This Week's Report: Extreme Weather

This week’s CQ Researcher report, “Extreme Weather,” comes on the heels of Hurricane Irene, which ravaged the Eastern Seaboard – particularly New England – and, according to experts, ranks among the costliest catastrophes in U.S. history. The United States has endured a drumbeat of severe weather in recent months: massive floods along the Mississippi River; deadly tornadoes, including one that devastated Joplin, Mo.; blinding blizzards in the Midwest and New England, and drought conditions in the Southwest that have led to catastrophic wildfires in Texas. Why all this is happening is a matter of debate among scientists. Some point directly to human-induced global warming as the reason. Others caution that while warming is real, no definitive link exists between it and, for instance, the hurricanes and tornadoes we’ve been seeing. That robust debate plays out in our pro/con “At Issue” between scientists Jay Gulledge of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and Richard A. Muller of the University of California, Berkeley. This report may be a good entry point for discussions or papers on climate change, environmental history and the economics of natural disasters.

--Thomas J. Billitteri, Managing Editor