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Disasters & Extreme WeatherGlobal WarmingHurricanes & Cyclones

Cyclone Yasi in Australia.. Climate Change?

The recent cyclone that nailed Australia, Cyclone Yasi (one of the worst in the country’s history) cannot be conclusively tied to climate change. However, it cannot not be tied to it either.

What?

The point many climate change deniers will be more than eager to make when discussing this tremendous cyclone is that you cannot tie any single weather event to climate change. Scientifically speaking, it can’t be done. Even if a cyclone or hurricane 5 times larger than anything we’ve ever seen builds up, we can’t do it. True.

However, extreme weather events and larger, more extreme storms like Cyclone Yasi are exactly what climate scientists have been predicting for a long time. In other words, such storms are are going to increase with global warming (or global weirding) and are already doing so. It’s no coincidence.

Last year, we saw the “weather bomb” hit the Midwest, perhaps the worst storm ever to hit this region. We are seeing a global increase in extreme weather events, from Brazil to Australia to the U.S. — no one is being spared.

If we think we can skirt nature and emit a completely unprecedented amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and it won’t have any effect, we are missing some key scientific reasoning or common sense.

The effects of global warming are not going to be pretty, and even we can testify to that now. Imagine what our children and grandchildren will have to live through.

Cyclone Yasi

Cyclone Yasi hit Mission Beach on the coast of Australia at about 1:00am early Thursday morning (Melbourne time) with winds blowing at approximately 285km/h.

The country was lucky in that it lost its strength rather quickly after hitting land. Nonetheless, the cyclone’s peak energy was said to be something like “10-megaton nuclear bombs detonating every 20 minutes,” according to experts. Not something anyone would like to experience.

“It is just a scene of mass destruction,” Cassowary Coast councillor Ross Sorbello said. The roof was ripped off his mother’s home.

Approximately 175,000 homes lost power.

Is the cost of such extreme weather events (or much worse) equal or greater than the cost of stopping unprecedented global climate change?

Food prices have risen significantly in recent months due to all the extreme weather events in 2010 and already in 2011. This is triggering social and political problems and upheavals and may soon result in food riots.

Cyclone Yasi is one part of the story, but the story is long and only going to get longer the more we wait to tackle climate change at the scale we need to.

How is Cyclone Yasi Connected to Climate Change?

Again, read the points at the top of this post.

Cyclone Yasi is specifically related to climate change because warmer waters generate stronger storms.

“The waters off Australia are the warmest ever measured and those waters provide moisture to the atmosphere for the Queensland and northern Australia monsoon,” Matthew England of the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales reported earlier this month.

Again, more greenhouse gases = warmer world = warmer water = more extreme storms.

“Around Northern Australia and Indonesia, ocean temperatures are 0.54 °C  (1°F) higher than the last 50 years, on average, and 2010 was the highest in the last ten years, which was itself the warmest decade on record for sea surface temperatures,” Susan Kraemer of our sister site Cleantechnica reports (first link in this article).

Of course, as we’ve reported a few times now, 2010 was tied for the hottest year on record.

Unfortunately, we are only beginning to see the effects of climate change.

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video




9 comments
  1. Melissa Haswell

    The way the discourse is going, people seem to think that climate change is a choice – we can accept that it is (and hopefully do something) or if we deny, then it simply isn’t real (so we don’t have to do anything). Species are threatened today because of that believe and our children and children’s children will be the one’s with no choice but to deal with the worst of the reality if the deniers and do nothings have their way (as they have). A more selfish way of living life I have never seen in my half century on this incredibly amazing and beautiful planet.

  2. pete the geo

    Not a bad article I think,
    indeed at the moment, there is no way to directly relate yasi to climate change, sadly there are people who are doing exactly that and claiming it as proof positive of Anthropocentric Global Warming.

    This does not help the cause, it’s incorrect and provides ammunition to skeptics.

    There’s a proveble link between la-nina and cylonic activity, now, if a climatologist could show global warming has brought on a stronger / earlier la-nina, then it could indeed be said that Yasi was caused by global warming.

    however..(and I could be wrong here) I beleive that el-nino / la-nina events are cyclic….

  3. Kimberly Lakes

    Scientists produced cruise missiles, cancer causing chemicals, land mine technology, nuclear weapons, germ warfare, cluster bombs, strip mining technology, Y2K, Y2Kyoto, deep sea drilling technology and now climate change. And how ironic is it that up until 25 years ago, scientists were condemned for producing planet killing chemicals and making environmentalism necessary in the first place?

    1. Zachary Shahan

      Kimberly, i see this repeated comment over and over again on here. the difference is, scientists did not create climate change. like gravity, heliocentrism, evolution, and more, scientists discovered it. it is an inconvenient truth of life now, but we are causing unprecedented global climate change and human suffering.

    2. Leslie

      Rarely does one encounter a comment of such jaw-dropping inanity – even from a climate change denier.
      Perhpaps you’ve never been prescribed the correct medicine as invented by those evil scientists.
      As Zachary points out, climate scientists didn’t invent climate change, they discovered it. Fifteen years ago I would have recomended that people like you study the science, these days, with the evidence so overwhelming, I just recommend you seek help

      1. Zachary Shahan

        lol, you are right, beyond the point of asking people to pay attention to the science now. as more and more climate deniers say, THE WHOLE SCIENTIFIC SYSTEM is rigged… in other words, let’s listen to Glenn Beck & Rush Limbaugh and not the scientists who have been studying this for decades

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