Hurricane Sandy and the ensuing superstorm this week may be a result of global warming. Or maybe not.
Professor Tom Johnson tracks the world’s biggest lakes for changes. He’s a Regents Geology Professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Large Lakes Observatory. From Africa to the Arctic, he’s seeing lake and climate temperatures increase. But he can’t pin that on the Sandy superstorm, “It’s really impossible to say that any given even like Hurricane Katrina or this particular storm is due to global climate change. There’s no question that the global climate is changing. There’s no question that it is due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to human activities. But to pin down any single storm event to that phenomenon is impossible to do.”
But Johnson says climate models show global warming is causing more severe storms, more tornadoes, and more drought. He says that’s why climate change should be, but isn’t part of this year’s political debate, “And that’s very disappointing to me. I do think that we need to step back and look at the bigger picture, the economics of all the situation. The predictions are that dramatic climate change will be exceedingly expensive. I think it’s the most serious environmental problem that we humans have ever faced.”
He says the warmer climate will increase the size of the areas prone to drought in the United States and Africa. Johnson says that will cause those regions to cast a covetous eye in the direction of the Great Lakes for fresh water.