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Recent testimony a reminder that climate change skepticism is healthy

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: January 3, 2014

Roger Pielke Jr., a professor who first began studying extreme weather and climate in 1993 at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., was blunt in his assessment.

“There exists exceedingly little scientific support for claims found in the media and political debate that hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and drought have increased in frequency or intensity on climate time scales either in the United States or globally,” Pielke said. He noted that hurricane landfalls “have not increased in the U.S. in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since at least 1900.”

The same thing is true for tropical cyclones globally since at least 1970. Pielke said floods “have not increased in the U.S. in frequency or intensity since at least 1950,” and tornadoes in the United States “have not increased in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since 1950, and there is some evidence to suggest that they have actually declined.” Droughts have “become shorter, less frequent and cover a smaller portion of the U.S. over the last century.”

Pielke's testimony is notable because he doesn't reject the idea that man-made changes can impact the environment. But he makes clear recent weather events can't be described as unusual by historic standards.

Christy and Pielke's testimony is a useful reminder that skepticism is warranted in the debate over purported man-made climate change, particularly when proposed solutions involve significant, negative impact on the economy and citizens' quality of life. Policies with such negative consequence should be avoided, particularly if they are being advanced in response to events that may be unusual, but not unnatural.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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