Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested the tornado warning that hit the D.C. area Thursday was part of the “climate crisis” she has previously said humanity only has 12 years left to solve.
“The climate crisis is real y’all,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Instagram Thursday, “guess we’re at casual tornadoes in growing regions of the country?”
However, she was quickly fact-checked by meteorologist Ryan Maue, who pointed out that far from proof of a “climate crisis,” D.C.’s tornado warning was “just the weather.”
The Washington, D.C., area was hit with a tornado warning Thursday afternoon. An intense, but short-lived storm brought heavy rainfall and high winds. No tornado hit D.C., however, but the whole event was enough to inspire Ocasio-Cortez to post on Instagram.
“Different parts of the country deal with different climate issues,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in her Instagram post. “But ALL of these threats will be increasing in intensity as climate crisis grows and we fail to act appropriately. #GreenNewDeal.”
The Green New Deal is Ocasio-Cortez’s signature bill, calling for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within 10 years and vastly expanding the federal welfare state.
Ocasio-Cortez “does not know the difference between weather and climate,” Maue tweeted. “Let’s try an easy analogy: Weather is what outfit you wear heading out the door. Climate is your closet wardrobe.”
Ocasio-Cortez did somewhat walk back her initial claims by apparently Googling around for information on tornadoes and global warming. She noted that tornadoes are “challenging” to tie to global warming.
The freshman lawmaker, however, went on to note that “we DO know for sure that tornadoes HAVE been changing.” She cited a PBS article claiming that tornadoes are “sliding into the Midwest and Southeast.”
That claim is based on a 2018 study, though it did not attribute eastward shifting tornadoes to global warming. But researchers have long noted there are complications in trying to study long-term tornado trends.
“The reporting has been susceptible to changes in population density, modifications to reporting procedures and training, the introduction of video and social media, and so on,” reads the 2017 National Climate Assessment (NCA).
“These have led to systematic, non-meteorological biases in the long-term data record,” the National Climate Assessment reads.
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