As Texas freezes, U.N. chief says 'complete ignorance' to reject climate change

by Reuters
Thursday, 18 February 2021 18:47 GMT

Local residents take refuge in a shelter after record-breaking winter temperatures in Galveston, Texas, U.S., February 18, 2021. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

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Scientists widely agree that climate change is fueling wilder weather, but determining if it is behind a single event, like this week's extreme cold in Texas, is trickier

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK, Feb 18 (Reuters) - People who deny that severe winter can be linked to climate change are displaying "complete ignorance," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday, days after the U.S. state of Texas was first hit by a historic and deadly deep freeze.

When asked if global warming played a role in the severe U.S. weather, Guterres said that climate change could make "all storms, all oscillations ... more extreme."

Scientists widely agree that climate change is fueling wilder weather worldwide, including stronger hurricanes, more intense heat waves and more erratic rainfall patterns.

Determining whether climate change is behind a single weather event, such as this week's extreme cold in Texas, is trickier; scientists can investigate the climate link in a weather event, but that will reveal only how much more likely the event was to occur.

"If you look at hurricanes, if you look at storms, but also if you look at heat waves and cold waves, they are becoming more extreme because of climate change," Guterres told reporters. "Climate change amplifies."

When people claimed that severely cold weather was evidence that global warming wasn't happening, he said, "this is total lack of scientific knowledge, this is complete ignorance."

Scientists say climate change – specifically the rapid warming of the Arctic – could be a factor in this week's chill in Texas, though more scientific research would be needed to confirm any link.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)