MSNBC's Tamron Hall Blames Missouri Tornado on Climate Change, Climate Scientist Retorts 'Random Chance'

Less than 24 hours after a devastating tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri – killing at least 116 people – an MSNBC anchor was busy putting a political spin on the tragedy.

Tamron Hall wondered aloud on "News Nation" today whether climate change was to blame for the rash of hurricanes and tornadoes that ravaged several states, including Missouri, over the last few months.

"What about climate change?" speculated Hall, interviewing Dr. Howard Bluestein. "You have many people who see these severe storms, and not just the tornadoes, but the strength of hurricanes and even severe storms, we're getting hail and high winds right now from Texas, I believe, all the way through the Midwest. Is this a result of climate change or an effect of climate change?"

Bluestein, a meteorology professor at the University of Oklahoma, dismissed Hall's baseless conjecture: "I don't think we can prove whether or not the occurrence of all these bad events this year are due to global warming whatsoever. They could be simply due to natural variability."

Hall began the interview with an open-ended question about the potential causes of these severe weather events, but after Bluestein suggested "random chance" could be the culprit, the daytime anchor pressed the climate change issue.

A transcript of the segment can be found below:

MSNBC
News Nation
May 23, 2011

2:34 p.m. EDT

TAMRON HALL: What about climate change? You have many people who see these severe storms, and not just the tornados, but the strength of hurricanes and even severe storms, we're getting hail and high winds right now from Texas, I believe, all the way through the Midwest. Is this a result of climate change or an effect of climate change?

Dr. HOWARD BLUESTEIN, University of Oklahoma: Well I can't speak for hurricanes, but for tornadoes and supercells, I don't think we can prove whether or not the occurrence of all these bad events this year are due to global warming whatsoever. They could be simply due to natural variability. After all, when you think back to some of the other historic events, like April 30 1974, the tornadoes in Missouri in 1953, the tri-state tornadoes back in 1925. If you through the records, you'll see that every 20, 30, 40 years there are these tremendous widespread outbreaks and some of them occurred long before we were talking about global warming.

HALL: Alright, Dr. Howard Bluestein, of the University of Oklahoma, where they certainly see their share of tornadoes in that state. Thank you so much, sir.

--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

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