Crying Apocalypse

by Andrew Stuttaford

The FT’s Simon Kuper is clear that man-made climate change is a fact — no ‘denier’ he — so these comments in an article by him in the paper’s weekend edition are worth noting:

Every time a disaster strikes, some environmentalists blame it on climate change. “It’s been such a part of the narrative of the public and political debate, particularly after Hurricane Katrina,” Roger Pielke Jr, an expert on the politics of climate change at the University of Colorado, told me. “You see the Pakistani floods or even the snowstorm over Paris, and people trot out the connection to climate change.”

The poster for Al Gore’s environmentalist film An Inconvenient Truth shows a tropical cyclone coming out of a power plant’s smokestack. The Stern report on climate change also said greenhouse gases were increasing the losses from disasters. But nothing in the scientific literature indicates that this is true. A host of recent peer-reviewed studies agree: there’s no evidence that climate change has increased the damage from natural disasters. Most likely, climate change will make disasters worse some day, but not yet.

Laurens Bouwer, of Amsterdam’s Vrije Universiteit, has recently reviewed 22 “disaster loss studies” and concludes: “Anthropogenic climate change so far has not had a significant impact on losses from natural disasters.” Eric Neumayer and Fabian Barthel of the London School of Economics found likewise in their recent “global analysis” of natural disasters. Meanwhile, in his book The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming, Pielke writes that there’s no upward trend in the landfalls of tropical cyclones. Even floods in Brisbane aren’t getting worse – just check out the city’s 19th-century floods. Pielke says the consensus of peer-reviewed research on this point – that climate change is not yet worsening disasters – is as strong as any consensus in climate science.

That the constant attempts to link today’s disasters to climate change rank somewhere between a politician’s proclamation of ‘crisis’ and a preacher’s announcement of the End Times says nothing one way or the other about the underlying scientific case for anthropogenic climate change, but it does say a great deal about those who make such links — none of it good.   

Read the whole thing.