25 February 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For

Two members of the US Congress, Representatives Henry Waxman and Bobby Rush, have called for a hearing on two recent papers in Nature.  In their letter to the Republican chairmen of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its Energy and Power Subcommittee Waxman and Rush write:
We believe it would be irresponsible for the Committee to ignore the mounting scientific evidence linking strange and dangerous weather to rising carbon levels in the atmosphere.
Waxman and Rush explain what they think is implicated by the Nature papers:
The potential implications of these results are illustrated by multiple recent weather disasters. In the United States, severe flooding in Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee killed dozens and caused widespread property damage last year. Some scientists see evidence that the bitterly cold storms that gripped our nation this winter could be tied to climate changes3 Internationally, unprecedented floods in Pakistan last year submerged one-fifth of the country, killing thousands, and devastating livelihoods.4 Similarly, floods following heavy rains displaced hundreds of thousands of people in northeastern Australia and damaged the agricultural and mining sectors5 In Russia, yields of wheat and barley in 20 I 0 fell by 30% following a summer of record-breaking heat and drought6 This month, the United Nations warned that the worst drought in decades threatens the wheat crop in China7.
The over-hyping of this issue has left Waxman and Rush exposed out on a thin, weak limb.  If they are lucky, their call for a hearing will be ignored.