Climate Change and Security

by Judith Curry

The impacts of climate change and natural disasters can interact with the political, social, and economic circumstances of a region to alter its security environment.  Through its primary security planning and strategy documents, the U.S. government has formally recognized the central importance that climate change and natural hazard impacts can have in degrading regional security. Among the key documents providing guidance regarding climate change are:

  • 2010 National Security Strategy: “The danger from climate change is real, urgent, and severe. The change wrought by a warming planet will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources; new suffering from drought and famine; catastrophic natural disasters; and the degradation of land across the globe” . . . “[A] changing climate portends a future in which the United States must be better prepared and resourced to exercise robust leadership to help meet critical humanitarian needs” . . .  “Climate change and pandemic disease threaten the security of regions and the health and safety of the American people. Failing states breed conflict and endanger regional and global security.”
  • 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR): The QDR recognizes that climate change “will play a significant role in shaping the future security environment” and therefore “The Department is developing policies and plans to manage the effects of climate change on its operating environment, missions, and facilities.” . . . “While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions or militaries around the world” and “Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.”. . . “the Department must complete a comprehensive assessment of all installations to assess the potential impacts of climate change on its missions and adapt as required…As climate science advances, the Department will regularly reevaluate climate change risks and opportunities in order to develop policies and plans to manage its effects on the Department’s operating environment, missions, and facilities. Managing the national security effects of climate change will require DoD to work collaboratively, through a whole-of-government approach, with both traditional allies and new partners.”
  • 2009 Army Posture Statement: “Increased resource demand, in particular energy, water, and food, is a consequence of growing prosperity and populations. The grow- ing global competition for resources will continue to produce friction and increase opportunities for conflict. In this environment, climate change and natural disasters will compound already dif- ficult conditions in developing countries by ig- niting humanitarian crises, causing destabilizing population migrations, and raising the potential for epidemic diseases.”
  • 2008 National Intelligence Assessment on the National Security Implications of Global Climate Change to 2030: In 2008 congressional testimony, the Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis and Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, Dr. Thomas Fingar, stated: “We judge global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for US national security interests over the next 20 years…We judge that the most significant impact for the United States will be indirect and result from climate-driven effects on many other countries and their potential to seriously affect US national security interests. We assess that climate change alone is unlikely to trigger state failure in any state out to 2030, but the impacts will worsen existing problems – such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions. Climate change could threaten domestic stability in some states, potentially contributing to intra- or, less likely, interstate conflict, particularly over access to increasingly scarce water resources. We judge that economic migrants will perceive additional reasons to migrate because of harsh climates, both within nations and from disadvantaged to richer countries.”

Impacts + vulnerability = threat accelerant

These statements from the White House, military, and intelligence agencies clearly recognized climate change and natural disaster impacts as accelerants that can exacerbate existing sources of instability.  Climate change and natural disasters are not intrinsic security threats; rather, climate change impacts and natural hazards can serve as multiplier stressors on potentially already-unstable conditions, or can disrupt components of a country (infrastructure, health, governance systems, etc.), thereby resulting in destabilized conditions. These destabilized  conditions may result in conflict, migration, terrorism, and humanitarian disasters.

The vulnerability of the affected population and environment can be contingent on the governance, economic, infrastructure, and poverty conditions in which local populations live.  The UNISDR Global Assessment Report 2009 provides a comprehensive assessment of  the differential effects that disasters could have on individual nations. For example, Japan has 1.4 times the population exposed to tropical cyclones than the Philippines. However,  the mortality of the Philippines would be 17 times that of Japan for a cyclone event of the same magnitude owing to poverty, differing levels of infrastructure, and the response resiliency of governmental systems.

Some regional security issues are described in the report on National Security and the Threat of Climate Change. Specific issues for Africa are described here and here.  Arctic issues are described here.

Reducing the threat accelerant aspect of extreme events and climate change

In a recent DOD solicitation for proposals, the following concerns were identified:

While long-term global climate change has captured the world’s attention and has ignited discourse on the implications and impact for regional stability and the security environment, it is seasonal and inter-annual variability that is perhaps more relevant to the management and distribution of energy, water and food resources – considered future flash points of conflict by many. Consideration of water, food and energy cycles includes a spectrum in interagency, inter-stakeholder interests, ranging from disaster response and management, to agricultural efficiency, coastal management, ecological wellbeing and forecasting, as well as the effective management of water, food and energy resources.  Inter-annual and seasonal variability can provide appropriate drivers to the types of planning, activities and preparation for longer term trends that might have association with climate change.  By understanding the measures of effectiveness and performance of existing systems in terms of their ability to handle seasonal and inter-annual variability, one can characterize the performance envelope and assess this as related to longer term trends in order to optimize among a variety of choices to serve both near-term and long-term interests.  Second and third order effects are also of concern.  For example, representatives of US Southern Command have indicated that alterations in weather and climate patterns that impact drug cultivation, processing and distribution would require changes in DOD training, monitoring, and forward-deployed units in their area of responsibility.

The military develops contingency plans for all sorts of risks, they have much experience in decision making under conditions of deep uncertainty.

Lets conduct a thought experiment and think about how climate research might address the issues related to security concerns and provide useful information to security agencies to support their decision making.   I don’t think the focus would be on simulations of 21st and 22nd century climate change associated with greenhouse gas forcing.  Solutions to address the security issues overlap in a big way with solutions motivated by humanitarian issues and goals associated with economic development.  Expending much more energy on regional vulnerability on time scales from weeks to decades seems to be a much better topic to focus on than the century scale simulations.  Once we gain some confidence at these time scales, we would have a better basis for addressing the century time scale.  With benefits to global security that also support humanitarian issues and economic development.   Maybe if we can better understand climate variability and change on these time scales  and can agree on the values of security, humanitarian goals, and economic development, maybe we can actually get somewhere on the climate issue.

267 responses to “Climate Change and Security

  1. Here’s an interesting example of how “global warming” alarms become smokescreens concealing the real causes of natural disasters. This is from MetSul Meteorologia at Scroll down through the Portuguese articles until you find:
    MetSul in English – Is the Brazilian catastrophe evidence of another global warming era extreme ?
    Be sure to look at the aerial view comparisons of flood areas past and present!

    Politicians, developers and financiers don’t want to be told that unconstrained population growth, political expediency and poor planning turn natural processes into disasters. It is much more comforting to be told that Americans are causing it with invisible gases. Floods have been sweeping Brazil, Australia’s Queensland and Bangladesh from time immemorial, but only become catastrophes when people get in their way.

    If urban sprawl and poor planning is the cause, politicians get in trouble. If “global warming” is the cause, they get to make more laws.

  2. Judith,

    This all depends on the accuracy of climate science to give a forecast to possible future events to what area will be effected.
    Our food supply depends on accuracy for the crop it will plant for the season.
    Our planetary travel has greatly been effect by weather events.
    Also, our ability to deal with unexpected weather events can cost lives if the wrong forecasting is predicted.

    Most of our current events show how unprepared we are to surprises.

  3. Good grief! This reads more like the script for a disaster movie than what one expects from government documents. Whatever next? Perhaps a “What to do in the event of an asteroid collision”, or “How to prepare for an alien invasion through a spontaneously created quantum singularity”.

    It’s amazing – and a little creepy – how far the extreme catastrophists have managed to get with their doomsday scenarios! Perhaps someone needs to check if government bureaucrats have been hypnotized en masse.

    • The Pakistan floods are a very serious security issue, this was discussed on

      • Yes, Judith, but there is no evidence that the Pakistani floods were casued by CAGW. If you build in a flood plain, eventually you will be flooded. They found that out in Brisbane as well.

      • This isn’t about AGW or energy policy. This is about extreme events and the impacts of climate change, whatever the cause.

      • If it is about climate whatever the cause, then perhaps climate scientists would spend their time more productively encouraging places like Pakistan and Australia to build infrastructure and land development policies that take climate into account?
        The opportunity cost of obsessing on CO2 for so long now has body counts in Australia, both from fire and flood.
        Perhaps if climate scientists had done good regional studies on Pakistan, instead of spending so much time making models of COs catastrophes, strong cases could have been developed to persuade Pakistani leaders to prepare for the inevitable flooding that has occurred in that region so often?

      • In 1954, Ontario Canada got hit with the worst storm in our recorded history, Hurricane Hazel. Because of the high loss of property, the Ontario Government changed a number of laws about building along flood plains. Not allowed now.

      • That’s disingenuous. Aside from the clearly established code word equivalence of “climate change” and “[anthropogenic] harmful global warming” or equivalent, the entire exercise presumes a) warming, and b) harm.

        You have to really stretch a point to see any contemplation of global cooling or its consequences (far more deadly than warming) in any of that ‘cratese.

      • We just had floods in Australia, not that long after catastrophic fires (in Victoria) but there’s no overthrow of government nor riots in the streets. Why? because Australia is already a stable democracy.

        If weather (climate) events are going to “destabilize” a nation, I’d dare say that nation is already on the verge of destabilization (e.g. Pakistan or Sudan)
        I’d also suggest that the US departments responsible are already monitoring these nations and have strategies planned.

        Adding a new dimension (full of caveats, uncertainties, mights and maybes) to an already complicated situation can’t help.

        Name a nation that’s not already under the gaze of the US defense and state departments that may become destabilized by AGW.

      • Baa,

        Agreed that the likeliest candidates are the shaky ones who should already be on the radar. I think the point was to get as much advanced warning of extreme events as possible.

    • Saaad. That’s standard for DoD scenarios. As i pointed out before scenario development in defense is not driven by constructing likely scenarios, but rather ‘extreme’ scenarios. They are what if games:

      “what if we have to fight a two theater war?” that what if is fleshed out into a “scenario”. In a real scneario development you would even have guys write a little novel of sorts or storyline. Lets say, a story line where the instability in the transition of power in N Korea, leads to an invasion of the south. Then, the scenario builder throws in aggression by Iran against Iraq. Then the various military forces are called in to plan against that scenario and you actually play out the war game ( with weather, logistics, theater level simulations, engagement level etc ) and your output is a measure of effectiveness of your force structure to handle the scenario. They drive designs of the system to respond to extreme stressful events.

      Even with this planning for extreme events the scenario builders get it wrong. For example, for many years we failed to plan for a middle east conflict. Force structure and the very design of weapons themseleves were all targeted at NATO warsaw pact incidents . Desert storm, required some quick changes;2-X/abstract

      • “Prepare for the Last War” is chiseled in stone somewhere in the bowls of the Pentagon.

        Today, we are now much more prepared to fight in the desert, but only against a uniformed and well delineated adversary – conspicuously absent for the last 10 years.

      • steven mosher

        yes Kan,

        The design of our present weapon systems is TIGHTLY tied to specific threats, theaters and tactics. Let me just give you an idea of how tightly design is coupled to prior threats.

        The design of the F22 started well before 1981 when the RFP was put out.( I worked on the YF23). The trade studies used to make design decisions All presupposed a soviet threat. The observables requirements were all driven by a ground radar systems in key areas
        (Like Fulda Gap). that threat doesnt exist anymore.

        Designing against the threat we face now ???
        It’ was easy to design against a soviet threat, or any organized threat with known capabilities, tactics, equipment etc.

        The weirdest threat I ever had to work with was this: The North Korean version of the AN-2 which had wooden prop and canvas wings, giving it a measure of stealth. ha.

      • Well, if there’s one thing that history teaches us, is that the threat’s always come from where you least expect.

        Best bet is to plan for all eventualities- while maintaining an adaptable but effective central ‘force’ (be it for disaster management, peace keeping, war etc) that can then be bolstered as required by what is required at that particular time.

        I.e. a rapid-responce ‘stop gap’ froce followed by a more prolongued ‘effective force.

      • Steve, I agree that Defence planning is one area where the PP may be reasonably be applied. It should perhaps be cited as the exception that proves the rule that the PP is usually theory-saving twaddle.

        But as you say “the scenario builders get it wrong.”, and one can’t help but be struck by the implicit assumptions expressed in these documents that CAGW scenarios are being studied to the virtual exclusion of Catastrophic Global Cooling scenarios. Do you think this is wise, and likely to diminish the extent to which “the scenario builders get it wrong”?

      • Surely people have to be looking at global cooling too, regardless of how unlikely the current crop of climate scientists tell us it is.

        I’m certain that the military at least will be,.

    • One of the earliest traits of cavepeople –that seperated them from their low life relatives– and later farmers and hunters and gatherers, was observing THE weather. The smartest in this arena were designated “Weather Persons” (they later became known as Witch Doctors, but that’s another story). Shepherds were also very good at this skill but they didn’t show up for a few million years and learned everything they knew from the Weather Persons. Anyway..

      Let me cut to the chase. Soldiers, just like their close blood-relatives the cavepeople, have ALWAYS been intimately concerned with the weather. ALWAYS! They plan for it. Every kind of it. And they don’t trust anybody that’s not in the same foxhole with them progosticating about it. It’s a very personal kind of thing. My dad told me sailors care about it too. My brothers told me air force people care about it too. Someone told me Marines don’t care about it, they don’t figure it does much good anyway; or so I ‘m told by people who should know. Ok, back to the chase..

      When DOD –or anyone connected with DOD– talks about “climate” they’re talking about every weather contingency they can think of. When the country and the world goes bonkers about AGW –or some other stupid idea– they talk about it too. (I understand there’s a Technical Manual on it: “Politicians, Proper Care and Feed Of”;-) Iwas’m told it has something to do with the military science of squeezing water out of rocks.
      OK, back to the chase..

      Politicians are idiots. Soldiers try, as best they can, to speak in terms the idiots can understand. Well.. I guess that’s it, really. Gotta rest. Long chase.

  4. Judith,

    I don’t think anyone disputes that the climate is changing.
    The many disputes are is it the sun? The atmosphere? The oceans? Or the combination? Or some outside influence from other planets and solar systems?

    • “I don’t think anyone disputes that the climate is changing.”

      I regularly see statements to the effect that there’s been no warming since 1995 and that Arctic sea ice is doing just fine. They also argue that modern instrumental records are subject to fraud and other influences which would mean warming is much less than currently proposed.

      “The many disputes are is it the sun? The atmosphere? The oceans? Or the combination? Or some outside influence from other planets and solar systems?”

      However the same people will often argue simultaneously than these influences explain the climate change they don’t accept as real above.

      • Parsing skeptics is not really an effective strategy for your side, long term.
        Besides it being deceptive, it annoys skeptics which makes some of dig harder for the glaring amounts of bs in the AGW promotion community.
        What most skeptic say, when one actually read what they say, is something like:
        “climate is not changing in any dangerous or historically significant ways”
        Now I have seen more than a few catastrophe promoters who claim things like ‘climate change started in year {fill in the blank}’.

  5. “It’s amazing – and a little creepy – how far the extreme catastrophists have managed to get with their doomsday scenarios!”

    Maybe you should give at least some thought to the possibility that these are not “doomsday scenarios” but instead possible or even likely scenarios. You could also consider the possibility that the US defence department knows a think or two about contingency planning.

    If someone is telling you things you find uncomfortable or contrary to your expectations that doesn’t make them wrong. Dismissing them as “creepy” and glibly suggestion hypnosis as an explanation suggests a lack of serious consideration.

    • shaper00,
      Skeptics have considered the claims of the consensus very carefully.
      That is why the ranks of skeptic is growing around the world.
      Perhaps you would benefit from doing the same?

    • I was a bit over the top on reflection Sharperoo, but I can assure you I have given these scenarios plenty of serious consideration.

      I also accept that simply because one finds an idea uncomfortable doesn’t make it wrong and I regret giving the impression of glibness.

      However I have seen nothing that suggests to me that current disaster contingencies need to be changed specifically in response to climate change. Disasters are disasters, whatever their cause and, of course, we should always strive to do better. Quite why climate change – anthropogenic or otherwise- even merits a mention in terms of disaster response, I simply cannot fathom. It’s irrelevant. I guess my admittedly over the top sarcasm was a visceral response to that fact.

      • ” Disasters are disasters, whatever their cause “

        Right but there are two things we’re trying to consider:

        1. Can it be said that the pattern of disasters are likely change in a predictable fashion.

        2. Are there strategies we could employ to change the pattern of disasters in our favour or construct infrastructure ahead of time to mitigate their cost.

        Whether your house gets flooded by a 100% natural flood or a an 80% natural flood your house is still flooded. However, if we had reason to think it was more likely your house would be flooded we may have prevented it or at least be prepared for it so that you don’t find yourself the subject of an unprepared ad-hoc response.

        “Quite why climate change – anthropogenic or otherwise- even merits a mention in terms of disaster response, I simply cannot fathom”

        Natural disasters of many types can only be considered relative to climate. If you go from floods of a particular magnitude every 100 years to every 30 years that’s a big deal.

        I direct you to Tamino’s post on the Moscow heatweave in which he concludes

        “One of the most interesting facts is that, if not for global warming, this would have been an extraordinary July. That’s because global warming has increased the mean July temperature in Moscow, so a given deviation above the mean corresponds to a hotter temperature. Without global warming, this once-in-a-century-or-two event would have been closer to a once-in-a-millenium event.”

        Extreme temperature events are the most obvious product of a warming world. Floods etc are another and of course conflict resulting from population migration and limited resources are another.

        I’m not an alarmist sort of person, I like to consider things soberly regardless of their magnitude. The world is not a particularly safe place nor can it be made safe but we can do sensible things to try and account for a lack of safety.

      • can changes in disaster be predicted?
        They were in Australia, but climate scientists disregarded those predictions and offered bad ones instead.

        You claim to not be an alarmist sort of person, yet you believe the greatest catastrophic claims completely.

      • Sharperoo:

        “If you go from floods of a particular magnitude every 100 years to every 30 years that’s a big deal.”

        Absolutely, but as long as you build mitigation infrastructure (levees, dams etc), include floods as part of your town planning contingencies and have a coherent and well rehearsed emergency response plan, I don’t see why the frequenty change makes any difference.

        Also I have seen no evidence that extreme events can be predicted in this way. To date there has been no discernable pattern emerging from climate change in terms of extreme weather events.

        I think we’re far more likely to develop ways of predicting other natural disasters, such as earthquakes and Volcanic eruptions at this stage than we are to accurately predict extreme weather events at anything beyond a meteorological level.

      • “Absolutely, but as long as you…”

        Well this is rather the point though isn’t it? There’s finite time and resources available for all sorts of things. Should you spend the budget on new schools or repairing the flood protection infrastructure? Do you need to devote training time for emergency services to terrorist attacks or flood response?

        In a perfect world we’d do everything. In the real world we do a limited subset and some things lose out. If your 100 year event becomes a 30 year event then you might find the wrong decisions to prepare for it have been made and thus you’re not prepared.

        “I think we’re far more likely to develop ways of predicting other natural disasters, such as earthquakes and Volcanic eruptions”

        I don’t know why you think these represent a different class of problem. Predicting precisely when an Earthquake is going to happen well in advance is going to be just as difficult as predicting a hurricane.

        You might however be able to predict the chances of an Earthquake or a hurricane happening within the next decade and prepare accordingly.

        People must recognise the threat as real for something to happen though. When people operate on the level of “Earthquakes have always happened, why worry?” it becomes impossible to get things done.

      • I guess I don’t have much confidence in our predictive abilities when it comes to such a chaotic and complex system as the earth’s climate. For mine, I think the meterologists are in the driving seat for the forseeable future.

        Point taken re earthquakes, although I think volcanoes are a little easier to predict.

      • “I think the meterologists are in the driving seat for the forseeable future.”

        The meteorologists will tell you when a flood is right about to happen so people should be evacuated or other plans should be invoked.

        The climatologists determine whether it’s a good idea to ever live there in the first place and if so what kind of infrastructure you need for when the meteorologists tell you something is going to happen.

        We’re not talking about enhancing meteorological ability (e.g. “In 9 months time it’s doing to flood”) but climatological ability (e.g. “The probability of a flood of type X in region Y is Z”)

      • Yet climatologists failed Australia completely.

      • Correction, hunter – as has been pointed out elsewhere, the climatologists back in ’74 predicted another flood in three and a half decades – its just that they were disregarded. The people you are talking about, who insisted CO2 was making water scarcity, not superabundance, the strategic threat, are climate “scientists”. Quite different.

        Some of the old hands were pleading, unheeded, for a greater release from the Wivenhoe, days before the huge release that was forced upon the dam managers, like Cnut’s incoming tide.

        I just hope that when he inquires into the deaths, the coroner is as interested in hearing the evidence of the climatologists as he is that of the climate “scientists”.

      • The climatologists determine whether it’s a good idea to ever live there in the first place and if so what kind of infrastructure you need for when the meteorologists tell you something is going to happen.


        At this point, I’ve seen no predictive skill of that sort from climatology. If you have, I’d like to see your source.

        It doesn’t take climatology to know which areas you shouldn’t live in, past meteorological records will do the job very well. Sometimes even those aren’t needed – New Orleans and Katrina come to mind. As do the Atlantic and Gulf coastlines. And yet people will build there anyway unless prevented by absolute restrictionsor by unacceptable consequences.

        Nor are climatologists qualified to make infrastructure decisions.

        You have an inflated and unrealistic view of the capabilities of climatology.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘The climatologists determine whether it’s a good idea to ever live there in the first place and if so what kind of infrastructure you need for when the meteorologists tell you something is going to happen’

        Would you like to show a concrete source or two for these claimed abilities and proven skills of climatologists? Presenting a portfolio of their work showing actual engagements in both areas, and their success rate would be fine. Absent this I think you may be talking BS.

        Simple stuff like ‘it is probably not a good idea to build a city below sealevel in marshland off a coast with a known propensity to hurricane landfall,,,and then fail to provide proper maintenance to flood protection infrastructure’ will not suffice. I managed to work that out for myself on my first visit to New Orleans …before AGW had even been proposed.

      • Considering that objective examinations of the fundamental tools and “theories” of the current crop of “climate scientists” have been shown to have zero skill on short or long term forecasts, the best strategy is to ignore everything they have to say completely. To do otherwise is to buy into guaranteed error.

      • Extreme temperature events are the most obvious product of a warming world.

        But that’s not happening. Summer temps are not getting hotter. In Canada summer TMax is cooling, while in Australia TMax is flat, no overall change.

        The increase in the average is because winters are are getting less cold.

    • randomengineer

      You could also consider the possibility that the US defence department knows a think or two about contingency planning.

      And you ought to bear in mind that the DOD has plans of pretty much everything shy of killer clowns from outer space, and even then you can’t be too sure. Their job is to be ready no matter what. Don’t read too much into weather event contingency planning.

  6. Judy,

    Who says climate change always has to be for the worst? I did a study of the climate in Wichita before and after 1990. Compared to before 1990, we have fewer below zero days, fewer 100° or warmer days, we have more rain, the rain is more dependable, and the number of tornadoes in the region stayed the same. Here is a graph of the below zero numbers (from NWS)

    I can see a future climate with longer growing seasons and more food production. Not saying it will occur, but I believe that guess is as good as any.


    • Mike, I addressed the issues of climate change winners and losers in my testimony

      certain regions are serious hotspots where situations could be greatly exacerbated by climate change (natural or otherwise). On the other hand, if the sahel drought goes away this could change substantially the security dynamic in Africa.

      • I’d think this would be an area that would draw interest (and funding) from the security sector. Whereas extreme weather events might pose an internal security issue for nations, tensions between climate change winners and losers would most likely be international in nature and more likely to draw in the US and other outside players.

      • There’s aways winners and losers throughout society. Those living along active tectonic zones have a high risk of losing because of the next “big one”. Mitigation is the best you can hope for, often waiting for these risks to happen for decades. The best option for people who are not risk takers is to not live in harm’s way to begin with.

      • From a security standpoint, the interest in identifying winners and losers is at the international level. If a “loser” with a relatively strong military is adjacent to a “winner” with a relatively weak military, then the potential for conflict becomes painfully obvious.

      • You mean China the former, and the US the latter? No disagreement there.

  7. “Maybe if we can better understand climate variability and change on these time scales and can agree on the values of security, humanitarian goals, and economic development, maybe we can actually get somewhere on the climate issue.”

    I don’t think this is very likely for a number of reasons:

    1. Even if you can accurately forecast something that doesn’t mean someone will either care about it or care about it very much relative to other things.

    2. People are extremely resistant to non-optimistic predictions of the future. If you suggest water scarcity and sea level changes will lead to mass migration of people and subsequent conflicts over limited resources this is immediately dismissed as crazy see Saad’s post above

    3. Realistically no prediction of the future can ever be certain enough to persuade someone predisposed to believing the opposite. There are people who don’t accept thousands of thermometers across the world as well as two satellite records as sufficient evidence to say the planet is warming right now.

    In short you can’t force people to accept a conclusion nor can you get them to care about it even if you do. Saying that better understanding is what’s needed would suggest that scientific understanding is the limiting factor of the debate, I see little evidence this is the case.

    • All you are admitting is that the climate science consensus that we must obsess over CO2 is wrong.
      This is like dealing with Tobis over at Lucia’s: No matter how nice a veneer he puts over his claims and positions, it all boils down to forcing people to accept apocalyptic clap trap by authoritarian arguments even as he loses every exchange with people free to analyze what he claims.

    • There are people who don’t accept thousands of thermometers across the world as well as two satellite records as sufficient evidence to say the planet is warming right now.

      There are those people. But there are a lot more who don’t accept the conclusions drawn from that warming, or who understand that the warming itself is not as dangerous as the hype, or who understand that the offered solutions are both non-viable and draconian, or who understand the actual state of the science, or who don’t trust the manipulation of those thousands of thermometers, or who understand that the degree of warming in neither as rapid as clained nor historically unprecedented or….. any of several dozen other reasons. Or, at this point, it could even be that climatologists as a group have lost credibility because of people like Hansen and Trenberth.

      Or —- all of the above.

      BTW – it doesn’t take either climatology or meteorology to predict the future of the Southwest US. And it has nothing to do with weather, rainfall, drought – just population growth, water usage and water availability. When (not if) it becomes a “disaster”, it’ll be strictly a manmade one with zero/zip/nada relation to CO2.

      Which, for better or worse, is confirmation of your point 1. and 2. and your conclusion.

    • There are people who don’t accept thousands of thermometers across the world as well as two satellite records as sufficient evidence to say the planet is warming right now.

      No, we don’t mistrust the thermometers. We do not trust the people who interpret those numbers for their own gain or political bent. “Planet is warming” can mean many things, including no change in tropics, no change in summer temps, but winters getting less cold. Since that is the case with the data, the planet isn’t warming, it’s getting less cold in the winters in the temporate zones since 1900.

    • Saying that better understanding is what’s needed would suggest that scientific understanding is the limiting factor of the debate, I see little evidence this is the case.

      sharper00: So what is your solution? An authoritarian state based on the Krypton Council of Scientists in the Superman comics? That didn’t work even in the Superman fantasy.

      The real takeaway is your insight that “you can’t force people to accept a conclusion…”

      No, you can’t. Not this side of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union anyway.

      Try persuasion. It’s a drag, I know, and it would be so much nicer if you could just be Red China for a day, as Tom Friedman wishes, and force your agenda on the rest of us, but that’s not America and that’s not democracy.

      However, it’s the best we’ve come up with, and you might be surprised what you might get done if you worked with it rather than complained about it and us.

  8. Judith:
    The “Government” also publicly thought there were WMDs in Iraq. There is nothing like a fire and brimstone preacher to keep the population in line. These statements by government agencies have nothing to do with the evidence for AGW but lots to do with a form of self-agrandizement and increasing their influence.

    • Its about risk. Have you heard of black swans and dragon kings? understanding the scope of what might happen and developing contingency plans is central for strategies related to military and the security.

      • Dr Curry,

        Which particular extreme weather events do you think might happen as a result of climate change that would push them outside the range of disasters that are covered by general strategic response initiatives to weather related events?
        (wow, what a mouthful that was!)

      • Dr. Curry,

        Having been involved with strategic defense-related matters throughout my professional career, I fully agree with other commenters who say the DoD, military departments and their industrial and academic advisiors devote considerable attention to risk assessment and contingency plans. What is your objective for this post and what do you think that commenters may contribute towards that end?

      • Well, the first time climate change is mentioned in the Quadrennial Defense Review is in 2010 (published last Feb.) This is something new, worth discussing IMO. I am personally interested in this topic and have a small DoD grant to help them develop risk assessment strategies in this area (so i qualify as an industrial/academic advisor, albeit a very minor one). It is not a straightforward issue, and people conducting research on climate change and providing weather forecasts for the military have not been focused on these issues. I’m trying to focus some attention on these issues. Commenters may ask questions, read some of the links, learn something. Some commenters have current or previous involvement in DoD and have offered perspectives. We have 80 comments so far, and the thread has almost a thousand hits. I’m hoping that at least some people find this topic interesting.

      • Ok, but as you know, the documents that you cite, especially, the NSS and QDR are policy documents that are unclassified for political reasons. You also know that the are highly classified versions that contain in-depth risk assessments and contingency plans.

        You are quite correct, the US strategic defense concerns over GW are complex and some of the contingency planning considerations aren’t pleasant to contemplate, especially in this forum,

    • It would be wise to notice that these military and government documents address what will happen IF significant warming causes a problem. They were not asked to determine if that warning would, in fact, happen.

    • The Armed Services regularly run “war games” with different scenarios as planning and training exercises. Warming, cooling, drought, monsoons, invasion from wherever, nuclear strikes of different sizes and destructiveness, etc ad nauseum. This has been happening since before George Washington was a corporal. Those “war games” are run on a regular basis with updated information and conditions. They are “simulations” run on “models” – and they provide general outlines (NOT specifc battle plans) for a wide range of possible conflict scenarios. This is one of the many tools they use for training for future operations.

      As for the WMD’s in Iraq, 109 of the world’s major intelligence agencies believed that to be true. And to some small degree, they were right. There are still unanswered questions about that topic.

      • steven mosher

        “They are “simulations” run on “models” – and they provide general outlines (NOT specific battle plans) for a wide range of possible conflict scenarios.”

        Not exactly. But I don’t want this to turn into a discussion of the uses of various forms of simulation and modelling in the development of tactics,plans, and strategies, but basically simulation is used from top to bottom. On computers, with virtual and live forces, on boards, on paper.. from the unit level to the combined forces level.

    • Morley, this might look a bit OT, but I think the Iraqi WMD conundrum provides an interesting exercise in forensic thought. Given the widespread misunderstanding of the scientific method that underlies so much of climate “science”, and given the military hue of this thread, I hope Judith will forgive a few observations:

      A few years ago I read Richard Butler’s book about his ordeal as a UN weapons inspector. In it he describes in considerable detail being shown by the Iraqis disassembled and/or wrecked weapons, and lamenting, not their absence, but the fact that the Iraqis had so messed them up as to make COUNTING them impossible. His hosts weren’t trying to say they had no WMD material, they were trying to persuade him that he had seen ALL the material there was to see, and he was afraid he was only seeing PART of it. That he was indeed looking at the remains of a WMD development program he seemed in no doubt. A few months later, after the invasion, the WMDs had vanished, not only from Iraq, but from Richard Baker’s account of the matter. How do we reconcile these contradictions? Is it simply a question of a case of lecture-feeitis on Baker’s part? But if so, the fact remains – if his book is to be believed, he found elements of WMDs.

      The null hypothesis – that there were no WMDs – seems now to be treated as confirmed, in the face of Butler’s (and others’) evidence for rejecting it.

  9. Judith:
    I have been involved with the assessment of risk in the use of medicines. Judith:
    The most important factor in risk analysis is the accuracy of data related to the risk. A second important aspect is people’s perception of risk. Perceptions are always subjective and often inaccurate. Preparedness is a final step in a complex sequence and it depends on many factors including cost. To repeat, the first problem is the accuracy of the data; this is where risk analysis should start.
    So, how good is the evidence on which the government agencies base their scenarios?

    • There should be a great deal of similarity between Climate simulation assumptions and the various scenario assumptions that government agencies use to anticipate future requirements; one or two of which are considered ‘most likely’ when matched to current events (what we know today–or think we know today, and addressed with current inventory and capabilities); two or three as ‘most likely’ to intermediate events(based on current intell and addressed with new inventory and capabilities already in the pipeline), and three or four as most likely to long term events (based on current intell but which will be addressed with new capabilities and inventory not now in the pipleline). Assessments and re-assessments are constant and never ending (based on current intell and personel and equipment capabilities). For budget purposes and planning, ‘most likely’ takes the cake over ‘most feared’ (based on current intell). In the New Age Science of Climatology, the most feared long term assumptions seem to take the cake over everything and it appears to be a might bass ackward (based on ‘no change’ between now and when it’s toooooo late to do anything).

  10. Judy – These are extraordinary documents, reflecting the deliberations of multiple agencies through two administrations (Bush and Obama). I agree with statements that this is contingency planning, based on probabilities rather than certainties, but it also attempts to look at the probabilities in terms of both detailed phenomena and specified regions of national security concern, and thus exhibits some rigor.

    The part that struck me as most cogent and practical entailed the use of short term variability to test responses to longer term trends:

    ” Inter-annual and seasonal variability can provide appropriate drivers to the types of planning, activities and preparation for longer term trends that might have association with climate change. By understanding the measures of effectiveness and performance of existing systems in terms of their ability to handle seasonal and inter-annual variability, one can characterize the performance envelope and assess this as related to longer term trends in order to optimize among a variety of choices to serve both near-term and long-term interests. “

    Do you agree that this would be a wise strategy?

    • I agree with your choice of this section from the post. However I would say that a reliance on experts such as the CSIRO and BOM here in Australia led to a greater state of unpreparedness for the “Millenium floods”.

      The general advice given both to the public and government agencies was that the decade-long drought was a symptom of climate change and would therefore be the default position for climate from now on. Had Australia simply planned to deal with flood mitigation, adaption and response without any climate-change caveats, we would have been better prepared. Having said that, I think Queensland was pretty well prepared in any case – the “inland tsunami” event in Toowoomba and the Lockyer valley was a completely un-forseeable event. Everything else has been dealt with remarkably effectively thus far.

      There is some talk in the press over here that recent development in Toowoomba removed the flood plains for the East and West creeks, making a catastrophic flash flood more of a possibility. One of the reasons that such a flood wasn’t even considered within the town planning rationale was because the climate “experts” were predicting continued droughts. The natural cycle of droughts and flooding rains was off the radar. Desal plants were built, waste recycling facilities were mooted but no-one thought of what might happen if the drought broke in the spectacular way that it did….in town planning terms at least.

      This is why I think any influence from such uncertain areas of climate science as the frequency and severity of extreme weather events needs to be kept a million miles away from planning, until such times as it can prove it is an established and, most importantly, predictable set of circumstances.

      • Saad,
        The Australian greenparty, and the bureaucrats who imposed the green policies on Australians have much to account for.

  11. Judith,

    Security is a legitimate concern, but , , ,

    Earth is connected gravitationally, magnetically and electrically to a variable star that is far beyond the control of politicians and their advisors.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator fr Apollo

    • Oliver,

      The policies of what they can do is at issue as well.
      A free democracy does have it’s risks to the people who want to build in areas they should not be building in. And they scream the loudset when disaster strikes. And we all pay for their mistakes in judgement.
      Is there an actual 100% place on this planet that may be a total safe haven?
      Not really, some areas are safer than others but risk is still there.

  12. Judith,

    I work in national security, though I don’t do anything directly related to climate change. Still, here are a couple of thoughts on the topic.

    Events like the Pakistani floods can be destabilizing and can potentially push a weak government over the tipping point. Predicting such events with precision in terms of timeliness, location and scale seems to be very difficult at best and impossible at worst. Improving predictive reliability in this area would be a great benefit not only to national security people like me, but also the communities and governments that would be the most effected.

    A second area to look at is long-term regional impacts – for example, if we could reliably determine how climate change will affect the allocation of water resources in the Middle East, then that would aid in contingency planning for those areas and provide another indicator for strategic warning for future conflicts.

    In short, IMO the best thing climate scientists can do to assist national security problems is to improve predictive reliability at a regional and local level. Global climate prediction doesn’t do much for us – we need to know where impacts will occur, how severe the impacts will be, and when they are likely to occur. Sufficient warning can prevent the use of some of our national security tools (like the military) in a reactive mode. Ideally, we want to prevent problems before they occur, but obviously that ideal is impossible to meet in all or even most cases.

    • Andy,
      Something for people involved with national security to consider is this:
      The CO2 obsession has cost climate science the ability to make meaningful predictions about things like the Pakistani floods or the Australian floods.
      By focusing on global solutions for a problem that does not result in out-of-norm historical events, instead of offering adaptation ideas to the historical realities, increases in population and land use will continue to make us more and more vulnerable to what should be manageable events.

      • Hunter,

        I’m not qualified to judge the efficacy or the relative cost-benefit of focusing on the big picture, global climate vs. regional and local effects. I don’t know what the right mix is, nor do I know how much understanding of global climate is required to improve prediction at the regional and local level. I doubt most people in national security do. All I can really do is to identify what would specifically help us deal with our problems, and prediction at the regional and local level would, IMO, be very beneficial.

      • Andy,
        Judge the value of what climate science by what is failing to accomplish:
        anything helpful.
        You do not need to be a climate scientist to watch how CO2 obsessed positions fail to help with real world issues.
        A study of history shows that each and every breathless claim by CO2 obsessed people about particular weather events being caused by CO2 fails in the sense that CO2 influenced or not, they are not historically different from pre-CO2 obsessed events.

    • Andy, thanks very much for stopping by. Peter Webster has a paper under review showing that the Pakistan floods were predictable with high confidence 1 week in advance (each of the heavy rain events), with hints 2 weeks in advance. This study was conducted with the ECMWF model. Webster’s success with forecasting Bangladesh floods is published here:

      Trying to get funding for this is a nightmare, we currently have a small DOD SBIR grant and have received small amount of CARE funds in the past. Worldbank is trying to identify funding, as is RIMES. For humanitarian reasons, we have been providing free flood and tropical cyclone forecasts to Bangladesh for the past 3 years, the costs paid for out of our own pockets, but we can’t keep doing that or expand our efforts.

      My point is that there is untapped predictability on relevant time scales. The barriers to realizing this are:
      • too much focus on the century scale prediction problem
      • national hubris to use their own models (not using the best models)
      • lack of any attention by those capable of cutting edge predictions to regions like south asia

      Wish us luck in trying to get people to paying attention to this.

      • Judith,

        I do wish you luck! I know that navigating the bureaucracy for funding is always frustrating. I don’t know much about the process, but from what I’ve seen a key factor is having advocates on the inside. Webster’s Pakistan predictions might be a good “shoe-in-the-door” in that regard.

        One area where you might want to conduct some outreach is with the various educational institutions within the DoD. I’m specifically thinking of the Naval Postgraduate school and DIA’s National Defense Intelligence College (NDIC). The former runs DoD’s meteorology education programs (both at NPS and civilian institutions) and they do some climate-related research. NDIC is specifically geared toward people like me, and several of their regional courses cover potential effects of climate change in an intelligence context. More importantly for you, though, they do have an outreach center and have held conferences in the past on climate-related topics. Given your focus that may be a good place to start. I am confident that research efforts focused on regional and local prediction would find a receptive audience there. Additionally, there are a few intelligence and national security related journals you might want to consider as places to publish in order to reach more into the national security arena.

        Just a few thoughts off the top of my head.

      • Judith,
        The companies that have the most to lose is banks and insurance companies. They generate massive profit and hate to pay out.
        So, it would save them quite a bit to be able to have a reliable forecast and what they would spend for this information and research is pocket change to the overall company profit.
        The market is there when the government funding starts to dry up.

      • no problem with getting people in the energy and financial sector to pay for such forecasts (and they want private forecasts). the problem is getting them used to save lives, support economic development and promote security.

      • Judith,
        Your right. They would just cancell policies or charge further fee for the increased risk. And not tell what the public should be hearing.

        (Move away you idiot, your house is in a flood plain and the plane just landed. Living under an active volcano is also a good life choice.)

      • Or deliberately living on the San Andreas Fault, perhaps ?

      • Pileke, jr. did some interesting work irt the quality of the climate predictions used by reinsurance companies.

      • Dr Curry,

        Contact Greyhawk@ to see if you can get a guest post.

        Mudvillegazette is one of the more popular national security blogs and the blog owner is an Air Force weather forecaster attached to army combat aviation unit. So he’ll understand what you are trying to do.

        National Security blogs reach way higher up in the DOD food chain then climate blogs. I seriously doubt the Secretary of Defense reads Climate Blogs. He does read national security blogs as does General Petraues.

        The Office of the Secretary of Defense has a ‘blogger outreach’ program.

        I’d probably frame the argument more in terms of climate trends and extreme weather events.

      • good suggestion! you’ve just opened up a whole new world of blogs for me, relative to security. I am busy reading

      • ARG. Petraeus, pliz.

      • steven mosher

        Ha, lemme know when you’re ready to put in your phase II proposal. I used to have an excellent track record of converting SBIR phase I to phase II.

        I’ll share some other techniques as well you can use to get more SBIR work

      • steven mosher

        I bet you could get funding to do a specialized weather prediction model focused on extreme events.. theater scale ( regional or sub regional) with customized data assimilation( think getting data from alternative platforms) .. with a focus on
        fog prediction ( for flight ops) dust storms, heavy thunderstorms..

    • Andy,

      Have you or anyone else in National Security asked DOE and NASA why those agencies were so unprepared to provide useful information on the variable nature of Earth’s heat source – the Sun, after spending so much public funds on “energy and space sciences”?

      See: “Earth’s Heat Source – the Sun”
      Energy & Environment 20 (2009) 131

      And: ScienceDaily, 15 October 2010
      “Mysterious pulsar with hidden powers discovered”

      See also:”Gamma-ray flares from the Crab Nebula,”
      (ScienceXPress) Published online 6 January 2011

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigator for Apollo

      • Oliver,

        I can’t really answer that question specifically, but, in general research is geared toward solving particular national-security related problems. For example, my wife is a nuclear engineer and her masters and PhD (both government-sponsored) were related to nuclear proliferation and not civilian nuclear power or civil uses for nuclear technology.

        I’m really only familiar with DoD and it seems they don’t have a lot of influence over DOE and NASA as far as research goes – at least that appears to be the case from what little I’ve seen.

      • Thanks, Andy.

        There have many jokes made in our Neutron Repulsion group about:

        a.) DOE’s refusal to look at nuclear mass data that reveal neutron repulsion in every nucleus with two or more neutrons, and

        b.) NASA’s refusal to look at data that show solar mass fractionation.

        National Security is a joke when research agencies ignore experimental data that contradict cherished concepts of NAS members.

        With kind regards,
        Oliver K. Manuel
        Former NASA Principal
        Investigator for Apollo

  13. In WW2 Halsey sailed his fleet into the heart of a typhoon. Ships sank and lives were lost. The divine wind took its shot.

    One of WW2’s most expensive weapons systems, if not the most expensive, could hit the broadside of a barn, the island of Japan, but could not consistently hit its military targets. Unfamiliarity with the jet stream rendered its accuracy nearly worthless. The B-29 was looking like a very expensive flop, and the separate service branch we know the Air Force was in huge jeopardy of not happening. That is the big reason why LeMay opted for riskier, low-level fire bombings, which killed more civilians that the atomic bombs.

    Gotta know your climate or it will bite you.

    Probably not in the press right now, but you can bet the strange circulation patterns of the current winter are causing problems for the world’s militaries.

    • JCH,
      What did the failure of a weather forecast have to do with climate at all?
      Are single typhoons and their tracking now a climate issue?
      As to the B-29 problem, I think the better way to look at it is how amazing that in only months after discovering jet streams, the US Army Air Corps responded with innovative adaptation strategies.
      And that not one of them involved managing CO2.

  14. Between the summer of 2008 and summer of 2010 I put 20,000 miles on my scooter and 2,000 miles on my SUV.
    Since October of 2010 I put 4,000 miles on my SUV and 40 miles on my scooter.

    I am going to need to replace either my scooter or SUV soon.

    What I need to know is whether cooler-wetter or warmer-dryer is going to dominate in order to make an ‘informed’ decision.

    My local road maintenance department needs to know as well.
    They’ve been doing a reasonable job in snow removal for the last 20 years using the one road grader they have for snow removal. If it’s going to be wetter-cooler they need to invest in snow removal equipment.

    The Governor of Washington needs to know as well. A couple of years ago we had a ‘freak’ storm. Blizzards in the mountains which resulted in the closure of all East-West transportation routes and torrential rain in the lowlands which resulted in flooding that cut off I-5, our only North-South transportation route West of the Cascades. The result was the grocery store shelves emptied pretty quickly with no ‘conventional’ way of resupplying.

    • Harry,

      No one knows with absolute certainty, yet.
      All indicators is that you should be prepared for a cooling, rather than a warming for the forseeable future.
      It all depends on where a big fat high pressure system will sit it’s butt down for months at a time.

  15. Seems to me that there are more people on the planet, hence the likelihood of weather related impacts on the population is greater. Not so sure studying the climate in excruciating detail will really change that other than possibly providing earlier notifications of pending disaster, thereby allowing folks to get out of the way and reconsider building in not so great locations.

    With more people, come greater demands on resources, particularly considering the average individual’s innate desire to be better off. Therein resides a massive problem: energy. This, not climate change, is the root cause of the vast majority of our security issues.

    Focusing undue amounts of effort on climate change only serves to divert attention (and money) away from the solving an actual problem. In any case, practically speaking there is little we can do to alter the climate but much we can do to efficiently use and produce energy. Such an approach also happens to reduce CO2 creation, regardless of whether or not the gas is an actual long-range danger.

    • Mike,

      We have changed many weather patterns on land with the movement and confines we have done with the 100’s billions of gallons per day of water.

  16. Military contingency planning covers a wide range of possible scenarios, some very believable and some only remotely possible. I’m surprised to see it assumed that they only have one climate change scenario–I find that very unlikely.

    Where the U.S. military differs from say, the IPCC’s 145 different scenarios is that they are supposed to rank them in terms of likelihood. I wish we had seen some discussion of that.

    Climate has had dramatic geo-political effects in the past, both remote and recent. It most probably will in the future. Military strategists should be cognizant of these, if only to assess manpower requirements and base citing considerations. As for more dramatic descriptions of how they would affect domestic politics in countries like Pakistan (why not China? They are more vulnerable and have suffered more in the past from climate/weather changes), climate change is just one more variable amongst hundreds that need to be considered, so analysts are generally quite cautious about linear judgements on what one factor might cause.

    • Tom Fuller,
      We are in the age of CO2 calamity, so any work the military is likely to do irt climate as a strategic issue is going to involve CO2 calamity at this point.
      If this study was done seriously at all, it was a tremendous waste of time, but ‘waste’ and ‘government’ and ‘military’ are not exactly strangers, are they?
      And mis-assessment of strategic risk, which focusing on CO2 calamities is, is not exactly a new folly either.

      • At some level the ‘cracies of civvie and mil commands overlap and influence each other, and you can becher bippie that the leakage from the civ side has been heavily laden with CO2 bribes, threats, and shapings. I wonder if there’s some level at which the mil command knows that it’s all bushwah but has instituted impressive-sounding going-thru-the-motions projects and reports. I hope so.

      • Brian H,
        That may, unfortunately, be the best we can hope for as this social mania plays out.

  17. Not really on-topic, but I noticed that the same DOD solicitation that requested climate change proposals also listed this one:

    TITLE: Extraction of Atmospheric CO2 and Conversion to Liquid Hydrocarbon Fuel

    OBJECTIVE: Develop processes to extract carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air, concentrate it and convert it to a liquid hydrocarbon fuel with energy input from either utility electricity, or other resources that generate no net carbon dioxide. Hydrogen needed for the conversion process may be derived from water that should also be collected from the air…

    PHASE III DUAL USE COMMERCIALIZATION: Development of liquid hydrocarbon fuel production system from atmospheric CO2 and water with either electricity or other appropriate alternative energy sources will have significant impact on the enhancement of energy security, the addition of environmental benefits, as well as many possible applications of the technology to commercial auto, farming and aeronautical industries.

  18. Grumpy Old Man

    Sharper00. I’m quite certain that the Defence Dept knows a thing(k) or two about contingency planning. If the US system is similar to the UK system, it is the politicians, in concert with the State Dept, who come up with the tasks for the military to prepare to face. The military then prepare contingency plans for those scenarios. If, as I am led to believe, Congress has decided that CO2, an inert gas vital to the biological process of respiration for all animal life and a first class plant food, is a pollutant, then Congress is quite capable of directing the Military to take notice of the as yet unproved meme of catastrophic global warming. The Military will be delighted because the greater and more complicated the tasking, the greater and more complicated the budget. For example, there will have to be a completely new specialisation introduced into the Military, and as the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines all have their own problems, everything will be in quadruplicate. I’m looking forward to seeing the promotion of General Hansen any day now.

    • Grumpy,

      The defence department would have a contigency plan for known problems that it has exercised for.
      It is the unknown problems that show how the system falls apart.

    • randomengineer

      If the US system is similar to the UK system, it is the politicians, in concert with the State Dept, who come up with the tasks for the military to prepare to face.

      Threat assessment in the USA is left to the pros, not the politicians.

  19. Christopher Game

    If it turns out that the natural cycles of climate change lead to climate cooling in the next decade or two, it will well justify fears of world-wide food shortages and their consequences, food riots and wars. These are significant security risks. The cold-protection of crop growth provided by the plant-growth enhancing effects of increase in CO2 levels will not be enough to offset the harmful effects of the cold. Near-constant atmospheric boundary layer relative humidity will mean in some places less moisture to support plant growth, intensifying the effects of the cold.

  20. Hank Zentgraf

    I agree with your attempts here. Perhaps you would start small and try to improve a single strategic (national defence) regional forecast to accurately predict weather over a six months period. You would be free to use whatever data you determine to be solid. You would produce a “clean” model forcasting system free from politics, with all documentation archived. In very quick order you would show the public and the skeptics a new level of skill and data management integrity. This would be a first step to eventually produce forecasts on a longer time scale and include a greater number of regions. IMO you would not want to associate this with climate science per se, however you would be free to use whatever well vetted science you choose to construct your system.

    • Hank, 6 months is too ambitious right now, but there is increasing (and substantial) predictability at 1-3 months

      • Judith,

        As long as pressure systems stall, the work is much easier to project certain weather systems.
        It is when high and low pressure systems are erratic, the unpredictablity is greater enhanced.

      • Dr. Curry,
        Is it even appropriate for climate science to be trying to do six month forecasting?
        Is this not definitely on the weather side of the issue?
        The attempts of climate science to move into the weather business strikes me as health actuaries trying to move into the business of clinical medicine.
        On that topic, is it even appropriate for the Trenberth’s of the world to harangue meteorologists about what they do and how they do it?
        Can Bastardi expect an invitation to keynote at a climate science convocation?

      • re what is weather and what is climate, that is a fuzzy issue. NOAA regards “climate” as anything beyond 14 days, for forecasting purposes, i.e. you can’t really do longer forecasting without a coupled ocean model. Climate researchers who have studied atmospheric dynamics who are 50+ almost certainly started out looking at weather (either in their education program or their research), and Trenberth does have sufficient background to comment about weather forecasting. The biggest issue in climate change, apart from some sort of catastrophic sea level rise, is the envelope of extreme weather events. So there is no clean separation here.

      • Shouldn’t we wait (however many decades it takes) till the Climate Science forecasting tools and theories show more than zero or negative skill levels for any time bracket?

        The price tags for the forecasts, not to mention the attached action plans, are a bit high to just “wing it”.

      • Dr. Curry,
        Thanks for the clarification.
        This is sounding more like a turf war between meteorologists and climate scientists, and since climate science is selling a big scary global story, and receiving all of the new big bucks, they are winning this round.
        I wonder how long policy makers will take to see that the main answer they get to most questions from most climate scientists is ‘CO2’ and ‘disaster’?

  21. Well-known historical droughts include:

    1900 India killing between 250,000 and 3.25 million.
    1921-22 Soviet Union in which over 5 million perished from starvation due to drought
    1928-30 northwest China resulting in over 3 million deaths by famine.
    1936 and 1941 Sichuan Province China resulting in 5 million and 2.5 million deaths respectively.

    Who said natural disasters started in 2011?

    • Nobody.

      • Then will drought and famine risks in the future be made worse by CO2, or will they be made worse because we have a lot more people?
        If we have X amount of resources to spend on planning and we spend them on pointless issues, are we spending the limited resources well?

      • CO2 will mitigate the risks by continuing to boost agricultural productivity. The Sahel and other places (Australia?) will continue to green, we may hope, and further enhance food production. Maybe enough to offset the criminal deflection of grains into biofuel boondoggles, spiking prices.

  22. Judith,

    You suggest, “Lets conduct a thought experiment and think about how climate research might address the issues related to security concerns and provide useful information to security agencies to support their decision making.”



    My thought experiment is that the US military is one of many who are in the mix of recipients who would benefit from knowledge about weather/climate in the near term periods or longer. Although I do not think you are suggesting it, the military need is not a higher priority than the needs of individuals in our society that depend on such info for making a living and protecting their own lives/families.

    This train of thought leads me again to question the dominating role of the US government in virtually all aspects of scientific research. If it were not such a dominating factor then research would be freed up for more individuality and creativity processes. Government (even US gov’t) doesn’t do creativity and free thinking so well.

    Like we learned from 20th century history, centrally controlled economies are not successful at sustaining human well-being or providing progress in a free society. Can we also learn in the 21st century that centrally controlled scientific research cannot meet the needs of the growth of human knowledge needed by a free society; it being a corollary of the economic lesson.

    A free (from overly dominate government influence) market place of human activities in scientific research (on weather/climate) is needed. The US military can buy what the need from the private sector.


    • John,
      It is not that easy.
      Cry wolf too many times and people will not listen.
      Some people also cannot afford to leave their house for periods of time with the cost and lack of comforts we all enjoy.

      Electricity has been so much ingrained as a neccessity that power outages feel to be a major event that many people are not ready for.
      Put a city kid in the country and tell him to find his own food and he’ll starve to death from lack of knowledge of survival skills. Unless this training was in a video game, he has no interest to learn it.

  23. This whole thread reads to me like a further appeal for funding, alongside further places for post-normal climate scientists and their earnest by misguided colleagues around the table in the corridors of power.

    Given that medium and long-term “weather” is impossible to predict, Climate Scientists have absolutely zero useful information to add to the policy discussion, except insofar as they can paint ridiculous, far-fetched and stupid scenarios for government’s to worry about.

    In my view the fewer climate scientists there are giving their input into contingency planning, the better. At least we’ll know the money is more likely to be spent where it’s needed.

    • Robinson,

      You’ve awakened to a flaw in the system of just following temperatures to the exclusion of all physical factors.
      Climate Science is in a current crisis due to many area of record breaking cold that was not anticipated.
      If the planet was warming, warming, warming, then a record breaking cold over huge areas should not be possible. Fluctuations in temperatures are normal variations.
      What is unforgivable is that climate science closed it’s doors to all other influences and is trying to find a pattern in a planet that is constantly changing due to it’s movement away from the sun and the planet slowing.
      Huge sections of science is still missing and the doors are closed as they do not fall into the current laws of science.
      You will not find laws on storing and releasing of compressed energy.

      • But my point is rather more concerned with why otherwise intelligent people want a climate scientist on every committee, even when they have absolutely no idea what they’re wittering on about. National Security? Climate Science. International Politics and Globalisation? Climate Science. Why has this cheese sandwich gone mouldy? Climate Science.

        I can only assume it’s to do with the vast numbers of useless careerist scientists being pumped out by second-rate institutions, and a mad vacuous scramble for snout space at the tax-paying trough.

      • Comes down to economic engine and greed.
        Our technology base has gone right down the tubes for profits thanks to our governments. Bad and poor technology is pushed as innovative.
        Interesting how the oil price have pushed smart cars onto the roads even though the battery technology cannot cope with cold temperatures. Hydrogen cells from water was a poor idea due to the impurities in water and the bleeding from materials trying to separate hydrogen from oxygen in a filter type device. So far none has been produced.
        Governments need money to operate through taxes and need an economic engine to keep this moving.
        Good technology is falling further behind due to the expense of R esearch and development has dried up for profits.

  24. David L. Hagen

    To evaluate security vs climate change, we must evaluate the Null Hypothesis and then compare that vs Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis.

    The IPCC’s mission was determining
    “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” in relation to Article 2 of the UNFCCC”
    The null hypothesis is therefore more generic:

    Nature and mankind are robust and will tolerate a continuation of previous climate variations will continue.

    These climate variations include ocean and atmospheric oscillations in temperature, pressure, clouds, atmospheric H2O and CO2, sea level, and weather extremes.

    The null hypothesis includes natural fluctuations and extreme weather events. Floods such as in Pakistan, Australia and Brazil have been experienced before.

    The null hypothesis also includes natural population growth with related increasing pressures on resources. With oil depletion and the peaking of light oil, the null hypothesis likely includes major economic shocks, of which 2008 was but the beginning. See:
    Hirsh on oil depletion
    Peak Oil Versus Peak Net Exports–Which Should We Be More Concerned About?”
    A Quantitative Assessment of Future Net Oil Exports by the Top Five Net Oil Exporters
    For further details see The Oil Drum

    I have seen very little serious wrestling with issues of population growth, natural extreme weather events, nor depletion and decline of light oil. These appear to have far greater impacts than either near or far term “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” (deceptively renamed “climate change” by the politically correct). The immediate impacts of natural weather and population growth with constrained resources also appear to have far greater financial and humanitarian impact than the warming alarmist scenarios.

    • There is no population crisis.

      There is no light oil or energy crisis.

      There is only an IPCC/UN catastrophic con-job crisis.

      • David L. Hagen

        Brian H
        Please don’t falsely state my positions. I never said there was a population crisis. I said “natural population growth with related increasing pressures on resources.”

        On oil, James D. Hamilton shows that 11 out of 12 recessions were caused by oil shocks. See:
        Historical Oil Shocks

        See the massive change in oil production growth in 2005 when Non-OPEC production flattened, and OPEC cut production. That directly led to the 2008 financial crisis.

        The IEA projects current depletion will cause a 70% reduction in production from current resources by 2035. Add modest 1.5% growth and 80% of 2035 oil has not been developed or discovered.

        At current 1000 barrels per second that is a massive task. China has actually been growing about 9% per year with associated fuel growth.

        Abundance of natural gas does not solve the issue. Almost all vehicles run on liquid fuels. See the Pickens plan for promises – but very slow changes.

        Re “con-job”, you reveal your ignorance and bias. US peak oil production in 1970 was predicted by M. King Hubbert in 1956. Global light oil production has been on a plateau since 2005.

        See: No peak oil yet? The limits of the Hubbert model

      • “See the massive change in oil production growth in 2005 when Non-OPEC production flattened, and OPEC cut production. That directly led to the 2008 financial crisis.”

        I’m afraid that statement alone undermines the entire thesis. The current crisis is from too much accumulated debt from too much extended credit with extremely flimsy or even non-existant collateral. Pretty much everyone agrees that. Yes there was an oil price spike in 2007 and a subsequent crash back to where it should have been in the first place. The evidence is that it was speculation from institutional investors and hoarding by middlemen that caused the price spike. It was absolutely nothing to do with Opec, as they indeed insisted at the time.

        But likely each recession is just a natural correction anyway. A lot of apparent prosperity this time around was illusory because it was based purely on debt. It had to correct sometime, the longer it takes the deeper it gets.

        Higher priced oil actually makes the exploitation of more difficult types of oil possible. A low oil price shuts these operations down. So it becomes a bit more complex. Hubbert also mentioned that as it happens but excluded it from the more scary graph. Greg Palast noted Hubbert was working for Shell, who, at that time were pushing nuclear energy strongly. There was an agenda.

      • David L. Hagen

        Re: “Oil rise … led to the 2008 financial crisis.”
        Did you actually read James Wilson’s detailed analysis above?
        11/12 recessions led by an increase in oil prices is causative.

        Re: “The current crisis is from too much accumulated debt from too much extended credit”.
        Granted over leveraging/uncercapitalization were major issues.
        Add Congress massively increasing housing risk by forcing Freddie/Fannie to increase lending to the poor from 27 to 54% of their portfolio between 1992 and 2008.
        Add Credit Default Swaps (CDS).
        Yet Non-OPEC peaking in 2005 and OPEC cutting back exports directly changed crude oil from:
        1 million bbl/day increase EACH YEAR to
        FLAT since 2005, while population & economy kept growing.
        Scarcity plus speculation drove up oil prices 1300% from 1998 to 2008.
        That reduced available cash.
        That reduced spending/GDP.
        That increased unemployment.
        That increased housing defaults.
        That crashed Fannie/Freddie
        That crashed AGI
        That crashed the investment banks.

        Now we are facing a global decline of LIGHT oil.
        This time the cycle will be amplified by faster growth of the gap between NET oil exports and population/economic growth.
        China is already back to 9%/year growth.

        MIT Prof. Richard Lindzen notes that:

        The fact that the developed world went into hysterics over changes in global mean temperature anomaly of a few tenths of a degree will astound future generations. Such hysteria simply represents the scientific illiteracy of much of the public, . . .
        there has been no statistically significant net global warming for the last fourteen years.

        Richard Lindzen: A Case Against Precipitous Climate Action

        After 200 years, Stirling lost its currency reserve status to the US Dollar over rapid deficit spending, causing severe recession. Now the US is facing a similar danger from deficit spending/

        The current $3.6 billion/year the US spends on “global warming” directly increases deficit spending, and the $14 trillion in US debt.
        This amplifies this danger of US dollar loosing its reserve currency status.
        That would cause severe financial difficulties.

        So why are we worried over fractions of a degree temperature changes, with unvalidated models, with very high uncertainties?

        When we face an impending severe long term oil shock?
        When deficit spending is amplifying the US deficit, national debt and risk of losing reserve currency status?

      • You may not have noticed one of the passing remarks in the Forbes article: that substantial light oil was also turning up in the NG frac finds, and that the same technology applied to light oil fields; that potential has barely been touched.

        In the medium to long term, virtually all energy sources are fungible with each other, and light oil is no exception. The pricing fluctuations are stepping stones on the way to achieve the necessary substitutions.

      • David L. Hagen

        Brian H
        Re: “substantial light oil turned up in the NG frac fields”
        Be more careful when you read such hype.

        U.S. will be a major natural gas exporter. In those Texas Chesapeake fields alone production will reach the equivalent of 400,000 to 500,000 barrels of oil a day.

        By “Equivalent” he means natural gas NOT oil.

        He writes 500,000 bbl/d to make is sound a big deal.
        BUT it is only 2.5% of
        US consumption of 20,000,000 bbl/day

        See the historical US production. Current production is only half the peak in 1970, and only 35% of use.
        The critical problem is we are importing 65% of use.
        Most of that is transportation.
        Net Oil Exports available will very likely decline in the near future.
        Converting alternative shale or bitumen or coal to light crude costs ~$100,000/bbl/day.
        To replace 14,000,000 bbl/day in imports will soon require investment of $1,400,000,000,000 ($1.4 trillion for the US alone) – or shutting down that 65% of the economy.

        Shutting down 65% of our economy is a far greater threat than a few tenths of a degree in temperature or few mm of ocean rise.

      • No, I didn’t mean ‘equivalent’. There are light oils associated with many of the gas plays.

        Hydraulic fracturing has also enabled production of natural gas liquids and oil from many wells. Rock units such as the Bakken Shale of North Dakota and the Niobrara Shale of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming are now yielding significant amounts of oil from hydraulic fracturing.


        At the 2009 rate of U.S. consumption (about 22.8 Tcf per year), 2,552 Tcf of natural gas is enough to supply approximately 110 years of use. Shale gas resource and production estimates increased significantly between the 2010 and 2011 Outlook reports and are likely to increase further in the future.

  25. Unintended consequences anyone?

    Does anybody remember Aceh, That troublesome province of Indonesia which suffered a catastrophic tsunami?

    So lets look back at what may have happened in Aceh if the US, an ally of Indonesia had forewarned Indonesia of this natural catastrophe.

    Aceh province has given lots of headaches to the central govt. of Indonesia over the decades for their seperatist activities.
    Surprisingly enough, after the tsunami hit, this province has been rather quiet. My understanding is that Acheans and the central govt. are on reasonably good terms.

    Why would this be? Could it be that such a catastrophe sucks the oxygen out of the seperatists? Or maybe the humanitarian efforts of the Indonesian military, immediately after the tsunami, showed a different side of the Indonesians to the Acheans.

    Whatever it was, the province seems reasonably peaceful at mo.

    What may have happened if the Indonesians got wind of the impending catastrophe say 2-3 weeks in advance? What signal would a military build up have sent to the Acheans? How would they have reacted? Do we think the mainly uneducated, salt of the earth Acheans would have believed a catastrophe was imminent or would they have thought they were being conned by the Indonesians and resisted?

    Any thoughts Dr Curry? Do you have “unintended consequences” included in your developing risk assesment startegies?

    • Latimer Alder

      Rare that I disagree with you on any matters other than sporting.


      ‘Surprisingly enough, after the tsunami hit, this province has been rather quiet’.

      H’mm…..any chance that the good citizens of Aceh have had survival on their mind rather than political activity? So nothing to do with being quiet. more like being preoccupied?

      But overall I agree with the Principle of Unintended Consequences as being a major thorn in the side of even the most well-meaning legislator. However much they want to do good to us, humanity has a habit of bypasssing their idealistic and unrealistic solutions and just getting on with it.

      • H’mm…..any chance that the good citizens of Aceh have had survival on their mind rather than political activity? So nothing to do with being quiet. more like being preoccupied?

        Absolutely every chance Lat.
        My main point was the period leading up to an imminent disaster, you know, the bit where the ruling govt. approaches dissidents and says “a calamity is coming, we’re here to help you” I think we know what one of the possible responses could be.

        See, we don’t disagree on this one afterall. :)

      • rebellion and political extremism do not happen that often when people are devastated very often. It is more common that the political dynamics get extreme when people have more than bare food and survival on their minds.

      • Actually, much of the quiet in Aceh has resulted from a much larger measure of independence from Indonesia’s military and political abuse and corruption. It is actually a rich province, historically much exploited (not least because it is not majority Muslim like the rest of the country).

  26. With all this talk of the Department of Defense (once more honestly named the Department of War), one can’t help thinking of the Normandy 1944 invasion – it was touch and go from the outset whether the combination of weather, tides, and full moon conditions would allow the landing. Eisenhower made the final call over the space of a few hours relying on a very short term prediction. The Germans in turn took refuge in the probability of foul weather. The Allies had better meteorological data. In this instance, weather and not climate was a/the decisive factor.


    Equally, the eventual failure of Hitler’s seemingly spectacularly successful 1941 offensive against the Soviet Union has been blamed in part on difficulties advancing through autumn mud and the severity of the Russian winter that year with the failure to capture Moscow.

    In fact, German preparations for the offensive were singularly poor with grossly overstretched logistics and lack of winter clothing. Eventually, of course, they had little chance against the Soviet Union’s resilience with its capacity to shift key industry eastward aided by massive logistical support from the USA via Lend Lease. However, some argue that the capture of Moscow by December 1941 would have forced a demoralised Soviet Union to sue for peace.

    Here, climate and not weather proved to be a (but not the) decisive factor. Sensible German preparations for likely winter conditions (ie, an appreciation of climate) would have made a difference.While Hitler could not have predicted the severity of the Russian winter, the likelihood that the onset of winter without provision of winter clothing for his troops would severely limit the fighting capacity of his forces was no mystery.


    So to keep this on topic, weather and climate both contributed substantially to two specific geopolitical outcomes in WWII. Prediction of weather, however, seem to have far greater salience though an appreciation of climate allows for a measure of contingency planning.

    • David L. Hagen

      In Napoleon’s attack on Russia, one account has an army of 422,000 leaving for Russia, and only 20,000 returning.

      General Winter (General January and General February) (aka climate) are commonly cited as contributing.

      • Can’t forget General Winter’s aide de camp, Rasputitsa, which arguably was an equal or greater threat to the Germans in WWII. The cold killed a percentage, but the mud brought nearly everything to a halt.

        An interesting aside for Napoleon’s campaign was that the loss in horses far outweighed the loss of men. He was able to raise new troops in time for the 1813 campaign, but the loss of cavalry and draft horses would be felt through 1814.

    • Forgive the nit-pick. The Department of Defense was never know as the Department of War. That latter term is a predecessor title of the organization currently known as the Department of the Army.

    • The lend-lease program did not really play much of a role in the Battle of Moscow, and as Zhukov would later say, winter was no picnic for his guys either. Later on, lend-lease materials powered the drive to Berlin.

      The Russians started exacting heavy casualties on the German army as their retreat toward Moscow neared Smolensk. You can read it in German diaries: the average German soldier could feel the tide had turned. For the first time, his nose was getting bloodied.

  27. AnyColourYouLike

    That reminds me, I must get round to watching The Exorcist again…

    • Very good film by all accounts. The stair bit still gets me to this day- DESPITE knowing how it was done.

  28. Richard S Courtney

    Dr Curry:

    As I said, I have withdrawn from contributing comments to your blog but I continue to lurk.

    I now write to make a suggestion (not a comment); i.e.

    The person(s) posting under the alias of ‘Truth’ needs to be banned.

    This is needed because the posts of he/she/they consist only of foul-mouthed irrelevancies that disrupt discussion and provide nothing of any use. Indeed, it seems likely that this disruption is the intended purpose of the posts from ‘Truth’: the posts attack high profile AGW-promoters so enrage AGW-supporters while being so offensive that AGW-skeptics are enraged by the misrepresentation of their attitudes.

    I recognise that banning is a severe action that should not be used casually, but sometimes it is the only sensible thing to do.


    • Agreed. It was (and still is) a very interesting thread.

    • just spotted that, trying to figure out how to ban this person

      • steven mosher

        I think I have the same person posting really foul things on my site.
        I’ve left it up. I have some detective work to do.

      • steven mosher

        If they are the same person who posted to my site, they are sophisticated in their methods. Perhaps, too sophisticated.

      • lets see if truth manages to come back again tonite, i’ve tried the obvious fixes

    • > [T]he posts attack high profile AGW-promoters so enrage AGW-supporters while being so offensive that AGW-skeptics are enraged by the misrepresentation of their attitudes.

      There is at least one more natural interpretation than that.

      Luckily, there are more plausible reasons to ban The Truth.

      • Richard,
        That is not a fair assessment.
        You’ve just painted the rest of us here with the same brush.
        I’m looking for the truth in science and enjoy others contributing to that understanding.
        I will tell you if I think your wrong but not insult you doing it.
        As well feel free to think I’m a flake.
        The science is the most important factor and not word wars against characters.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Joe Lalonde:

        I fail to understand why you thought my comments (above) applied to you. They don’t. But anybody can check for themselves that my comments are true.


      • Richard,

        I just wanted to remind you that we are not all the same.
        Your brush seemed to have a wide sweep.
        Sorry for any confusion.

      • Richard,
        I am traveling to assist a family member dealing with an unexpected health issue and not following things so closely. I seem to have missed out on something, since I cannot seem to find the poster in question.
        It must have been a doozy.
        I hope you will reconsider and post again. Your comments will be missed.

      • hunter, the offending posts have been deleted

      • Dr. Curry,
        Wow, out of touch for even a day and miss all the excitement.

      • I appreciate the humour – but appreciate all the more that I never saw a post by ‘Truth’ and never had to be bothered by one. Climate Etc. is a fantastic enterprise – so it’s bound to attract nutters and malcontents from all sides. But they haven’t been able to derail it so far and they are looking very unlikely to do so.

      • That was to ‘hunter’ two above it.

      • I know what you mean!
        My eyes are still burning… :-)

      • Richard,
        Thanks, but I was able to see a few.
        While I am hardly a mild poster, even I was turned off by ‘truth’, ‘the beginning’, etc.

      • all the action occurred overnite, when i wasn’t online. i guess this mean that you need to check Climae Etc. 24/7 :)

      • Heh. If you’re desperate to catch up, email me at and I’ll forward copies of the posting notices I got. I haven’t cleaned out my Trash folder yet.

      • Hm. The “Reply” function is broken. My post above was to hunter.

      • Brian H: It’s a problem with WordPress once comments are deleted – all responses to the deleted comments go to the bottom of the thread and any replies to them likewise, without the normal nesting (or indentation). This is why some WordPress hosts like Steve McIntyre tend to replace the offending comment with ‘snip’ but don’t actually delete it, keeping the tree of comments underneath in tact. But in this case I’m rather glad ‘Truth’ disappeared entirely from the record (as I assume happened here).

      • thanks for cluing me in, i mainly look at my dashboard and not the actual thread. agree that i should snip instead of trash if there are replies

      • Actually, it’s fixed now. At the moment I posted, none of the Reply posts were threaded under their targets, and the new ones I put up fell to the bottom of the page. Same was happening to others.

      • sorry about the above, the comment I replied to has been moved, for the reasons I saw only after posting. So only half makes sense.

        Anyone have anythoughts on the Guardian article, ie Trenberth is linking brisbane to global warming (man made) yet some locals are not, thus Australian decsions are being taken on whose advice? meteorologists or climate scientists that are NOT in that particular filed.

      • ….and I only posted about sourcewatch a couple of days ago

        Try Andrew Montford’s entry, for an example of what I talk about.

        Judith Curry’s is reasonable, but there is some criticism

        “In September 2010, Curry started a weblog, Climate Etc.; in its first two months, her blog has adopted the same “stress-the-uncertainties” approach taken by past efforts to thwart science-based policy actions, as documented by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in Merchants of Doubt[4].”

        On topic..
        In Australia, Climate Change and Security in the event of weather events is no doubt a hot topic. Of all places in the Guardian, Germain Greer (an Australian by birth) writes about the floods in Brisbane. as basically weather not climate.

        and the commentors are not happy about it ;)

        My take on it:

        Germaine Greer:
        “Meteorologists warned Australians six months ago to prepare for a soaking. And nobody did a thing … “

  29. For those of you not aware, the US DoD has also funded studies on how to use weather as an offensive capability. The DoD studies a wide variety of things and most are a waste of funds.

  30. Dr. Curry? Did you change something when you did the delete/ban? Reply threading doesn’t work any more.

  31. Dr. Curry,

    In addition to the U.S. Government materials you cite, you and your readers may to interested to read two unclassified reports by the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC), Global Trends 2025: A World Transformed and Global Governance 2025. Both reports are issued as part of NIC’s Global Trends 2025 project. The reports engage in scenario analysis, projecting possible scenarios for global developments over the next few decades. Interwoven into each report is discussion of the possible consequences of climate change on a variety of national security and international topics.

    The comments on climate change impacts are enlightening, especially since they are embedded into discussions of wider international scenarios. Readers of your blog (both U.S. and non-U.S.) might find the reports especially interesting as insight into thinking by the U.S. Government on broader international developments. The effort by NIC to engage with the public on medium-range forecasting topics is to be applauded.

    The two reports are available by by clicking on the tab “Global Trends” at this webpage –

    Global Trends 2025 is a public project of NIC. The project’s “primary goal is to provide US policymakers with a view of how world developments could evolve, identifying opportunities and potentially negative developments that might warrant policy action.” In addition, NIC hopes the project “stimulates a broader discussion of value to educational and policy institutions at home and abroad.”

    For those not familiar with NIC, it is inter alia the lead body for producing National Intelligence Estimates in the U.S. NIC’s website states:

    “The National Intelligence Council (NIC) is the Intelligence Community’s (IC’s) center for midterm and long-term strategic thinking. Its primary functions are to:

    * Support the DNI in his role as head of the Intelligence Community.
    * Provide a focal point for policymakers to task the Intelligence Community to answer their questions.
    * Reach out to nongovernment experts in academia and the private sector to broaden the Intelligence Community’s perspective.
    * Contribute to the Intelligence Community’s effort to allocate its resources in response to policymakers’ changing needs.
    * Lead the Intelligence Community’s effort to produce National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) and other NIC products.”

    I hope this is useful.



  32. As a practical matter, I’m not sure what this give you other than “If things are different, then things will be different.”

    If you assign the military the responsibility for studying contingencies for climate change or extreme climate events, then they will do it. That is, they will do it, rather than telling you ‘this is a waste of time – don’t bother us.’ It’s the nature of the American military mind that they are ‘can-d0.’ So now you’ve got kooks reading this and saying ‘this proves it – even the military believe it!’

    Military intelligence is given the job of looking forward and preparing for the next potential wars. We already know that Pakistan is an unstable mess. I’m not sure what is leaned by adding in climate. If Pakistan melts down, it won’t matter what combination of elements causes it – those nukes will be sitting there for the taking. Planning and intervention would go on with or without floods.

    • We already know that Pakistan is an unstable mess. I’m not sure what is leaned by adding in climate.

      Chris1958 has an excellent comment above giving just a couple of examples of the importance of weather and climate to both strategic and tactical planning. Improved climate forecasting could provide a variety of militarily useful information – long range projection of conditions along the border with Afghanistan would impact planning for everything from the ability of the Taliban to conduct cross-border operations to Predator sorties. Every bit of advance notice of an extreme weather event equals that much more prep time for units that could be called on to provide humanitarian relief or any other mission that might arise.

      If Pakistan melts down, it won’t matter what combination of elements causes it – those nukes will be sitting there for the taking. Planning and intervention would go on with or without floods.

      I really doubt that you want to suggest that likely weather conditions and their impact on the terrain are irrelevant to contigency planning.

      • Gene,
        IRT Pakistan and mitigation plans, I hope we are spending most of our effort on how to make sure the nukes do not end up in terrorist hands, regardless of what climate or weather forecasts say.

      • hunter,

        Doubtless that’s the ultimate objective. However, weather could well help determine how that happens (fly out, truck out, or destroy in place) should the worst occur.

      • Gene,
        Whatever the solution, CO2 will play an insigificant role.

      • o…kay, not sure where I said it would.

      • Gene,
        You did not say that. But the idea that climate scientists, most of who are giving the answer ‘CO2’ to any climate question are going to help determine if we nuke the nukes, fly them out or truck them out is to me very unlikely.

      • hunter,

        You’re missing the point of this thread.

        The importance of weather and long term weather patterns (ie. climate) to military operations (both strategic and tactical) is well established, both in the comments on this thread and in history generally. Additionally, several examples were given of climate change events (both warming and cooling) that were tied to political upheavals.

        Sure, the “Hockey Team” isn’t going to be providing pre-mission briefings for special forces operators, but you can be assured that contingency plans take weather into account – which for long term plans means taking climate into account. Weather can be a powerful ally as well as a powerful enemy.

        You can also be assured that the people responsible for responding to crises will be very interested in anything that gives them a heads up on events that could trigger problems. This comment seems like an interesting approach to the issue – use a weather model (with demonstrated skill) and work on pushing the window outward. That kind of bottom up approach instead of the top down, model the world for the next century, sounds extremely interesting.

      • Another lesser known example where better long-range forecasting would have greatly helped in strategy and tactics, in 1945 Japan was unable to harvest the ocean, a big source of food for them, or to import food. Our Naval blockade and domination of the sky largely prevented both. What would have been helpful was knowing their grain harvest was going to be all but wiped out by bad weather.

        According to some Japanese health officials, around 600,000 Japanese civilians died of diseases associated with malnutrition in the year after the surrender. Their population was on the verge of starvation. Advocates of ending the war via blockade would have had an enhanced argument.

  33. When scanning these comments I failed to note a single one that mentioned or dealt with disaster planning and the numerous security issues posed by several decades or more of cold weather. Crop failures, energy shortages, inadequate adaption of housing to cold, transportation disruptions, mandatory population migrations from areas that become inhabitable, to name a few, are the products of a cold climate. Desperate people tend to rebel and make war when they are starving or freezing to death.

    Conversely, warmer times are benignly beneficial for humans. History tells us that populations grow and prosper during the warm interglacial periods. I submit there is a plethora of evidence pointing to several decades of cooling weather. Yet, climate alarmists, rent seekers, energy control statists and their fellow traveler scientists focus exclusively on illusory scenarios to promote their agendas.

    It is both irrational and dangerous to continue down the AGW path to the exclusions of all other alternatives.

    • Dr. Curry noted above that “This isn’t about AGW or energy policy. This is about extreme events and the impacts of climate change, whatever the cause.” Whether the events and/or changes are related to warming or cooling they still wind up being a cause for concern.

  34. It is a fact of military life that one must learn to cope with difficult situations. Training and planning ahead will always help. There are however situations when only keeping a stiff upper lip and a straight face can get you through. Dealing with Congressmen certainly falls into that category.


  35. To my (ex military) mind, climate *changes* are not especially relevant whereas accurate weather forecasts are paramount. Typical contingency plans may get updated every 5 years or so. Is the climate going to change significantly in that time? Probably not, even if we accept the IPCC’s 0.1 to 0.3 deg C per decade. What is important, however, is knowledge of a location’s typical climate, the likely weather and any extremes that might be encountered. This knowledge affects the likely responses that are developed. The same applies to other contingency planning – humanitarian, disaster, etc. It’s back to that weather vs climate thing again IMHO.

    • The Saudi’s have been hit with flooding two years in a row. They aren’t historically unprecedented and there is plenty of historical evidence that Saudi Arabia was once wetter.

      If they are in a trend towards wetter then pushing agriculture as a way to keep their malcontents occupied would be a pretty good idea.

      If the trend is towards drier then pushing agriculture will just result in more frustrated malcontents.

      The King of Saudi Arabia might be polite to the US Ambassador, but he definitely has the commander of Centcom on speed-dial.

      It’s just natural that in those area’s of the world where the military is the dominant government agency(in some places the only form of government ) that the lines of communications between our government and their government would flow through military channels.

  36. What I find missing from this thread is a rigorous definition of terms and a historical perspective. Let me begin with terms.

    An extreme weather event is far less of something or far more of something happening than what one is accustomed too. An extreme weather event is interesting only insofar as it has an adverse economic impact. Those impacts include deaths and injuries, property damage and loss of agricultural productivity with economic losses affecting more people than injuries or loss of life. That pretty much confines interesting extreme events to droughts, cold waves, heat waves, floods and hurricanes.

    What is an unstable government? One that is susceptible to violent overthrow. Unstable governments generally fall into one of two categories: authoritarian kleptocracies and weakly democratic kleptocracies. Tunisia is an example of the former and Pakistan and Iraq examples of the latter. The exceptions are products of Islamism. As a general rule, unstable governments prevail where standards of living are very low, popular resentment very high and poor governance the rule.

    So, what then are the possible national security consequences of extreme weather events? The most obvious are regime changes that could turn friends into enemies or even accomplish the reverse. Another possibility is disorder in the form of civil war. While one could possibly imagine a scenario where drought in Bangladesh causes it to go to war with Pakistan it would take much more imagination than I have.

    All this having been said, we should then take a look at world history since the end of the Little Ice Age and search for examples where extreme weather events or climate change for that matter have had significant national security ramifications for any country. Is there a war, civil war, insurrection or violent regime change that can be attributed to either extreme weather or climate change? Perhaps you can think of one that I have overlooked. At the same time we can find many examples of extreme weather events affecting unstable regimes without significant political consequences of any sort.

    We do hear predictions that there will be masses of refugees fleeing climatic zones made uninhabitable by climate change. In the absence of a single example of a climate refugee I think it best to take this doomsday prediction with a grain of salt. That is not to say that the prospect of starvation resulting from a long-lasting regional drought will not get people on the move. However, it hasn’t happened yet and we cannot forecast if, when or where something of this nature will happen.

    There is a humanitarian argument to be made that poor and misgoverned countries should somehow be aided in improving their resilience in the event of extreme weather events. Given scarce resources, financial aid to achieve this must come at the expense of financial aid aimed at achieving other objectives. In any case, the ruling classes of failed or failing states will deeply appreciate any money we throw their way.

    Inasmuch as extreme weather can profoundly affect the success of military operations, reliable weather forecasts are much to be desired and the longer the range of reliable forecasts the better. I can think of no other plausible national security concern in matters of extreme weather. What about you?

    • Ethiopia would be one example where weather directly led to regime change. Additionally, drought has worsened conditions in Zimbabwe and North Korea. Outside of your time period, you can also find climatic tie-ins to the Germannic and Viking migrations as well as a being one proximate cause of the French Revolution.

      It’s ironic that you should make this statement on the day after Baby Doc returned to Haiti. He’s not coming on the back of weather-related natural disaster, but I can’t imagine that weather-related natural disasters are somehow different than any other in that respect.

      • good points, thx

      • I don’t think Zimbabwe is a particularly good example.
        Zimbabwe’s problems are 100% political, at least in cause.
        Cyclical drought has been a problem in that part of the world since time immemorial , and I think it’s safe to say, in at least that case, that politics has exacerbated the effects of the drought, rather than the drought making things worse.

      • Peter,

        All of the examples given share that characteristic. The “threat accelerant” term used above is apropos as would be “stressor”. The event just adds fuel to the fire. Conversely, without the dysfunctional government, the security threat is minimal to non-existent (Australian’s reaction to the flooding being a good current example).

      • David L. Hagen

        Re North Korean famine.
        The collapse of the Soviet Union directly led to that famine by:
        Loss of cheap oil & diesel.
        Loss of exports.
        Loss of hard currency.
        Loss of imports of tractor parts.
        Collapse of industrial farming with no oxen to fall back to.
        Loss of diesel transport of coal to fertilizer factories.
        Loss of fertilizer.
        Causing a major reduction in food production –
        together with the severe weather events of drought and flood.

        The current solar cycle 24 is very unusual, and is increasingly looking like those during “The Little Ice Age”. We could be in for severe weather – from global cooling, not warming.
        The combination of extreme weather events with decline of light oil and economic depression enroute to alternative fuels will likely be the major “security” factors we will have to address in the coming decades. Anthropogenic global warming (aka “climate change”) of a few tenths of a degree will be negligible by comparison.

      • David,

        Agreed on all the points you mentioned re: North Korea. I’m certainly not suggesting that extreme weather events or climate change would be the sole cause of a potential security threat. The term “threat accelerant” has been used here as has “stressor”…both describe the role equally well. By the way, climate change doesn’t equal GW or AGW…change can go either direction and either direction could be a sufficient catalyst to turn a potential hot spot into an actual one. Please note that of the examples I gave above, both the Germannic migrations and the start of the French Revolution corresponded with cooling events.

      • David L. Hagen

        I agree – cooling is likely much more serious for major deaths than warming.

  37. Weather Impacts + vulnerability = threat accelerant is one way to look at it but the real problems are far more complex.

    Political instability and cultural differences is the biggest problem. The politically stable countries in Africa need to unite to stabilize neighboring countries like the Congo, DPR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Zimbabwe; see the Sub-Saharan Africa: Map of Mineral Resources and Political Instability.

    Water and land management are issues African countries all share yet if you look at the Aquifer map for Africa you’ll find significant and potentially undeveloped resources. Dams to mitigate the dry seasons and desalination is logical.

    Many of the countries are perfect for alternative and appropriate technologies but until a barter system is established its not likely to happen in a free market way.

    They have the natural resources to fix the issues so I’m guessing the UN isn’t doing an adequate job of pulling the countries together over common concerns. Or, there isn’t any way to get them to agree to fix the issues.

    Note: many are in a hunter gatherer society which makes it even more difficult.

    If the US relies on natural resources from unstable countries, we need to find alternatives. Using Platinum for fuel efficiency is ludicrous.

    Aquifer map for Africa

    Sub-Saharan Africa: Map of Mineral Resources and Political Instability.

    Annual Pastoral Migration Routes in the Sudan

    UN Aquastat

    UN Aquastat Climate Information Tool

    Vegetation in Africa

    CROPWAT is a decision support tool developed by the Land and Water Development Division of FAO.

    • john, thanks much for these links. I’m currently digging into south asia, but africa is next on my list

      • You’re welcome and I’m seeing the point about HIV and the age group bubbles referred to in one of the Africa links you cited in the post. Its a horrible situation — Zimbabwe has one of the highest instances of HIV and is also unstable.

        I’m finding it very strange that we send aid instead of agricultural practices and equipment. Drilling rigs for wells, low tech irrigation systems, geodesic greenhouses, geodesic field hospitals, aquaculture, and other appropriate technologies.

        I probably haven’t run across that information yet but it would make more sense to build Africa manufacturing using African resources as aid to African countries which could mitigate the problems instead of dropping crisis aid and relying on their resources.

        Related to water management:
        The main international Africa river basins are, in decreasing order of area: Congo (Zaire), Nile, Lake Chad, Niger, Zambezi, Orange, Senegal, Limpopo, and Volta. These nine basins cover nearly half of the total area of the continent.

        Water in Africa river basins is managed through basin organizations that group together all or some of the countries included in each basin.

        – The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), (based on the 1959 agreement) was created in 1999
        – The Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) was created in May 1964
        – The Niger Basin Authority (NBA), created in 1980
        – The Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) was created in 2004
        – The International Commission for the Orange Senqu River (ORASECOM) was created in 2000
        – The Organization for the Development of the Senegal River (OMVS), was created in 1972
        – The Limpopo River Basin (Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe) set up in 2002
        – The Volta River Basin (VBTC) was created in 2004

        There are also numerous dams in Africa so hydroelectric and fish farming is a given.

        More to the point, will warming (climate change) and increased CO2 help or hurt the Sub-Saharah? It will increase crop productivity, provide increased cloud cover, and provide increased rain and humidity. Storms on the East coast are unlikely to be more severe than they currently are. Unfortunately, insect impact on crops is likely to be an issue and increased temperature will be a human issue if water isn’t properly managed.

        The desert areas aren’t going to be any more fun than they currently are. Some semi-arid land will become arid and arid areas will become semi-arid. One way or the other, Africa needs to do a better job of planning and development but mass migrations due to future Warming seem pretty unlikely unless the water runs out.

      • About seventy per cent of the African population rely on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods. IPCC concluded in 2001 that many rain-fed crops in Africa are near their maximum temperature tolerance, so yields are likely to fall sharply for even small climate changes; falls in agricultural productivity of up to 30% over the 21st century are projected.

        Q: genetic heat and drought resistant hybrids for common Africa crops like Maze should be / have been developed?

        Its reasonable to conclude, regardless of rising temperature, ENSO events will continue to cycle.

        La Niña results in wetter than normal conditions in Southern Africa from December to February, and drier than normal conditions over equatorial East Africa over the same period.

        Southern Africa is known to be one of the regions world-wide to be most strongly impacted by an El Nino period, together with parts of South America and South-East Asia. In Southern Africa, it is followed by severe droughts almost every time it occurs.

        Severe malaria outbreaks in East Africa follow above-normal rainfall from a warmed Indian Ocean during El Niño events.

      • 11 January 2011
        Drought-tolerant maize gets US debut

        “When the planting season arrives later this year, farmers in the United States will have a new way to safeguard their crops from drought. Last week, DuPont subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International, headquartered in Johnston, Iowa, announced plans to release a series of hybrid maize (corn) strains that can flourish with less water. The seeds will compete with another maize strain unveiled last July by Swiss agribusiness Syngenta. Both companies used conventional breeding rather than genetic engineering to produce their seeds.”

      • And this means we need to reduce CO2 exactly how?

      • I never said we needed to reduce CO2.

        It simply makes more sense to address the true cause of problems as opposed to requiring military force for solvable issues. The IPCC concluded in 2001 that many rain-fed crops in Africa are near their maximum temperature tolerance. So why haven’t they been funding Drought-tolerant seed research?

        Why did such a simple and strategic aspect require 10 years and how long will it be before its available to Africa?

      • Related to the Arctic — the other link in the post.

        Here’s a link to the The International Bathymetric Chart for the Arctic:

        I disagree with most of want was mentioned in the paper. The Arctic is unlikely to ever be ice free and though we may be able to navigate it using the Northwest passage or the Siberia coastline as a short-cut, it doesn’t present any kind of naval threat due to satellite coverage.

        Regarding resources in the Arctic Ocean, most of the ocean is simply to deep and the environment to hostile to make it worth anyones effort. Coastal drilling is logical over the Shelfs (only about 200 meters deep)
        but there are better places in the world’s oceans for mining.

      • China plans for output losses due to climate change

        Working to develop tuber corps for China with the help of Peru.
        Alluded to the use of hybrid seeds aligned to climate patterns.
        They are also changing the direction of rivers to supply fresh water to agriculture in the North.

  38. “The military develops contingency plans for all sorts of risks, they have much experience in decision making under conditions of deep uncertainty.”

    More like the military will concoct any scare story, however implausible to defend it’s huge overfunding and bolter its case for asking for even more. If every country stopped spending so much on military hardware to fight pointless wars over who plants their flag on patches of useless frontier scrubland and instead spent more money on building those dams, planting those crops, developing that infrastructure, doing that scientific research then these problems would decrease substantially, including the overpopulation problem.

    The happiest and most prosperous people in central American seem to be in Costa Rica. They say that’s precisely because they have no military. Just maybe they are right.

    The upshot of these self-serving reports is that the brass don’t really care about potential poverty, famine or pestilence among the plebs, they just want to be ready to kill those that decide to move from silent suffering to righteous rebellion, in order to protect the incompetents who got these nations into such a parlous state in the first place.

    • 1. I think you’re over “Generalizing” and being just a might nieve about how the military of the world operate. That said, you’re probably more right than most would give you credit for in many individual cases.
      2. You say “IF”, and yes that covers a lot of ground, but how successful would your dream be “if” we actually did do away with all the armies, navies, and air forces? Can you possibly imagine that people can change so much? Really? Honest?
      3. Whenever you think that so and so, or such and such, would be a better way to do something, ask yourself: “What would a caveman clan do?” We really haven’t changed much. And we’re not the only clan.

      • Pascvaks,
        I learned long ago through experience, that the military is only as good as it’s command structure and preparedness.
        Put into the position of being shot by a Turkish machine gun or disobeying an order….hmm. The unmistakeable sound of a bullet sliding into breach and the yell of one more step(at night(lights all around me)) was the deciding factor. Just to deliver a stupid piece of paper!
        How about being (a less than a year private) between 2 armies by yourself with a cheap jeep and a pistol trying to prevent an escalation because one side broke an agreement?
        I learned pretty quickly how much the Canadian military was watching my back and how prepared they were for surprises.

      • Real Soldiers are Real People too;-)

        PS: well they are now, maybe tomorrow they won’t be. but i doubt we ever get that far. global warming you know.

  39. The point of the exercise with trolls is to stop debate. Why walk away if you’ve something to add to it?


  40. To help the weather and war and unintential consequence department: After the battle of Britain ended officially for Germany on Oct. 12, 1940 and planning started for the invasion of the USSR on dec 18, 1940 something came up to postpone the planned invasion. Instead of invading the USSR in April, 1941, Hitler needed to come to the aide of his political soulmate, Mussolini. Therefore, in Jan. 1941 large forces (Afrika Korps) needed to become involved in Libya etc. These forces were now not available for the more important USSR invasion but also caused it to delay the enventual invasion date. The two month delay allowed the winter to come too early.
    For the rest, as one commenter has noted, there seems to be an implicit assumption of a warmer globe. Contingency planning should take into account that if American, Russian, Australian, South American or Canadian wheat crops fail due to cooling or floods, to what extend does the “world” go hungry? Can any of these major wheat producers “afford” to sell their product or ship next year’s crop as food aid? How does that impact livestock feed and thus beef production? Without cheap oil people still can cope, but not without “cheap” food.

    • steven mosher

      ok, same dude who posted bile on my site.

      • Wow. What a disuturbed outlook on life.

        Dr Curry and other posters, don’t be dismayed by idiots like this. The majority of people here are polite, intelligent and articulate- he obviously speaks for noone but himself.

        Oh… and i mean ‘The Beginning’ not Mr Mosher :-)

      • I often feel the need to respond to such blatant, well, malice as this- attitudes like this should not go unchallenged- however the ‘do not feed the trolls’ advice springs to mind.

        You’re after attention and nothing else, so you’ll no longer get it from me.

        Dr Curry, one way to prevent ‘multiple’ accounts would be to require a simple registration for the posters- nothing too complex, but it would at least allow you to ban certain email addresses should you require.

      • My bet is that we’re dealing with a provocateur.

    • I find this comment repulsive to all right thinking, moral people.

      • This has been happening for the last 2 mornings and Judith is not impressed with this unproductive harassment to the good people on this site.

  41. Your thread, Dr Curry, more or less sends back to the previous one related to “attribution of extreme events”. No doubt that climate change, and more especially Climate Extreme Events, may generate crises and put into question our security environment. No doubt also that risks’analyses, preparation of “crisis scenarios” and mitigation measures (in a single word “adaptation”) remains our best answer. But your thread actually still draws an invisible link between these Climate Exteme Events, and Global Warming (ndlr anthropogenic !) whereas this link is not at all established (even rebuted by facts).

  42. randomengineer

    Paging Dr Curry…

    It appears you may need to get some volunteers to help do some basic moderation. [sigh]

      • Whilst i’m the first to rally against the term ‘Denier’, usually at length (apologies all) i find it stretches credibility to the extreme to suggest that it’s use will result in a violent response.

        Trying to suggest that it’s use will result in something like the abhorrant Loughner shootings too doesn’t follow either.

        I’d give up and perhaps find another site to post on.

      • Latimer Alder

        594 comments about Trenberth so far. Few of them favourable.

        Do you have a special definition of ‘not saying anything’?

      • Perhaps the language we use is too civil?

  43. Something wicked this way has come.

  44. Judith, if I understand our latest visitor correctly, he believes you have been insufficiently forthright in your condemnation of Trenberth’s folly. He expresses himself moronically, but I do myself sometimes wonder if you have a sense of outrage;-)

    • I think that is a little unfair Tom. As the blog host, Judith’s langauage has to be measured, and she can’t afford to alienate her colleagues with inappropriate language. But I think she made her feelings known in a previous post:

      Re Trenberth’s staement: “Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but as a smart move in the politics of expertise, well this statement can’t rank very high, IMO.”


  45. Rob, I do hope I’m not being unfair, and I rather hoped the wink would forfend that interpretation. It’s certainly Judith’s blog, but I don’t see that that imposes any obligation on her not to express herself in any way she chooses, or to deny passion its due. Her habitual restraint is a credit to this blog, and no small part of its success, but, for this visitor at least, it gives her a license to speak forthrightly on those few occasions where her profession is being truly debauched, as Trenberth is attempting to do.

    And yes, I read “Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but as a smart move in the politics of expertise, well this statement can’t rank very high, IMO.” With respect to all, this could hardly be a more anodyne reproof. It’s the sort of thing you might read about an error in the menu card for the AMS annual ball, if they have one. And I would be very surprised if that was indeed Judith’s frank assessment of such a flagrant flouting of the Scientific Method. I don’t think it would do her blog any harm at all to hear it. She can hardly have much left to lose in those quarters likely to take umbrage.

    But it’s her blog, and a damn’ good one.

  46. Judith,
    Speaking through experience…
    Cold weather is far worse than warm on technology.
    There are a great many things we take for granted that has some water molecules attached to them and freeze up depending on how cold the tempertures are. Plastics shatter. Fuel gels up. Batteries freeze. Trees crack. Etc.

    • Joe,
      The working null hypothesis, according to Trenberth, is not ‘CO2 will not cause global climate disruption’.
      His null hypothesis is ‘humans are not influencing the climate’.
      How can you fail that, but what does it mean?

      • Hunter,

        What is failing to be understood is that the planet evolves and humans are just a speck in time for the ride in that evolution.

      • David L. Hagen

        Trenberth gives a false “null hypothesis”.
        He has to justify the IPCC’s “very likely” (90%) confidence that anthropogenic warming caused “most” (>50%) of global warming in the last 50 years of the 20th century. Now his is trying to move the goal posts.

        The real challenge is for Trenberth to show “castestrophic anthropogenic global warming” that is statistically different from the null hypothesis that:

        Nature and mankind are robust and will tolerate a continuation of previous climate variations.

  47. Wow,
    China, Mongolia and Vietnam are in the grip of some mighty cold weather.
    Livestock deaths and sever snow coverage of crops.

  48. Y’all realize NOAA just reduced their forecast for Solar output for this cycle to approximately the same as the Maunder Minimum. Time to talk about dangerous Global Cooling with the damage already being done around the world this winter to livestock, wild animals, people, and habitation!!!

    • If indeed, cooling occurs in a fashion that becomes noticeable and influential in the instrumental record, how will the ever antagonist humans be scripted, as they surely must be, in the doomsday plot?

    • Kuhnkat – I would guess that NOAA has not forecast sunspot numbers approximating those during the Maunder Minimum, when the numbers varied between 0 and 10 during most years –

      Maunder Minimum

      From what I understand, their forecast is for about a maximum of around 59 (smoothed data). The current sunspot number (which varies daily) is 34.

      Some blog sites are poorly informed on these data and may have made a false claim about the comparison. If so, you should probably inform them that they are providing inaccurate information.

  49. I guess I’m very surprised that primitive cultures all through time have dealt with climate change without this air of crisis, and the result of their taking it on the chin and soldiering on is the most educated and sophisticated global population ever to walk the Earth. The other result is we’re a population in mortal fear of change of a kind our progenitors survived one day at a time, successfully. Obviously, extremely so. Not only successfully – they left the gene pool better than they found it.

    That seems odd. We’re destined to leave a generation of whiners.

  50. Judith,

    Looking at the satelite map, I don’t believe I have seen so much water vapour in the atmosphere before. Almost all of the land mass in the northern hemisphere has cloudcover.
    Does look impressive!

  51. It is suppose to be summer in the southern hemisphere yet the sea surface temperatures are colder and spreading.

  52. Judith

    Please can we have another post? I reckon we are about done here now!!

  53. Before we leave, please allow me to repeat:

    National Security is nonexistent when government scientists misrepresent data in exchange for research funds.

    The climate scandal exposed an unholy alliance of world leaders, research journals, research agencies and leaders of the scientific community doing what Eisenhower warned about in 1961:

    • Oliver,

      The problem is that people are getting killed by the weather/climate for this mistake.

      • Joe,

        The main problem, IMHO, is that government science is being used as a tool of government propaganda. Misinformation is incompatible with the basic principles of self-governance (democracy).

        National security is meaningless, when NAS and the federal agencies it controls through budget review, promote misinformation about the Sun’s:

        a.) Origin,
        b.) Composition,
        c.) Source of energy, and
        d.) Influence on Earth’s climate: