GOOD

Climate Connection Unclear, But Alabama Reps Voted to Cut Funding for Tornado Forecasting

It's impossible to know what factor global warming had in the tornado outbreak last week. But we do know that short-term forecasting saved lives.


Before and after photos in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, from NOAA.

After the devastation from last week's historic tornado outbreak had been reported, everyone in the environmental field was compelled to try to answer the question: So, what did this have to do with climate change? Anyone who was being honest had to answer: Well, we don't really know. It's really complicated.

Think Progress ran responses from a number of climate scientists. Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, provided the meatiest quote:

It is irresponsible not to mention climate change. … The environment in which all of these storms and the tornadoes are occurring has changed from human influences (global warming).

\n

All very true. Climate change must be mentioned. Every weather event is now affected by the warmer temperatures that humans have created. But as the rest of the climatologists interviewed by Think Progress (and countless other outlets) make clear, we just don't have any real sense of exactly what role climate change has in extreme weather events, especially tornadoes.

Climate Central, the unique media organization that puts journalists and scientists in the same office, is in my opinion the most reliable source out there for credible science behind weather and climate. Here's what Climate Central's Andrew Freedman wrote:

In this case, with the second-deadliest tornado outbreak in US history, and with the most tornadoes for any April since records began in the early 1950s, it's important to understand that the scientific evidence indicates that climate change probably played a very small role, if any, in stirring up this violent weather. This might disappoint some advocates who are already using this to highlight the risks of climate change-related extreme weather.

\n

His whole post is a must-read if you'd really like to know the nitty-gritty. Andy Revkin also posted a whole bunch of long comments from climate scientists.

While we don't know exactly what role climate change had in the tornado outbreak, we do know that the short-term tornado forecasting saved lives. This forecasting was made possible by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites. And these satellites are the very same that the GOP—including Alabama's entire Republican delegation to the House—voted to defund.

Also, if you haven't already, check out our "How to Help" post and give what you can.

Articles
Pixabay

Two years after its opening in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art acquired a painting by Sarah Miriam Peale — its first work by a female artist. More than a century later, one might assume that the museum would have a fairly equal mix of male and female artists, right? But as of today, only 4% of the 95,000 pieces in the museum's permanent collection were created by women.

The museum is determined to narrow that gap, and they're taking a drastic step to do so.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Alan Levine / Flickr

The World Health Organization is hoping to drive down the cost of insulin by encouraging more generic drug makers to enter the market.

The organization hopes that by increasing competition for insulin, drug manufacturers will be forced to lower their prices.

Currently, only three companies dominate the world insulin market, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. Over the past three decades they've worked to drastically increase the price of the drug, leading to an insulin availability crisis in some places.

In the United States, the price of insulin has increased from $35 a vial to $275 over the past two decades.

Keep Reading Show less
Health

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Since the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, whale populations have been steadily recovering. However, whales in the wild still face other dangers. In the summer of 2018, four Russian companies that supply aquariums with marine animals captured almost 100 beluga whales and killer whales (aka orcas). After a public outcry, those whales are swimming free as the last of the captive whales have been released, the first time this many captured whales have been released back into the wild.

In late 2018 and early 2019, a drone captured footage of 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales crammed into holding pens in the Srednyaya Bay. The so-called "whale jail" made headlines, and authorities began to investigate their potentially illegal capture.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet