New book shreds the “climate to extreme weather” link

Click for preview

After nearly every hurricane, heatwave, drought, or other extreme weather event, commentators rush to link the disaster with climate change. But what does the science say?

In this fully revised and updated edition of Disasters & Climate Change, renowned political scientist Roger Pielke Jr. takes a close look at the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the underlying scientific research, and the climate data to give you the latest science on how climate change is related to extreme weather.

What he finds may surprise you and raise questions about the role of science in political debates.


The 2nd edition of Disasters and Climate Change, which is being published this week by the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University, in their series, The Rightful Place of Science.

The substantially updated and revised edition includes the following:

  • Updated data from official government sources on trends in extreme temperatures, extreme precipitation, tropical cyclones, floods, drought and tornadoes.
  • A summary of the conclusions of the most recent IPCC reports on extreme events.
  • Documentation of the most recent peer reviewed science on trends in global disaster losses.
  • A summary of the conclusions of the 2017 US National Climate Assessment on extreme events.
  • Data on progress with respect to the UN SDG goal of reducing disaster losses as a proportion of global GDP.
  • A discussion of the move within some parts of the scientific community to abandon the IPCC framework for detection and attribution (for extremes) towards a far less rigorous approach emphasizing partial event attribution.
  • My experiences being investigated by a member of the US Congress, appearing in Wikileaks as the target of a campaign to silence me, and ultimately receiving the full support of my campus leaders as I have largely departed the climate field (but not entirely!).
  • A broader discussion of the deeply pathological politics of climate policy and what it will really take to move in the direction of practical action, not just angry debates.
  • Updated data from BP on trends in global carbon free energy consumption and the continuing expansion of fossil fuels.
The issue of disasters and climate change is fully politicized and draws a lot of heat.(no pun intended).

With this short book Dr. Pielke seeks to shed some light on oversold claims of a climate and disasters connection.

From the foreword by Daniel Sarewitz:
In this book, Roger Pielke Jr. summarizes those facts to answer the question, “Have disasters become more costly because of human-caused climate change?” Many people do worry that climate change is causing disasters to get worse, but Pielke presents a wealth of data, including the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to show why such concerns are not supported by the available science.
Unlike the conditions in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion, the reasons for rising disaster losses are well understood and unlikely to change significantly with new revelations or data.
Why, then, are disaster costs rising? The reasons are apparent: populations continue to grow, the economy and the built environment continue to expand, and people migrate to and concentrate on coastal and flood plains. There are simply more people, and more of the things that people depend on in their lives, in harm’s way.

Moreover, these demographic trends feed continued environmental degradation of highly populated coastal, riverine, and mountainous regions, which in turn exacerbate the consequences of disasters. Most of these trends are further amplified in developing countries. Climate isn’t the only thing that’s changing in our world, and it’s these other changes that are causing disaster losses to increase.
Pielke writes in Chapter 1:
More specifically, disasters have become both more economically costly and less deadly over the past century. But there is precious little evidence to suggest that the blame for the increasing tally of disaster costs can be placed on more frequent or extreme weather events attributable to human-caused climate change.
Available at Amazon

About the Author

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
August 30, 2018 12:32 pm

The easiest way to ease your mind about ‘extreme weather’ due to climate change is to stop watching the news.

Roy Spencer
Reply to  Scott
August 30, 2018 12:57 pm

and stop watching The Weather Channel… I haven’t watched it in about 10 years.

Reply to  Roy Spencer
August 30, 2018 3:03 pm

I’ve stopped watching TV for approx 9 years now and I don’t miss it at all. Got tired of…:
1) Funding the creators (and source, Cox Comm) that kept shoving in my face subtle and/or blatent leftist political and lifestyle messages.
2) Paying for commercials. Either give me free over the air HDTV with commercials or paid cable/satellite service without commercials.
3) Cable ‘packages’ of that contain hundreds of brain-dead useless channels. I want a service where I can pick and pay for ONLY the channels I want to watch.

Used to like the weather channel when it was just mainly about weather.

Reply to  kramer
August 30, 2018 5:44 pm

kramer, similarly, I stopped watching network television in the late 1970s, and I stopped watching cable TV about the turn of the millennium…the exception, F1 races whenever I could.



James Bull
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
August 30, 2018 10:47 pm

Still watch some TV channels but they tend to be nothing to do with weather or news.
Gave up on F1 quite a few years ago as it had become boring, now watch BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) as it has the main races and various other classes of race with pro and amateur teams including junior classes much more exciting to watch.

James Bull

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
September 4, 2018 2:04 pm

Way off topic, but you can now subscribe to F1TV to stream those races

Reply to  kramer
August 31, 2018 5:17 am

If you pay for commercials, you are not a customer, you are still a product.

Means, I can’t watch TV.

Reply to  Scott
August 31, 2018 3:27 am

Cant stand watching the BBC news any more.
After the first decent summer in the UK for 15 years we are told its extreme weather, yeah extremely bloody rare, but nowhere near as hot as 1976.
Told every day this is going to be the new normall ,based soley on their computer models ,that are wrong 90% of the time.

Chris Wright
Reply to  dunc
August 31, 2018 5:08 am

I still watch BBC news but if anything about the environment or Brexit comes up I instantly switch channels. Unfortunately CNN isn’t much better.

During the heatwave I distinctly remember someone on BBC News saying the heatwave could last until October. What a moron. It’s been pretty chilly recently and quite a few times I’ve put my sweater on and switched on the electric fire, and it’s still August. Come back, heatwave, all is forgiven!

August 30, 2018 12:34 pm

Aha! it’s in preprint sales mode for the paperback edition. I’ll buy it when it’s available in Kindle format, Roger. Looking forward to it.


For those who don’t want to wait and would like to see the data for …

• Hurricanes Making Landfall on the Continental U.S. (NOAA AOML – Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory)
• Tornados for All 50 States (NOAA NWS – National Weather Service)
• Droughts for the Contiguous U.S. (NOAA NCDC – National Climatic Data Center, now known as the NCEI – National Centers for Environmental Information)
• Floods for the Contiguous U.S. Streams and Rivers (USGS – United States Geological Survey)
• Wildfires for All 50 U.S. States (Interagency Federal Wildland Fire Policy Review Working Group and the National Interagency Fire Center.)
• Surface Temperature Extremes for the Contiguous U.S. [Hottest Yearly TMAX and Coldest Yearly TMIN] (NOAA NCDC – National Climatic Data Center, now known as the NCEI – National Centers for Environmental Information) Note: These Surface Temperature Data Are Presented in Absolute Form, in Deg F, NOT As Anomalies.

…(all presented in annual formats and smoothed with 10-year running average filters and with 30-year running average filters),




Tom O
August 30, 2018 1:08 pm

Since “climate catastrophism” isn’t about science, all the data in the world that proves AGW wrong (which is most of it) doesn’t matter. It is about world government, population reduction, and stratifying the world population into rich and poverty, with little in between. 99% of the “green warriors” all think they are going to be part of that top stratum, but they will end up in the bottom stratum where all useful idiots from the green revolution will be – along with the rest of us who tried to save the people as well as the planet.

Reply to  Tom O
August 30, 2018 5:15 pm

… they will end up in the bottom stratum where all useful idiots from the green revolution will be …

Communism always ends up in totalitarianism. Totalitarianism always ends up with purges like Stalin’s Great Purge. Mao had the Cultural Revolution. If another communist imagines that you have put a foot slightly wrong, you will be on the receiving end of the state’s wrath.

There has never been a communist government that turned out well … even for the most fanatical communists. Just being a hero of the revolution is no protection, rather the reverse.

Reply to  commieBob
August 30, 2018 11:54 pm

Communism always ends up in totalitarianism, blah blah.

You’re just making this stuff up. Kerala for eample?
Btw, I’m all for Oligarchical neo-conervatism or so I’m told.

Reply to  RyanS
August 31, 2018 6:55 am

San Marino


Hutterite Colonies

Something like communism appears to work on a small scale. I would not like to live in a Hutterite colony but they are viable over the long term. They’re not necessarily good for the surrounding community.

Reply to  RyanS
August 31, 2018 10:23 am

Name one that didn’t.
The only way to introduce communism is by force.
Yes, the parasites such as Ryan are in favor of it. The problem is that those who are supposed to pay for everything try to leave, and that can’t be permitted.

Reply to  MarkW
August 31, 2018 1:31 pm

Actually, he named one and I supplied another. Both Kerala, a state in India, and San Marino, a very tiny country, elected communist governments. As far as I can tell, San Marino hasn’t been communist since the late 1950s. As far as I can tell, the Communists still have a lot of influence in Kerala. link

So, two legitimate examples.

On the other hand, saying that those two examples prove that communism doesn’t tend to lead to totalitarianism is a big stretch. It’s like finding someone who got the Plague without dying and using that as evidence to say that the Plague wasn’t deadly.

Reply to  commieBob
August 31, 2018 5:52 pm

Bob, I am always amazed when those on Left use tiny examples to try and promote socialism. They don’t seem to understand just how big the USA is in comparison. Even Scandinavian countries have apparently asked American socialists to quit using them as an example. First they don’t consider themselves socialist countries. Regardless Sweden, Denmark, and Norway combined have about the population of Florida and don’t have the same GDP.

Reply to  commieBob
August 31, 2018 9:56 pm

I worked in Kerala. It was one of the first states in India to outsource road maintenance to the private sector. It might be communist but in some ways it was to the right of John Key’s national.

John Tillman
Reply to  MarkW
September 5, 2018 9:08 am

Kerala has a mixed economy, despite a nominally Communist ruling party. It relies heavily on remittances sent home from Keralites working in the Gulf States.

Government reaction to this summer’s floods has been criticized. The state is still suffering consequences, aggravated by a shortage of drugs against “rat fever”, ie leptospirosis. Local governments are fighting dengue fever through mosquito vector control in the standing water left behind by the deluges.

Naturally, there was no shortage of pundits blaming “climate change” for the heavier than normal monsoon rains.

Reply to  RyanS
August 31, 2018 5:47 pm

RyanS, you really don’t get out much do you? Nor apparently do you know much real history. Probably really don’t know what was happening in the world the year you were born. Before you are surprised by what happens in life it might be good for you to develop a well educated historical perspective. As has been said more than once, “those that do not know and learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

honest liberty
August 30, 2018 1:23 pm

am I the only one shocked he still has a position at that “university”? I use that term loosely.
That place is a cesspool of globalist, collectivist, power hungry, know little, emotional tantrum throwing ideology.

Reply to  honest liberty
August 30, 2018 3:46 pm

honest liberty
“am I the only one shocked he still has a position at that “university”? I use that term loosely. That place is a cesspool of globalist, collectivist, power hungry, know little, emotional tantrum throwing ideology.”

‘he’ is the cat’s father. [Well, ‘she’ is the cat’s mother . . . .]

I have no idea to whom you refer.
Not the faintest.

But there you go, I suppose.


Roger Knights
Reply to  Auto
August 30, 2018 6:21 pm

At the end of the head post there’s this:

About the Author

Roger Pielke Jr. has been on the faculty of the University of Colorado Boulder since 2001. He is a professor of environmental studies.

Bruce Cobb
August 30, 2018 1:27 pm

Ah yes, the “extreme weather” meme. Useful for the brainless and the brainwashed, and the nattering chattering nabobs of negativsm.

Bill Taylor
August 30, 2018 1:28 pm

the climate is just a set of statistics,it is NOT a force,has ZERO control over weather and has never caused any weather event…..

Richard Keen
Reply to  Bill Taylor
August 30, 2018 2:29 pm

Climate is the statistical aggregate of weather, so weather causes climate. NOT the reverse.

Phil R
Reply to  Richard Keen
August 30, 2018 5:35 pm

You started out correctly. Weather is the physical state of he atmosphere that we experience on a daily basis. Climate is a purely human idea or construct defined (simplistically) as the average weather over some period of time (30 years, generally accepted). As such, weather does not, and cannot, “cause” climate.

Bruce Cobb
August 30, 2018 1:51 pm

City slicker to local farmer: “Quite some weather we’ve been having”.
Farmer: “Ayup”.
City slicker: “I don’t remember it ever being this bad before.”
Farmer: “Some folks memories aren’t so good”. “Plus, there’s old Uncle Bob, and grandpappy’s memories. Theirs are pretty good. They had to be.”
City slicker: “You’re one of those denayers, aren’t you?”
Farmer: “Nope.”

August 30, 2018 1:56 pm
Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Chaamjamal
August 30, 2018 2:21 pm

Holy guacamole. You expect us to read all that crap?

Dr Francis Manns
August 30, 2018 2:07 pm
David Murray
Reply to  Dr Francis Manns
September 5, 2018 8:38 am

Link doesn’t work Francis.

August 30, 2018 2:49 pm

“What he finds may surprise you ”

I doubt it will surprise any of the regulars here.

August 30, 2018 2:52 pm

“Unlike the conditions in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion,”

Some people feel the need to drag their favorite political hobby horse into every discussion, no matter how unrelated.

Michael in Dublin
August 30, 2018 4:06 pm

Using the word “extreme” with the word “weather” is actually misleading. The word “weather” does not exclusively refer to balmy days, refreshing showers, a mild winter and gentle breezes. It encompasses all weather conditions.

A simple dictionary definition says, “The weather is the condition of the atmosphere in one area at a particular time.” This includes conditions covering a wide variety and combinations of temperatures, precipitation and wind. The word “extreme” is an attempt to make a false distinction by dividing weather conditions into two categories – the one we can accept and the other we should act to change. This is simply lunacy.

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
August 30, 2018 5:52 pm

Yes Michael I often get a laugh here in Perth (Aus) when a forecaster comes on the radio and states that “there’s not much weather around today” meaning it’s a bland average day, not cold or hot or windy etc.

August 30, 2018 9:56 pm

Roger Pielke Jr. wrote:
“My experiences being investigated by a member of the US Congress, appearing in Wikileaks as the target of a campaign to silence me, and ultimately receiving the full support of my campus leaders as I have largely departed the climate field (but not entirely!).”

Aw c’mon Roger, you are bailing out just when it’s getting interesting! I suppose you have a family to feed, and job security is precarious for those who question the official leftist false-dogmas of runaway global warming and wilder weather and all that climate nonsense.

But I think you will look back, when you are old like me, and have regrets about abandoning this worthy cause for the safety of non-controversial topics within academia.

Our fathers and our forefathers fought for similarly important objectives, and took far greater personal risks. My great-uncle is buried in France, killed in action in the last days of WW1, and my uncle was the only surviving officer of his unit at the Dieppe raid in WW2.

We owe them! I know I do.

Shakespeare had this to say about that:

“And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap while any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day”
– Henry V, William Shakespeare

Eamon Butler
September 1, 2018 3:02 am

Until the first step is dealt with, the rest is meaningless.
Step 1. Anthro. Carbon Dioxide causes catastrophic climate change. (show your work)

No idle assertions, assumptions, speculations, guesswork or blanks.The use of dodgy models automatically disqualifies.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights