But some still debate whether climate change plays a big role in natural disasters
President Biden said the severe weather and wildfires the country has seen in recent weeks are due to man-made climate change, arguing that the point has been settled.
“We know what the driver is, climate change. We know what causes climate change, human activity,” Biden said Tuesday during an appearance at Colorado’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “It’s no longer a matter of debate.”
But some still debate whether climate change plays a big role in natural disasters like California wildfires and hurricanes, as Biden suggested.
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“When I hear discussions on climate change, it is suggested that it is a major cause and it is not,” said Scott Stevens of the University of California told Forbes last year When discussing forest fires.
Stevens’ view was echoed by University of Wisconsin geographer Paul Robbins, who argued that such fires are nothing new.
“The idea that fire is somehow new … is entirely a product of climate change, and part of a moral crusade for the soul of the nation,” Robbins said.
Nick Lloris, an economist who focuses on energy, environmental and regulatory issues as a Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, also disputed the idea That climate change is accelerating hurricane activity.
“There is conflicting literature in the scientific community about what this increased temperature and increased ocean temperatures have done to the size and magnitude of hurricanes,” Loris said during a 2018 interview. “The reason we keep hearing this isn’t so surprising, it’s the feeling that we need to act on climate change, in particular we need to restrict the use of coal, oil and natural gas, which the US energy needs and provides 80% of the world’s energy needs.”
But others agree with Biden’s assessment of the problem, including National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate scientist James P. Kosin.
“It is very likely that human-caused climate change contributed to that anomalously warm ocean,” Kosin said last month. “Climate change is making it more likely for hurricanes to behave in certain ways.”
According to Kerry Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the oceans can influence storm behavior through rising sea levels.
“The potential intensity is increasing,” Emanuel said. “We predicted it would rise 30 years ago, and observations suggest it is going up.”
“Even if the storms themselves weren’t turning, the storm is riding high on sea levels,” he said. “If Hurricane Sandy had occurred in 1912 instead of 2012 … then there probably wouldn’t have been a flood in Lower Manhattan.”
Biden also warned that the problem of climate change was desperately needed to be addressed, arguing that it was a “decisive decade” in the fight against the problem.
“We don’t have a lot of time,” Biden said. “We haven’t had more than 10 years… really. It’s a pivotal decade.”