Climate Change Causes Local Weather Events - Yeah, We Said It
    By News Staff | February 15th 2013 09:25 AM | 5 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    Donald Wuebbles, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is going to do the thing the IPCC wishes people would not do; attribute local weather events to climate change.

    The hurricanes and droughts like we had in 2012 will be more frequent in future U.S. five-day forecasts, as will other extreme weather events, and it's because of human-driven climate change he argues today at the AAAS meeting in Boston. In the 1950s, the number of days that set record high temperatures was equal to the number of days that set record low temperatures. By the 2000s, the United States was twice as likely to see a record high as a record low.

    While the IPCC would prefer that the media not attribute such things to climate change - after all, the situation in the 1930s was worse than today - the AAAS meeting is a safe audience. In his 2009 keynote speech at the AAAS meeting, former Vice-President used a projection of sea level rises that was far more aggressive than climate science estimates but few objected. It turned out to have been drawn from insurance company estimates rather than science, and he withdrew that slide after an outcry from outside the meeting noted it was not evidence-based.

    "Human-driven climate change is in fact driving changes in severe weather, and that leads to a lot of potential impacts in both humans and wildlife that end up being costly in many different ways," Wuebbles said in his statement about the talk.

    As global climate changes, weather patterns are altered. This is because the increasingly warmer atmosphere holds larger amounts of water vapor, which energizes storms, Wuebbles said. Weather-related disasters incur huge expenses, taxing both public funds and private equity. He cites National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration claims that 11 extreme weather events cost more than $1 billion each occurred in 2012. And the US Midwest, which had been immune to warming until 2012, finally had a drought.

    "What we've seen in general is that the number of billion-dollar events has increased over the last three decades," Wuebbles said. "It's not just hurricanes, it's really a number of different types of weather extremes that are increasing, and that's what the worry is."

    In his talk, Wuebbles will discuss the current understanding of severe weather in relation to the science of climate change, as well as speak about the issues and uncertainties that will affect the U.S. and world in the coming years.


    They're really getting desperate. They know the current Solar cycle is a dud, and if the very possible temp decline happens before their environment laws get put into place, they will never be put into place.
    Never is a long time.
    ""What we've seen in general is that the number of billion-dollar events has increased over the last three decades," Wuebbles said."

    This kind of statement is incredibly alarmist, but scientifically meaningless.

    If it is true that events costing $X in repairs are rising, the burden now is on showing why. It could be because there are more disastrous weather events, or that the ones we experience are worse. OR it could be because $1 today is not equal to what $1 was three decades ago. OR it could be because there are more people in the world, therefore more structures, therefore more damage to be done. OR it could be due to any number of other variables.

    This is comparing apples to oranges, and then claiming that comparison as scientific proof.

    You're right that focusing on the $ amount is questionable unless one can show controlling for lots of non-climate / non-weather elements (inflation, property at risk, better data collection on fiscal costs, ....). However, what is the next sentence: "It's not just hurricanes, it's really a number of different types of weather extremes that are increasing, and that's what the worry is."

    Thus, is your "alarmist" targeted at the questionable nature of using $s as an inappropriate measure (even though, for too many, it is the only measure that matters) or is this a broader questioning of the linkages between climate change and changing weather conditions?

    Yes. More and more homes have been built next to the ocean over the past 30 years, and those homes are increasingly more costly to repair when damaged. So, naturally, each successive coastal storm causes a larger dollar amount of damage. These costs are not evidence of an increase of storminess itself, as you note.

    When I read about how we have experienced yet another record like today's drought report , or any of the many record breaking weather events of late, my heart sinks. And, they just keep on coming. That sick pit at the bottom of stomach just won't go away.

    And, I fear that if I don't do something, my punishment will be Al Gore haunting me in the afterlife. Forever and ever. Now, I just can't let that happen, can I? He's much too professorial to be much fun I’m sure, and when I die (most likely in a new record breaking beyond biblical climate event), I just want to have fun. So, no Al please, not that, anything but that.

    As such, I have decided to attend the Climate Action on the National Mall this Sunday, the 17th at 11:30 AM by the Washington Memorial. I don't want to go, I have better things to do, but I must and so I shall. It is for all of our sakes, young and old at this point. And to get that Al out of my future dead head.