The tornado that destroyed my hometown was born in an otherwise unremarkable atmospheric collision over the American Central Plains. On May 22, 2011, a geostationary satellite 22,300 miles overhead recorded a large collection of cloud lines drifting over southeastern Kansas. At around 2 p.m, one of the cloud lines exploded, like a cartographic-scale dry-ice bomb. Dense white vapors poured from nothing, and over the next five hours the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration monitored the growing supercell thunderstorm as it drifted toward a three-letter abbreviation on the map: "JLN."
Just after 5 p.m., two storm chasers driving toward the western edge of Joplin, Missouri, spotted a translucent set of tendrils reaching down from the storm's low black thunderhead. Almost as quickly as they formed, the tendrils disappeared. And then things took a turn. A dark blob half a mile wide congealed and dropped from the clouds. As it touched the ground, it filled with sparks from ruptured power lines, like a jar of fireflies. At 5:41, the National Weather Service office in Springfield, Missouri, issued this alert: NUMEROUS REPORTS OF TORNADO ON THE GROUND WEST OF JOPLIN AND POWER FLASHES.
The tornado intensified as it strafed the roofs and treetops of Joplin's western suburbs. By the time it reached the city limits, where 49,000 people lived, it had evolved into an EF-5, the most destructive type of tornado on the Enhanced Fujita scale. Unlike EF-4s, which are merely "devastating," EF-5s produce "incredible" damage. An EF-4 is powerful enough to scrape civilization off the planet in a matter of minutes. An EF-5 is more powerful still.
When the storm hit Joplin, the winds inside the funnel were spinning faster than 200 mph—yet the whole column was crawling forward at less than 10 mph, giving it time to wood-chip everything beneath it. The tornado produced a good deal of incredible, EF-5-worthy damage in the office park that surrounded St. John's Hospital, one of the region's major medical centers. In 45 seconds, it shifted the nine-story structure four inches off its foundation.
By then, the tornado was three quarters of a mile wide. As it tacked slightly to the north, it flattened a downtrodden swath of old Main Street. After gnawing through half a dozen intervening residential blocks, the tornado hit Joplin High School, a recently refurbished brick complex at the town's middle-class core. Security cameras intended to monitor lunch-hour skippers now recorded surges of water that rendered the parking lot indistinguishable from a harbor in a hurricane. Inside, chairs and papers swarmed as the walls began to collapse.
Meteorologists watching radar screens at a safe remove now saw a white-pink blob representing the tornado's swirl of debris swing through the rest of the city like a wrecking ball. But when it reached the open pasture at Joplin's eastern edge, the tornado—as if it had been fueled by manmade structures and was now depleted—delivered a few dying spasms and vanished.
My wife and I were eating dinner at home in Brooklyn when we heard the news. Her sister called: There had been a tornado, and it sounded bad. Growing up in Joplin means growing up with tornado warnings, so I was certain this was yet another false alarm. Still, we moved to the couch and turned on the Weather Channel. Mike Bettes, one of the network's on-camera meteorologists, was standing in a field of debris, talking to dazed Joplinites whose homes had just been leveled. At first we thought the crew was filming outside of town, in the country. A couple of houses down? Not so bad for late May in southwest Missouri. Then the camera turned and landed on St. John's Hospital. Windows blasted out, every surrounding structure demolished, it looked like the backdrop from a high-budget zombie movie. The hospital is in the middle of town. It's also about half a mile from my dad's house. On camera, Bettes choked up, turned his head, and broke into tears.That's when we freaked out.
We started calling, texting, posting urgent Facebook messages asking family and friends for information. I haven't lived in Joplin since I left for college, but my parents, grandparents, and plenty of aunts, uncles, cousins and old friends still live in the area. Same goes for my wife, another Joplin native. No phone calls were getting through, but our parents texted back quickly: They were fine, and so were their homes. Throughout the evening it became obvious that the storm was extraordinarily severe. Nonetheless, it wasn't until the morning that we realized that the damage reports that had been streaming in over Facebook weren't isolated. One continuous stream of demolition connected them all.
The tornado destroyed 20 percent of the property in Joplin, killed 161 people, and injured 1,150 more, all in a town with just 49,000 residents. That doesn't quite make it the deadliest tornado in history. The worst was the Tri-State tornado of March 18, 1925, which in three and a half hours killed 695 people in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. But because the Tri-State tornado (and the other five storms responsible for more deaths than the Joplin tornado) happened before the invention of modern weather-monitoring instruments, it's unclear whether they involved single funnel clouds or entire swarms. As a result, the Joplin tornado is the deadliest single tornado on record.
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In the aftermath of the tornado, citizens, reporters and government officials scrutinized the warning system and promised to find out what went wrong. Did forecasters give people enough notice? Did the satellite and radar systems work as designed? Did anyone pay attention? I was more interested in the cause of the storm itself. For years I had been hearing unnerving weather reports from back home: news of 70-degree days in January, of droughts followed by floods followed by droughts, of ice storms causing power outages not seen in the area since the advent of electricity. Was this tornado, by far the most devastating natural disaster the area had ever experienced, part of a pattern? Was climate change causing this insane weather?
I realized, as scientists dutifully reminded the press in the days after the storm, that it's probably impossible to draw a causal link between any single weather event and climate change. But I couldn't help but sympathize with the sentiment that Bill McKibben, a writer who has long argued that global warming is the single most important problem facing humanity, expressed that week in a Washington Post op-ed. The headline: "A Link between Climate Change and Joplin Tornadoes? Never!" Rather than making connections between the destruction in Joplin and the floods and fires and droughts happening around the world, he argued, "It's far smarter to repeat to yourself the comforting mantra that no single weather event can ever be directly tied to climate change."
When I read McKibben's column, I was in the middle of clearing my schedule and booking a trip back home. His sarcasm seemed to come from a place of exasperation that I happen to share—a frustration with the odd American reluctance to consider the possibility that climate change is not only real, but already contributing to disasters like the one in Joplin.
A week after the tornado, I set out with my dad in his pickup truck to retrace the storm's path. We started on the road west of town where storm chasers filmed those first portentous clouds. As we drove east, we encountered the first signs of damage—power lines askew, tree limbs down. The wounds soon became more traumatic. In a newish subdivision we saw the first real structural damage, a ranch-style home with a semi-collapsed garage. Above the garage door, a warning was scrawled in silver spray paint: "Looters will be shot!"
The destruction came into cinematic view as we crested a hill on West 26th Street, which overlooked St. John's. The storm had established new vistas, shaving away the houses and trees that had previously defined the skyline. Debarked trees, blond like treated lumber, splintered the horizon. We stopped to make sense of the view. To our right, two flower-covered crosses, one pink, one blue, stood at the threshold of a vanished home.
We got back in the truck and continued east, passing through neighborhoods that contained childhood homes, friends' childhood homes, elementary and middle and high schools. On the flight home, I had braced myself for this part. I had expected to look on the ruined landscape of my youth with sadness and nostalgia. But I was acutely aware that compared with the people fishing family photos from the rubble, I could not complain. It also turned out that the terrain was too disfigured to trigger many memories.
The town was so unrecognizable that one of the first tasks workers undertook, after clearing the streets of rubble, was painting street names onto the pavement at every intersection. The signs were gone, as were the landmarks, and even lifetime residents were finding it difficult to navigate. Some blocks seemed shorter than they had before; others, longer.
The major streets were clogged with emergency workers, police officers and other rubberneckers like me. Search-and-rescue crews had spray-painted the sides of damaged houses with tic-tac-toe-looking code that indicated that a house had been checked for bodies. Many were marked with a final message: "OK to Doze."
We soon arrived at another hill, this one overlooking the high school, from where we could see the mile and a half to Range Line Road, a new sight from this part of town. We stopped to walk around in the now empty neighborhood near the school. We inspected a heap of rubble on the edge of the high school's practice soccer fields, which was loaded with projectiles—nails, bricks, bolts, hunks of lumber and a manhole cover that I imagined flying around in the tornado like some Frisbee of Death.
We drove through the damage for another four miles or so, until the trail of debris ended as abruptly as it had begun. The sight of still-standing trees on the east end of town was a relief. Altogether the tornado destroyed 6,954 homes and caused at least $3 billion in damage. In the following weeks, the city would begin bulldozing the structures that were beyond repair. Dump trucks would cart away some 1.5 million cubic yards of rubble, depositing most of it in a landfill near the abandoned lead and zinc mines west of town.
And then what? My stepmother, a real-estate agent, predicted that in the process of rebuilding, landowners would combine small, old lots into larger plots that could hold the McMansions 21st-century Missourians have come to love and expect. Yet by the time those homes were built, plenty of former Joplinites would surely have relocated for good. All week she had been selling houses to dislocated residents who were desperate to find a place to live. Elderly couples who hadn't moved in 50 years were buying new homes sight unseen. Houses in Joplin are generally cheap and abundant, but now there weren't enough to go around.
Meteorologist once thought it was impossible to predict a tornado and, even if it weren't, that warning the public could cause mass panic and do more harm than the weather itself. Then on March 25, 1948, Ernest J. Fawbush and Robert C. Miller, meteorologists at the Tinker Air Force Base in central Oklahoma, issued the first tornado forecast, predicting more than three hours in advance that a squall line headed for the base was likely to produce a twister. Sure enough, a tornado ripped through the base three hours later, making Fawbush and Miller look like geniuses. Three years after that, the two founded the Severe Storms Forecast Center at Tinker, where their continued success in predicting storms made them moderately famous. As the Saturday Evening Post put it in 1951, the Fawbush-Miller system meant that "the Oklahoma farmer who said he always depended upon flying cornstalks and bed quilts to warn him of an approaching twister will now have ample time to walk—not run—to his 'scarehole.'"
Fawbush and Miller's bureau has since grown into the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center (SPC), which issues watches for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes nationwide. "We are to tornadoes as the National Hurricane Center is to hurricanes," says Greg Carbin, a warning-coordination meteorologist at the SPC. "We're the national center of expertise related to severe-storm forecasting across the continental United States. But unlike the Hurricane Center, we really don't have a season." Using two geosynchronous satellites and a nationwide network of approximately 120 Doppler radar stations, forecasters watch for the conditions that spawn severe thunderstorms and tornadoes—typically a mixture of dry, cold air from the west with warm, moist air from the south. Carbin and his colleagues can often tell days in advance when weather conditions will be right for tornado formation. When a tornado seems likely, the agency hands responsibility over to local Weather Forecast Offices, which use radar to look for the telltale "hook echo" emitted by radio waves bouncing off a tornado's cyclonic winds. If forecasters detect it, they upgrade the tornado watch to a tornado warning.
The system usually works pretty well. Carbin says that several days before the other great tornado disaster of 2011—the epic three-day outbreak that began on April 25, in which at least 178 individual twisters swarmed the American Southeast, killing 321 people—forecasters could see that in a few days, the atmosphere would be primed for a massive tornado outbreak. "We knew this was a bad deal," Carbin says. Still, no matter how far in advance forecasters see tornado-ripe conditions forming, predicting the time and place an individual funnel cloud will form is profoundly more difficult.
The Joplin tornado, unlike the April outbreak, gave little warning. "Joplin was a typical May severe-weather day on the Southern Plains," Carbin says. "Why that particular storm formed in southeast Kansas and why it evolved the way it did—it's not something you'd be able to pick out and say: This is the storm of the day."
Until late in the afternoon on May 22, forecasters were saying that severe hail was the likeliest threat from the thunderstorm brewing over the Central Plains. Then at 5:17 p.m., after coordinating with Carbin's team in Norman, Oklahoma, the Storm Prediction Center in Springfield issued the tornado warning that TV and radio stations in Joplin broadcast to their viewers and listeners. The system gave the people of Joplin 24 minutes of warning—enough notice to qualify the Joplin storm as well warned.
Still, in June, when a team of National Weather Service meteorologists traveled to Joplin to interview survivors and extract lessons from the chaos, they found problems. To some extent, local warning agencies and the NWS crossed signals, which may have caused confusion among the public. But the biggest concern was what the investigators called siren fatigue.
Like many other towns, Joplin's policy is to sound a three-minute siren when a storm with winds stronger than 75 mph is approaching town, regardless of whether an NWS agency has issued a watch or warning. So at 5:11 on May 22, after local emergency managers were informed that a funnel cloud had been sighted over southeast Kansas, the city sounded a siren. But warning too early can be dangerous, particularly in a siren-jaded area. The NWS study describes one man's confused, lackadaisical response: "(1) Heard first sirens at 5:11 p.m. CDT (estimated 30–35 minutes before tornado hit). (2) Went to the TV and heard NWS warning from TV override that indicated tornado near airport drive seven miles north (polygon #30) of his location. (3) Went on porch with family and had a cigar."
Twenty-seven minutes later, the man heard another set of sirens. At this point, he "thought something wasn't right," so he went back inside and turned on the TV, where meteorologists were still warning that the threat was north of town. Then his wife yelled "Basement!" The report concludes this summary of events thusly: "Tornado hit as they reached the top of the basement stairs, destroying their home."
If I had been living in Joplin that day, I probably wouldn't have thought to go to the porch and smoke a cigar. But I almost certainly would have walked outside and looked at the sky. Only when the horizon turned green and the dogs began howling would I have hurried to the basement.
One way to fight warning fatigue could be using sirens with different pitches or rhythms to warn of different events. The idea that such an adjustment might be necessary seemed to annoy Bill Davis, head of the NWS forecast office in Springfield. "A warning is a warning," he vented to the Joplin Globe. "How many adjectives and adverbs do we have to use to make the point that there's a possibility you could die?"
Dennis S. Mileti, a University of Colorado sociologist who has studied public warnings, has explained that none of this should have surprised the NOAA researchers. "Most people rarely, if ever, experience nature's extremes in the form of natural and other disaster types," Mileti has written. "The result is that most people do not perceive risk. Instead, most think they are safe from nature and other violent forces."
The most natural way to determine whether global warming is altering tornado patterns is to look for changes in tornado statistics and then see whether climate models can explain those changes. But the lack of reliable historical tornado data makes this kind of study challenging at best. And tornadoes are poorly understood to begin with. Scientists still aren't entirely sure why one particular rotating thunderstorm transforms into a funnel cloud while another one doesn't.
Warming Trends: Climate scientists are increasingly able to draw lines that suggest a correlation between climate change and extreme weather events. Causation is more complex, but faster computers and better models are beginning to point to a connection—a task that's easier with temperature extremes than it is with tornadoes.
Click to expand infographic: Scientists call the process of spotting climate variability and attempting to isolate the contribution of man-made climate change "detection and attribution." Researchers have been doing detection-and-attribution studies on well-understood, well-documented phenomena such as temperature changes and rainfall patterns for more than a decade.
Nonetheless, even scientists who believe that climate change is likely to lead to more events like the Joplin tornado hesitate to draw conclusions about what is going on with the weather right now. In the days after the storm, the editors at the environmental website Yale Environment 360 asked several climate experts to answer the question: Is extreme weather linked to global warming? Andrew Watson, a professor of environmental sciences at the University of East Anglia in England, responded, "My answer to this question as posed is no. However, if you were to ask instead whether I expect that human-caused climate change will lead to more extreme weather events, the answer would be yes."
This type of reticence surely comes in part from healthy scientific skepticism—the hesitancy to overinterpret data and the impulse to accumulate decades' worth of statistics before drawing conclusions. But it also seems likely that climate scientists are triply cautious with their public statements because of they way they've been dragged into the culture wars. Recall that the university where Andrew Watson works was implicated, and then vindicated, in the phony scandal called Climategate, in which skeptics used out-of-context bits from stolen e-mails to make it sound as if researchers were engaged in some great conspiracy. Climate scientists have become the abortion doctors of the scientific establishment: maligned, ridiculed, harassed, and even physically threatened. Several climate scientists in Australia, which had been debating a tax on carbon emissions, received so many death threats that their universities moved their offices to "secure facilities."
Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the Climate Analysis Section of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, is more willing than most climate scientists to link current extreme weather with climate change. He explained to me that climate change is not directly causing events such as the Joplin tornado. It is, however, "loading the dice" by increasing the amount of energy in the atmosphere, making events that would occur naturally all the more powerful and violent.
The argument is based on simple thermodynamics: As the atmosphere warms, it holds more moisture. Since 1970, atmospheric water-vapor concentrations have increased by 4 percent. That additional moisture is fuel for storms. Day to day, Trenberth says, the effect of the increased water-vapor concentration is modest, but over time the accumulated changes result in a "magnifying effect" of 5 to 10 percent. "That's often enough to make this thunderstorm into a supercell storm, or to create new records," he says.
Trenberth has been working on this thesis since the late 1990s, and although scientists increasingly accept his argument, many are still hesitant to go as far as he does. As he told the climate writer Joseph Romm in 2010, soon after so-called thousand-year floods soaked Tennessee, the link between present-day extreme weather and well-established climatic trends "often gets underplayed by my fellow scientists."
Determining whether climate change caused, or even worsened, an individual tornado seems to be beyond the epistemological limits of science. But if it's impossible to prove causation, it's easy to see a disturbing correlation. Climate change is happening; climate change should make many types of extreme weather more intense; extreme-weather events are already becoming more common. "The warning signs are there," Trenberth says.
While I was on my way back to Missouri, a friend sent a Facebook invitation to the newly created "Joplin Expatriates" group. It was an open call to a local bar for Saturday night, six days after the storm: "A Date for Destruction: Let's Get Drunk!" I RSVP'd yes, with a note that said I expected to need a drink after seeing the destruction. "You will need five," someone posted in reply.
By the day of the gathering, the disaster zone was festering. The air carried the smell of rotting meat, fiberglass insulation, chainsaw exhaust, burning plastic and the kind of mold that requires you to tear all the drywall out of your house. Now and then, sawdust sprayed from fresh-cut tree limbs freshened the breeze. Cleanup-crew volunteers had spent the week helping people search their destroyed homes for heirlooms before the rubble was bulldozed into a heap.
Many of those volunteers, among them my oldest and greatest friends, were at the bar. Spirits were surprisingly high. After a cursory discussion of our impressions of the damage—"Can you believe this?" "No, not really"—conversation turned to reunion-style catching up. In a way, it felt like December 23, when native sons and daughters, back in town for Christmas, sneak out to meet friends in the still-unregulated cigarette smoke of Joplin dive bars.
Even so, that week local kitchens and dining rooms had a way of turning into impromptu PTSD support groups. One night at my dad's, a neighbor who had spent the evening of the tornado volunteering in an emergency room described an array of horrors: an elderly woman, fully conscious, whose scalp was peeled back, exposing her skull. Another victim whose jaw had been torn halfway off. Still-living victims who emergency workers decided to black-tag, leaving them to their death so they could devote their limited time and resources to helping people who had a chance of surviving.
Another night, after dinner, my mother's boyfriend told the story of the 12-year-old girl he met at the hospital where he was helping out. She had been in the AT&T store on Range Line when the tornado hit. During the storm, she was separated from her family. Strangers brought her to the hospital. My mother's boyfriend stayed with her through the evening and tried to help her find her family. No one had any idea where they were. At the end of his volunteer shift, the fate of the girl's family was still a mystery.
The U.S. Global Research Change Program, a federal project charged with determining how climate change will manifest itself in America, has predicted that in the coming decades the middle of the country will become hotter and drier, while the East will get wetter—and everywhere, the rain that does fall will fall more heavily. This very likely is already happening. Last year, the U.S. experienced its hottest summer in 75 years. In Joplin, as cleanup crews bulldozed homes and hauled away the debris, the temperature set new records almost daily, reaching an unnerving high of 110°F. The heat and drought were even worse to the south; Texas experienced the driest year in history. Yet for five states in the Northeast, 2011 was the wettest year on record. Earlier in the year, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia all recorded their wettest April in 116 years. The Mississippi River flooded three million acres in three states. In September, after Hurricane Irene soaked the East Coast, topsoil from flooded farms upstate turned New York Harbor the color of Yoo-hoo. The federal Disaster Relief Fund diverted money from the Joplin relief effort to help pay for that flooding.
wrote on his blog, "Any one of the extreme weather events of 2010"—a year whose litany of disasters reads much like last year's—"or 2011 could have occurred naturally sometime during the past 1,000 years. But it is highly improbable that the remarkable extreme weather events of 2010 and 2011 could have all happened in such a short period of time without some powerful climate-altering force at work."The meteorologist Jeff Masters
Despite all of this, a Pew poll conducted in 2010 found that just 59 percent of Americans think there is solid evidence that the planet is warming—and that's down from 79 percent in 2006. Only 27 percent of Americans surveyed in a different poll said climate change was their greatest environmental concern.
In 2009, 29 scientists published a paper in the journal Nature titled "A Safe Operating Space for Humanity." In it, they listed a series of data points that will determine whether the planet remains habitable. The highest "safe" concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million. The current level is 387 ppm, and it is increasing by 2 ppm annually. There's no reason to believe that trend will reverse or even slow down anytime soon. In 2010, as the weather became increasingly catastrophic, carbon-dioxide emissions increased by the largest percentage ever recorded.
In Joplin, a common explanation for abnormal weather is "It's all cyclical." These things have happened before, and they will happen again. But this explanation ignores an uncontestable fact: The world is different now than it was when the Tri-State tornado hit, or when the Great Plains became a dust bowl. We're the ones who changed it. The process we've set in motion is unpredictable enough that we can't know for certain what kind of world we'll have in 20 or 50 or 100 years. But we won't be able to say we couldn't have seen it coming.
This article originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of Popular Science.
hese Tornadoes follow the Jet stream and do you know what else follow in the jet stream, aircraft jet exhausts and there pollution which is mainly Co2 as long as that crap loads up in the jet stream the more and more dangerous weather we are going to have The EPA refuses to monitor the Jet Stream, or do anything about it, so just look for more and more extreme weather. Excess Co2 Heats up the weather and also causes excessive rain. They just hit Alabama yesterday.
@jdlaughead The EPA is probably too busy creating over-reaching laws and regulations in an effort to stop all human activity at the expense of the American economy to worry about a little com trail.
@julianpenrod “Then they challenge me to give evidence an increase is taking place. I provide a number of references to graphs showing the total number of tornadoes is increasing dramatically, and democedes says I'm not sane. Recognize this as the level of non-reliability to be expected in all democedes' claims.”
The only evidence you provide (I guess 1 is a number too) is that which has similarly been provided in the article. It is not in dispute and does not support your argument. You claim that the NOAA data is unreliable, and that they are intentionally trying to deceive the public. This is the sort of thing you need to provide evidence for. The “they are a part of the global conspiracy” argument may satisfy your delusions, but is not enough for rational people.
I have explained why the NOAA removed the smaller EF0-EF2 events. Let me spell it out for you since you were unable to comprehend it the first time:
Before complete Doppler radar coverage, most of the weaker storms would go unreported. Because:
- EF0-EF2 tornados normally do not cause damage.
- Normally, a tornado is not obviously visible unless it is filled with debris.
So, if no one saw it, and there is no damage, how do you expect a person to report it? And would a normal person even think to report a small tornado if they saw one?
As Doppler radar coverage became complete over the years, it was not necessary to rely on human reports to compile tornado data.
Look at the EF-0 Events in the graph provided in the article. Why would there be more EF-1 events than EF-0 events every year prior to 1987?
Still not convinced? Go back to that CNN graph you provided and click the “Deaths per year” tab. It is not subject to the same reporting inaccuracies. It clearly illustrates that tornado activity has been relatively calm since 1974 except for a spike in 2011.
But I am sure you will dismiss all this evidence as a NWO deception. Otherwise you would actually have to think!
I find most discussions on global warming to be more heat than light - on both sides. Popular Science would do well to foster a healthy skepticism of all those who claim to have a corner on "truth". My own observation is that there are many levels to the question of climate change: 1) Has the earth actually warmed? 2) If so, to what extent is warming a natural phenomenon, man made or a combination? 3) Regardless of the cause, can its effect be reversed to a significant extent? 4) If it can be reversed, what would be the costs and would energy hungry developing countries comply? and 5) How would we keep politicians, and special interest groups from making a mess of it and creating unintended consequences (e.g. corn ethanol)?
ghstorm...1) the earth is getting warmer especially since we've been thawing out from the last ice age 10,000 years ago. 2) locally temps are affected by man's activities. But on a global scale the question is still in debate and not "over". 3) If only we could turn down the sun's thermostat, but then we'd have to deal with another ice age. 4)and 5)...politics will never be removed from these discussions because of the cost/profit implications. Al Gore was supposed to make several hundred million dollars had the CME gotten the Carbon Exchange going.
1) the earth is getting warmer especially since we've been thawing out from the last ice age 10,000 years ago.
18,000 years ago, and yep. Your point also has no bearing on the argument.
2) locally temps are affected by man's activities. But on a global scale the question is still in debate and not "over".
Debated by whom?
"97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming. "
3) If only we could turn down the sun's thermostat, but then we'd have to deal with another ice age.
It *is* turning down.
"Various independent measurements of solar activity all confirm the sun has shown a slight cooling trend since 1978."
- Note, I believe other studies have been done to show it's been cooling slightly longer than that. Naturally, we didn't have satelites in the dark ages, so long-term studies of TSI are tough.
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." - Carl Sagan
Canadian...you'll get no argument from me, except for #2 "97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming. "
97% of the IPCC delegates believe in anthropogenic global warming. Sorta like asking New York Yankee fans,"who's the best baseball team?" I betcha 97% of them answer "Yankees!!".
Fair enough, I'm not naive enough to think some scientists might be critical of global warming but aren't out of fear such thinking might end their career.
But on the flip side, if you don't ask climate experts, then just who exactly do you plan to ask? Average Joe? Mediocre biologist? Climate experts are the very people you expect to have the most intimate knowledge of the area, and therefore the group you should most place your trust.
And again, if you have issue with placing your trust in a particular group, then just whom do you propose we do trust? If the answer is nobody, then you're making up an opinion entirely arbitrarily, in which case you're even worse off.
Here's a more detailed exerpt from the site I was citing:
"Scientists need to back up their opinions with research and data that survive the peer-review process. A survey of all peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject 'global climate change' published between 1993 and 2003 shows that not a single paper rejected the consensus position that global warming is man caused (Oreskes 2004). 75% of the papers agreed with the consensus position while 25% made no comment either way (focused on methods or paleoclimate analysis).
Subsequent research has confirmed this result. A survey of 3146 earth scientists asked the question "Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?" (Doran 2009). More than 90% of participants had Ph.D.s, and 7% had master’s degrees. Overall, 82% of the scientists answered yes. However, what are most interesting are responses compared to the level of expertise in climate science. Of scientists who were non-climatologists and didn't publish research, 77% answered yes. In contrast, 97.5% of climatologists who actively publish research on climate change responded yes. As the level of active research and specialization in climate science increases, so does agreement that humans are significantly changing global temperatures."
Again, though, I appreciate your concern and slight cynicism. It's good to be critical. In this case, though, I have to put my faith with the experts, for whom else can I trust?
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." - Carl Sagan
I have read all of the ClimateGate and ClimateGate2 messages and followed the exoneration process. I had high hopes that this Popular Science article would actually treat the matter in a professional fashion; they didn't. Then there was the very poorly presented matter of the tornado types and frequency...
We need some honesty and clarity on the issue, but this article contributed neither.
Personally, based on scientific and technical progress as a function of economy over the last two thousand years, we'll have a much cleaner and more comfortable planet 100 years from now if we use the most economic energy sources available.
@D13 "lets just take your points from 10,000 years ago"
What are you talking about? I never mentioned 10,000 yo data. I think you have me confused with someone else.
@D13 "ITS HAPPENING WHEN THERE ARE 7 BILLION PEOPLE ON THE PLANET"
You can't defend your position, so you try to change the subject to something you can defend. You clearly did not comprehend anything that I wrote.
I am quoting myself here: "Personally, I am on the fence. Yes, CO2 levels are rising. Mankind’s activity is a likely cause. There will be some point where CO2 levels will cause big problems…"
You are just arguing with yourself now.
"Of scientists who were non-climatologists and didn't publish research, 77% answered yes. In contrast, 97.5% of climatologists who actively publish research on climate change responded yes."
And as I mentioned before, it is the climatologists that are actively publishing (being paid to research) that have a vested interest. That would be the same as me saying that economic geologists who specialized in industrial uses of materials like oil and coal don't believe in manmade global warming. Is anyone surprised?
I wonder how much 20 years of awarding climate science research money only to AGW advocates has warped the "discussion" on AGW?
Well you can thank the Airline and Oil industry for all this nice WARM weather we are having, by them pumping all these Green House gases into the Jet Stream.
WILL THERE BE A LIVABLE EARTH IN 20 YEARS?
There is over 7000 aircraft flying over the US at any given hour, FAA figures, and they are releasing from jet exhausts over 80,000 tons a hour of Co2 in the Jet Stream. Co2 creates oxygen from trees at ground level, but there are no trees at 20,000 feet, The life of Co2 can be up to 98 years. All this bad HOT weather including Tornadoes, draught, flooding, I credit to Co2 in the Jet Stream, as weather follow the Jet Stream. Why doesn’t the EPA do something? Because they are only authorized to monitor Co2 around the airports and particles that are 250cm or more, and no where else which Congress allowed due to the heavy LOBBISTS from the Air Line industry and the Oil Companies. These people don’t care if the BURN UP THE EARTH, as long as they show a profit! In 50 years or less the earth could look like their sister planet Venus. The Co2 level on Venus is about 88% and cloud cover over 95% Have you been wondering where your Blue Skies are more and more disappearing? The surface temperature on Venus is from 300-600 degrees. Nature is showing us Global Warming, are we to dumb to see it or doesn’t the Green house industries want us to see it?
The campaign issues this year should be to save the Earth, before their is no Earth that is livable. It is interesting That Texas is burning up because if the don’t know it is the Co2 that they are dumping into the skies and the Co2 that are coming out of the skies above them. If I lived in Joplin Missouri and that tornado tore my house apart, I would be one of the first people to sue the Airlines and the oil industry, and let the courts decide. That Jet Stream was smack over Joplin Missouri along with that Tornado, last spring. The same thing can happen next year only worst. As long as those Airlines are flying the jet Stream we will have those Weather disasters. In Europe they have Carbon tax per ton on the Aircraft. USA is the biggest polluter than any nation in the world for Co2 in the Sky!
Here are the figures 1 gallon of gas produces 20 pounds of Co2. 100 gallons of gas produces 1 ton of Co2 600 pounds of jet fuel(diesel) produces 1 ton of Co2. Jet fuel is 4 times more dirty than gasoline.
The law of conservation says nothing can be destroyed, it can only change form. All that oil that they are pump out of the earth, is now going up into your lovely Blue or is it Gray skies, have you notice how your puffy clouds, are now getting little Black bottoms, well if they start getting real black and a little black spout starts dropping down out of it, you better find a cellar. There is only ONE livable planet in this solar system, we destroy this, everything, and anybody and anything,becomes NOTHING!
More New World Order non argument methodology from democedes, deceit, misrepresentation, bad mouthing.
Mockingly, democedes talks about the "number of references", saying "I guess 1 is a number [sic] too", trying to give the malleable the impression I didn't have evidence to support what i said. In fact, though, I gave two references, the one on CNN and the material from the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. CNN only went back to 1950, whilethe Climatological Survey chart went back to 1916. I didn't provide other charts because, for the most part, they only go back to 1950 now. Does democedes think it's more legitimate if you provide several graphs all with the same numbers?
Incidentally, it's only in the past year or so that charts of tornado activity going back to 1950 have been provided. before that, they didn't go further back than about 1975, apparently to mask the skyrocketing incidence of tornadoes.
democedes then lies and insists that I said NOAA data which mirrored the overall growth in tornadic activity is trying to deceive the public. In fact, I said the emphasis on "major storms" of EF-3 or greater was intended to deceive the public. Those have stayed more of less constant and, if you look before the past few years, "descriptions" of tornadic activity described it as "constant", using only the information for the preceding five years or so.
Claiming I was "unable to comprehend it the first time", democedes then proceeds to insist that they "explained why NOAA removed the smaller EF0-EF2 events". In fact, democedes made no such "explanation"! Indeed, their reference to EF0 events is only in the post of 1:07 p.m., January 24. democedes claims EF0 to EF2 tornadoes cause no damage to conclude they were there. Wind speeds for those storms range from 65 to 135 miles per hour. While pictures of houses are provided, mostly for the shallow since that is their only interest, EF0 to EF2 storms create significant if not massive damage to things like sheds, trees, bushes, telephone poles, furniture, vehicles. There is no way not to know if even an EF0 was present. democedes also challenges as to why there were, supposedly, more EF1 than EF0 reports before 1987 if not for better Doppler tracking. Because the increase in heat energy in the air made the smaller events more likely. Minor disturbances, not wholesale organized events, which could cause the smaller tornadoes, were becoming more capable of creating storms.
And, referring to the NOAA chart of EF3 to EF5 storms, democedes said, "there is a slight trend in fewer tornadoes starting in 1974". Not "fewer strong to violent tornadoes", but "fewer tornadoes". And it's not a mistake. democedes offered the chart to contest my statement that tornado numbers had risen drastically since 1950. "Really? Care to share your source with us?", democedes said. Then they offered the edited chart of strong storms, referring to that as indicating a "trend in fewer tornadoes".
And a curious point. democedes points so proudly to the graph of tornado numbers provided with the article. Yet, when I said that tornado numbers had been climbing since 1950, democedes said "Really? Care to share your source with us?" Why would democedes challenge me to provide a source if there was already a graph provided with the article?
Another technique of non argument of the NWO, always trying to get the last word. True, someone who respect truth would continue to try to get their point across. Those seeking only to contrive a non argument will simply fill space with repetitions or useless doggerel, like challenging me to provide a graph that proves what I was saying when that graph was already provided in the article. Shills for the NWO regularly proceed to try to get the last word and, if someone who respects the truth moves on to other matters, having provided proof of what they were saying and that the shills were duplicitous, the malleable convince themselves that the quisling was true, simply because they kept talking longer.
@democedes - This is almost a two week old article now, but I had to register to ask this. (I agree that julianpenrod is insane.) But you seem like a rational thinker, so I'm curious as to why you have your doubts.
"How many researchers would lose their jobs or take a pay cut if not for the global warming “crisis?” It is the chicken littles that get the big grants and the deniers that get black listed."
I've never understood this meme. Government grants will ask an open ended question like "Study the past climate, current weather, and predict future patterns." (source: www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=11699)
The money is already there, so the scientists take it and go off and do the science and report back what they've found.
The fact that all climatologists take the money up front, go do the research, then come back with the exact same answer should be telling. So I think you've got your original claim backwards. Pushing the consensus will never give you the "big grants" like all the AGW deniers like to say.
"The carbon market has grown from 11 billion USD in 2005..."
And a single oil company's *profits* dwarfs the entire carbon market. The money is all on the side to keep the science in doubt for as long as possible, and judging by the comments in this article, they've done a great job.
Other complete nonsense in this thread that needs correcting:
"wsugaimd: the earth is getting warmer especially since we've been thawing out from the last ice age 10,000 years ago."
Yes, temperatures have changed in the past, but it usually takes hundreds, if not thousands of years to move the global temperature by 1 degree. Currently, we've gone up by 1 degree in just the past 80 years, and that's a problem.
"We put out 27 billion tons of C02/yr into an atmosphere that already has 3,600 billion tons of C02. Do the math and note that it comes to three fourths of 1%."
Yeah, I'm doing the math, and that means we will increase the entire planet's CO2 levels by 50% in 60 years. Adding .75% over a single year is *huge.*
"Volcanoes are responsible for the majority of CO2, followed by swamps (decaying vegetation) etc."
This again? Humans produce more CO2 in *three days* than all the volcanoes combined in one year. We pump 27 billion tons out every year as noted above, ironically by a climate change denier. Volcanoes will put out around 110-400 million tons of CO2 every year.
mintx...you have to study the Carbon Dioxide/Carbon cycle. C02 is a dynamic compound and its recirculation is continuous...it does not accumulate and stagnate in our atmosphere as you are infering. And you must have mixed my arguement with another post. CO2 from volcanoes can alter the C02 measurements from the MLO(Mauna Loa Observatory) where the Keeling curve was developed. It is located at the 9000 ft level, just below it, at the 4000 ft level is the world's most active and continuous erupting volcano, Kilauea and Pu'u O'o Vent. In 1950, a massive Mauna Loa eruption sent fingers of lava flowing to the ocean....several miles from my home. There were multiple intermittant eruptions up to 1983 when Kilauea began to erupt non stop to this day. Look at the Keeling curve and you'll see the rise of measured C02 from that time.
The USA output of C02 is now below the year 2000 level. just got called out for an emergency C section...be back later...
"it does not accumulate and stagnate in our atmosphere as you are infering."
It stays in the atmosphere somewhere between 50-500 years, depending on who you ask. That's still a long time.
"The USA output of C02 is now below the year 2000 level."
Yes, it's a good start for us. Now if only we can get China to reduce along with us...
mintx...A lot of the data is so obfuscated that by your reasoning, the AGW argument of C02 being absorbed by the oceans and the drop of pH is not valid as the recent Chinese C02 from new coal fired plants is still "in the air"...well at least for the next 50 -500 years? That should help my arguement that the drop in oceanic pH is not related to AGW C02.
For what it's worth, I think the main point of this article can be found in the following quotation:
> Dennis S. Mileti, a University of Colorado sociologist who has studied
> public warnings, has explained that none of this should have surprised
> the NOAA researchers. “Most people rarely, if ever, experience nature’s
> extremes in the form of natural and other disaster types,” Mileti has
> written. “The result is that most people do not perceive risk. Instead,
> most think they are safe from nature and other violent forces.”
You can learn the hard way or you can learn the easy way, but learn you must. The rest of this article is just trying to encourage readers to learn the easy way (i.e. by thinking, in case that wasn't clear). Good luck to us all!
thisoldman, you're correct. Many of us have never been through something as devastating as this tornado. Some of us have. I've been through several. Many homes destroyed by the lava flows from Kilauea, most since 1983. Hurricane Iwa 1982, Iniki 9/11/92, Kona Coast earthquake 10/15/2006 magnitude 6.7 major damage to my town (Kailua Kona)and Kona Community Hospital, and the 3/11/2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami damaging Kailua Kona. On Jan 28, 1971 heavy damage was done to Kailua Kona by a tornado.
I have great respect for the forces of nature. As we say in Hawaii, "Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina Ika Pono". The life of the Land is perpetuated in Righteousness.
Amazingly the title says "Did Global Warming Destroy My Hometown?" and someone dare say "please no argueing (sic) about global warming"
Did you ever hear of the fallacious debate tool where you say it three times and it is fact....there is now an article which shows Joplin was caused by my car and my power generating station.
Joplin was a tragedy, but WHY does every natural tragedy have to be blamed on this manmade global warming religion doctrine...
Now we have top scientists quitting thier societies in protest of these societies violating scientific reason and method in backing the MMGW religious views.
The earth has been warming (on and off) for 14,000 years since the last peak glaciation.
Every weather event is not CAUSED because of the industrial revolution...we are still in a geologic ice age...
so please stop with the chicken little "the sky is falling"
If the ice in the arctic and antarctic is melting, then global warming is a no-brainer, it is occurring. Whether Humans contribute to it is another matter. My opinion is global warming is real and Human activity contributes at least in part, to it.
If you think that global warming is occurring because of melting arctic and antarctic ice, let me put your mind at rest. in a recent article, posted on Popsci and also reported by other sources, it has been discovered that the south ice cap is at its largest since accurate measurements began being taken. That would imply cooling, or at least give the lie to warming. Also, while there have been decreases in the northern ice, the levels are highly variable, and still much higher than they were 700 years ago or so before the mini ice age. So if you only believe in global warming because of the polar ice, then you would be better off believing in global cooling, not the latest political hoax.
Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind. Albert Einstein
This article has pissed me off all over again. The before/after photos of that nice residential street.... what appears to be a nice place to live in most peoples' estimation is shown before the storm, and after it was wiped out.... everything just GONE... and the last picture from that vantage point shows houses structurally identical to what blew away being rebuilt.
More tornado fodder... and how high will the wailing rise when another tornado wipes it clean again?
People so rarely learn from past experiences that whatever happens to them in the future due to that lack of learning, they absolutely deserve.
While it's a shame that more people will die, more resources will be wasted, more lives irrevocably changed..... no more sympathy for rebuilders who construct more trash piles to blow away in the next high wind.