02 June 2011

Yale e360 Forum: Is Extreme Weather Linked to Global Warming?

I am one of eight experts asked by Yale e360 to provide 250 words in response to the following questions:
Do you think there is growing evidence that human-caused global warming is contributing to more extreme weather events worldwide, and on what do you base your conclusion? Please cite an example or two of recent extreme weather events that you think either affirm, or refute, the contention that anthropogenic global warming is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme events.
The other experts included in the Forum are Kevin Trenberth, Andrew Watson, Kerry Emanuel, Judy Curry, Laurens Bouwer, Gabriele Hegerl and Bill Hooke.

Have a look and please feel free to return here with critique, query or corrections in the comments.


  1. 1) I was able to dismiss Laurens Bouwer's comments almost instantly: "The IPCC has established.." as if the IPCC did original research rather than simply assemble data and people in support of a pre-conceived particular point of view. "The GOP has established that higher taxes are always bad..."

    2) The "no, but it will in the future" waffle (Andrew Watson) is annoying. Shouldn't a demonstrable causal trend already be evident before we evince certainty about future climate conditions?

    3) Trenberth is incoherent: "It is when global warming and natural variability come together that records are broken" follows an implicit admission that there is no way to assess the AGW versus the variability components so the statement is empirically meaningless.

  2. I'm not gonna even bother looking. I'm still waiting for US record high temperatures by state to set new records! (1930s is the hottest record by this suitable aggregate measure.)

    What I'm more interested in is seeing if the new new GRL paper by your father and Watt's el al, showing that diurnal temperatures are not narrowing, which an Enhanced Greenhouse Hypothesis predicts, can be replicated elsewhere (New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, etc, spring to mind), or not.

    This piece of evidence, along with The Hockey Stick, and CO2 and temp rise-relationship shown by ice-core paleoclimatology, made me a luke warmer for much of the past decade.

    But the failure of the EGH to be supported by these and other critical tests (the tropical tropo Hotspot, and other added CO2-climate sensitivity measures by satellite - see Spencer and Lindzen and Choi's papers) have convinced me otherwise.

    Trenberth has become an excellent example of Freeman Dyson's AGW-dogma victim. (Sadly, my taxes pay for his anti-scientific worship.)

    Since I don't pray in his church, I'm not reading Yale folks anymore. (Cf, Richard Muller's refusal to read Hockey team papers last November). I have more beneficial tasks to worry over than ministering to the next Harold Camping - there are just too many of them.

  3. The elephant in the room here is, and what should we do about it? Here's a clue for Trenberth, Romm, McKibben, and ilk: In Alabama, Tornadoes Happen. Warming or no, anthropogenic or no.

    Every dollar spent on renewable subsidies, every dollar taken from homeowners by carbon taxes or higher fuel prices, every tax dollar spent on yet more models and supercomputers, every dollar spent by foundations on green advocacy, is a dollar that could have been spent on properly engineered storm cellars in a state where most houses have none. I have relatives still living in Alabama because they did have adequate cellars. They are the lucky ones.

  4. William Hooke cited "tendency toward zero-margin societies" as something impacting hazards into the future. What does this mean? How is it measured?

  5. "Shouldn't a demonstrable causal trend already be evident before we evince certainty about future climate conditions?"

    It appears that some people haven't bothered to read (or understood) what you and others agree on Roger; namely that in a noisy dataset it takes many years for a climate signal to emerge, particularly when one is dealing with events that are by definition rare.

  6. I have to agree with T, that the Trenberth response seems more of a article of faith than a scientific opinion. It's an excellent example of the politicization of science. I'm always baffled by the idea that scientists are these benevolent beings that are only and always thinking of the greater good rather then their own self-interest.

    @Josh: You definitely understand the concept of opportunity cost.

  7. " in a noisy dataset it takes many years for a climate signal to emerge"

    If a trend is flat for the last 30 years then there is no AGW signal to detect. If there is a trend over the last 30 years but no trend over 100 years there then there is no AGW signal to detect. For every weather event the situation is either one of these two.

    The fact remains we have no actual trends and no actual theory that would link extreme weather events to global warming. So all conjecture is founded on absolutely nothing but a fear of change.

    Notice Trenberth brings up the magic 4% extra water vapour again. How can anyone get all apocalyptic over 4%? It's quite ludicrous!