<<"Three hundred thousand people are already dying every year as a result of global warming, according to the most comprehensive report ever on the human impact of climate change," it was reported last week. The claim was made by a think tank called the Global Humanitarian Forum set up by the extravagantly-besuited ex-UN chief Kofi Annan.
You knew it was a nonsense. I knew it was a nonsense. But what we needed was an expert to come along and explain in proper scientific terminology exactly why it was a ludicrous farrrago of unmitigated tosh and drivel. And now one has. Step forward Roger Pielke Jr, a political scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder who specialises in precisely the area covered by the report: disaster trends. (Hat tip: Climate Depot)
Pielke was in no mood for taking prisoners. The Global Humanitarian Forum's report, he says, is "a methodological embarrassment and poster child of how to lie with statistics." And he adds:
"The report is worse than fiction, it is a lie."
Pielke goes on to explain why. The GHF report was based on analysis done by a group - Geo Risks of Munich Re - he had worked with earlier this year at an international workshop of climate change and natural catastrophe losses. At this workship it was concluded that:
"Due to data-quality issues, the stochastic nature of extreme event impacts, the lengths of the time series, and various societal factors present in the disaster loss records, it is still not possible to determine what portion of the increase in damage may be due to climate changes caused by GHG emissions."
"The quantitative link (attribution) between storm/flood loss trends and GHG-induced climate changes is unlikely to be determined unequivocally in the near future."
In other words, all the world's experts in the field (including the report's authors) concluded that there is, as yet, no quantifiable correlation between "global warming" and natural disasters. Indeed, they believe there is probably no connection whatsoever.
The report, he says, is based on a "very strange" comparison of earthquake and weather disasters in 1980 and 2005. "The first question that comes to mind is: why?"
"An alternative, more scientifically robust approach would be to look specifically at weather-related disasters, and consider the role of socio-economic changes, and to the extent possible, try to remove that signal and see what trends remain. When that has been done, in every case (US floods, hurricanes, Australia, India TCs, Latin America and elsewhere, all in the peer-reviewed literature) there is not a remaining signal of increasing disasters. In other words, the increase in disasters observed worldwide can be entirely attributed to socio-economic changes. This is what has been extensively documented in the peer reviewed literature, and yet — none of this literature is cited in this report. None of it! Instead they rely on this cooked up comparison between earthquakes and weather related disasters"
"(Consider also that in no continental location has there been an observed increase in tropical cyclone landfalls, and yet this accounts for almost all of the windstorm disasters cited in the report. The increase must therefore be due to factors other than geophysical changes. This fact renders the comparison with earthquakes even more meaningless)."
The reason more people are dying or being economically affected by weather disasters, in other words, is the pretty bleeding obvious one that people are living in greater numbers in potential disaster areas - be they the sides of active volcanoes, on earthquake faultlines or in Tsunami and flooding zones.
But, hey, was it not ever
thus with the climate change lobby: never let the facts get in the way
of a good scare story?>>