With the liberation of the ClimateGate emails from the CRU, suddenly long-surpressed information becomes respectable for the mainstream media to publish. At least, for foreign news media. People relying on the US news remain ignorant as stones. The way our ruling elites want them to be. Free yourself — read some of the many foreign newspapers and magazines available in English.
Today’s Feature story day: “UN wrongly linked global warming to natural disasters“, The Times, 24 January 2010 — Excerpt:
THE United Nations climate science panel faces new controversy for wrongly linking global warming to an increase in the number and severity of natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods. It based the claims on an unpublished report that had not been subjected to routine scientific scrutiny — and ignored warnings from scientific advisers that the evidence supporting the link too weak. The report’s own authors later withdrew the claim because they felt the evidence was not strong enough.
The claim by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that global warming is already affecting the severity and frequency of global disasters, has since become embedded in political and public debate.
- It was central to discussions at last month’s Copenhagen climate summit, including a demand by developing countries for compensation of $100 billion (£62 billion) from the rich nations blamed for creating the most emissions.
- Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change minister, has suggested British and overseas floods — such as those in Bangladesh in 2007 — could be linked to global warming.
- Barack Obama, the US president, said last autumn: “More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent.”
… The academic paper at the centre of the latest questions was written in 2006 by Robert Muir-Wood, head of research at Risk Management Solutions, a London consultancy, who later became a contributing author to the section of the IPCC’s 2007 report dealing with climate change impacts. He is widely respected as an expert on disaster impacts. Muir-Wood wanted to find out if the 8% year-on-year increase in global losses caused by weather-related disasters since the 1960s was larger than could be explained by the impact of social changes like growth in population and infrastructure. Such an increase, coinciding with rising temperatures, might suggest that global warming was to blame. If proven this would be highly significant, both politically and scientifically, because it would confirm the many predictions that global warming will increase the frequency and severity of natural hazards.
In the research Muir-Wood looked at a wide range of hazards, including tropical cyclones, thunder and hail storms, and wildfires as well as floods and hurricanes. He found from 1950 to 2005 there was no increase in the impact of disasters once growth was accounted for. For 1970-2005, however, he found a 2% annual increase which “corresponded with a period of rising global temperatures,” Muir-Wood was, however, careful to point out that almost all this increase could be accounted for by the exceptionally strong hurricane seasons in 2004 and 2005. There were also other more technical factors that could cause bias, such as exchange rates which meant that disasters hitting the US would appear to cost proportionately more in insurance payouts.
Despite such caveats, the IPCC report used the study in its section on disasters and hazards, but cited only the 1970-2005 results. The IPCC report said: “Once the data were normalised, a small statistically significant trend was found for an increase in annual catastrophe loss since 1970 of 2% a year.” It added: “Once losses are normalised for exposure, there still remains an underlying rising trend.”
Muir-Wood’s paper was originally commissioned by Roger Pielke, professor of environmental studies at Colorado University, also an expert on disaster impacts, for a workshop on disaster losses in 2006. The researchers who attended that workshop published a statement agreeing that so far there was no evidence to link global warming with any increase in the severity or frequency of disasters.
Pielke has also told the IPCC that citing one section of Muir-Wood’s paper in preference to the rest of his work, and all the other peer-reviewed literature, was wrong. He said: “All the literature published before and since the IPCC report shows that rising disaster losses can be explained entirely by social change. People have looked hard for evidence that global warming plays a part but can’t find it. Muir-Wood’s study actually confirmed that.”
Mike Hulme, professor of climate change at the Tyndall Centre, which advises the UK government on global warming, said there was no real evidence that natural disasters were already being made worse by climate change. He said: “A proper analysis shows that these claims are usually superficial”
… Muir-Wood … said: “The idea that catastrophes are rising in cost partly because of climate change is completely misleading. “We could not tell if it was just an association or cause and effect. Also, our study included 2004 and 2005 which was when there were some major hurricanes. If you took those years away then the significance of climate change vanished.”
For more information about this important story
Here is a later version of the paper under discussion (the site with the original is down due to Internet attacks): “An exploration of trends in normalized weather-related catastrophe losses”, Robert Muir-Wood and Auguste Boissonnade, Chapter 12 (pp. 225-247) in Climate Extremes and Society (editors Henry F. Diaz and Richard J. Murnane), published 2008. Per Roger Pieke Jr (source) the original was a background paper prepared for a workshop he organized in partnership with Munich Reinsurance in 2006. That paper was not published by the IPCC deadline for inclusion, nor was it peer reviewed, nor did it strongly support the claims made by the IPCC. But it was highlighted anyway.
For more about the IPCC distortions of the science about climate impacts on natural disasters, see these posts on the website of Roger Pielke Jr:
- A Primer on Egregious Errors in IPCC WG2 on Disasters — background and more links
- What Does Pielke Think About This? — how the IPCC made up information about my views
- Castles Built on Sand — what the unpublished report relied on by the IPCC actually said when published
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- About Science & Nature – my articles
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- About Science & Nature – the history of climate fears
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