WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to NASA, the summer of 2023 was earth’s hottest summer. With the rising temps, scientists believe extreme weather events like heat waves or severe storms are likely to become more frequent and intense due to climate change. A Senate committee is examining the relationship between specific weather events and climate change.
From devastating fires in Hawaii, flooding along the east coast and intense heat waves, the US has faced a handful of extreme weather events within the past year.
“Many of us are asking if climate change is to blame for stuff like this and the honest answer is: yes, yes it is,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D- DE).
In a Senate committee hearing, they looked at extreme event attribution. It’s a field of science studying the influence of human-caused climate change on individual extreme weather events.
“According to the US national climate assessments and the reports on the intergovernmental panel on climate change it is unequivocal that humans have heated the earth’s climate,” said Dr. Michael Wehner, researcher with Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories. “The best estimate humans use of oil, coal and gas has contributed to all global warming since early 1900s.”
Researchers told members their understanding about the effects of human-caused global warming on specific, individual extreme weather events have advanced considerably in the past two decades.
“We use statistical models to compare representations of weather events in the actual world that was to a world that might have been without climate change,” said Dr. Wehner. “Confidence has increased when multiple independent research teams use different approaches that arrive at similar conclusions that arrive at observed trends.”
Some members argued that extreme event attribution can’t determine whether global warming caused a specific event.
“With global warming and extreme events it is not a yes or no question,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R- WV). “I want to be clear this does not mean that climate change has no impact on the intensity of weather patterns, the trends are clear and we need to be ready.”
Other members said overall, it’s critical to continue their work to lower emissions to prevent even more intense flooding, droughts, and storms.
“I think we know where we’re going if we don’t work together, pull together, use science to guide us,” said Sen. Carper.