Will A Hurricane Marco Rubio Punish Florida?

When Saharan Africa gives birth to an easterly wave and then tropical waters fuel development of a deepening trough giving rise to a tropical storm that churns over the Atlantic toward the Caribbean and the southeastern United States, 350 Action, an arm of 350.org, wants to give credit where credit is due. Which is to say, the group is calling on the World Meteorological Organization to name extreme storms after climate-change deniers.

Hurricane Marco Rubio, anyone?

“Climate change is the reason why we’re experiencing more and more frequent and intense weather, including extreme hurricanes and tropical storms,” 350.org asserts on the new Climate Name Change website launched on Monday with the ad agency Barton F. Graf9000.

The site includes a list of a 42 policy-making “Deniers & Obstructionists,” consisting of 40 Republicans and two Democrats (Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana). Rubio earns his place on the list with this quote:

The government can’t change the weather. I said that in the speech. We can pass a bunch of laws that will destroy our economy, but it isn’t going to change the weather. Because, for example, there are other countries that are polluting in the atmosphere much greater than we are at this point, China, India, all these countries that are still growing. They’re not going to stop doing what they’re doing. America is a country, it’s not a planet. So we can pass a bunch of laws or executive orders that will do nothing to change the climate or the weather but will devastate our economy.

The question of the link between extreme weather, including hurricanes, and climate change is one that’s always sure to raise a fuss, demonstrated noisily by the recent Al Gore “Category 6” kerfuffle.

Few scientists will assert that any specific weather event would not have occurred absent the anthropogenic global warming that Earth is undergoing. Nevertheless, as Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the USA National Center for Atmospheric Research put it: “The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question. All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.