Democrats and Republicans deeply divided on extreme weather

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By Paul Homewood

Nearly 150 million Americans were under heat alerts Tuesday, after July marked the planet’s hottest month on record. Devastating downpours dumped two months of rain on Vermont in two days. Smoke from Canadian wildfires choked East Coast skies, causing the worst air quality on record for some locations. And Hawaii is reeling from the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century.

Yet while there is wide public concern over extreme weather, Americans are deeply divided — along partisan lines — on whether climate change is helping to drive these events, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll.

The survey was conducted from mid- to late July, at the height of some of the hottest days the Earth has experienced in over 100,000 years. Not surprisingly, a large majority of U.S. adults — 74 percent — say they’ve experienced extremely hot days in the past five years.

But when asked if they think climate change is a major factor in those extremely hot days, 35 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say it is, compared with 85 percent of those who lean Democratic. Overall, 63 percent of Americans who experienced extremely hot days say climate change is a major factor.

I guess it proves that Republicans are not as gullible!

“Not surprisingly, a large majority of U.S. adults — 74 percent — say they’ve experienced extremely hot days in the past five years.” – What an absurd thing to say! I’m sure the US gets hot every summer.

As for their four examples, none of them provide evidence that weather is becoming more extreme in the US. They are merely a reminder that bad weather can happen any year:

1) Heat Alerts

Like the UK, the US never used to have a system for issuing heat alerts in the past.

But as we know, heatwaves used to be much more intense in the 1930s. Even after excluding the 1930s, there is clearly no indication that heatwaves have got worse recently.

2) Vermont Floods

As I posted yesterday, even Bernie Sanders admits that the 1927 Vermont floods were much worse than last month.

Given that there are 50 US States, on average you are likely to get a 1-in-100 year event every couple of years.

3) Canadian Wildfires

Nothing unprecedented there either.

Historical accounts of smoke and haze over the US, brought from Canadian wildfires, are abundant. For instance, this tale, courtesy of the New England Historical Society:

“The New England Dark Day was the darkest day of the American Revolution – a day as dark as night, a day when a candle was needed to see anything outside at noon. On May 19, 1780, the sun came up as usual, but then the skies over New England darkened as far north as Portland, Maine, and as far south as New Jersey. The Dark Day inspired terror, panic and puzzlement. Men prayed and women wept. Thousands left off work and took to taverns and churches for solace. Children were sent home from school. Bewildered chickens went to their roosts, frightened cattle returned to their stalls, the night birds whistled and frogs peeped as they did at midnight.”

4) Maui Wildfires

The Maui wildfires have zero to do with climate change. The local environmental experts are clear that the severity and rapid spread of the fire was due to the fact that plantations abandoned in the last couple of decades have become totally overgrown by invasive Savanna type grasses. In simple terms, a tinderbox, witing for a spark and the strong winds which would turn what might have been a containable event into a disaster.

Meanwhile the actual data tells us that weather disasters are not becoming more frequent: