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A scientist does a study of how Arctic seabirds die. It's not a
bad idea: die they do, but not from the usual diseases and
predators that kill birds in more temperate zones. So what does
He pores over thousands of records from birdwatchers in the
Arctic and concludes that weather-related events kill a lot of
them. Fulmars run into cliffs in fog, Murres get buried in
landslides when cliffs collapse. Birds get swept away in
storms. And so on.
Now the scientist has two options. He can say in a paper that a
lot of Arctic birds die due to `factors related to weather' and
bask in perpetual obscurity. Or he can slip in, just before the
word `weather', the phrase `climate and'.
He could even add a little speculation that
`If temperatures warm and intense storms
in the Arctic increase, along with otherclimate factors, "we might see mortality
in these birds from these things increase from what they are
might. Note too:
Mallory adds that he and his team are not
sounding an alarm bell that climate
change is going to kill off all of the seabirds.
Yet suddenly he's on the front page of the Huffington
Post! `Strange, Random, Arctic Bird Deaths Caused by
Climate Change' shouts the headline. No ifs and mights there.
No `not sounding an alarm bell'.
It's not his fault, of course. None the less, now do you
understand why scientists are tempted to link their work to climate
change whenever possible? Why the incentives -- financial and
reputational -- to sound alarm bells are so massive?
Here's a list of just some of the things that have been
`linked to climate change'.