Don’t Miss this Video: “A link between climate change and Joplin tornadoes? Never.”

June 8, 2011

Damn I wish I’d done this.

The video takes Bill Mckibben’s recent editorial from the Washington Post, sets it to music and powerful video of the last year’s weather events.

If you haven’t seen the editorial, give that a look first. It starts out –

Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Mo., you should not wonder: Is this somehow related to the tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, Ala., or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that (which, together, comprised the most active April for tornadoes in U.S. history). No, that doesn’t mean a thing.

It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas — fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been — the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if they’re somehow connected.

Thanks to Plomomedia, for putting this together.

15 Responses to “Don’t Miss this Video: “A link between climate change and Joplin tornadoes? Never.””

  1. sailrick Says:

    Why is that idiotic denier video coming up, following the Climate Crock video about tornadoes etc?
    The one called The Real Cause of Global Warming.
    I know that happens at YouTube, but it shouldn’t here, should it?

    I found it so offensive that I was reluctant to post the Climate Crock video to my Facebook wall.

  2. danolner Says:

    It’s a great article / video, but I was puzzled by “Why it’s just now that the Arctic has melted for the first time in thousands of years.” It hasn’t. Earliest estimates are 2013, and that’s an outlier: 2040-50 is more likely for an ice-free arctic. Did I miss something? I know it’s only one little thing in an otherwise good article, but getting all the facts right is doubly important for us folk in the `factanista’.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      I think he was following Mckibben’s script. I get it that the language could have been different, but I think the message is powerful nonetheless.

  3. BlueRock Says:

    > Damn I wish I’d done this.

    There’s always room for a different interpretation. Love to see yours.

    It’s a great concept but this take on it didn’t do it for me. Maybe it was the narration or the choice of music – it wasn’t as powerful as it could be.

    A little clichéd, but Floyd’s Great Gig in the Sky would work….

  4. otter17 Says:

    Also, there is no need to worry about the Larsen B ice shelf collapse, the Manhattan-sized iceberg falling off of Greenland, the near-unanimous melting of glaciers worldwide, the coastal flooding in Brazil in 2010, the increased frequency of European heatwaves this past decade, the changing growing seasons, the coral bleaching events, the Yangtze River basin drought in China, the prolonged low water levels in Hoover Dam’s reservoir Lake Mead, the Missouri River flooding this year, the recent decade’s spike in Atlantic tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes, the increase in El Niño events over the past several decades, the sinkholes and ponds developing from melting permafrost in the Arctic and Subarctic, the methane bubbling up above the vast methane clathrate reservoirs north of Siberia, etc.

    Yeah, don’t bother with those events either. And certainly don’t connect the dots with the rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions or the hockey stick temperature graph.


  5. Powerful stuff.
    But isn’t the jury still out on whether climate change contributes to tornado formation?

    • greenman3610 Says:

      yes, we do not have a long enough data set to say that tornadoes will increase in numbers or strength – however the
      record is pretty clear on droughts, heavy rain events. ALL weather events are currently being influenced by
      climate change, so it is not possible to separate out those which are or are not. The big story is that
      weather is getting more intense, more extreme, and beginning to disrupt human activiities.

  6. tonyl22 Says:

    “Damn I wish I’d done this.” What struck me about the McKibben piece and this video was how it is possible to string together a set of extreme events to make a point–emotionally. Given the importance of CC/GW, that is good, but your work tends to be more didactic and that is better. For example, I would like to have seen some of those little animated line charts that you do included. So, I agree with Bluerock that there is lots of room for other videos, including ones that expand on this list, a la otter17’s suggestions.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      I try to add in teaching materials and provide as much emoting as possible, but this one is great because it speaks to a powerful moment in history, and our awakening to what the planet is doing.

    • otter17 Says:

      Yeah, a video on the “it won’t be that bad” crock would be awesome. Along with a rapid fire list of some of the recent trends and events, provide the references to evidence like Munich Re’s analysis on increased climate disasters and the peer reviewed literature on the subject.

  7. Eclipse Now Says:

    Hi Greenman,
    a sceptic friend of mine watched this and wanted to know if there were any statistical studies confirming empirically that all these trends are actually increasing?

    Also, given that we ‘only’ have 150 or so years of weather measurement, how would we tell what was statistically significant? I looked at the “Effects of climate change” wiki and it said there were a few significant trends in heat-waves, so I forwarded that study to him. But I’m wondering if there’s any statistical backing to this video and to the idea that we can really *see* climate change hurting our economies *now*.

  8. Eclipse Now Says:

    (Forgot to click the follow-up button).


  9. […] video on the connection between extreme weather and climate last year went seriously viral, and presaged the poll released this week indicating a large number of […]


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