Climate Change…and Cookies?

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The nation’s top scientists have finally figured out the relationship between climate change…and cookies.

When you have the oven temperature just right and the sugar ratio just right and the baking soda just right, you end up with the perfect, prize-winning cookie. Change any one of those factors, even just slightly, and you could end up with a not-so-tasty cookie.

But when you bite into it, it’s not always obvious what went wrong. The same can be said about trying to attribute individual weather extremes, like heat waves and downpours, to human-caused climate change.

“It’s not always obvious what went into making that event,” said David Titley, a retired naval officer turned professor who led a team of National Academies researchers looking at the relatively new field of climate science on extreme weather event attribution.

“When you observe a weather event, it’s not always obvious how much of that was moisture vs. how much of that was upward motion vs. how much of that was sea surface temperatures, 500 kilometers off the coast,” he told Bloomberg BNA. “Just like that was a good cookie, but I don’t know exactly what the chef or the cook did to make it.”

What scientists are now able to say, according to the National Academies review released today, is that climate change can worsen certain types of weather extremes, especially those related to warming temperatures. But they are not as confident in the climate connection to other kinds of events like hurricanes and thunderstorms, so further research is needed.

Here’s hoping that means some cookie-based experiments are in their future.