Hurricane-force gusts in nine states. Immense dust storms in Colorado and wind-fanned wildfires in Kansas. The first-ever December tornadoes observed in Minnesota and western Iowa. Temperatures soaring past 70 degrees in cities like Omaha and Des Moines, a record. The powerful storm that swept through the Midwest on Wednesday was extraordinary in many respects, with 100 million Americans under some form of weather alert. One key question is what role global warming might have played in fueling such an extreme weather event. Scientists cautioned that it could prove difficult, if not impossible, to untangle the precise links between this week’s storm and climate change. For some scientists, however, arguing about the precise role of climate change is only part of the story. Whether or not scientists ultimately settle on an answer, they say, society should do as much as possible to reduce vulnerability to extreme weather.
By Brad Plumer, Winston Choi-Schagrin and Hiroko Tabuchi. New York Times. December 17, 2021.
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