other populations in the world (Leiserowitz, 2007; Lewis et al., 2019), they worry much more about deforestation: in 2012, 64% ranked it as the most important environmental problem for the country and the world, against 10% who chose to rank global climate change first (Brasil, 2012). Moreover, they attach great cultural pride and value in their biodiversity-rich, abundant natural environment (Brasil, 2012). Stressing climate change may be important, but for purposes of immediate security and popular preferences it is far from primary.

The forestry example also shows that emphasizing climate change is not necessarily the best—or the only—means of stimulating climate-relevant action, whether in the form of mitigation or adaptation. As noted, relatively little institutional and financial support for climate adaptation and resilience is found nationally in Brazil and internationally under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and traditional international development institutions also offer inadequate funding for adaptation (Lahsen et al., 2020, p. 226). In Brazil, “official climate policies do not necessarily translate into support for climate vulnerability reduction and adaptation via forestry, due to a disconnect between official climate policy and actual decision making at the level of forest—and more generally land—management” (ibid.). Rather than merged, these compatible agendas often remain parallel activities.

“One frame fits all” therefore does not hold when it comes to attributions of weather-related crises or ranking the importance of environmental problems; climate-centric framings of disaster may yield more proactive policy responses in some contexts than in others. They also might be more relevant in countries where anti-climate-change forces abound, such as the United States. Anti-environmental campaigns and climate skepticism are less prevalent in the Global South (Painter & Ashe, 2012), or they can take forms other than skepticism about human-induced climate change (Lahsen 2017). Where such counter-forces are prevalent and obvious, attributions might help consolidate belief in climate change as real and to be reckoned with.

One frame may not fit a single national context, either, when it comes to tendencies to link extreme weather events to climate change, even for the same subgroup of actors. Climate-concerned Brazilian scientists drew attention to non-climatic factors in the case of the 2014–2015 Southeastern drought (e.g., poor governance by both public and private entities).1 However, even in that same case, some prominent Brazilian scientists also adopted climate-centric framing, drawing attention to the loss of “flying rivers” caused by national deforestation. This shows the role of context and purpose in framing choices, and that the climate frame also sometimes serves Brazil’s environmental coalition.

5 FRAMING AND NORMATIVITY

Regardless of whether climate change is large, small, or unknown, disasters that follow extreme weather events have multiple causes, in Brazil and elsewhere. Analysts’ choices of analytic frameworks always highlight one cause over others and are thus inherently political, whether or not they recognize this. Identifying the degree to which a climate event’s intensity or duration is due to anthropogenic meddling is a quantitative matter that, even when rigorous, is still subject to dispute (Jézéquel et al., 2018). The analytic frames we use to explore the degree to which a climate event or its anthropogenic increment causes damage are normative—insofar as each frame locates causality in different factors and thus has different implications for responsibility and action. Norms are implicit in any analytic frame (Giddens, 1999; Sayer, 1992), including those specific to climate change (Callison, 2015; Hulme, 2011; Rudiak-Gould, 2015).

Any framing of, or theoretical approach to, the analysis of human–environment relations embeds choices about the variables that matter and the relations among these variables. They embed choices about the import of structure, history, and context (Farmer et al., 2004; Sayer, 1992, p. 2). Indeed, we always observe and understand via a priori knowledge or axioms that prefigure experience (Lund, 2014). Which framing prevails in any given causal analysis vitally shapes understandings of problems we observe and their solutions. In turn, these understandings inevitably shape responsibility (Calabresi, 1975; Hart & Honoré, 1959) or “blame games” (Hood, 2010) whereby actors apply their frames to attribute responsibility for the creation and resolution of societal problems. Frames are chosen within value-laden perspectives by scientific analysts as much as by lay persons—given the implicit solutions and responsibilities that a selected frame will serve. This is partly why Media Matters for America and WMO communications scholars try to guide scientists’ constructions and choices.

Cause is thus contentious. It points a finger, identifying the responsible and the guilty (Calabresi, 1975; Hart & Honoré, 1959). Producing a seemingly pure neutral scientific ideal of causality that links climate events directly to damage erases some of that contention from view, since a biophysical chain of events leading back to a climate hazard blames everyone, being “anthropo”-genic (generated by all humans) and thus no one (Castree et al., 2014; Rudiak-Gould, 2015; Schwartz, 2019).

Different frames embody different moral stances—whether the expert analyst is conscious of this or not. Cashore and Bernstein (2020, p. 1) show that “… experts carry hidden cognitive frames about how to conceive of the problem at hand. These frames, in turn, strongly influence policy prescriptions.” Morality, thus, must be acknowledged in any analysis involving humans, because morality—the normative “shoulds,” “oughts,” expectations, desires and priorities that guide human action—is an empirically observable element in causality of any human action. While methods can be value free, theory, or the frames we bring to research, cannot (Sari, 2014, p. 235), since theory or frame can only be identified by a judgment of their effect on something, an outcome, that is humanly valued (Drèze & Sen, 1989, p. 15; Giddens, 1999, p. 5). Any motive for research or reporting is a human motive, and so no approach to knowing comes without purpose. Acknowledging the power and social content of frames makes us aware of the implicit judgments they always carry. This can clarify moral choices often obscured by reductionist technocratic discourses.

6 CONCLUSION

Politics-sensitive analysis is needed to gauge the strategic value of climate-centric disaster attribution in any given context. Attributing the damages, even incremental damages, only to the climate change increment is incomplete and thus misleading—since even the increment can only be a function of the degree of vulnerability; the incremental damage, like disaster writ large, does not fall from the sky. We caution awareness: climate change never causes loss or damage independently of the social conditions on the ground in specific places; the degree to which climate change can trigger disaster depends on the degree to which people are already exposed and precarious. When explaining disaster, whether or not climate-related, we must explain and address such vulnerabilities—for which there are well-established analytic methods.

We view climate change as a major problem for humanity. We do not challenge, nor would we ever diminish, the important scientific effort to attribute extreme weather events to anthropogenic climate change. Explaining and reducing climate change is imperative. We do suggest, however, that scientific research and journalistic accounts that attribute particular crises to climate events or climate change need to be examined for embedded assumptions about meanings, priorities, and causal relations, not least assumptions about the politics and policy consequences of climate-centric disaster attribution. The stress on climate as cause may be meant to call attention to human actions as the cause. However, the framing can skew attention toward stressors “from the sky” rather than to the social, and often more treatable, causes of weather-related crises. Climate-centric disaster framing is politically useful to actors with interest in diverting attention from local, national and international policy initiatives that might bring—or could have brought—more direct and locally relevant remedial action.

Where the purpose is to identify ways to reduce disasters and attribute responsibility for damage, it is imperative to attribute the associated damages to the causes of vulnerabilities in place. This is a separate analysis from that of demonstrating the degree to which climate change is a driver behind a given climate event. The latter can attribute the anthropogenic element of the climate event within the statistical possibilities of measure, trends, and projections. The vulnerability analysis can attribute damages that follow the climate event to on-the-ground susceptibilities to damage within the analytic possibilities of social and political–economic enquiry.

It is encouraging that the IPCC (IPCC, 20122014) now acknowledges social and political–economic causes of vulnerability as more central to the picture of climate crises. Reconciliation of climate-centric disaster attribution and vulnerability-centric disaster attribution remains difficult, however, since their framings of responsibility can lead in different directions. Further research might explore the extent to which this tension could be reduced (a) by systematically accounting for factors such as national and global overconsumption and making the causes of poverty and inequality central to climate analysis and policy foci across scale, which currently is not common, and (b) by expanding the international mitigation-centered climate regime to also treat climate adaptation and resilience policy as simultaneously local, national, and global responsibilities. These may be realistic first steps and policy goals.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We would like to thank Timothy Forsyth of London School of Economics for his guidance on sources for this article, as well as two blind reviewers whose comments helped improve the manuscript. Emigration field research by Ribot that is cited in this article was generously supported by the International Center for Local Democracy in Sweden. Lahsen’s cited research focused on Brazil benefited from support from the US National Science Foundation (grant no. 1544589) and from the Brazilian Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq) for the project “Science, Technology and Policy Studies” (CNPq 483099/2009-0) under the Brazilian National Institute for Science and Technology—Climate Change (INCT-MC).

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

The authors have declared no conflicts of interest for this article.

AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS

Myanna Lahsen: Conceptualization (equal); data curation (equal); formal analysis (equal); writing – original draft (equal); writing – review and editing (equal). Jesse Ribot: Conceptualization (equal); data curation (equal); formal analysis (equal); writing – original draft (equal); writing – review and editing (equal).

Endnote

1 See, for example, Bonduki (2014): “The crisis is not just the result of an unprecedented drought. It had been announced since 2010, but [the privatized, formerly public water company] Sabesp, thinking as a private company, sold more water than it could. The company’s own 2011 report states that it was drawing more water from the system than it replenished.”

HT/Dave Burton and Roger Pielke Jr.

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Joseph Zorzin
December 13, 2021 6:10 am

wow, that photo- when Ale Gore, John “horsey face” Kerry, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Jimmy Hansen and others like them decide to simplify their lives to lower their carbon footprint and save the planet- move into huts like that, I will finally believe them

Brad-DXT
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
December 13, 2021 3:51 pm

I still wouldn’t believe them. The huts would be just for show and they would only go into them for photo ops.

December 13, 2021 6:31 am

Extreme weather replication is becoming an art form … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4LOL27PbwA

Old Man Winter
Reply to  John Shewchuk
December 13, 2021 9:13 am
fretslider
December 13, 2021 6:31 am

All you need to know is, whatever the topic, the fundamental cause is climate change – unless it’s good news of a sort; then it’s just a freak occurrence.

Reply to  fretslider
December 13, 2021 7:41 am

Tornados will become more frequent and more violent, as more wind turbines are built. Wind turbines introduce vorticity into a mostly laminar flow of air 🙂

Vuk
Reply to  Curious George
December 13, 2021 8:02 am

Here in the UK:”Wind turbine expansion thrown into doubtOnshore wind farms generate about a tenth of Britain’s electricity.
Further expansion of wind turbines in the British countryside has been called into question after the technology was left out of key planning policy papers.”
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/12/13/wind-turbine-expansion-thrown-doubt/

Reply to  Curious George
December 15, 2021 3:39 am

Interesting hypothesis. OTOH, wind turbines also reduce ground-level wind velocities.

But it shouldn’t be necessary to speculate, because there are a LOT of those bird-choppers already deployed. So is there evidence that they’ve caused more frequent and/or violent tornadoes, where they’ve been erected?

Ron Long
December 13, 2021 6:46 am

What a bunch of nonsense. They are basically presenting a cook book on how to present climate change through a politics filter, which filter they believe the voting population will believe. I might think of this as wasted intellectual time and effort, but maybe it keeps the authors from writing something even more stupid.

Jules Guidry
Reply to  Ron Long
December 13, 2021 6:58 am

Or having to get a real job, where they produce something actually useful, not just mularkey. So many of these types around the politics arena/cesspool.

Kevin McNeill
Reply to  Ron Long
December 13, 2021 11:23 am

I took an entirely different view of this article. Once you remove the academic bushwa and the knee-jerk references to climate change, what I read into this is that disasters are not caused by climate change but by bad weather and typical government 3P programmes. 3P being piss poor planning

bonbon
Reply to  Kevin McNeill
December 13, 2021 1:34 pm

No one has time to look for diamonds in Dino turds. Let AI scan it.

Lil-Mike
Reply to  Ron Long
December 13, 2021 2:14 pm

Did you even read the paper? I found it thoughtful and very important. I basically the paper said stop blaming climate change, and start focusing on vulnerabilities. That the press blaming “sky causes” removes the focus from inept politicians who could have done something to reduce the risk of exposure.

Attributing the damages, even incremental damages, only to the climate change increment is incomplete and thus misleading—since even the increment can only be a function of the degree of vulnerability; the incremental damage, like disaster writ large, does not fall from the sky. We caution awareness: climate change never causes loss or damage independently of the social conditions on the ground in specific places; the degree to which climate change can trigger disaster depends on the degree to which people are already exposed and precarious. When explaining disaster, whether or not climate-related, we must explain and address such vulnerabilities—for which there are well-established analytic methods.



D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Lil-Mike
December 13, 2021 2:25 pm

I believe you are correct, that is the way I read this paper. They also, in a general fashion, show how politicians can dodge the responsibility for local effects if they just blame First World carbon emissions and wring their hands in impotence.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Lil-Mike
December 13, 2021 4:41 pm

“Did you even read the paper? I found it thoughtful and very important.”

Are you kidding!? It was pure climate change propaganda dressed up as reasonableness.

See some of my comments on the article below.

Last edited 9 months ago by Tom Abbott
Tom Abbott
Reply to  Ron Long
December 13, 2021 4:40 pm

“What a bunch of nonsense. They are basically presenting a cook book on how to present climate change through a politics filter”

Exactly.

Len Werner
December 13, 2021 6:56 am

One thing I’ve noticed over 70-some years is that Climate Change has changed one hell of a lot more than climate has. Climate seems to change slowly with cycles in nature, while Climate Change changes rapidly–complete with wild switches from freeze to fry–with cycles in academia.

Smart Rock
December 13, 2021 7:00 am

They seem to have used a great many words to convey a message that’s really quite simple.

Mr.
Reply to  Smart Rock
December 13, 2021 7:09 am

Exactly my impression of this paper.

So many words to convey what could have been expressed as –
“[weather event] caused by climate change? Bullshit.”

Cosmic
Reply to  Mr.
December 13, 2021 7:26 am

Could not read but 10% of it.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Cosmic
December 13, 2021 4:43 pm

I read about 50 percent of it before it became too much.

J Mac
Reply to  Smart Rock
December 13, 2021 8:37 am

Boogeyman!

MarkW
Reply to  Smart Rock
December 13, 2021 9:10 am

I understood every single word.
It was the sentences that were incomprehensible.

Mr.
Reply to  MarkW
December 13, 2021 9:44 am

🤣

bonbon
Reply to  MarkW
December 13, 2021 1:33 pm

Then let Cook’s Truthotron scan it and not waste our time.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Smart Rock
December 13, 2021 12:12 pm

Yes, it reeks of the academic odor.

DMacKenzie
December 13, 2021 7:08 am

First line….“Climate change certainly shapes weather events.” I’m pretty sure 30 years of weather is the definition of climate….so if their premise is wrong….

Redge
Reply to  DMacKenzie
December 13, 2021 11:50 am

So which 30 year period are we trying to return to – hope it’s a warm one

Doonman
Reply to  DMacKenzie
December 13, 2021 1:47 pm

Exactly. Cause and effect is backwards with these people. The effect (climate change) can never be the cause ( 30 years of weather). It’s a violation of the fundamental principle of all things physical.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Doonman
December 13, 2021 2:30 pm

No, they are correct. Climate change, from whatever causation, drives the tempo of weather events. Whatever indicator, Pacific basin, Atlantic basin, Indian basin, total insolation or what have you, as those items vary they affect the average weather, i.e. climate. Whatever a given climate, you expect a certain weather, recognizing that excursions are to be expected and are therefore, not of themselves, an indication of a changing climate.

Doonman
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
December 13, 2021 3:16 pm

30 years of weather must happen first in order to have any discernable climate at all. It is the definition of climate.

So to say that climate change causes any weather events is plain backwards.

You cannot argue otherwise. It is cause and effect. The cause must happen first.

bonbon
December 13, 2021 7:18 am

I propose to pass all WUWT articles through Cook’s Truthotron to get a truthiness rating, to contrast that with the rating stars.
This one is so convoluted, I think the AI Truthotron would reboot, or show a BSOD with error code 42.
Any Article that crashes the Truthotron will be flagged as 42 .

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  bonbon
December 13, 2021 12:13 pm

42! You mean the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?

bonbon
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
December 13, 2021 1:31 pm

Turn Cook’s Truthotron on itself. Basic Gödel stuff.
Trying to make sense of the balderdash lead, which some pander to “lost in translation” is better left to a Cook AI.

Climate believer
December 13, 2021 7:48 am

The “Climate-centric attribution communications strategy”, is a useful political tool for climate alarmists to sway public opinion, conflating extreme weather with the climate gives you endless opportunities to force your political ideas onto front pages everywhere.

A ramping up of this strategy is to be expected in the years to come, it’s just ripe for abuse.

What the world needs is an “Honesty-centric attribution communications strategy” which would help all concerned to effectively mitigate against such events.

Vuk
December 13, 2021 8:00 am

Terrible aftermath of the USA tornado event. Hopefully people would be able to eventually rebuild or acquire alternative properties.

bonbon
Reply to  Vuk
December 13, 2021 8:05 am

How many even have insurance, besides Amazon?

TonyG
Reply to  bonbon
December 13, 2021 11:18 am

Because only big corporations have insurance?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  bonbon
December 13, 2021 12:18 pm

In the US, homes (and cars) that have a mortgage are required by the lender to have Home Owner’s (car) Insurance. Typically, it is only the homes or cars that have little value that are uninsured.

Climate believer
Reply to  Vuk
December 13, 2021 2:20 pm

Kentucky.
“Gov Andy Beshear suggested that the event was the most devastating tornado event in the state’s history, with 64 confirmed dead.”

Possibly, but devastating tornadoes did kill 80 people back in 1974, and the previous highest to that was in 1880 with 76 people dead, so this is not unprecedented, or a new state of affairs.

“The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency has warned that severe storms like the one that brought tornadoes to six states over the weekend will become the “new normal” due to climate change.

Possibly, but according to NOAA’s data I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that.

Tornadoes december.png
Tom Abbott
Reply to  Climate believer
December 13, 2021 4:46 pm

No, this is the old normal just repeating itself.

alf
December 13, 2021 8:03 am

So why is the NOAA busy with climate change when it is their job to find ways of predicting dangerous tornadoes. They do not seem very good at that but can predict future tornadoes 100 years into the future.

Mr.
Reply to  alf
December 13, 2021 8:28 am

Skip over to Cliff Mass’ blog and you can read his meteorologist’s explanation of the difficulties and shortcomings of tornado forecasting and warnings.

Peta of Newark
December 13, 2021 8:15 am

What is one of these:
“Powerful science leaders”

Why the picture of the little house? No context, so many words but why the picture?
(Something The Emperor is wearing today I don’t wonder)

The house is perfect for the place it is and for the people who built and live in it.

You’re not looking down on those people are you, making yourself ‘all clever, knowledgeable and superior because you know what ‘climate’ is and how The Radiation Is Re-emitted In All Directions
You only do so because something’s missing in your life and you want control – maybe you’re admitting you don’t ‘get’ radiation?

There is a VERY major Wrong Thing in the picture – you do know what it is doncha – you should because YOU put it there……

Last edited 9 months ago by Peta of Newark
Lil-Mike
Reply to  Peta of Newark
December 13, 2021 2:18 pm

Did you read the paper? Its very good. Basically it says stop blaming the climate, start blaming vulnerabilities on the ground. Poor planning, unsafe structures, people living below weak slopes, or on flood plains is the problem, not the climate.

The picture is of a shitty house that will neither withstand strong wind, nor a nearby fire.

Slowroll
December 13, 2021 8:56 am

A fine example of “if you can’t dazzle ’em with brilliance, baffle ’em with bullshit.”

AndyHce
December 13, 2021 8:59 am

How silly to expect politicians to give up their favorite excuse.

Richard S Courtney
December 13, 2021 9:48 am

The above paper by Myanna LahsenJesse Ribot is based on a conceptual error; i.e.
only direct evidence can indicate the true cause of an effect.
This is because
an ability to attribute a cause to an effect is not evidence that the attributed cause is the true cause in part or in whole
and, therefore,
any attribution study can only demonstrate a putative cause of an effect is not a real cause.

Anybody who doubts this fundamental principle of logic need only consider a game of Cludo.

At the start of Cludo game the ‘murder’ can be attributed to each player, and the objective of the game is to disprove that individuals may have ‘dunit’ until only one suspect remains. The single remaining suspect is assumed to be ‘guilty’ because the other suspects did not do it. That inference is sufficient in the game of Cludo but not in reality because it presumes to know all the possible ‘murderers’ and in reality a possible suspect may exist but not have been detected.

Only direct evidence of a causal relationship between a possible cause and an observed effect can demonstrate a true cause: an ability to attribute a possible cause is not evidence that the possible cause is a true cause in part or in whole. And it is surprising that this was not pointed out to Lahsen and Ribot by prepublication reviewers of their paper.

Richard

Len Werner
Reply to  Richard S Courtney
December 13, 2021 10:33 am

A quick check of the credentials of the authors gives some insight into the attitude and knowledge base from which they express scientific opinion: Anthropology, sociology, literature and poetry.

Joe Gordon
December 13, 2021 10:30 am

You know what’s coming when you see the words “lived experience” in one of these pseudo-intellectual generators of wind (unfortunately, it can’t power the turbines any better than a cold, calm December afternoon).

Translation: “elitist ivory tower inhabitant projects its (pronouns Are violence) political wishes onto what it perceives as a noble savage so that it can feel warm and happy that it saved the day.”

These people couldn’t change a light bulb without calling in the proper union, so they have to save the world through balderdash.

TonyG
December 13, 2021 10:34 am

Seems pretty simple to me: by blaming “climate change”, governments (and politicians) get to avoid responsibility for actually doing anything, while still having a platform to run on saying “we have to do something”.

December 13, 2021 10:39 am

Is this peer-reviewed? A grammatical error in the “Highlights” section suggests not.

But if it’s kosher, it would suggest that Mike Hulme, for one, is dialling back on climate alarmism.

BTW, when you strip away the academic jargon, what the authors say makes quite a lot of sense to me.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Neil Lock
December 13, 2021 4:51 pm

What doesn’t make sense is the author attributing severe weather to Human-caused Climate Change, which he does throughout the article.

The author is assuming way too much. He is assuming things not in evidence.

tim lutz
December 13, 2021 10:47 am

What is it about framing?
Can’t find the guilty party, look for someone to frame.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  tim lutz
December 13, 2021 4:51 pm

Or some thing: CO2.

Last edited 9 months ago by Tom Abbott
Editor
December 13, 2021 11:02 am

The paper suffers in translation, I think, but to my mind this is a very good paper. To people who are already sceptical of the mainstream climate science and politics, it may seem like a lot of words to express the obvious, but to others it may come as a ray of light. “we show how the climate-centric disaster framing can contradict the experiences of those who suffer disasters because it erases from view—and, thus, from policy agendas—the very socio-economic and political factors that most centrally cause their vulnerability and suffering.” is an insight that needs wider publicity. Being on WUWT is a good start but it needs to be re-expressed in the simpler language that English-speakers tend to use and to get into the mainstream media.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
December 13, 2021 11:30 am

Thanks, Mike, I agree it’s a good paper. If I may paraphrase the sentence you quoted in italics: “The bad stuff you’re going through is the fault of bad government, not of climate change.”

Jeff corbin
Reply to  Mike Jonas
December 13, 2021 1:31 pm

Yeah, The weather becomes more important than individuals who experience it. Climate centric disaster framing turns victims of catastrophic weather events into policy victims and pawns of propaganda and fear mongering…. or we lose sight of them altogether in the spin. It depersonalizes the human experience of weather.

Duane
December 13, 2021 11:19 am

Without getting too longwinded and didactic about it, as this post does, the politics consist of whether enough people can be convinced to screw up their lives and their livelihoods for an abstract thing like “climate” when jobs, wealth, inflation, health, and simply pursuing a happy life are vastly more important to nearly all people.

Non-idiots get it that weather has always been a highly variable thing, with occasional disasters, going back forever. Maybe a teenager might not have the perspective, but pretty much everyone older than 20 knows that hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, droughts, etc etc have always been part of living on this planet.

Pretty much every kid over 20 has seen the Hollywood flick “Twister”, which came out in the 1990s. They know instinctively that tornadoes are fickle bitches that have always come around uninvited to destroy towns and farmsteads, and anyone unlucky enough to be in their pathway is lucky to survive with their possessions intact. Ditto with hurricanes.

Duane
Reply to  Duane
December 13, 2021 11:23 am

That’s why homes and farmstead throughout the eastern half of the United States typically featured either basements, as twister shelters, or separate “storm cellars”. As a young child growing up in the midwest in the 1960s I was taught tornado survival skills, just like all the other kiddies. Get into your basement, or storm cellar .. or if caught out doors, find the nearest culvert or ditch and get down into it. That was 60 years ago, long before anyone ever heard of global warming, and we were so taught by our parents and grandparents who themselves were taught that back in the late19th century or early 20th century.

Joseph Zorzin
December 13, 2021 11:54 am

“describing climate and weather as the cause of disasters can be misleading, since disasters are caused by pre-existing fragilities and inequalities on the ground”

It’s a disaster when poor people can’t afford fuel for their furnace and gasoline for their car so they can get to work and electricity to run their air conditioner.

Jeff corbin
December 13, 2021 1:45 pm

My Father grew up on a farm in the 1930s near Omaha Nebraska. It was a common sight to see twisters turning up the spring mud in the fields along the roads in March, April and May…. riding a horse drawn wagon to school. He wore rags on his feet because there was no money for shoes even though his Father brought 300 head of cattle to market every year and harvested 350 acres of corn and grain. The Spring twisters didn’t make the news at all. the hardship the pandering of the hardship of neighbors would have resulted in a bloody nose. Not one word of those twisters in the local paper. At home there would have been a few comments. The concern was always for livestock, farm buildings, home and the lives of the local people. This is the news that spread…. someone’s barn was blown over or house lost a roof and the people gathered and helped those people. There was no FEMA, or politicians or people yapping endlessly. Weather happened and people lived together in it and helped each other out. There was no pandering culture of national weather voyeurism, shock and fear mongering. All of that would have been consider bad taste…rude…worthy of a fat lip. Bad weather was normal and it happened. They lived with it; living life on life’s terms. Those were the years of record cold in winter and record heat in summer. Big city newspaper people would speculate about the changing weather but those stories garnered nothing more than a curious remark at the local pool hall in Red Oak. LOL

Jeff corbin
Reply to  Jeff corbin
December 13, 2021 2:04 pm

BTW, America currently has about 320 million lives. In 1933 the population was 125,000. In California in 1933 there were 6 million, now there is 40 million. There are simply far more people in the way of bad weather and fires. My grandfather moved from Philadelphia in 1959 to California to a new development called paradise California. In 1977,during a season of record heat and drought, I visited him. As soon as I arrived he told me to leave because it was too dangerous due to the fire risk because the town and country refused to clear out the trees and build a good fire break around the town. He said, “these people are out of their minds… it’s just a matter of time any day we can all burn to death in this town. “many of us will be roasted in our cars in a traffic jam on the only road out of here”. I thought he had gone mad. Immediately we I left for Napa Valley o go fishing in a reservoir that hardly had any water The weather dudes were predicting catastrophic water shortages, 8 months later the sam dudes were predicting the collapse of the Oronoco Dam …too much rain ad now melt. So it goes for California. He passed away in 1994. In 2019 the entire town of paradise burnt to the ground in the camp fire…many died because they didn’t protect themselves from the inevitable fire that would come and all I hear is climate change…nice blame shift. I lived in Ventura county in 1960-1964 every year the fires came with the Santa Anna winds. Walking to school in smoke was as common as walking to school in the snow in PA. By the 2008 those same hills that burnt over and over again where full of expensive Haciendas and developments ….who knew!

Jeff corbin
Reply to  Jeff corbin
December 14, 2021 7:43 am

After all these years of yap, the sun still shines in Red Oak Iowa,… it’ still rains and snows, the bitter cold winds come with snow in winter as do the spring storms and twisters. The corn still grows there. Yet most of the people are gone. The towns and farmsteads are all gone. There is nothing but oceans of corn, windmills and giant silo’s. In the 1930, 400 acres would take 3 men and 6 horses to farm. Now 4 guys can farm 80,000 acres and who knows who actually owns the land. Those 4 men will grown nothing they actually eat… that is what the supermarket is for. Yikes

Jeff corbin
Reply to  Jeff corbin
December 14, 2021 7:40 am

After all these years of yap, the sun still shines in Red Oak Iowa,… it’ still rains and snows, the bitter cold winds come with snow in winter as do the spring storms and twisters. The corn still grows there. Yet most of the people are gone. The towns and farmsteads are all gone. There is nothing but oceans of corn, windmills and giant silo’s. In the 1930, 400 acres would take 3 men and 6 horses to farm. Now 4 guys can farm 80,000 acres and who knows who actually owns the land. Those 4 men will grown nothing they actually eat… that is what the supermarket is for. Yikes

Last edited 9 months ago by Jeff corbin
December 13, 2021 2:52 pm

The averaging of the record of weather events shapes the Climate Record and its Change, not the other way round.

Tom Abbott
December 13, 2021 4:02 pm

From the article: “Climate change certainly shapes weather events.”

There is no evidence to support that claim.

It’s an unsubstantiated assumption. Like everything else connected with Human-caused Climate Change.

Tom Abbott
December 13, 2021 4:09 pm

From the article: “Encouraged by improved scientific capacity to discern the role of climate change in individual extreme events”

The role of Human-caused climate change has never been discerned in individual extreme events. Not one time.

To make this claim demonstrates the author doesn’t know what he is talking about.

More unsubstantiated speculation on the part of alarmists.

Tom Abbott
December 13, 2021 4:14 pm

From the article: “Even where science can attribute such events to human emissions of greenhouse gases with some rigor,”

There is no such case where human CO2 emissions have been connected to extreme weather events scientifically. Rhetorically, every extreme weather event is attributed to human CO2 by alarmists, but that is not scientific evidence of anything. Saying something is so, doesn’t necessarily make it so. And in this case, it is not so.

Tom Abbott
December 13, 2021 4:19 pm

From the article: “The desire to persuade the public of the dangers of climate change via attributions of climate events pressures scientists and the media alike to attribute extreme climate events (and associated crises) to climate change. Dedicated to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct climate skepticism and related misinformation circulating in U.S. media and society, the progressive research and information center Media Matters for America regularly scolds U.S. media outlets for failing to mention that climate change is driving the conditions that create this “new normal” of frequent crises”

It’s all climate change propaganda.

Real scientists should have the desire to tell the truth to the public, not propagandize them about CO2.

Good luck with “correcting skepticsm’. Skeptics are currently eating your lunch.

Tom Abbott
December 13, 2021 4:22 pm

From the article: “Similarly, leading climatology communications advisors associated with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) invoke examples from around the world to criticize media outlets for “far too often” failing to seize on “clear opportunity” to call attention to the climate as cause”

More climate change propaganda from the World Meteorological Organization.

The WMO are the ones who started this entire climate change hoax. It’s not a surprise that they would continue to lie about it.

Last edited 9 months ago by Tom Abbott
Tom Abbott
December 13, 2021 4:28 pm

From the article: “Mindful of the importance of proper attribution, the study’s authors conclude that if extreme event attribution is to be used as a tool for public communication, further research is needed into the effects of pressures and framing choices on publics’ climate perceptions and beliefs”

What you should start out with is further research into whether CO2 has an effect on the Earth’s weather. This has never been establihed as scientific fact, yet here you are trying to talk reporters into lying to the public by telling them it is established scientific fact.

Not true. You couldn’t prove CO2 attribution to weather events if your life depended on doing so.

Tom Abbott
December 13, 2021 4:32 pm

From the article: “A vulnerable community may attribute the damages to their vulnerabilities even if the triggering weather event carries an evident climate change signature.”

There is no “evident climate change signature”. It doesn’t exist. Or at the least, it is so small it cannot be quantified, so it still wouldn’t be evident to someone watching.

This author is dreaming things up.

Tom Abbott
December 13, 2021 4:35 pm

From the article: “It is one thing to link weather events such as heat waves, droughts, storms, and floods to anthropogenic climate change.”

It’s one dishonest thing to do. There is no evidence for anthropogenic climate change.

How dumb does one have to be not to realize this?
From the article: “It is one thing to link weather events such as heat waves, droughts, storms, and floods to anthropogenic climate change.”

It’s one dishonest thing to do. There is no evidence for anthropogenic climate change.

How dumb does one have to be not to realize this?

Too much disinformation in this article, too little time. I’m done with this guy.

Last edited 9 months ago by Tom Abbott
H.R.
December 13, 2021 6:28 pm

Is it just me or is that Figure 1 diagram totally incomprehensible?

It reminds me of the spiderwebs made when spiders were given LSD.

Bob
December 13, 2021 7:54 pm

This article was well written, I wish I could write like that. However the message is muddled.

This paper could have been written with half the words. It reminds me of the scene in the movie “A River Runs Through It” where Norman McClean’s father is grading Norman’s paper and makes him cut it in half a couple of times. These people clearly needed that kind of advise.

Second you need to separate the chaff from the wheat. These people clearly see anthropogenic global warming as a problem that needs to be addressed. Where they differ from the extreme climate alarmists is their handling of extreme weather events and the damage resulting from them. Attributing extreme weather events to anthropogenic climate change scientifically and properly is not an easy thing to do. It is easy to claim but not easy to prove.

Third they want to distance themselves from politicians, journalists and third rate scientists who are eager to use anthropogenic climate change as a crutch for bad policy decisions, poor writing and lazy scientific work. I completely agree with them in that regard.

It is a whole lot of words trying to convince us they are taking the middle ground while at the same time informing us that we should all be concerned and join them and the concerned congregation in their effort to save us from climate change.

WTF
December 15, 2021 11:30 am

We are witness to an immense milestone in human political history-the successful politicization of weather. The politicians have wrested this away from the shamans and high priests and are only now beginning to realize the immense riches this can provide.

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