Organic Consumers Association

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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

Bill McKibben: A Link Between Climate Change and Joplin Tornadoes? Never!

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource page and our Organic Transitions page.


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.

If you did wonder, you see, you would also have to wonder about whether this year's record snowfalls and rainfalls across the Midwest - resulting in record flooding along the Mississippi - could somehow be related. And then you might find your thoughts wandering to, oh, global warming, and to the fact that climatologists have been predicting for years that as we flood the atmosphere with carbon we will also start both drying and flooding the planet, since warm air holds more water vapor than cold air. 

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