Climate clippings 33

Stormy weather

2010 possibly the worst ever for extreme weather

That’s according to über-meteorologist Jeff Masters posting at Climate Progress.

The year was extraordinary, featuring the hottest year on record equalling 2005, the most extreme winter Arctic atmospheric circulation on record, the warmest and driest winter on record for North America-Canada, the lowest volume of Arctic sea ice on record and 3rd lowest in extent, a record melting in Greenland, the second most extreme shift from El Niño to La Niña, the second worst coral bleaching year, the wettest year over land, the Amazon rainforest experienced its 2nd 100-year drought in 5 years and, it must be said, we had the lowest global tropical cyclone activity on record. Here’s the precipitation graph:

Annual departure of precipitation from average

Climate change and the insurance industry

In the light of all this strange weather we need to be concerned about what the insurance industry is making of it all. Here’s a post by someone who worked for Swiss Re. It’s not reassuring. The industry complains that scientists don’t give them any numbers they can work with and even a small increase in the risk can be significant if the event is severe enough.

As an anecdote I heard someone from Airlie Beach in the Whitsunday complain that this year their premiums had gone up 300% although they had survived two cyclones in the last few years without damage or a claim. Only one company was offering insurance at all.

Defense implications of climate change

It’s been a while since I read anything on the defense implications of climate change. Michael Levi comments a paper by his friend Bruno Tertrais, who seems to think that the relevance of climate change to defense is over-egged.

They should have a look at Gwynne Dyer’s book Climate Wars. Reviews here and here. Dyer is a defense analyst and knows the people concerned.

One of the most powerful (and disturbing) aspects of Climate Wars is in Dyer’s investigation of reports by senior military advisers who work for the CNA Corporation (a military-funded think tank).

Dyer reveals the military in advanced capitalist countries (especially in the US) is fully aware of the grave danger posed by climate change.

See also this column on food riots.

Gore criticizes Obama

Gore details the achievements and shortcomings of Obama on climate change.

“President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis,” he says. “He has not defended the science against the ongoing withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community … to bring the reality of the science before the public.”

Here is the core of it: we are destroying the climate balance that is essential to the survival of our civilization. This is not a distant or abstract threat; it is happening now. The United States is the only nation that can rally a global effort to save our future. And the president is the only person who can rally the United States.

The Eemian

Skeptical Science have begun a five-part series on the last interglacial period, The Eemian. I’ve understood The Eemian to have been 1-2C higher than the pre-industrial Holocene temperatures, with the sea level 4-6m higher. There may be later information that I haven’t bookmarked.

All that was achieved with CO2 levels of about 300, which is a worry.

The Pine Island Glacier is eroding from below

…at a rate 50% greater than in the early 1990s, due to the effects of stronger winds and currents.

By one estimate, the total collapse of Pine Island Glacier and its tributaries could raise sea level by 24 centimeters (9 inches).

The new Chief Scientist does climate science

The SMH reports Ian Chubb’s National Press Club speech, which is about science as such more than about climate science. He does consider the central science beyond reasonable doubt.

On Lateline Chubb does a sterling job, for a neuroscientist, and Tony Jones shows how sly he can be.

A whale and algae cross the Arctic

Marine species from the Pacific are now showing up in the Atlantic. Algae and a gray whale spotted in the Mediterranean in 2010 are half a world away from where they should be. The only reasonable explanation is that they came through the Arctic.

The feeling is that we’ve crossed a threshold and more will come.

“It’s a Pandora’s Box,” said professor Chris Reid, from the Sir Alister Harvey Foundation for Ocean Science in Britain who said the algae had now drifted almost as far south as New York.

An influx of species could “be extremely damaging…for fisheries in the North Atlantic,” Reid said. New arrivals would compete with established species such as cod or salmon.

10 thoughts on “Climate clippings 33”

  1. That is a good compilation there, Brian, again (and a great jpeg stormy sky). You would have to wonder how any climate change denier could discount that much environmental change, to dismiss it as fluctuation.

    The comment in the Pyne Island article that the Antarctic is becoming windier is particularly interesting.

    The insurance company attitude connection is on cue. Considering we are only at the beginning of climate change, I wonder how long the insurance industry will survive before it packs up shop altogether. I’m guessing 50 years max, but it could be so much sooner. You only have to look to Christchurch for a tiny glimpse of the future of property security in a destructive climate world and how counties will manage. That after Katrina as well. Certainly Christchurch is a special case being the result of geophysical change. I wonder how the US copes with huge sections of residential regions vacuumed clean every year from an insurance point of view. That is a situation where the “walk away mortgage cancellation” device could be useful.

  2. Not sure if this was in fact in the last climate clippings (sorry, no time to check just now) but The Conversation has had a thirteen part series on climate change science, denialism, the whole shebang.

    (psst, Brian, could you put climate clippings “over the fold”? taking up a lot of front page space here)

  3. I know La Nina is on the decline, but the sea temperatures here in N NSW are just extraordinarily high for this time of year, a nice mid-winter swim is a viable means of keeping warm ATM. The air temp yesterday stayed around 15 C, > 5 degrees cooler than the sea. Extraordinary. We’ve already had close to our annual average rainfall too, no doubt due to the warm oceans.

  4. wilful, I don’t think those links have been made. Looks interesting, thanks.

    I’ve fixed the “over the fold” problem. I thought that it didn’t matter the way tt has set up featured posts and it looked OK on my setup. Obviously not on yours.

    BliB, I lucked upon these free nature wallpapers.

    I imagine the insurance industry will survive, but in diminishing coverage.

  5. Hey, ACTU, you ould spend $100 million to defeat the Howard Government and Work Choices Legislation. Do you support the Carbon Dioxide Tax? How much?

  6. Thanks for the Jo Chandler link, Paul N. I’ve been reading her Feeling the heat, which I can thoroughly recommend.

    It’s basically a travelogue, involving a personal journey, which takes her to Antarctica twice, with side field trips, including camping out on the ice, field work in the tropical jungles near Cairns, and Heron Island.

    She talks personally to scientists about their work, what got them started, what they think about the big picture, and why they keep on going. Her science research is meticulous and well-referenced.

    It’s all written in a very engaging style.

  7. OBR said:

    Hey, ACTU, you could spend $100 million to defeat the Howard Government and Work Choices Legislation. Do you support the Carbon Dioxide Tax ETS? How much?

    This is not their primary brief, so it would be inappropriate to spend very significant sums on such a campaign, especially when it seems very likely to pass without them spending substantial money on it.

  8. Meanwhile, these people

    and these people

    teamed with IBM to produce this report

    for the international oil and gas industry. Let me put that another way: the oil and gas industry paid good money to get expert advice on how to cope with climate change. The report they got is publically available. In the executive summary (page 5, point 2) it says

    The impacts of increasing global temperatures, changes in precipitation, rising sea levels and other climatic changes are already evident.

    Page 10 shows that the increases are due to human activity.

    I wonder if cognitive dissonance is giving them headaches?

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