The Fingerprints of Climate Change

John Vechey of PopCap Games recently joined The Motley Fool for a climate change summit. His first panel guests were Dr. Rachel Cleetus and Dr. Joe Casola. Rachel is a climate economist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, where she advocates for effective global warming policies at the state, regional, federal, and international levels. Joe is the program director for science and impacts at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, which works to assess the current state of knowledge regarding climate change and its impacts, and to promote actions that strengthen climate resilience.

Joe offers a helpful analogy to show why, although scientists will never attribute a specific weather event to climate change, we can still clearly see its "fingerprints" on everything from drought to flooding to major storms.

Joe also discusses particular risks to offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. BP (NYSE: BP  ) will have six rigs under firm contract there by December 2014, more than any other operator. Shell (NYSE: RDS-A  ) will come in second with five rigs. Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC  ) is expected to have four operating rigs by then, followed by Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) with three under firm contract and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) (NYSE: XOM  ) with two. Watch the following video to learn how climate change could affect these companies.

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  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 2:49 PM, rand49er wrote:

    There have many, many storms like Sandy, it's just that they occurred before people inhabited the east coast of North America. It makes it no more plausible for global warming without residents having their homes destroyed or just trees being destroyed. All you low-information voters who don't realize that climate change has been going on for 4.5 billion years are being bilked. It's way over blown, people.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 2:54 PM, mememine69 wrote:

    Climate change is as lazy copy and paste news editors dream come true.

    Here is what LameScream Media won't tell you:

    If all of science really DID think Climate Change will become a real crisis they would have said so by now and ended this costly debate.

    For 28 years the scientific consensus has been that it might be not will be a climate crisis.

    Not one IPCC warning says; "inevitable" or "eventual" and nothing more than "could be" and "maybe".

    Science has never said anything more than;

    "Climate change is real and is happening and could lead unstoppable warming."

    What has to happen for science to say their comet hit of a crisis is as real and as inevitable as they love to say comet hits are? How close to the point of no return from unstoppable warming will science lead us before they say a crisis is eventual and WILL happen?

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 3:07 PM, Plantman57 wrote:

    The old mariners had a term for weather events like Sandy: a Perfect Storm. Remember the movie? To draw the inference from Sandy that this kind of weather event, which was a coincidental confluence of several factors that combined to create an intensely damaging storm, will be typical in the coming years due to "global warming" would be to suggest that 20-vehicle wrecks on I-20 in dense early morning fog will necessarily be more frequent occurrences in the future. These events all happen to fall somewhere along the typical bell curve...it's just that this one fell at one extreme of the curve. That doesn't make it typical in any sense, and it certainly doesn't prove a causal relationship in this case. Perhaps we can levy a tax to fund a program to enable us to intervene in the time of high tides along the Jersey Shore so this won't happen in the future...

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 3:09 PM, Snakepit456 wrote:

    Consider that current policies are costing hundreds of billions we can’t afford along with millions of lost employment opportunities; all based extensively on a bogus, politically manufactured climate crisis devoid of any supportable scientific evidence. This is occurring at a time when our gross national deficit following a ceiling rise exceeds the size of our GDP.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 3:25 PM, eric0007 wrote:

    I'm so tired of climate change deniers out there. What is the deal? I mean how much evidence do you need before you can see what's right in front of your face? Forget politics. Forget that you don't understand, or refuse to understand the science behind climate change. It's time to drop this lie that you keep perpetrating, that climate change isn't happening, because it's the biggest problem we all face. It's the same as ignoring racism, which maybe you do as well. The problem is there weather you want to admit it or not, it's not going away until we do something about it.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 3:29 PM, tigerade wrote:

    Skeptical Science is a great site, handles 200+ of the most common myths. It means that now that Climate Change Deniers will need to become more creative in their deceptions. :o)

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 3:34 PM, btc909 wrote:

    So where do I mail the check to Al Gore?

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 3:39 PM, sportsboston wrote:

    eric and tigerade....it's sad but there is always a siginificant number of followers in any society. Global warming scientists, Al Gore...they cling together, suppress contrary science, won't debate, use fudged numbers, use the same liberal media that helped elect that fraud Obama 2x to keep their sheep on the Koolaid, and in the end they don't have a single sgred of real, credible evidence so they use emotion and their weird religion of man is evil to keep the base stoked and the contributions coming in. You should be feeling really used and abused by now, shouldn't you?

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 3:43 PM, dumbnot wrote:

    This isn't a news article. There is no knowledge or news here. This is a way for Motley Fool to get our email address. Wake up Yahoo! - people will stop using your site if you don't indicate an advertisement as an advertisement.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 3:48 PM, deekaman wrote:

    I'm so tired of the Climate Change acolytes out there. How much more evidence do you need before you can see the hoax right in front of your face. Forget politics. Forget that you don't understand or refuse to understand science behind Climate Change skepticism. It's time you drop the lie you have perpetrating for decades that climate change is something other than a natural cycle and that there is some "optimum climate" that "should" exist. It is the same as hollering "racism" at anyone with whom you disagree. The problem may or may not be there, but there is plenty of evidence to indicate if it does exist, it is not catastrophic.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 3:48 PM, ronwiserinvestor wrote:

    Climate change deniers that post their propaganda lies everywhere, should be traced back to their sources of funding and both those sources and those shill deniers should be charged with crimes against humanity for all of the interference that they have created which has results in the deaths of people and the destruction of property.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 3:49 PM, julio2 wrote:

    The trouble with the people advocating for action on climate change (and it appears the fools view climate change as some sort of investment opportunity if only we would buy into it) it that they over state their hand. Sandy was not a "superstorm" it was a hurricane and not even a bad hurricane. When it hit NJ it was only a tropical storm. Hurricanes have been hitting the east coast ever since man has lived on the east coast and there is no evidence the current storms are more frequent or more severe.

    So what are we left with? We are left with the fact that the advocates of action are exaggerating. Which could also be called lying. And why should we listen to liars?

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 3:55 PM, Plantman57 wrote:

    The one underlying cynical subtext to climate change zealots' rhetoric is the "this is now settled science" mantra. A real scientist (my degree happens to be in biology) knows that the Prime Directive of Science is that there is no such thing as "settled science". Science continues to probe, investigate, test theories, collect data and look for reasons, causes and effects, correlations...it does NOT proclaim dogma. Dogma is the province of religious zealots, politicians and scoundrels.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 4:04 PM, udontneed2know wrote:

    if you want to really know what is going on with the climate. check out this interview with a brave climatologist at http://itsrainmakingtime.com/2013/dogma/

    if you have a inquiring mind thats likes looking for hidden, taboo, or new information on multiple subjects, than this website is for you.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 4:09 PM, virtualfriday wrote:

    Silly fools....the climate has and always will change. To try and pin the blame of weather extremes on climate change is just plain and simple stupid and gives away your true agenda.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 4:13 PM, virtualfriday wrote:

    Science will always be corrupted by opinion.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 4:29 PM, MotleyFoolStinks wrote:

    Oh boy, motley fools going into politics. That's a winning combination.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 4:41 PM, ScienceFirst wrote:

    To give you a flavor of the complexity: Tornadoes form in a huge variety of different ways -- ie there are multiple variables involved in its formation - with ground temperature being just one variable.

    There must be warm and moist southern winds (which can be increased by global warming)

    But in addition there must be cooler and dry polar winds on the continental plates it meets up with.

    While climbing upwards, the air current meets winds at different altitudes. These winds have high speeds and their direction of flow must be synchronized, to start a spinning motion. And the heights at which the supercells form have an impact on how powerful the tornado is. This is also impacted by the location of the spinning.

    Now: Climate change is likely to increase a quantity called "convective available potential energy," or CAPE, which is a measure of how much energy is in the atmosphere to drive a storm.

    Climate change also may increase clashing between cold air masses from the north with warmer, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico, a condition that helps fuel destructive storms

    The wild card -- and unknown factor -- is how rising temperatures will influence lateral wind shear, another key storm ingredient, which would act to keep tornadoes (and hurricanes) from forming.

    No one knows for sure the net of these three factors.

    Possibly there could be less tornadoes (because of the shear factor in them forming); but the ones that do form are stronger. But this is still speculation.

    Now in the case of Sandy scientists have tracked the cool air masses as originating from the melting Arctic, so there they have a smoking gun.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 4:50 PM, duuude1 wrote:

    Hey plantman,

    Me too - I'm studying RNA and post-transcriptional regulation. I agree that dogma is antithetical to science. I am sure that there are climate change activists who take science information as dogma - and likewise I am sure that many of the anti-climate-change folks (including many posts here) are dogmatically denying climate change. It's on both sides.

    What would you, plantman, think of someone who denies evolution? Or denies that the earth is spherical? Or refuses to believe that the earth revolves around the sun? Or that NASA landed humans on the moon?

    After a certain point, denials move from being a reasonable skeptic to being a crank.

    Duuude1

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 4:51 PM, ScienceFirst wrote:

    One can see a causal association when looking at indications for INTENSITY increases.

    2013 hasn't been the hottest year on record globally, but 2012 was in the US.

    Records:

    Most tornadoes in single 24-hour period

    The April 25-28, 2011 tornado outbreak is the most prolific tornado outbreak in US history. It produced approximately 358 tornadoes, with 209 of those in a single 24-hour period on April 27th [5] with 11 EF4 and 4 EF5 tornadoes.

    Greatest pressure drop

    A pressure deficit of 100 millibars (2.95 inHg) was observed when a violent tornado near Manchester, South Dakota on June 24, 2003 passed directly over an in-situ probe. In less than a minute, the pressure dropped to 850 millibars (25.10 inHg), which is the lowest pressure ever recorded at the Earth's surface when adjusted to sea level.

    On April 21, 2007, a 194 millibars (5.73 inHg) pressure deficit was reported when a tornado struck a storm chasing vehicle in Tulia, Texas. The tornado was relatively weak and caused only EF2 damage as it passed through Tulia.[citation needed] The reported pressure drop far exceeds that which would be expected based on theoretical calculations.

    There is a questionable and unofficial citizen's barometer measurement of a 192 millibars (5.67 inHg) drop around Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1904.

    Highest winds observed in a tornado

    During the F5 tornado that moved into Oklahoma City on May 3, 1999, a Doppler On Wheels situated near the tornado measured winds of 301 ± 20 mph momentarily in a small area inside the funnel approximately 100 m (330 ft) above ground level.

    On May 31, 2013, a tornado hit the small town of El Reno, Oklahoma. The tornado was originally identified as an EF3, however after data was surveyed it was concluded to be a large EF5 due to damage and wind speed which topped at 296 mph (476 kmh), second only to the Bridge Creek - Moore TornadoThe tornado itself at one point was over two and a half miles wide and took the lives of three veteran storm chasers.

    Longest path and duration tornado family

    What at one time was thought to be the record holder for the longest tornado path is now thought to be the longest tornado family, with a track of at least 293 miles (472 km) on May 26, 1917 from the Missouri border across Illinois into Indiana. It caused severe damage and mass casualties in Charleston and Mattoon, Illinois.

    What was probably the longest track supercell thunderstorm tracked 790 miles (1,270 km) across 6 states in 17.5 hours on March 12, 2006 as part of the March 2006 Tornado Outbreak Sequence. It began in Noble County, Oklahoma and ended in Jackson County, Michigan, producing many tornadoes in Missouri and Illinois

    Widest damage width

    The widest tornado on record may be the El Reno, Oklahoma tornado of May 31, 2013 with a width of 2.6 mi (4.2 km) at its peak.

    The F4 Hallam, Nebraska tornado during the outbreak of May 22, 2004 was the previous official record holder for the widest tornado, surveyed at 2.5 mi (4.0 km) wide.

    Data taken from

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tornado_records

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 7:13 PM, Sean656 wrote:

    wow that proves it!!!!!! after all "most climate scientists agree anthropogenic global warming" is real----whoooooooooooooooooooo thanks that really helps

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 7:23 PM, True411 wrote:

    This article is completely fallacious in blaming the storm named Sandy on “Climate Change”. North America’s northeastern coast has been hit by hurricanes many, many times before, and Sandy wasn’t even a hurricane when it made landfall.

    In 1635 the “Great Colonial” Hurricane hit New York and New England, the “Dreadful” Hurricane of 1667 destroyed over 10,000 houses in Virginia, and the “Great Storm of 1693” devastated Long Island. There were other hurricanes that made landfall in the Tri-State area in 1788 (left the Battery in ruins), 1821, 1893 (the second hurricane that year, different from the one that hit Halifax, Nova Scotia), 1944 (“Great Atlantic” hurricane), 1954 (Carol), and 1991 (Bob). The 1938 "Long Island Express" made landfall in Long Island as a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph and wind gusts up to 150 mph bringing waves surging to 35 feet; relatively speaking, the Long Island Express makes Sandy look like a breezy day in the park.

    Hurricanes have also pummeled Canada’s Maritime Provinces many times before; in 1775, the “Independence Hurricane” killed at least 4,000 people in Newfoundland and an 1873 hurricane left 223 dead, destroyed 1200 boats, and flattened 900 buildings in Nova Scotia. Other hurricanes hit the Canadian Maritimes in 1866, 1886, 1893 (1st of two hurricanes that hit the Northeastern coast that year), 1959 (Escuminac), 1963 (Ginny), and 2003 (Juan).

    Sandy had nothing whatsoever to do with "climate change"; Sandy was an unfortunate convergence of a tropical storm and a nor’easter at a full-moon high tide. Indeed, if the storm had hit just a few hours later, not at high tide, it would not have had the impact that it did.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 7:32 PM, skipgainer61 wrote:

    Our climate has been changing since our planet was first formed and will continue you to change whether we are here or not. Obama and our government treat this subject like the money hungry fools they are. The EPA is forcing our coal fired electric generating plants under the premiss that with us allowing the US coal burning plants to operate we are polluting our air. Yet it is okay for the US to ship our own coal to places like China and India where their coal fired plants pollute our air a lot more than our coal plants do here in America. So it makes no sense to force our coal fired plants to shut down, now does it. I live in Ca. and the pollution from China is already in our air and on our ground. Now the truth is starting to come out that the electric cars are leaving a larger carbon foot print than our gas operated cars. Not only the carbon produced by making the electricity but the batteries used in these electric cars cause more pollution and carbon foot print than was previously known. It has been proven the amount of carbon in our air has not driven up the earths temperature over .0010%. So this is all about money being stolen from America and spread around the world. Can someone please tell me what a climate economist is other than a title that means NOTHING AT ALL BUT LOOKS AND SOUNDS IMPRESSIVE!

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 9:08 PM, luckyagain wrote:

    All of those meteorologists who are scientists are wrong. Only people who work at Fox news and API will tell the truth that it is not really happening. All of the global warming is made up by those scientists who work at NASA and the US Military. Just ask the Dittoheads who listen to Rush every day.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 9:25 PM, NolAloha wrote:

    OK. For those of us who take the "Long" view'

    1. Global warming is here. In fact it has been here for about 15,000 years. Proof: That is why the Ice sheets that covered North America and Europe are gone.

    .2. Humanity is causing global warming - yes, but - only a part of it. In fact there is evidence that human -caused global warming slowed a cooling trend starting about 8,000 years ago. Without that slowing, we might be in a new Ice Age right now.

    3. Yes, Carbon dioxide is high, but it has been about this high in the past. In fact it appears that Carbon dioxide Peaks just before a new Ice Age starts.

    4. So what if global warming takes place? that would open up about 15,000,000 square miles of Canada, Alaska and Siberia to more profitable pursuits.

    The opening of the Polar Trade route would bring major economic advantages. Look at the bright side.

    Concern about adding all that carbon to the biosphere. Duh- where do you think that carbon came from - the Carbonaceous Era, a period of huge levels of plant an animal life, with levels of oxygen ten to twenty percent higher than present. Not a scenario of "Killing Mother Earth at all.

    .

    .

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 9:52 PM, delm31 wrote:

    The "smokestack" economy gave us the Industrial Revolution, the Middle Class, and national wealth. Why does everyone want to destroy the world's greatest industrial machine? Pound for pound, fossil fuels which power our economy simply have more energy stored within them. Very un-PC, but true. By the way, I love warmer climates anyway. I don't need to sit in the dark or freeze.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 9:54 PM, bluemoon51 wrote:

    Thanks udontneed2know for the link! Straightforward data calmly presented (much to the dismay of at least one alarmist on the committee) was awesome. May have been one of the best collections of real data I have seen in years. I have followed the whole global warming/climate change issue since Dr. Hansen's first sweaty testimony in answer to then Sen. Al Gore's cooked questions in 1988. I have read at least 30 books on the subject, even Dr. Hansen's book on storms and our grandchildren. Greatest scam in history. Thanks again udontneed2know.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 9:56 PM, RichardPhoenix wrote:

    This is not about controlling the climate, it is about controlling people.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 10:36 PM, toomuchgas wrote:

    I remember many more hurricanes in the late 50's and early 60's than we have today. My parents house was hit three times by large trees. Then they cut the trees down around the house.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 10:55 PM, herky46q wrote:

    Regardless of what is true about climate change, I think most people would agree taking steps to reduce pollution is a good idea. How much that costs and how much we should spend on that is the big source of debate. Also, all nations have to be on board. Fat chance.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 11:19 PM, Albert0Knox wrote:

    Reading the vehement deniers' post I can't decide whether they are funny or sad. .Sure, it's both, but should I get depressed or just laugh it off. I laughed at the Tea Party and look at all the damage they have done to the once honorable and rational GOP.

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 12:44 AM, CrazyDocAl wrote:

    Honey, I don't know why nobody built here before us. It's got wonderful vies of the Atlantic and we can build right on the beach...... Honey, look there's a house here so lets build next to them.... Honey there are lots of houses so lets buy the last lot and build our dream home....

    Honey, why are idiots building houses on Barrier island? Don't they know why it got that name?

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 12:51 AM, cafields8675309 wrote:

    More CO2, Global Warming BS, Plants Absorb and Use CO2 During Photosynthesis to Produce Chlorophyll, which is Plant Food and in the Process, Plants Produce Five Times the Oxygen from the CO2 they Absorb. The Higher the CO2 Levels, the Cooler the Planet will be and Plants Will Produce More Oxygen and Produce Better Crops.

    InfoWars *Dot*Com* PrisonPlanet *Dot*TV*

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 1:07 AM, bill4848 wrote:

    @herky46g, smartess comment I have read yet. I'm old enough to remember global cooling being talked about in school, I'm not 50 yet.

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 1:13 AM, BigFish92672 wrote:

    "..scientists will never attribute a specific weather event to climate change, we can still clearly see its "fingerprints" on everything from drought to flooding to major storms."

    "Fingerprints"?!? Is that some kind of euphemism like the racist dog whistle that only liberals can hear anytime you criticize BHO?

    After Sandy, I looked at 200 years of sea level records at New Jersey. It's a straight line rise! That's NOT man-made. Man-made global warming is a hoax.

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 9:30 AM, C47Alpha wrote:

    If Climate Change is indeed man made, And the consequences are as dire as some would have you believe...then why have BILLIONS AND BILLIONS been wasted on Wind and Solar Technology. While Fuel Cell technology to generate Electricity and Hydrogen based systems for propulsion for power generation have been largely ignored...

    Solar and Wind technology is simple "Window Dressing" and has NO HOPE of getting us off oil or reducing the dreaded "Green House Gas" emissions....While the aforementioned Hydrogen based technology could have this country off oil in a decade.

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 9:35 AM, JePonce wrote:

    That 'fingerprint,' so to speak is often referred to as 'the bird.'

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 11:58 AM, agsb02 wrote:

    So the author believes that the conclusion is that no matter what the "weather scientist" says they are wrong, it is global warming.

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 9:37 PM, skypilot2005 wrote:

    "John Vechey of PopCap Games recently joined The Motley Fool for a climate change summit."

    Ya. Ok....

    I believe.

    I believe.

    I believe

    I believe...........

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2013, at 2:09 AM, wan2bretired wrote:

    In science there is no absolute right or wrong, only new questions. When scientists have thought they were correct, someone will someday prove them wrong. Recently it was thought Einstein's therory of relativity had been proven wrong, but it turned out to be a math error. If climatologist were correct in the 1970's we would be in an ice age! When goverment's, or religion's start proclaiming science as fact, that's when bad things happen. Remember the earth was once flat and to think otherwise ment a fiery death. No scientist who is in bed with a goverment's politics, can call them selves a scientist, they have stop questioning and become a politician.

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2013, at 10:08 AM, AvianFlu wrote:

    I insist you use the phrase "global warming" instead of "climate change". Why abandon the word warming when so much effort has been spent on the propaganda?

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2013, at 11:07 AM, cwon14 wrote:

    "Skeptical Science" is of course a junk science propaganda site;

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/05/06/monday-mirthiness-john...

    This is a pathetic article to be found at the Fool.

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