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Dr. Christy: Heatwave not what "Global Warming Looks Like" Rather what "Mother Nature Looks Like"

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Published on Aug 1, 2012

Dr. John Christy, Alabama's State Climatologist, Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing on global warming and stated:

"During the heat wave of late June and early July, high temperature extremes became newsworthy. Claims that there were thousands of records broken each day and that "this is what global warming looks like" got a lot of attention.

However, these headlines were not based on climate science. As shown in Figure 1.3 of my testimony it is scientifically more accurate to say that this is what Mother Nature looks like, since events even worse than these have happened in the past before greenhouse gases were increasing like they are today.

Now, it gives some people great comfort to offer a quick and easy answer when the weather strays from the average rather than to struggle with the real truth, which is, we don't know enough about the climate to even predict events like this.

A climatologist looking at this heat wave would not be alarmed because the number of daily high temperature records set in the most recent decade was only about half the number set in the 1930s as shown in my written testimony. I suppose most people have forgotten that Oklahoma set a new record low temperature just last year of 31 below. And in the past two years, towns from Alaska to my home state of California established records for snowfall. The recent anomalous weather can't be blamed on carbon dioxide.


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