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Extreme Weather Events: Are they Influenced by Rising Atmospheric CO2?

2. How to Properly Test for a CO2-induced Influence on Extreme Weather


The scientific method is a tried and true means by which hypotheses can be formulated, tested, and evaluated. The first step in the method is to observe and conduct background research on a particular topic or scientific question. Next, based on initial observations and research, an hypothesis is created to supposedly explain the phenomenon under examination. Then, it is tested via a series of properly designed and controlled experiments, after which the information gleaned from the experiments is studied and evaluated, leading to a conclusion that either supports or refutes the original hypothesis.

For centuries this method has provided the physical and natural sciences with the means to critically gather information and expand knowledge. The scientific method is also highly applicable in investigations of the potential causes and consequences of climate change. However, it is frequently misapplied in attributing extreme weather events to CO2-induced global warming. This section examines three critical principles that are often overlooked in reaching that attribution (see Figure 2). Failure to observe any one of these principles generally invalidates all CO2-related attribution claims. When properly applied, in most (if not all) instances, claims that extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and severity because of rising CO2 fail to be substantiated.


Figure 2. A list of three principles that must be followed in order to ascertain a CO2-induced global warming effect on extreme weather events. Failure to follow any of these principles effectively invalidates claims of a CO2 link.

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