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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

The Week in Climate Part 3: Extreme Weather Linked to Climate Change …

By Phil Plait

One of the hardest parts of writing about global warming—and there are lots and lots of hard parts—is simply keeping up with the news. Much of it comes in short newsy bits, worth knowing but difficult to write about as an individual full post. Since the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference is being held in Paris this week, I’m posting a weeklong series of shorter articles about global warming and its fallout. You can also read Part 1 and Part 2. And read all of Slate’s coverage of the Paris climate talks here.   

One of the problems with clearly identifying the impact of climate change is that it influences events but doesn’t necessary cause them outright. As climate scientist Michael Mann describes it, climate change is like using loaded dice in a game of craps. You’ll get double sixes more often than random chance, but any given boxcar throw is hard to attribute to the cheating.

Still, we have enough climate events to start seeing the effects of the loaded throw. EarthSky reports that a large multinational study by many teams of scientists shows that of 28 large climate events that occurred in 2014, fully half are attributable to human-induced climate change.

This doesn’t surprise me; we’ve been seeing global warming’s dirty fingerprints in events like wildfires, heat waves, disturbance of the global air circulation patterns, polar ice extent, glacier melting, and far, far more. This new study is not exactly good news, but I’m satisfied to see it added to the ever-growing list scientific evidence of the reality of our warming planet.

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