2011-06-05 10:55:28Is Extreme Weather Linked to Global Warming? -- Yale 360 Forum
John Hartz
John Hartz

If you have not already done so, you'll definitely wnat to check out this forum and its comment thread.

Here's the teaser intro:

"In the past year, the world has seen a large number of extreme weather events, from the Russian heat wave last summer, to the severe flooding in Pakistan, to the recent tornadoes in the U.S. In a Yale Environment 360 forum, a panel of experts weighs in on whether the wild weather may be tied to increasing global temperatures."


2011-06-05 14:17:05
Julian Brimelow

Thanks Badger, made a post after reading some comments 'attacking' Trenberth-- it is in moderation. Curry's comments are disgraceful-- she essentially dismisses the science.  I ignored her-- Pielke Jnr almost sounds reasonable compared to her.

Odd that they did not have experts in attribution such as Santer, Zwiers and Stott contribute. 

I encourage people to counter the misguided notions of the pro Curry and Pielke fans.

2011-06-05 21:22:32


I don't have a strong opinion on this point, but here it is:

Both sides have arguments based on the measured evidence, but Trenberth's basic approach to the question is different from everyone else's:
- Everyone else is arguing from the measured statistics of extreme-weather events. They are saying that the statistics are not good enough (and will not be good enough for quite a while) to come to a statistically valid statement on the question.
- Trenberth is arguing from measured modifications in the factors that cause extreme weather. He is saying that we can see increases in the factors that must naturally lead to extreme-weather events.

The point is that Trenberth has enough faith in his understanding of how the climate works that he believes he can see the cause/effect in-progress; whereas the others are saying they need to see a statistically valid trend established for more time.

Under the circumstances, it will take a longer time for consensus to arise on this particular point; probably on the order of a decade or more. If we look back in 20 years and find that it has been a period of extreme-weather events, we will say that Trenberth was a visionary, who dared to say that he saw the signal amidst the noise. If instead we find that the period has not been particularly extreme, we will say that Trenberth was over-interpreting the data.

2011-06-06 00:04:13My opinion about the debate...
John Hartz
John Hartz

"While Rome burns, Nero fiddles."

2011-06-06 01:47:02


The statistics of extreme events is rather painfull. Mathematicians say that statistical significance on extreme events requires a couple of hundred data points. It's understandable, being rare events, i.e. in the tail of the probability distribution, you need much longer series than usual.
We need a workaround to this limitation if we want at least try to foresee what's ahead. We already have statistically significant warming and moistening and we can reasonably project both into the future. What do we expect in a warmer and moister world? This is, I think, Santer's approach. In some cases we already have a reasonable answer, much less in others.

It's worth noting that adaptation to extreme events is a long (and costly) process. We really need a best guess, we can not wait the one hundred years required for statistical significance and let people die for it in the meanwhile.

2011-06-07 03:03:24
Julian Brimelow


"It's worth noting that adaptation to extreme events is a long (and costly) process. We really need a best guess, we can not wait the one hundred years required for statistical significance and let people die for it in the meanwhile."

Well stated.  And this is how the 'skeptics' have once again shifted the goal posts-- by arguing the strawman of CAGW-- only if it is CAGW.

2011-06-07 03:36:32
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

The insurance guys at Deutsche Bank ain't waitin'.  Their actuarial tables tell them all they need to know.