Guest essay by Eric Worrall
A NOAA study has been published, which claims to attribute various extreme weather events to anthropogenic climate change.
According to the NOAA press release;
“For the past four years, this report has shown that human activities are influencing specific extreme weather and climate events around the world,” said Thomas R. Karl, LHD, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. “In the 79 papers that have been published through the annual report over the past four years, over half of these papers show a linkage to human-caused climate change.”
When a climate change influence is not found it could mean two things. First, that climate change has not had any appreciable impact on an event. Or, it could also mean that the human influence cannot be conclusively identified with the scientific tools available today.
In this year’s report, 32 groups of scientists from around the world investigate 28 individual extreme events in 2014 and break out various factors that led to the extreme events, including the degree to which natural variability and human-induced climate change played a role.
The strapline of the report betrays the speculative nature of this effort;
This BAMS special report presents assessments of how climate change may have affected the strength and likelihood of individual extreme events.
The disclaimer in the report itself is even funnier;
Challenges that attribution assessments face include the often limited observational record and inability of models to reproduce some extreme events well. In general, when attribution assessments fail to find anthro- pogenic signals this alone does not prove anthropogenic climate change did not influence the event. The failure to find a human fingerprint could be due to insufficient data or poor models and not the absence of anthropogenic effects.
Read more: https://www2.ametsoc.org/ams/index.cfm/publications/bulletin-of-the-american-meteorological-society-bams/explaining-extreme-events-from-a-climate-perspective/explaining-extreme-events-of-2014-from-a-climate-perspective-table-of-contents/high-resolution-version/
Lets just say I would be a lot more impressed if NOAA could explain the extreme events of 2016, rather than trying to retrofit alarmist explanations to events they have no skill to predict. Starting with an assumption that an anthropogenic effect is playing a substantial role is not the same as demonstrating that this is the case. Retrofitting an explanation is easy – everyone can explain a stock market crash, after it occurs.
Consider the following (talking about Californian wildfires);
… A process called CO2 fertilisation (Donohue et al. 2013) tends to increase vegetation activity simply through the uptake of an increasing atmospheric CO2. Under such a scenario along with a wetter climate, vegetation growth would increase and subsequently supply sufficient fuel load.
And here I was thinking California was scheduled for perpetual drought. But I guess this is NOAA, they can disagree with James Hansen if they want.
Interestingly the report contains a testable prediction or two. Some good news for people in the Upper Midwest, who suffered through the brutal 2013-2014 winter. According to NOAA, nobody is likely to ever see such a winter again;
… While a winter comparable to 2013/14 would have been roughly a once-a-decade event in 1881 (return periods from 5–20 years), it has become roughly a once-in-a-thousand years event in 2014 (return periods from 90 to over 10 000 years). is implies that extremely cold winters are two orders of magnitude less frequent in today’s climate than in that of around 1881. Using a Gaussian t rather than GPD, the change in probability for such a cold winter would go from once-in-14 years in 1881 to once-in-200 years in 2014 (Supplemental Fig. S3.6). Due to the area-averaging, these changes in odds are more extreme than those found by van Oldenborgh et al. (2015) for individual stations since 1951, but match the drastic reduction in odds that Christidis et al. (2014) computed for cold springs in the United Kingdom. …
But lets assume for the sake of argument, that NOAA are right, and climate change is causing more extreme weather. What should we do about it?
Would you rather face a dangerous hail storm on your bicycle, or would you prefer to be protected by a safety capsule made of steel and toughened glass?
Would you prefer to suffer an extreme heatwave with, or without, the benefits of air conditioning? How insufferable would Summer be, if you couldn’t afford to cool your house, because electricity bills had skyrocketed beyond your ability to pay?
Would you give up home heating, so people who won’t be born until you are long dead, could enjoy a few more snow days?
Would you give up your right to travel by air, to make room for people rushing to attend climate conferences in exotic holiday destinations?
Nothing about the climate movement makes sense.