Biden, influential climate scientist/activist use deadly tornado to push climate change narrative

Surveying damage in Kentucky, president attributed $99 billion in damage this year to "foul weather and climate change," vowed to "build back better than it was."
Joe Biden, Dawson Springs, Ky., Dec. 15, 2021
Joe Biden, Dawson Springs, Ky., Dec. 15, 2021
(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden surveyed the damage from a deadly weekend tornado in Mayfield, Ky., on Wednesday and said, "We've got $99 billion worth of damage just this year — just the year — because of foul weather and climate change."

In Dawson Springs, Ky., he reiterated the cost of damages and then, in a possible reference to his Build Back Better Act, he said: "I promise you: You're going to heal. We're going to recover. You're going to rebuild. You're going to be stronger than you were before. We're going to build back better than it was." 

Biden's behemoth bill, however, is at odds with the coal industry; Kentucky is home to one-fifth of all U.S. coal mines.

A cornerstone of Build Back Better is to "shift to clean energy." Biden plans on shifting coal-fired power plants to "service new and growing industries." The plan also encourages miners to shift to being "ready to support the next-generation projects," such as solar power. 

The median household income of Mayfield is less than $32,300 a year. 

Some Kentuckians expressed their displeasure with Biden, who was heckled with "Let's go, Brandon!" jeers and a Trump flag. 

One person turned his back on Biden's motorcade and chanted, "Let's go, Brandon!" as the president went by. 

Another person posted a video to TikTok, saying, "F*** this son of a b**** there he is and all his little Gestapo…. Let's go, Brandon."

Penn State climatologist Michael Mann, meanwhile used the tornado to voice support for Build Back Better during an interview with MSNBC.

"Well, you know, you need to pass Build Back Better because that bill has climate provisions that will address this problem at its, you know, at its core, which is the warming of the planet due to carbon pollution, fossil fuel burning," said Mann. "So that's most important. We can prevent this from getting worse if we act on climate now." 

It is unclear what the source is for Biden's estimate of $99 billion in damage due to bad weather and climate change this year or what methodology he might be relying on to assess the contribution of climate change to local weather disasters like the tornado or to global weather disasters observed over relatively brief time intervals like a single year.

The Scientific American on Wednesday reported that insured losses from weather disasters globally are projected to reach $101 billion this year. This is the third time since 1970 that extreme weather has caused more than $100 billion in insured losses.

The Scientific American, however, did not attribute these weather disaster losses to climate change, nor did the outlet estimate how much climate change is costing the public.

Neither the White House nor the Environmental Protection Agency immediately responded to requests for comment.