Yes, global warming IS giving us bigger, more devastating tornadoes

  • Published on May 20th, 2013

tornado devastates Moore, Oklahoma

As an insanely huge tornado smashes a path through the former oilfields of Oklahoma, it might be a nice time to remember – yes, climate change and global warming are giving us bigger, badder, and more costly storms.

Remember that the next time somebody tells you that dealing with climate change will be too expensive. NOT dealing with climate change has costs, too.

UPDATE: The deniers jumped down my throat in comments, so I go into a LOT more detail in this follow-up post.

The connection is simple: Heat energy is what drives storms. The more heat energy you have in the system, the bigger the storms will be. the bigger the storms are, the greater the devastation. And the cost. And the loss of life.

While the fossil fuel industry is still in denial, the insurance industry has known this for years. They know all about uncertainly – if they don’t manage uncertainty correctly, insurance companies go broke, and quickly.

2011 was the worst year on record for twisters – the month of April saw more than 600, more than doubling the previous record. It also saw the second worst day for fatalities – 318 people.

“Climate change? No,” Howard Bluestein, professor of meteorology at University of Oklahoma, told Huffington Post two years ago. “This is something that happens every 10 or 20 years when everything comes together like this. This is just natural variability.”

Except now it’s coming every two years.

This year, we’re on track for another doozy of a year, and it’ll probably be days before we know the toll from South Oklahoma City. As I write this, CNN is reporting 15 children trapped in the debris of an elementary school, and the images of devastation are shocking and terrifying.

Is this really the “new normal” we want to create for our children?

Follow-up: Tornadoes, storms, and superstorms – yes, it’s global warming.

Do Something:

  • THE REGIONAL FOOD BANK OF OKLAHOMA or text the word “food” to 32333 to donate $10
  • Feeding America: Call 1-800-910-5524, or donate online here.
  • Red Cross: (Central and Western Oklahoma region): Text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation to victims.
  • The Blood Center of Central TexasGo here to learn how you can donate blood.
  • SAFE AND WELL – a resource to help those effected find each other


About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.