It's climate that changes, but weather that kills you

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There is no proof whatever that the devastating strength of cyclone Nargis is related to climate change. There is no concrete evidence that the deadliest tornado season in a decade can be linked to global warming.

There is a smoking gun, and it has human fingerprints all over it. The case against the fossil-fuel-burning culprits has certainly been proved beyond reasonable doubt, but because the worst offenders are rich and influential, there is still no one up on charges.

This is, of course, an invitation to those who want to argue about whether it is appropriate to “scream climate change” every time there is a critical weather event. And I admit that when these people get excited about a chilly winter or the odd cold day in May, we’re the first to ridicule their inability to distinguish between climate and weather.

But these storms – these deadly storms – are precisely what climate modellers have told us we can expect in a warming planet. People are dying in horrifying numbers. (And it’s interesting in Myanmar, as in the U.S. after Katrina, that government neglect and ineptitude may prove to be the deadliest component of all.)

The quibblers at the Heartland Institute, and at dozens of other think tank clones, would have us cling to doubt and do nothing. But then, Heartland President Joseph Bast doesn’t actually live in the heartland. He doesn’t have to deal with the risks of Tornado Alley and he surely doesn’t have to trouble himself with the fate of sea-level communities fronting on the Bay of Bengal.

Flitting between Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., Joe Bast can continue to profit from defending tobacco and oil companies without ever worrying personally that his casual risk analysis is exposing huge portions of the world’s population – and all the generations to come – to an environmental catastrophe that arrived with a huge and explicit warning sign.

So, look – if you can – at the photos of dead bodies floating down the Irriwaddy River. Cling – if you can – to the idea that his event had nothing whatever to do with the world’s changing climate – with decisions that we have all made and actions that we all might have changed.

Seriously, 90+ per cent is not proof. So, pour yourself another sherry and light another cigar. We’ll call you when we know, for sure, that the party is over.

Please take a moment and vote for Richard’s post on Digg.com by clicking here.

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