The Environmental Defense Fund sent out a press release detailing the fact that Texas leads the nation in carbon emissions according to information provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. According to their report, Texas emitted 652.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2010, nearly 10 percent of the emissions of the entire country.
Carbon emissions can cause serious problems for people with respiratory issues and have been linked to global climate change. However, EDF took it a step further by suggesting that the increase in carbon in our atmosphere is making killer storms in much the same way Al Gore tried to tie global warming to Hurricane Katrina in his film An Inconvenient Truth.
Our emissions contribute to the global increase in carbon in the atmosphere and influence weather patterns. This can result in extreme weather events like this monster tornado that resulted in six deaths with seven missing.
The "monster tornado" in question was an EF-4 that blew through Granbury, Texas, on May 16.
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There is no question that carbon emissions are bad for humans. Smog is a respiratory irritant, and the long-term effects of constant exposure to increased carbon dioxide in the surrounding environment cannot be positive. It is imperative that we reduce these emissions for our state and particularly for Houston. Our summer climate mixed with nearby refineries makes Houston a particularly bad spot for poor air quality.
But the scare tactic of tying specific weather phenomena to reports like these is a bad idea. The year An Inconvenient Truth was released, with its declarations that killer storms like Hurricane Katrina were going to become more commonplace, was a down year with only ten named storms including two major hurricanes, neither of which impacted land. Since 2005, no hurricane season has come close to rivaling the intensity or devastation of that year.
Showing images of tragedy like tornadoes in north Texas and Oklahoma might perhaps scare people into paying attention, but the science simply does not support a direct link between tornado outbreaks or hurricane intensity and global climate change. Science is in nearly total agreement that the earth is getting warmer. Scientists are also almost in lockstep over the fact that climate change is happening at least in part due to emissions. But even weather scientists who agree the earth is warming don't have the data to support claims by some that weather is tied to it.
There are better ways to motivate people than by scaring them. Sticking with science that has a solid footing is a good place to start.