02 May 2011

Financial Times on Disasters and Climate Change

I often highlight situations where the science of disasters and climate change is misrepresented. Here is a case of the opposite situation.  Today's Financial Times gets the science of disasters and climate change exactly right:
The biggest question, though, remains the extent to which climate change is the driver of hurricanes, cyclones and flooding that have hit the world with apparently increased ferocity and regularity in recent years.

It is still proving extremely difficult for scientists to extract a clear sign of the effects of climate change from the normal long-term historic cycles of weather and climate activity. That is despite simple logic saying that a warmer climate should result in more powerful storms because of a greater water content in the atmosphere.

Axel Lehmann, chief risk officer at Zurich Financial Services, says it is necessary to take a long-term perspective – of 200 or even 1,000 years.

“In terms of severity and frequency, is this type of event happening in a more systematic way? We do not yet have an answer on that,” he says.

“But on a systematic basis we do know that a growing population puts pressure on the earth and its resources.”