Background Briefing: December 13, 2021


Will More and More Extreme Weather Events Make Climate Change a Clear and Present Danger?

We begin with deadly tornadoes over the weekend that struck Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee and in particular Kentucky where a devastating tornado touched down and stayed on the ground for 227 miles, leaving a wide path of destruction and at least 64 dead with over 100 unaccounted for. Joining us is Jennifer Marlon, a Research Scientist and Lecturer at the Yale School of the Environment and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication where she studies public perceptions of and responses to environmental change, particularly relating to climate and extreme weather events. We discuss the need for not just political leaders to address the role of climate change and more and more extreme weather events, but for the media to get serious about its coverage of the weather and focus more on substance rather than sensation. 


Why do Tornadoes Now Happen in the Winter Instead of the Spring?

Then we look further into the nature of tornadoes and the greater frequency of them occurring in the winter rather than the spring and whether climate change is a factor since warmer air in the winter makes these extreme weather events possible. Joining us is John Allen, Professor of Meteorology in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Central Michigan University and a leading contributor to research on severe thunderstorm and tornado environments, particularly in the context of climate change.


The Grim Milestone of 800,000 Covid Deaths in America

Then finally, with 800,000 deaths now recorded in the U.S. as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a greater percentage this year due to the Delta variant, we speak with Thomas Bollyky, director of the global health program and senior fellow for global health, economics, and development at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a professor of law at Georgetown University and the author of Plagues and the Paradox of Progress: Why the World is Getting Healthier in Worrisome Ways and the founder and managing editor of Think Global Health, an online magazine that examines the ways health shapes economies, societies, and everyday lives around the world. He joins us to discuss his recent article at The Wall Street Journal, “Getting Vaccines to the World Next Time” and the need to not just produce more vaccines, but to distribute them to everyone on the planet.