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Disasters Getting Closer to Climate Change Attribution

One study doesn’t change everything — yet!

I have a bit of familiarity with the heat wave that hit the Pacific Northwest back in June — since I lived through it. Besides not going golfing (I still need to play my first round of golf in 2021), I spent an inordinate amount of time watering, trying to keep my cottage garden from roasting. I’m still finding plants that got a little “tinged” by that heat outburst.

While the record-setting temperatures were significant, I didn’t know how significant or unprecedented they were until I listened to this The Daily podcast: “The Heat Wave That Hit the Pacific Northwest.”

What was of particular interest was the attribution to climate change that one group of scientists made. I’ve always heard them say in the past that “no one single event can be attributed to climate change.” That tune changed with their examination of this heat wave.

Here is the episode description:

“The heat wave that hit the usually cool and rainy American Pacific Northwest was a shock to many — Oregon and Washington were covered by a blanket of heat in the triple digits. After the temperatures soared, a group of scientists quickly came together to answer a crucial question: How much is climate change to blame?

“Guest: Henry Fountain, a climate change reporter for The New York Times; and Sergio Olmos, a freelancer for The Times.”

One thing I’ve learned is to never jump to conclusions from one study, be it of a drug or some other aspect of hard or social science. So, I’m not all in on the conclusions from above, since I don’t believe in sitting out on a limb and then sawing it off later.

Do I believe in climate change? Yes! Do I believe (unlike a neighbor of mine) that it is human caused? Yes!

However, what I personally believe is not what makes it a truth. Science is always shifting around a bit as new things are learned. As for my neighbor, I heard on the radio this morning that the European Union is trying to make the manufacture of new electric cars mandatory in 2035. Do you really think that they would be taking all these actions if they didn’t have some good facts and figures to back it up? They are making decisions based on science and not just “what I believe.” Unfortunately, “what I believe” seems to trump facts these days.
Eric Holdeman is a nationally known emergency manager. He has worked in emergency management at the federal, state and local government levels. Today he serves as the Director, Center for Regional Disaster Resilience (CRDR), which is part of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER). The focus for his work there is engaging the public and private sectors to work collaboratively on issues of common interest, regionally and cross jurisdictionally.
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