Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Carbon pricing silly season - The Australian edition

Yesterday I remarked on the rather alarmist headline the SMH ran on the front page. But it seems like The Australian is doing its best to get in on the act with "Summer of disaster 'not climate change': Rajendra Pachauri"

Reading the article though, its clear thats not what Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC, said.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chairman Rajendra Pachauri said the general observation that climate change was bringing about an increase in extreme weather events was valid but scientists needed to provide much finer detail.


"What we can say very clearly is the aggregate impact of climate change on all these events, which are taking place at much higher frequency and intensity all over the world.

"On that there is very little doubt; the scientific evidence is very, very strong. But what happens in Queensland or what happens in Russia or for that matter the floods in the Mississippi River right now, whether there is a link between those and climate change is very difficult to establish. So I don't think anyone can make a categorical statement on that."

Again this stuff isn't rocket science, climate change changes the climate. The air and oceans are warmer than they used to be. The atmosphere contains more water vapour. Warmer temperatures mean more heat waves and more moisture in the air provides more fuel for storms.

Or as top climate scientist Dr Kevin Trenberth put it, speaking about the effect of climate change on weather events

"there is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago"

So basically climate change has a hand in all the weather nowadays, the "systematic influence", and can act with a La Nina, or an El Nino to create more and greater extreme events than would have happened otherwise. But did climate change "cause" an single event? Well that's very difficult to answer without a lot of study, although studies are now starting to appear showing human caused climate change can make individual extreme weather events more likely to occur.

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