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Don’t cry climate-change wolf

As soon as pictures and videos of the devastation in Moore, Oklahoma, started to spread through social media networks, so too did the angry and anguished tweets about climate change.

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It's an understandable reaction. We don't know for sure yet, but Monday's tornado may turn out to be the worst ever on record. In the larger context of a world in which extreme weather events appear to be increasing in frequency and intensity, it's natural to look for a culprit when confronted with unthinkable carnage.

In the New Yorker, Amy Davidson reflected the same urge, while being careful not to make a direct connection between climate change and tornadoes.

Every extreme weather event these days provokes questions about climate change; that is because, as Elizabeth Kolbert notes in this week’s Comment, the climate has changed extremely. Tornadoes, as it happens, have been an area of some controversy: two years ago saw a spike, but then last year a low. We’ll see; it will be for scientists to sort out how currents and temperatures and other factors fed into this storm. Climate change means, more than all the lines on charts always going in one direction, that the weather rhythms we think we know by heart, and that we’ve built our cities and lives around, are all out of sync.

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