350.org, the US-based environmental campaign group which aims to build a "global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis", has launched a new petition. It wants it supporters to urge the World Meteorological Organization to name hurricanes after "deniers and obstructionists". Its ClimateNameChange.org website says:
Since 1954, the World Meteorological Organization has been naming extreme storms after people. As scientific evidence shows that climate change is creating increasingly frequent and devastating storms, and with climate scientists declaring these extreme weather events as the new normal, we propose a new naming system. A system that names extreme storms caused by climate change, after the policy makers who deny climate change and obstruct climate policy.
To date, just a few days since launching, it has almost reached its target of 25,000 signatures.
Of course, the campaign has zero chance of succeeding. Hell would glaciate before the WMO would consider such a request. 350.org knows this. It's just their inventive, tongue-in-cheek way of further highlighting the US policy makers – predominantly Republicans – who "deny climate change and obstruct climate policy". (The Washington Post's weather editor has more on why hurricanes are not necessarily the "best post children" for climate change due to the scientific uncertainties that still exist when trying to link today's extreme storms with climate change.)
From my own perspective, this petition feels a little, well, 2007. Yes, there are certainly those in the US Congress – as there are (in much smaller numbers) in other legislative houses around the world – who will never accept the tenets of climate science. But "climate denier" politicians such as Senator James Inhofe are fast withering on the vine. The real world is leaving behind those who flatly reject the science underpinning the notion that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet. Campaigners (outside the US, at least) don't really need to expend their energy targeting this breed of "denier" any more.