One of the claims we continually hear from the global warming activists is that extreme weather events are getting worse. Al Gore, promoting his new film “An Inconvenient Sequel” has been hammering this point. But it is true? Not according to the article Extreme Weather Expert: ‘World is presently in an era of unusually low weather disasters’ . Here’s a summary:
According to Professor Roger Pielke Jr (University of Colorado Boulder), “The world is presently in an era of unusually low weather disasters. This holds for the weather phenomena that have historically caused the most damage: tropical cyclones, floods, tornadoes and drought. Given how weather events have become politicized in debates over climate change, some find this hard to believe. Fortunately, government and IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) analyses allow such claims to be adjudicated based on science, and not politics. “
Those with a “listen and believe” attitude will doubtless try to smear Pielke. Fortunately, he is using the IPCC’s own data. For anyone to claim that the IPCC is pro-fossil fuels would be ludicrous.
Every six months Munich Re publishes a tally of the costs of disasters around the world for the past half year. The data allows us to compare disaster costs to global GDP, to get a sense of the magnitude of these costs in the context of economic activity. Using data from the UN, here is how that data looks since 1990, when we have determined that data is most reliable and complete.
To what can this be attributed? According to Pielke:
The United States has spent $70 billion less that expected due to hurricane damage since 2006. The US has seen a decrease of about 20% in both hurricane frequency and intensity at landfall since 1900. Data on floods, drought and tornadoes are similar in that they show little to no indication of becoming more severe or frequent.
He then share’s the IPCC’s own conclusions (which I’ll paraphrase for clarity):
- There continues to be a lack of evidence that the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale are increasing.
- Observed increases in tornadoes and hail storms are not statistically significant.
- Observed increases in drought over global land areas since 1950 is not statistically significant.
Is Pielke a climate change denier, a shill for the fossil fuel industry? Judge for yourself:
Climate change, of course, is all too real and has a significant human component. The IPCC has concluded that there is evidence indicating that heat waves have become more common as too has extreme rainfall in some parts of the world. Projections for the future suggest that some other types of extremes – including tropical cyclones, floods, drought and tornadoes – may yet become more intense or frequent. However, there is great uncertainty about how extremes will evolve in the climate future.
Pielke concludes with a warning about the dangers of crying wolf:
To the extent that people believe that we are presently in an era of large or unusual disasters, many will be in for a shock when large weather disasters again occur. The world has had a run of good luck when it comes to weather disasters. That will inevitably come to an end. Understanding loss potential in the context of inexorable global development and long term climate patterns is hard enough. It is made even more difficult with the politicized overlay that often accompanies the climate issue. Fortunately, there is good science and solid data available to help cut through the noise. Bigger disasters are coming – will you be ready?