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Early blizzards hit the East coast this year, and just knew there’d be someone relating it to Global Warming Climate Change. In my top 5 AP news stories a few mornings ago came this:

APNewsbreak: Future Holds More Extreme Weather

Now, of course, Al Gore reminded us of this possibility some time ago. Of course climate scientists now are claiming that manmade (is it really manmade? why not call it, man emitted prior to when it would otherwise be emitted?) CO2 emissions are causing extreme weather events. And of course, while the actual research is weeks away from publication we manage to obtain a sneak preview on the heels of a freak autumn snowstorm. We’re not saying the snowstorm is caused by global warming, but wow, wasn’t that a doozy of a storm?

Tucked down later in the piece:

The most recent bizarre weather extreme, the pre-Halloween snowstorm that crippled parts of the Northeast last weekend, cannot be blamed on climate change and probably isn’t the type of storm that will increase with global warming, according to four meteorologists and climate scientists.

That snowstorm cannot be traced to past climate change and such storms are not even predicted to be a result of climate change … so why even mention it?

Experts on extreme storms have focused more closely on the increasing number of super-heavy rainstorms, not snow, NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt said.

By the end of the century, the intense, single-day rainstorms that typically happen once every 20 years will probably happen about twice a decade, the report said

Over the next 91 years, even if they are right, we’ll have something like 8 of these storms instead of 4 … over the entire course of 91 years. And so…?

The opposite type of disaster — a drought such as the stubbornly long dry spell gripping Texas and parts of the Southwest — could also happen more often as the world warms, said Schmidt and Meehl, who reviewed part of the climate panel report.

Yep, they may happen. And so …?

Studies have not yet specifically tied global warming to the continuing drought, but it is consistent with computer models that indicate current climate trends will worsen existing droughts, Meehl said. Scientifically connecting a weather disaster with global warming is a complicated and time-consuming task that can take more than a year and involve lots of computer calculations.

Yes, the very same models that could not predict or account for the last dozen years of global temperature records, and the very same models that had to be creatively calibrated to get the feedback effects right. Yep. A difficult task.

Finally, we get to the “and so …” part:

In fact, the report says, “for some climate extremes in many regions, the main driver for future increases in losses will be socioeconomic” rather than a result of greenhouse gases.

Those storms may impose socioeconomic costs. But consider a few points.

(1) At least in terms of hurricanes (I am cherry picking from the skeptic data here) it does not seem like we can say anything about hurricanes and global warming.

(2) Storm damages have been decreasing over time, not increasing.

Here is a chart for the US:

Matt Ridley shows us what has happened to death rates from extreme weather events for the entire world:

(3)  None of the article makes any serious attempt to talk about the potential costs of more rain and extreme weather, and whether, in fact, these costs are offset (at all, or perhaps more) by reductions in other risks that are likely to accompany a warm climate. I’d remind you that winter kills more people than summer, and that shorter and warmer winters could feasibly more than make up for any increased risks due to storms. I’ll leave it to the readers to find out what we already know about this.

(4) Finally, call me in 20 years. While we try to draw a connection between every problem on earth and global warming climate change, many serious problems remain underexplored, underfunded and underappreciated. Just a week ago I found myself at a seminar on the health of the Finger Lakes and the Great Lakes. There are many risks to these watersheds, especially from land use practices and invasive species. But of course, our speaker couldn’t help but add a final “throw-in” comment about how climate change also impacts these waters.

What the heck am I talking about? Well, go examine some research on the threats to the Finger Lakes and Great Lakes and tell me how we can even document changes from climate change on these waters? And tell me how the “damages” from climate change stack up against the serious risks to these water bodies. Search this document for the term “climate” to see all of the evidence for a recent important study and compare it to the other risks listed.

6 Responses to “You Knew This Was Coming”

  1. Rod says:

    The key part of all this is a study — another document prepared by people who might otherwise do genuinely productive and useful work that would add wealth to our economy instead of entombing money in another inch or two in the pile of studies that accumulate on the university or government agency floor. It is make work — jobs created or saved by taxpayer money. Cynical me.

    I like the way you strike a line through ‘global warming’ and follow it with ‘climate change.’ If any of your students become technical analysts for a brokerage firm, they could strike a line over ‘bull market’ and follow it with ‘market fluctuation. P.T. Barnum might have done the same with ‘you can fool some of the people all of the time’ and ‘you can fool all of the people some of the time.’

    Here in southeastern PA, the power is still out in some areas. Power companies from Virginia and other states to the south came in to help out. Years ago, PP&L would routinely trim or even remove trees to minimize the risk of limbs falling on power lines. Now, they often wait until there is a power outage to dismember the trees — you never know when a tree hugger might be hugging.

  2. sherlock says:

    Just got power back last night (North Central CT). However, the bottom half of my street still doesn’t have power. They all drive SUV’s so they deserve it.

  3. Speedmaster says:

    Some of my pet-peeves …

    It seems like the true believers are convinced that everything we do causes global warming, and everything and that happens is a result of global warming.

    Here’s a question. When did we stop using the term ‘global warming’ and switch to ‘climate change?’ Why?

  4. Rod says:

    We stopped using ‘global warming’ because it was not warming; it was cooling a little, or staying the same — all changes were within the margin of error and the limitations of the measurements, much of which is done in whole degrees. Significant figures — I remember that from Chemistry 101-102.

    Climate change covers it all. Line 1 — list all wages, tips and other income. Line 2 — Send it in.

  5. Harry says:

    Wintercow has enough in his archives of his own making to write several books.

    From the academic point of view, we all wish he would write an Econ 103 book with fresh ideas, and become the next generation’s Samuelson. Or, better yet, he could author a book that would be fresher to go along with Econ 103 than anything written by the crochety John Kenneth Galbreath. The textbook thing would be better, because you get to revise it a little each year in an attempt to defeat the underground used book market.

    But I think WC has the material and the ability to write a best-seller.

    If I figure out the right topic, I will forward it to WC directly.

    Given WC’s vast network, there have to be resources out there to pitch ideas for ten books.

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