Pete Buttigieg claims increase in extreme turbulence is caused by climate change

"The effects of climate change are already upon us in terms of our transportation."


On Sunday, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg claimed that climate change is causing turbulence to increase and that it will increasingly affect American travelers. 

In an interview on CBS's Face The Nation, Buttigieg said, "The effects of climate change are already upon us in terms of our transportation." He added, "We've seen that in the form of everything from heat waves that shouldn't statistically even be possible threatening to melt the cables of transit systems in the Pacific Northwest to hurricane seasons becoming more and more extreme."

Buttigieg claimed that there are "indications that turbulence is up by about 15%."

"There are protocols and patterns for things like how pilots who encountered turbulence notify those who might be coming in the past, but I do think we need to continually reevaluate that in the face of the reality that these things are more frequent and more severe than before," he claimed. 

Host Margeret Brennan went on to mention the video of a Singapore Airlines flight in which extreme turbulence injured 30 people, and led to the death of a man. 

"To be clear, something that extreme is very rare, but turbulence can happen, And sometimes it can happen unexpectedly," the secretary responded. "Our climate is evolving. our policies and our technology and our infrastructure have to evolve accordingly to this is all about making sure that we stay ahead of the curve, keeping aviation as safe as it is."

According to a study published by Advancing Earth and Space Sciences, there has been a large increase in clear-air turbulence (CAT) over the last four decades. The data showed that between 1979 and 2020 the light-or-greater CAT increased by 17 percent, 37 percent for moderate-or-greater CAT, and 55 percent for severe-or-greater CAT. 

In recent months there have been several high-profile incidents involving airplanes, including one where the new Boeing 737-9 MAX had a door plug blow off mid-flight.

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