NOAA links Texas drought to human behavior

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by Andrew Horansky / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on July 11, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 11 at 7:41 PM

HOUSTON—Last summer’s drought may be over, but the consequences are not. Trees are missing, pipes are cracked, and farmers across Texas are still struggling.

It all makes the newest report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) more difficult to hear.

“There (is) definitely is a connection between greenhouse gases and extreme weather,” said Tom Karl, who heads NOAA’s climate office. “We are seeing very strong evidence to suggest that not all, but many, of the extremes we’re seeing around the planet are being enhanced by greenhouse gases.”

His comments marked the first time government scientists have made a statistical link between extreme weather and human behavior.

NOAA recently looked at 50 years of weather data in Texas and concluded that humans made last year’s drought 20 times likelier to happen.

Others, however, disagree. Meteorologist Neil Frank said NOAA’s data did not go back far enough, and did not explain how some parts of the world became cooler.

“When we talk about global warming or climate change, we’ve got to look at the entire planet,” Frank said. “We can’t just zero in on one small area.”

At Houston’s Memorial Park, at least one woman was willing to accept human responsibility.

“I think there is a certain natural occurrence of ice ages and warnings,” Ceci Norman said. “But I think man does some things to accelerate that.”

To what degree remains at the center of intense debate.

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