Guest post by Indur M. Goklany
1. Krugman in Gradual Changes and Extreme Events forgets that there is a threshold on the left hand side, below which cold kills. In fact, in the moderate to higher latitudes more people die daily during the cold months than in the rest of the year. See Winter kills: Excess Deaths in the Winter Months.
2. How does Krugman know that the distribution does not become narrower due to warming?
3. Where is the data that shows extremes have become more intense or more frequent, after one corrects for better detection, increased population, and better communications? It certainly doesn’t hold for cyclones, as Ryan Maue’s ACE graph shows. Events more extreme than any we have witnessed over the past 30 years (or whatever) have occurred before and will, no doubt, occur again, even absent any anthropogenic climate change.
4. Empirical data show that even if extremes are more frequent and intense, lives lost have declined. As noted in the A Primer on the Global Death Toll from Extreme Weather Events — Context and Long Term (1900–2008) Trends, long term (1900–2008) data show that average annual deaths and death rates from all such events declined by 93% and 98%, respectively, since cresting in the 1920s (see Figure). These declines occurred despite a vast increase in the populations at risk and more complete coverage of extreme weather events.
Source: Goklany, IM. 2009. Deaths and Death Rates from Extreme Weather Events: 1900-2008. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 14 (4): 102-09 (2009). Available at http://www.jpands.org/vol14no4/goklany.pdf.
5. Similarly, empirical data also do not show any significant upward trend for property losses once increases in population and assets-at-risk are accounted for. See (a) Pielke, Jr’s weblog on Normalized Disaster Losses in Australia, (b) Bouwer, L.M. (2010), “Have disaster losses increased due to anthropogenic climate change?” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, doi:10.1175/2010BAMS3092.1, (c) Neumayer, E., and Barthel, F. (2010), “Normalizing economic loss from natural disasters:A global analysis, ” Global Environmental Change http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2010.10.004.