Diane Sawyer on Tornadoes: ‘This Is the Evidence of a Kind of Preview of Life Under Global Warming?’

ABC’s Diane Sawyer on Monday night presumed everyone lives inside her media bubble obsessed with “global warming” as she set out to blame the Joplin, Missouri tornadoes on it – but not even the CEO of a group dedicated to instilling public fear of “climate change” would go along with Sawyer’s fear-mongering. From Joplin, Sawyer plugged the upcoming segment:

When we come back, what do those experts say? Everyone's saying, is this it, is this global warming? Is this the evidence? Is it in? The answer.

Sawyer set up the subsequent World News story: “Is this it, this is the evidence of a kind of preview of life under global warming?” Reporter Jim Avila, who called the tornadoes “nature’s payback,” cited a thousand tornadoes and “counting so far, compared to 500 in an average year.” He turned to Heidi Cullen of Climate Central who, he relayed, says climate change “can be blamed for a general increase in extreme weather, science cannot specifically point to climate change for this hyper-deadly tornado season.”

She opined: “More extreme events like floods, more extreme events like droughts, heat waves, wildfires. Those are phenomenon that we very much expect to see more of as we move into a warmer world.”

Avila pleaded: “Still, we don't know whether or not tornados are to be lumped into that extreme weather?” Cullen: “We just don't have enough data to really make the case.”

From Manhattan, Avila, picking up a comment from a Minnesota resident, concluded: “In tornado alley, some just call it nature's payback.”

From Climate Central’s “About” page: “Polls show low levels of public understanding and concern about climate change. This coincides with an overall drop in topical news coverage. Climate Central fills the void by not only covering climate science and solutions on a local level, but also framing the issues in a larger context.”

Flashback to the night of Thursday, April 28:

Looking at the tornadoes across the South, ABC’s Sam Champion ridiculously claimed “everybody is asking if climate change played a role here.” Brian Williams blamed humans: “What's going on here? Is this something we have done?”

From the Monday, May 23 ABC World News:

DIANE SAWYER: It was an incredible weekend of tornadoes. 70 of them in seven states. And so many people have been asking the same question: Is this it, this is the evidence of a kind of preview of life under global warming? And so Jim Avila went out to find some answers.

JIM AVILA: Shocked and awed by nature.

TONY EVANS: This is crazy. You know, this is like a war zone.

AVILA: Tony Evans is helping his friend clean up today in Minneapolis after yet another destructive tornado in this, the deadliest season in 58 years.

EVANS: We've been taking the Earth for granted, you know, now I guess it's paying us back.

AVILA: Hit by the big three tornado outbreaks of 2011. First, mid-April, 24 people die in North Carolina. Then Tuscaloosa, Alabama, later that month, ground zero for a line of tornadoes that killed more than 300. And now at least 116 dead in Joplin. Are we imagining it or are there actually more tornadoes this year? The answer is a dramatic yes. 1,000 and counting so far, compared to 500 in an average year. And these are of the deadly variety -- 50 killer tornadoes so far this year, more than double the normal 20.

HEIDI CULLEN, CLIMATE CENTRAL: This year has really been just the perfect year for tornadoes.


AVILA: Climatologist Heidi Cullen writes about global warming and says while climate change has increased humidity levels and can be blamed for a general increase in extreme weather, science cannot specifically point to climate change for this hyper deadly tornado season.

HEIDI CULLEN: More extreme events like floods, more extreme events like droughts, heat waves, wildfires. Those are phenomenon that we very much expect to see more of as we move into a warmer world.

AVILA: Still, we don't know whether or not tornados are to be lumped into that extreme weather?

CULLEN: We just don't have enough data to really make the case.

AVILA: So what is the weather reason for this year's tornado spree? Colder than normal temperatures off the Washington/Oregon coast jet streaming into hot humid gulf air in the south and Midwest. Meteorologists call it La Nina. In tornado alley, some just call it nature's payback. Jim Avila, ABC News, New York.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center