Lomborg on extreme weather myths

© Scientific American

Climate sense

UPDATE: Australia’s own local alarmism “sausage factory”, CSIRO, comes up trumps right on cue, predicting “more droughts, floods and cyclones” as a result of “global warming”:

“SOUTH Pacific island nations will be hit by almost twice as many droughts, floods and extreme tropical cyclones over the next 80 years due to global warming, according to research led by the CSIRO.

The study, published in Nature today, suggests that the countries will face an even tougher time adapting to climate change than previously thought. Most previous studies have focused on sea level rise.” (source)

Apparently, they selected the best climate models (translation: least worst) and used those. So that’s OK, then.

As has been said many times on this blog, there is no weather condition that would not be “consistent with” some global warming model somewhere or other. More rain: global warming. More drought: global warming. More snow: global warming. Less snow: global warming. Etcetera etcetera.

So whenever there is an episode of extreme weather, the alarmists crawl out of their holes to link it to “global warming” in order to advance The Cause™. As always, we should ask what weather would “not be consistent” with their projections? None. Zip. Nada. It’s our old friend the unfalsifiable hypothesis again. Not so much science as astrology.

Bjørn Lomborg, writing in The Australian, takes apart the latest hysteria in the US over links between extreme weather and climate change:

A hot, dry summer (in some places) has triggered another barrage of such claims. And, while many interests are at work, one of the players that benefits the most from this story is the media: the notion of “extreme” climate simply makes for more compelling news.

Consider Paul Krugman, writing breathlessly in The New York Times about the “rising incidence of extreme events” and how “large-scale damage from climate change is happening now”.

He claims that global warming caused the current drought in the US midwest and that supposedly record-high corn prices could cause a global food crisis.

But the UN climate panel’s latest assessment tells us precisely the opposite: for “North America, there is medium confidence that there has been an overall slight tendency toward less dryness (wetting trend with more soil moisture and runoff)”.

Moreover, there is no way Krugman could have identified this drought as being caused by global warming without a time machine: climate models estimate that such detection will be possible by 2048, at the earliest.

[…]

Bill McKibben similarly frets in The Guardian and The Daily Beast about the midwest drought and corn prices.

Moreover, he confidently tells us that raging wildfires from New Mexico and Colorado to Siberia are “exactly” what the early stages of global warming look like.

In fact, the latest overview of global wildfire incidence suggests that, because humans have suppressed fire and decreased vegetation density, fire intensity has declined during the past 70 years, and is now close to its pre-industrial level.

When well-meaning campaigners want us to pay attention to global warming, they often end up pitching beyond the facts.

And while this may seem justified by a noble goal, such “policy by panic” tactics rarely work and often backfire.

Remember how, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Al Gore (and many others) claimed that we were in store for ever more devastating hurricanes?

Since then, hurricane incidence has dropped off the charts; indeed, by one measure, global accumulated cyclone energy has decreased to its lowest levels since the late 70s. Exaggerated claims merely fuel public distrust and disengagement. (source - paywalled)

In which case, I say to Krugman and McKibben: carry on!



Categories: Climate

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14 replies

  1. It was only 2 years ago, in May 2010, when Dr. Wenju Cai, co-author of a Nature Geoscience paper said,

    “While the possibility of large changes in ENSO (El Nino-Southern Oscillation) cannot be ruled out, research conducted to date does not yet enable us to say precisely whether ENSO variability will be enhanced or moderated, or how the frequency of events will change.”
    “The authors suggest further research directions and coordination efforts that would continue to improve science’s understanding of, and ability to accurately model ENSO, and enable researchers to predict the level of ENSO activity in the short-term (10 to 30 years).”

    So what happened to the further research to improve science’s understanding of, and accurately model ENSO activity in the short term (10-30 years)? They’ve obviously discarded that idea and came to a scientific conclusion in just over 2 years. Now that’s amazing science!

    • Read their Nature paper, in the abstract, it says
      “we show climate modelling evidence for a near doubling in the occurrences of zonal SPCZ events from 1891-1990 to 1991-2090 in response to greenhouse warming, even in the absence of a consensus on how itself ENSO will change. ”

      They clearly stated “… even in the absence of a consensus on how itself ENSO will change”

      You can be be assured that scientists are still working on this issue. Watch this space for another paper.

      Credible scientists speak out only after their work has been subject to a vigorou peer review process.

      Deniers can say anything anytime, based on purely what they like to say.

  2. Lomborg deserves more exposure on sceptic blogs. Though a luke-warmist, he consistently avoids descending into activism and does a commendable job of sticking to the science – which makes him a hate figure to the more extreme millennialist catastrophist blogs.

  3. Lomborg is excellent..

    • Agreed. A fantastic denier, denying the undeniable.

      [REPLY - OK, you've had your fun trolling and hurling the D word around - Moderator]

  4. Perhaps, as a filthy denier, I haven’t got the mental capacity to comprehend it, but it seems to me, that if a particular region has more droughts, and more floods, then the drought/flood cycle would have a shorter period/higher frequency. Is this inherently a bad thing? I think I’d prefer 1 year of drought than 5 years…if i had the option to choose, which I wouldn’t, because who can actually predict these things accurately anyway?

    Ultimately, as a former employee, I’d like the CSIRO to go back to being trustworthy, but I guess that’s about as likely as a Flannery prediction coming true…

    • Nick, you should read the press release itself.

      It says “Countries located within the band position experience forest fires and droughts as well as increased occurrences of tropical cyclone hits, whereas countries to which the rainband moves experience extreme floods. ”

      So the extreme floods and droughts are not experienced at the same location.

  5. He is excellent but is still a warmest. He makes sense economically but his belief in AGW is questionable.

  6. The name of that prominent Australian escapes me. ….You know that fellow who said the sea was rising, so he now lives just above the high tide flotsam and jetsam . You know who I am trying to recall , surely you must know! I think he also said something like, no he predicted that dams around Sydney would never ever refill because rain had forever forgotten how to fall in Australia.

    Any rate most important thing he has done is to open his main orifice to convince well over 4/5ths of 5/8s of Australians that he is not climate scientist’s best friend…..

  7. “..one of the players that benefits the most from this story is the media: the notion of “extreme” climate simply makes for more compelling news.”

    Hit the nail on the head. Of course you’re not going to hear stories from the MSM saying “this is perfectly normal”.

    Meanwhile, the only reason that it’s not “normal” is because alarmists are totally ignoring periods of time like the dust bowl, just to mention one. Ironically, Mann suffered foot-in-mouth when he mentioned it in a tweet.

  8. Hey people,
    I make no apology for labouring this point.
    CSIRO may be running a sausage factory of alarmism, but they are in pole position for transferring their sausages into measures that can affect everyone in this country.
    The Australian Building Code Board’s Bulletin:
    http://goo.gl/lnC8F
    “THE CLIMATE IS CHANGING – HOW IS THE NCC ADAPTING?”
    Plenty of unsupported alarmism in this.
    [NCC = National Construction Code]
    First step?
    http://www.abcb.gov.au/major-initiatives/building-in-flood-prone-areas
    Ok. A bit more reasonable. Obviously, there are existing problem areas.
    On the other hand, we are all aware of the possibility of a “switch” occurring, having witnessed the transformation of real-world data and associated research into “Advice for Policy Makers” by the IPCC.

    • That is because CSIRO subjects its work to a peer-review process, and upholds and strengthens its credibility. CSIRO continues to advance Australia science that benefits the nation and the world. In fact, in everyday of your life, you have benefited from CSIRO’s great work, for examples wifi (wireless technology) and the material on which our money is printed, are invented by CSIRO, and these are a strong earner of export dollars. Discoveries like these are a result of scientists following a scientific process that includes peer review.

  9. Given that Krugman is the grand high priest of that failed doctrine known as Keynesian economics it does not surprise me at all that he is also a global warming bed wetter. It takes a certain kind of beautiful mind to subscribe to such voodoo theories as Keynesianism and man-made global warming.

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