The poster-child for “so-what?” science

Ecological impacts of severe weather are clear to those witnessing the after-effects of a hurricane, heat wave, hailstorm, or other alarming event. Yet, within the realm of science the central tenets that data must be collected in a controlled and replicable manner poses a problem for those studying catastrophe. Those who venture to ascribe more meaning to weather impacts than “a stochastic effect” can find themselves facing criticisms over the repeatability of the data collection and the assertion of cause-and-effect. It may be easy to buy into the “so-what science” label that reviewers have tagged on this pursuit. But then we’d be shying away from better understanding the important ecological, economic, and social implications of severe weather occurring now and possibly to greater effect in the future.

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