by Judith Curry
It’s now becoming clear that the Delta Works are a model for the world. This month’s deadly floods in Brazil, Sri Lanka and Australia – after last year’s deadly floods in Pakistan and Colombia – show how many people need Delta Works right now. But that’s not because of climate change. Certainly, man-made climate change is happening – it has already contributed to rising global temperatures and sea levels. However, according to most climate scientists, it cannot presently be shown to have anything to do with the recent disasters. We need to do something gigantic about climate change, but, separate from that, we also need projects like the Delta Works.
Here is a link for Delta Works. The article concludes with:
When it comes to preventing today’s disasters, the squabble about climate change is just a distraction. The media usually has room for only one environmental argument: is climate change happening?
This pits virtually all climate scientists against a band of self-taught freelance sceptics, many of whom think the “global warming hoax” is a ruse got up by 1960s radicals as a trick to bring in socialism. (I know, I get the sceptics’ e-mails.)Sometimes in this squabble, climate scientists are tempted to overstate their case, and to say that the latest disaster proves that the climate is changing. This is bad science. It also gives the sceptics something dubious to attack. Better to ignore the sceptics, andhave more useful debates about disasters and climate change – which, for now, are two separate problems.
I wholeheartedly agree that these are two separate problems (I disagree with the statements that I have put a strike through), and expressed this sentiment in my post “Pakistan on my mind.” The rationale for tying individual (or collective) extreme events to global warming was reinforced by Hurricane Katrina, which became a focusing event for global warming when for the first time the public seemed to understand that a 1 or 2 degree increase in sea surface temperature could be associated with more intense hurricanes (I posted an overview on the hurricane/global warming issue here). The rationale then becomes to use each new disaster as a “teachable opportunity” to build support support for climate change science and policies. The strategy is no longer working, and worse, it is based on the premise that we can actually attribute individual extreme events to global warming (see my previous post on this).
Extreme weather events and global warming are two different problems, with two different solutions. Extreme events will undoubtedly change in a warmer climate (for better or for worse), but they won’t go away or change in character in any dramatic way. Damage will continue to increase because of increasing population and concentration of assets in vulnerable regions (e.g. coasts, deltas, floodplains).