Are Recent Weather events Caused by Climate Change?

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Well meaning people (i.e. not climate-denying trolls) have been reasonably questioning whether it’s fair for me to say in this tweet that NZ’s record-breaking floods are caused by climate change.


The science has been clear for a long time: extreme weather events will become

  1. more frequent, and
  2. more extreme.

I don’t know if it can be determined whether this was one of the extra, “more frequent” events or one of the “normal” events. But the scale of it clearly falls into the category of being “more extreme”.

But here’s the thing: We’ve got common sense and intuition, which are backed up by mountains of scientific data and analysis. Based on all of that, we know that these unprecedented, record-breaking events are unnatural; we know they are the result of weak climate policies, among other things.

If we buy into the narrative that we can’t be sure whether some particular event is caused by climate change, we’re actually buying into the narrative that has been crafted by climate deniers.

And if your science-based intuition is still unsure, sweet. But at least you can fall back on the precautionary principle, which says that a lack of scientific certainty is not a basis for inaction; rather, the burden falls on others to prove why we shouldn’t act cautiously.