Saturday, July 20, 2013

Plus ca change?

   The chicken little, "climate change" (read temperature warming disaster about to occur in a week or so) folks would have us believe a few days of old-fashioned summer weather and a couple of thunderstorms are symptoms of great disaster almost upon us.
   'Tain't so.  According to a piece in the National Post the other day, reporting on comments made by Roger Pielke Jr. before the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, nothing has changed, or looks like changing in any measurable way for a long time.  Mr. Pielke is professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado.
   Global weather-related losses as a proportion of GDP have not increased since 1990.
   Hurricanes have not increased in the US since at least 1960.
   Floods have not increased in the US since at least 1950.  Flood losses as a percentage of US GDP have dropped by about 75% since 1940.
   Tornadoes have not increased in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since 1950.
   Drought for the most part has become shorter, less frequent and covers a smaller portion of the US over the last century.  Globally, there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.
   The inability to detect and attribute changes in these phenomena does not mean that climate change may not be real or of concern.
   It does mean that many people who should know better have made false claims that confuse and could lead to poor decision making.
   Some research indicates that various extremes may become more frequent and intense as a consequence of human emission of carbon dioxide.  But the research suggests it will be many decades, perhaps longer, before the signal of human-caused climate change can be detected in the statistics of weather phenomena.

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