Tumbling dice

by Gareth on August 23, 2010


Statement of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Mahmood Qureshi to the UN general assembly:

Climate change, with all its severity and unpredictability, has become a reality for 170 million Pakistanis. The present situation in Pakistan reconfirms our extreme vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change. It also complicates the reconstruction and rehabilitation scenario in Pakistan. Nature has made a graphic endorsement to strengthen the case for a fair and equitable outcome from the ongoing UNFCCC negotiations.

For more on the Pakistan flood disaster, see the Guardian, BBC and The Cost of Energy amongst many others, and for those wishing to donate, 350.org has a useful page of options. My own choice for disaster relief is Oxfam.

Worth noting too that Indonesia is experiencing “super extreme” weather at the moment, and that floods have also hit the China/North Korea border region.

[Hat-tip to Only In It For The Gold for the cartoon. Do you feel lucky? Well, do you punk?]

[Rolling Stones, Knebworth ’76]

{ 95 comments… read them below or add one }

TBWood August 23, 2010 at 1:12 pm

NZ Red Cross appeal site;


Whether you agree this was caused by AGW or not, stick your hand in your pocket…

R2D2 August 23, 2010 at 3:18 pm

“see the Guardian, BBC and The Cost of Energy amongst many others”

Gareth, when a sceptic (or a ‘denier’) references wikipedia or some news site commenters and yourself rightlfully ask to see the published sources.

Do you have any published material that demonstrates recent weather is unusual?

Gareth August 23, 2010 at 3:37 pm

See my recent Fire and Rain post.

Macro August 23, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Well Insurance companies are taking it seriously and I would imagine they more than anyone wants to know what the risks might be:
see here
Can’t find the reference at the moment but Re have figures that show the cost of damages from extreme weather events have risen significantly over the past 15 years and that is in 1985 dollar terms. Further they show that the damages are from more frequent extreme weather events over the past 10 years. Another figure published by Re is that by mid century reinsurance could be unsustainable.

Gareth August 23, 2010 at 6:33 pm

See this recent factsheet from Swiss Re. Here’s the last par from section A6 on extremes:

Since trends of very rare events have to be large to produce a statistically significant signal, a detection of a human signal cannot be expected for some years. For somewhat more frequent extreme events like major hurricanes, heat waves or heavy precipitation events a signal has recently been detected.

(my emphasis)

R2D2 August 23, 2010 at 10:51 pm

OK.. so insurance companies believe AGW will cause extreme weather therefore it already has? You move the goal posts on me. My objection was to the notion that Pakistan floods were caused by AGW.

Also: So what about insurance companies. They are run by people like you and I. Pointing to them as an authority is pure wikiality.

Sam Vilain August 23, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Not so, insurance companies couldn’t care less about who is right or wrong or the why, they are just interested in the facts and statistics.

And unlike you and I, they are far less interested in the chain of causality between these events – that they are strongly correlated is enough for insurance underwriting to be successful.

R2D2 August 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Nothing I can find suggests floods are more common now than in the past



It is clear that
there has been a large increase in the frequency of extreme precipitation events
during the latter portion of the 20th century in the U.S. The results in Canada
are mixed; the frequency of the most extreme events has not increased, but less
extreme heavy events have become more frequent. These increases are intriguing
in the context of the current concern about global warming. The timing of the
increase in the U.S. (starting about 1980) coincides approximately with a rapid
increase in globally-average temperatures. Thus, it is tempting to attribute this
increase to changes in the climate system from human activity, namely increasing
greenhouse gas concentrations. Indeed, several studies have argued that increasing
greenhouse gas concentrations will result in an increase of heavy precipitation (Cubasch
et al., 2001; Yonetani and Gordon, 2001; Kharin and Zwiers, 2000; Zwiers
and Kharin, 1998; Trenberth, 1998). Two questions can be posed to shed light on
this issue: (1) How does the magnitude of the natural variability of frequencies in
extremes compare with the observed recent increases? and (2) Are the observed
spatial patterns of changes consistent with expectations of changes resulting from
an anthropogenically forced climate system?
Previous long-term studies did not extend back into the late 19th century because
of the lack of digitally-available data. The present study, extending to 1895,
is important because it shows that frequencies of extreme events were about as high
around the turn of the 20th century as they were at the end of the 20th century. This
early episode of high frequencies occurred at a time when anthropogenic forcing
of the climate system was very small. This suggests that natural variability in the
frequency of precipitation extremes is quite large on decadal time scales and cannot
be discounted as the cause or one of the causes of the recent increases.
Interestingly, the spatial pattern of changes (increases over the U.S. but not over
Canada) is not inconsistent with one global climate model (GCM) projection of
the response of the climate system to increasing greenhouse gases.


Gareth August 23, 2010 at 3:40 pm

You have to consider intensity as well as frequency. The number of floods/heatwaves may not change in a given location, but their intensity may. See first sentence of your quote from Legates (who is in the same category as Pat Michaels/Fred Singer etc — a paid hack for US thinktanks).

R2D2 August 23, 2010 at 4:09 pm

“See first sentence of your quote from Legates ”

See the rest of the passage! One sentence out of context is not useful.

Paid hack? Evidence? At risk of sounding cliché that is terribly ad hominem. You present speculative crap and it is OK. I present a scientific article and you dismiss it off hand based on some accusation on the author. The double standards are terrible. I am happy to debate scientifically but Gareth you need to up your standards here.

R2D2 August 23, 2010 at 4:12 pm

And anyway, the quote was from KENNETH E. KUNKEL. Is he a ‘paid hack’ also? Is anyone who presents anything that is against your orthodox (even if simply looking at weather patterns) a paid hack?

Sam Vilain August 23, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Statistically speaking, perhaps. But correlation is not causality.

Thermo August 23, 2010 at 11:58 pm

But correlation does imply causation.

David August 25, 2010 at 1:18 pm

R2, youre wasting your time with these hypocrites. They’ll ban you next as they just dont want to see or hear any evidence such as a change in the Jet stream causing the floods.

Gareth August 23, 2010 at 5:45 pm

“Legates is a senior scientist of the Marshall Institute, a research fellow with the Independent Institute, and an adjunct scholar of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, all of which have received funding from ExxonMobil.” [Wikipedia] He has been less useful to the denialists since the state of Delaware told him not to call himself “State Climatologist” when talking about climate issues. (See Delaware Online for more details of Legates stance).

The evidence I present is very far from “speculative crap”. You should perhaps read some of the references I’ve provided in recent weeks — the WMO statement for instance.

[PS: There will no doubt be peer-reviewed studies looking at this year’s extremes in due course — 18 months, perhaps — but until they come along, I think reporting the views of meteorologists and climate scientists is helpful and interesting.]

tomfarmer August 23, 2010 at 7:11 pm


doth ye protest too much with one sentence out of context, as you called it, when the following sentence – The timing of the
increase in the U.S. (starting about 1980) coincides approximately with a rapid increase in globally-average temperatures.
– from Legates is most certain for him..

so you’ll excuse me asking how long has he held this view..? Is the answer worth knowing to your way of moderate, or was it moderated, thinking..?

R2D2 August 23, 2010 at 10:56 pm

TomFarmer. He goes onto say similar pattern was seen during the end of the 1800’s. So you taking the quote out of context.

And the article isn’t by Legates.

Steve Wrathall August 23, 2010 at 4:27 pm

What observation would falsify the hypothesis that the Pakistani floods of 2010 were the result of human-induced global warming?

Gareth August 23, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Evidence that such flooding was not unusual — was within the bounds of recent variability — would be a good start. Unfortunately for you, the floods are certainly unprecedented since partition in 1948, and probably far longer. We’ll have to wait until they subside and researchers look at the issue.

In the meantime, I wonder if I will ever be able to post on the subject of a weather and climate-related disaster without Wrathall turning up to belittle the event by trying to make fit into his warped world view.

R2D2 August 23, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Yeah since 1948. But in 1948 the city of Vanport had a flood that was the biggest of the century.


My only point here is if you google the word flood with any year you will find a flood that was unprecedented for that area.




Flood of ’52
The flood of ’52 is the largest recorded flood in the history of the Missouri River. It lasted from April 12 to June 29.





And so on.

If we had the weather of the 50s you would be claiming it was ‘unusual’

CTG August 24, 2010 at 12:12 am

Gareth was talking about floods in Pakistan. In defence, you present a flood in… Vanport, Oregon, USA.

So, R2, how many people have to die before you are convinced, eh?

R2D2 August 24, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Use your brain please. My point is every year a random weather event happens somewhere. This may be the worst flood in Pakistan for x amount of years. Next year it will be the worst flood / hurricane / earthquake / volcano somewhere else in x amount of years. I present the repeated pattern of extreme events throughout the world throughout history. One flood in Pakistan today can not be viewed as caused by ‘climate change’ as we have always had floods in every country. I prefer to talk about climate change from a scientific basis rather than get dragged into debates about whether the latest wild fire / snow storm / flood / drought was caused by AGW. When I see people trying to use other peoples deaths for there own agenda it really rails me. Focus on the big picture and don’t leverage other peoples suffering for your own agenda.

Gareth August 24, 2010 at 8:35 pm

When I see people trying to use other peoples deaths for there own agenda it really rails me.

And when I see people trying desperately to ignore the obvious, in order to argue for policies that will only, can only, make things worse, then you’ll forgive me for regarding such people as deluded, in denial, and dangerous.

The “big picture” here is that weather extremes are becoming more extreme… ie getting worse. See my link to the Swiss Re report above. As expected.

R2D2 September 5, 2010 at 10:57 pm

“vidence that such flooding was not unusual — was within the bounds of recent variability — would be a good start. Unfortunately for you, the floods are certainly unprecedented since partition in 1948, and probably far longer. ” – Gareth

I notice the Christchurch earthquake is the biggest in NZ since 1931. So I guess this uncommon event is a sign that earthquakes are becoming more common?

Gareth September 5, 2010 at 11:24 pm

R2, that remark is in such poor taste, given that tens of thousands of New Zealanders – friends, acquaintances, fellow Cantabrians – have had a close brush with death, had their lives ripped apart, that you are no longer welcome at Hot Topic. If you wish to take part in the conversation here, you have one opportunity to apologise, in public, unreservedly and without qualification. If you do not take that opportunity I will no longer grant you the privilege of commenting here.

R2D2 September 6, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Sorry. I apologise profusely for any hurt I may have caused.

Please understand that as an astromech droid I am not programmed to understand what is socially acceptable to a human. Perhaps you could explain to me why it is OK to try use the Pakistani floods, that have destroyed over a million homes, for the global warming agenda, but it is not OK to use the Canterbury earthquake as a counter point to show how extreme events do happen, and we shouldn’t rush to propose theories involving a human cause.

Also, yes the Fjordland quake was bigger. Two big quakes in two years! Perhaps a human caused trend?

R2D2 September 6, 2010 at 4:16 pm

“R2, youre wasting your time with these hypocrites. They’ll ban you next as they just dont want to see or hear any evidence such as a change in the Jet stream causing the floods.” – David

“I notice the Christchurch earthquake is the biggest in NZ since 1931. So I guess this uncommon event is a sign that earthquakes are becoming more common?” – R2D2

“R2, that remark is in such poor taste”

I think you rush to judgement here Gareth. To conclude that I am not concerned about earthquake victims from the above is very rash and unfair. I take David’s earlier point now that you will use any excuse to ban someone if you can’t handle their comments.

I will state for the record that I am concerned, as are all people of NZ, for those living in the quake zone. I am extremely pleased that the combination of good fortune and good preparation has meant that such a large quake has not resulted in any deaths. Nevertheless many have been impacted and I hope all people can get on their feet as soon as possible. I support all government and corporate moves to offer financial and other support.

Nothing I say about the cause of the event or how it relates to theories on recent flooding should be taken to mean I do not have concern for those caught in the quake zone.

Gareth September 6, 2010 at 4:32 pm

The point, R2, is that your timing was abysmal, and your choice of analogy pathetic. You refuse to accept the evidence — to even read it, as far as I can tell, though you have been provided with copious references. As I said earlier, it appears to me that you are not worth bothering with, as no discussion can take place in good faith with someone who wants to ignore or deliberately misinterpret the evidence.

We are seeing a clear signal emerging in the frequency and intensity of extremes. It’s not so much that global warming caused the floods or the Russian heatwave, rather that it made them worse, and perhaps more likely to occur again.

Earthquake frequencies have absolutely no relevance to that discussion.

Gareth September 6, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Just barely acceptable. You would have done better not to press the same point.

Macro September 6, 2010 at 2:14 pm

That is just idiotic R2 and well you know it!

cyclone September 6, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Not even correct here. 2009 Doubtful Sound earthquake was 7.8. Probably a few others as well were more powerful than saturday’s Canterbury quake.

Gareth September 6, 2010 at 4:22 pm

According to Euan Smith, Professor of Geophysics, Institute of Geophysics Victoria University of Wellington (via the SMC):

“To put the earthquake in a historical perspective: this was the first occurrence of a major (magnitude 7 or greater) earthquake very near major urban areas since the 1931 M 7.8 Hawke’s Bay earthquake, which killed 256 people and injured thousands; and it was the largest earthquake onshore since the M 7.1 Inangahua earthquake in 1968, which killed two people.”

The Fiordland quake was offshore. Of more concern, Prof Smith adds:

In 1929 there occurred, in west Canterbury, a magnitude 7 earthquake which turned out to be the first of a series of seven major, magnitude greater than 7, earthquakes over the next 13 years. The series included the second and third largest earthquakes in European times – the M 7.8 Buller and Hawke’s Bay earthquakes. The series ended with two M 7.2 and 7.0 earthquakes in the Wairarapa in 1942.

“It is improbable that this occurrence of such large earthquakes in rapid succession was coincidental. It is more likely that the faults which broke during the series were all stressed and ready to break, and that the occurrence of successive earthquakes helped bring forward the occurrence of the next.

“There is no reason to think that such a series could not happen again. Equally there is no way of knowing whether or not Saturday’s earthquake has provided a trigger for more large earthquakes in the next few years.

Roger Dewhurst September 6, 2010 at 5:24 pm

It could be just a 100 year event. Perhaps a lesser period.

R2D2 August 23, 2010 at 11:05 pm

The fact is we role the dice in the cartoon above every day in every country. Every year in some place they are going to land on 12s. It is only todays 24 hour news channels that make them seem more frequent. If the floods happened 100 years ago people in NZ may not even know.

Tom Bennion August 23, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Here’s an Item by Thomas Homer-Dixon is a professor of global systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada, calling for nations to have a Plan Z ready to deal with major climate catastrophes:

By comparison, here is Lomborg, in an item “Who’s Afraid of Climate Change:
“A 20-foot rise in sea levels (which, not incidentally, is about ten times more than the United Nations climate panel’s worst-case expectations) would inundate about 16,000 square miles of coastline, where more than 400 million people currently live. That’s a lot of people, to be sure, but hardly all of mankind. In fact, it amounts to less than 6% of the world’s population – which is to say that 94% of the population would not be inundated. And most of those who do live in the flood areas would never even get their feet wet.”

Callous and ignorant.

I see a trend in discussion away from emissions schemes and rational decarbonisation of economies to disaster management, and geo-engineering. I wonder if we will have the first geo-engineering project underway within the next 12 months. McKibben’s End of Nature will well and truly have arrived.

Sustainable2050 August 24, 2010 at 8:16 am

The increasing number of extreme weather events is well documented for the USA. Check out the Wunderground page on extremes (http://www.wunderground.com/climate/extreme.asp), and its graph on 1-day precipitation (figure 7)

R2D2 August 24, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Thanks for the link. Finally some data.

So what does it show….

– Increase in tornados recorded since 1950 (no increase since 1990)
– Decline in F4 and F5 tornadoes since 1950
– No trend for an increase in the US climate extremes index since 1910 (when the index begins) (trough was in 1970)
– Increase in temperature extremes since 1910
– Increase in extreme precipitation events in last 20 years, the current level is higher than the level of the last 100 years
– No change in frequency of droughts or wet seasons since 1910

Macro September 6, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Do you actually believe what you write R2? More to the point – can you actually read, or do you just look at the pictures? Because if you had actually READ the article you would know that your:
” No change in frequency of droughts or wet seasons since 1910″ statement was facile. It’s the SEVERITY of droughts that counts. Here is what the reference says concerning this matter as you obviously haven’t read it.
“Two of the three costliest U.S. weather disasters since 1980 have been droughts–the droughts of 1988 and 1980, which cost $71 billion and $55 billion, respectively. The heat waves associated with these droughts claimed over 17,000 lives, according to the National Climatic Data Center publication, Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters.”
To dismiss the graph of drought as you do overlooks the fact that droughts occur over an EXTENDED period of time, you may only have one drought (no increased frequency obviously) – but it may last for years (as in Ethiopia) and the effects are devastating.
Your other flippant statements are just as facile, and just as obviously intended to dismiss the evidence, and just as “cleverly” overlook the most important factors of the data. Unfortunately for you, most of the commentators on here can see through your “analysis”, and see it for the rationalization that it is.

R2D2 September 6, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Do you even think about what you write Macro?

To conclude that increasing cost of droughts is only due to increasing length of droughts ignores the fact that agriculture is more intensive and more homogeneous than it was 80 years ago. The same drought today or in 1930 will naturally cause more damage today.

Macro September 6, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Did you READ the article R2? It compared the dust bowl droughts as well, and those series were regarded as the 2nd worst. So your rationalizing is again in error! And yes I’m well aware of inflationary effects. And I’m sure those who were making the comparisons were well aware as well. See the links in the article.

Steve Wrathall August 24, 2010 at 8:48 am

What on earth does the partitioning of British India have to do with establishing a climate start point? So these are the biggest floods in 80 years? Presumably there were bigger ones in the 1930s. Whose SUV emissions were responsible for those? What is the return-time for the current floods? Or is it too early to calculat? Regardless the climate vultures pounce on them as “proof”.
Just like next year they will pounce on the couple of countries that are having their 80-year return time floods.

Gareth August 24, 2010 at 9:47 am

Funnily enough, Pakistan’s official records begin when the country began. However, the government there has described them as unprecedented. See also this BBC report which provides a longer perspective.

Interesting how you “presume”, on the basis of no evidence, that there were bigger floods in the 1930s. Wishful thinking? Surely not.

I would guess that when the analysis is done, these floods will be seen to have a long return period. The Russian heat wave has been calculated to be between a 1,000 year and 15,800 year event. Wouldn’t surprise me to see similar figures for the Pakistan floods. The BBC report quotes a team that found the Indus was prone to big floods 6,000 years ago during a period of intense monsoons…

Dappledwater August 24, 2010 at 10:27 pm

“Interesting how you “presume”, on the basis of no evidence, that there were bigger floods in the 1930s.” – Gareth


“The flooding on Pakistan’s largest river, the Indus, has slowly eased along the upper and middle stretches where most of the heavy monsoon rains fell in late July and early August. However, a pulse of flood waters from these heavy rains has arrived at the coast, and flood heights have risen to all-time record levels today at the Indus river gauge station nearest to the coast, Kotri. The new flooding has forced new evacuations of hundreds of thousands of people in southern Pakistan over the past two days. Flood heights at every monitoring station along the Indus have been the highest or almost the highest since records began in 1947”

R2 may be referring to a major ice dam collapses (glacier outbursts) that caused calamitous flooding in Pakistan in 1929 & 1932?.

Steve Wrathall August 25, 2010 at 10:45 am

So, we’re asked to believe that there are no records from the part of British India that became Pak before ’47.
“All time” = since 1947 (maybe)
Another example of the serial exaggeration of language indemic in the warmist religion.

R2D2 August 25, 2010 at 11:11 am

Also, even if it was the worst in 10,000 years, so what?

I’ll try and explain this slowly for a warmist.

Lets do a mathmatical exercise. We will say there is a world called EarthB. We devide the land mass into 1000 regions. We take a 10,000 year period and say every year has equal chance of the worst flood ever occuring for each region. On average a ‘worst flood ever’ will occur every ten years in one region.

So just because it is the worst flood every this year in one region, every other region has had weather that is normal for natural variation. So there is no statistical anomoly even if this event was to be the worst ever (which it isn’t proven as being so).

Gareth August 25, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Two problems with your “analysis”.

1. Natural (ie unforced) variability is not unbounded in a stationary (unchanging) climate — that is, the climate system has physical limits that operate, and can’t just randomly generate huge extremes (though the extremes it can generate “naturally” are pretty big). The intensity of rainfall depends on moisture content of the air. That depends on temperature and availability of water to evaporate, so warmer means wetter if you live by the sea. That’s why ice ages are dry periods, associated with deposition of lots of windblown dust (loess).

2: If you analyse the statistical likelihood of extreme events, and account for a warming climate, you find that they become more likely. Refer to the links in my Fire and Rain post for more detail, but specifically the analysis by Dutch meteorologist Geert Jan van Oldenborgh. For a detailed explanation of van Oldenborgh’s technique follow the link there to his analysis of last NH winter extremes.

So: we observe the climate warming. We have theoretical grounds to expect that this will cause an intensification of the hydrological cycle. We observe signs of that happening. I refer you to my comment above, the main point of which you managed to ignore completely. Download the document, read it, and follow up the references.

R2D2 August 25, 2010 at 1:14 pm

So on point 1: How come New Zealand hasn’t had our biggest rain fall ever this year then? (because randomness dominates)

Gareth August 25, 2010 at 1:39 pm

You haven’t been keeping up, have you R2? I posted back in June about heavy rain in NZ and elsewhere. I’ve not seen anything specifically NZ-related in the literature, but I might ask around…

But even if NZ were experiencing a drought, it would tell us little about the global situation, or the potential for extreme events elsewhere.

cyclone August 25, 2010 at 2:09 pm

R2D2: What about if we take EarthC3PO and divide it up into 10,000,000 regions? Your “analysis” seems crude as extending the logic seems to bring some unphysical results – see Gareth’s point 1 as to one of the reasons why.

Dappledwater August 25, 2010 at 3:24 pm

R2 weather isn’t random, it’s chaotic – Gareth’s point 1.

You have gone around in a circle and are now tearing down your own strawman. Your Earth B model is flawed because it assumes an equal probability of extreme precipitation the world over, and then you wonder why NZ hasn’t seen record precipitation this year?.

I know NZ deniers by and large loathe NIWA but……


“One of the important consequences expected in a warming climate is an increase in extreme rainfalls. This occurs because of higher potential moisture content in air at higher temperatures, and a shift towards more convective rainfall in the models. Observations have shown an increase during the 20th century in extreme rainfalls in many parts of the world (IPCC, 2007a, Fig TS-11a in Technical Summary). However, a recent analysis of New Zealand daily rainfall does not show a uniform trend over the country due to the interaction of atmospheric circulation and the country’s complex topography. Griffiths (2005) has analysed a number of indices of extreme daily rainfall, for the periods 1930-2004 and 1950-2004. Western sites tend to show a significant increase in daily rainfall extremes, but eastern sites a decrease.”

R2D2 August 25, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Gareth: You said “The intensity of rainfall depends on moisture content of the air. That depends on temperature and availability of water to evaporate, so warmer means wetter if you live by the sea.”

Again, how come New Zealand has not had record rainfall (if your theory is so strait forward… coult it be randomness dominates, and then when an extreme event occurs you claim it as proof pudding AGW????)

Gareth August 25, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Reply to R2 above:

And I gave you examples. If you can’t be bothered to read them, that’s your loss.

Dappledwater August 25, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Another fact free contribution I see Steve.

Dappledwater August 25, 2010 at 6:19 pm

R2 @ 38 – let’s just recap.

In post 32 you claim a 1 in 10,000 year event is a “so what?”.

You then put forward a fictional model of the Earth based on your ignorance of climate science, a model where even Antarctica is expected to experience record floods.

In post #34 you then complain because NZ hasn’t endured a record rainfall event this year, presumably a 1 in a 10,000 year event. Not only that, but you irrationally believe that weather is random, in other words there is an equal chance of meatballs, frogs, or rain falling from the sky. Very la-la landish of you.

And why get so worked up if you think a 1 in a 10,000 year event is a “so what?” moment? And if it is truly a 1 in a 10,000 year event, and AGW has shortened to odds to say, 1 in a 1000 years, doesn’t that mean we could still have a long wait ahead of us?.

You’ve shown us what you think, here’s what the expert say:


“Frequently Asked Question 10.1

Are Extreme Events, Like Heat Waves, Droughts or Floods,
Expected to Change as the Earth’s Climate Changes?

Yes; the type, frequency and intensity of extreme events are expected to change as Earth’s climate changes, and these changes could occur even with relatively small mean climate changes. Changes in some types of extreme events have already been observed, for example, increases in the frequency and intensity of heat waves and heavy precipitation events…………………..”

R2D2 August 25, 2010 at 11:35 pm

You misrepresent me. I said if it was random it could have easily still occurred. Gareth said:

The intensity of rainfall depends on moisture content of the air. That depends on temperature and availability of water to evaporate, so warmer means wetter if you live by the sea.

I said if thats the case where is all the rain in NZ.

Roger Dewhurst September 6, 2010 at 6:02 pm

“And why get so worked up if you think a 1 in a 10,000 year event is a “so what?” moment? And if it is truly a 1 in a 10,000 year event, and AGW has shortened to odds to say, 1 in a 1000 years, doesn’t that mean we could still have a long wait ahead of us?.”

The probability of a 100 year event occurring in any one year is 0.01. The probability of it not occurring is thus 0.99. The probability for it not occurring for x years is thus 0.99^x. Thus the probability of the event occurring in x years is 1-0.99^x. Now you can do your own calculations.

Roger Dewhurst September 6, 2010 at 5:35 pm

I do not believe that records commenced in 1947. British India was far better organised than Pakistan just after partition, probably better organised than Pakistan is today. I suspect that the records existed but they have been lost, destroyed or it is merely politically convenient to deny their existence.

Steve Wrathall August 24, 2010 at 12:20 pm

“The Russian heat wave has been calculated to be between a 1,000 year and 15,800 year event. ”
Whenever you see three significant figures quoted in an uncertainty range you can be sure someone has been plucking numbers out of thin air.

“Wouldn’t surprise me to see similar figures for the Pakistan floods.”
{“Scientists have described this catastrophe as a once-in-a-century flood.”}
In other words Pakistan is experiencing a once-in-a-century flood, having not experienced such a thing since the thick end of a century.

Evidence for catastrophic AGW = 0

Gareth August 24, 2010 at 8:31 pm

I note your source is a blog post that seems to be mix and matching stuff from all over the place. I’ll wait until someone who might be expected to know offers an opinion — or until there’s something published in the literature. Meanwhile, I’ll go with the Pakistan government’s “unprecedented”.

If you don’t think 20 million people being badly affected isn’t catastrophic, then I don’t know what you might consider fits the bill…

R2D2 August 24, 2010 at 10:09 pm

“or until there’s something published in the literature. Meanwhile, I’ll go with the Pakistan government’s “unprecedented”.”

You contradict yourself here. You say you need scientific literature to see it is a non-extraordinary event, then the next sentence say you believe it is unprecedented because the Pakistan Govt said so! Why do you not demand literature before you believe it is unprecedented??? Is it possible you have a bias Gareth???

You are so laughable, no matter what anyone here posts, you are right, AGW is infallible, and you will use doublethink to prove it to yourself. You would make a good Oceania Citizen: you have a mind of jelly.

Gareth August 24, 2010 at 10:17 pm

It appears you have comprehension problems: perhaps you don’t understand the meaning or usage of “meanwhile” in this context.

What’s laughable, R2, is that you and Wrathall turn up in the face of human tragedy and try to play it down. “Can’t prove it’s global warming!” you cry. Well, let me put it this way. What we’re seeing is consistent with what we expect global warming to bring.

And your attitude is consistent with what we expect from the cranks, denialists and deluded who want us to do nothing. If you were truly open-minded, you might confess to just a moment’s concern. But that would be inconvenient, wouldn’t it?

I used to find you at least moderately interesting to debate with. That is no longer true.

R2D2 August 24, 2010 at 11:27 pm

“What we’re seeing is consistent with what we expect global warming to bring.”

What we are seeing is consistent with what we expect weather to bring.

Gareth August 25, 2010 at 12:21 am

The odds are set by climate (and it’s changing), the punches are delivered by weather. Perhaps you didn’t understand the cartoon at the top of this post?

R2D2 August 25, 2010 at 8:55 am

I understand the cartoon. Its a great theory. I just want to see real evidence rather than speculative crap.

The link posted by Sustainable2050 was great. It showed some increase in precipitation days. But other indices were not increasing. More data would be better than emotive statements trying to blam me for a natural event.

CTG August 25, 2010 at 6:46 am

Yes, you just keep telling yourself that, then those people’s deaths won’t be on your conscience, you won’t have to change your lifestyle, and all will be right with the world.

Nice and warm with the head in the sand, isn’t it?

Macro August 25, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Couldn’t have said it better CTG! Sums it up exactly.

Steve Wrathall August 25, 2010 at 10:39 am

Yes and floods in Russia and drought in Pakistan would also be “consistent with” your beliefs. And spiffingly good weather with bounteous harvests in both places. Well, that would also be “consistent with” your beliefs. that’s the wonderful thing about having a religion. Nothing disconfirms it.

Gareth August 25, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Pot, meet kettle.

Rob Taylor August 24, 2010 at 12:42 pm

You’re right, Steve, we should defer to your expert knowledge of the thick end…

tomfarmer August 24, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Around where I live people are more familiar with RD—as in rural addressing—R2D2 s I’d guess would strike – if at all – as some kind of fantasy lingo.. and shake their heads at the striking disconnect our acquaintance in this thread has with their own historical reality.. sensing insult at their families and forebear’s land engineering etc so as to avoid repeat consequences from the utterly devastating floods (flood events) of years gone by.
One instance being the 1867, I’m told, (could be 1869) flood that swept homestead and stores away in proximity Saltwater Creek, Canterbury. Needless to say it also inundated the pastoral hinterland, ruining crops and cropability.

Enough backstory. To the point then. I offer him an author’s certainty and what does he do with it? Yes, accuses me of taking it out of context so as to fail address the issue. Which is that with knowledge human beings can avail themselves their own solutions.

Excuses are out. Recriminations, too. As with forebears whose practical application of skills were set in place to solve major problems, then the call today – and in a global way – is to deal to them. Best way one can. And now!

R2D2 August 24, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I am not sure what your comment is really saying

R2D2 August 25, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Lets take the discussion away from Gareths and clans silly diversions and back to the issue,

Gareth reposted this quote and supported it:

“Climate change, with all its severity and unpredictability, has become a reality for 170 million Pakistanis. The present situation in Pakistan reconfirms our extreme vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change…Nature has made a graphic endorsement to strengthen the case for a fair and equitable outcome from the ongoing UNFCCC negotiations.”

Now I presume by ‘climate change’ it means AGW (reference to UNFCCC).

This is the comment that is crap and needs to be called what it is. There is no reason to believe the floods were caused by human emissions of any gas. This confirms our fear that if we have an ‘adaptation fund’ every time there is a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, a drought in Africa, or a non-normal monsoon in South Asia there will be hands reached out for lollies and pointing of fingers for what has been occurring naturally for millennia.

Gareth August 25, 2010 at 5:40 pm

There is every reason to suspect that the floods were made worse by climate change, and that future extreme weather events will be more extreme. The science supports this, though you seem keen to ignore that.

And then we get to the nub of the issue. You don’t want to pay to reduce the harm caused. I find that morally and ethically untenable, and your attitude offensive when 20 million Pakistanis are suffering. Go away and come back only when you’re prepared to show some humanity.

R2D2 August 25, 2010 at 11:31 pm

There is every reason to suspect

What about evidence?

Gareth August 25, 2010 at 11:33 pm

You seem immune to that.

R2D2 August 25, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Well there doesnt seem to be any. Only theories and reasons to suspect.

Gareth August 25, 2010 at 11:39 pm

There’s none you seem prepared to read, at least.

R2: you are fast becoming a waste of my time. I will not engage you in conversation since you seem unable to debate in good faith. By ignoring all links or references, or by refusing to accept what they say, you become nothing more than another wild-eyed Dewhurst, butchering the truth.

Roger Dewhurst September 7, 2010 at 11:07 am

Reply to a government scientist:

>I think most scientists here believe that global
> warming is occurring – not just because of temperature records (which >in
> some cases may be controversial) but because of vegetation changes and
> other indicators.

I do not think that I have met anybody capable of thought who considers that the world has not warmed during the last 150 years!

>I think that most believe the cause of g.w. in the last
> 100 years to be largely, but not exclusively, anthropogenic.

Two issues here. One is thinking about what other people think which is a very subjective matter. The other is the degree that the warming is anthropogenic. My own view is that the anthropogenic warming components is small, possibly negligeable.

As a geologist whose career has revolved around costs and values, the costs of exploration, risks, probabilities, the value of the deposits, the costs of developing water supplies, etc etc, the idea of throwing money at problems without knowing the probabilities, time frame, costs, discount rate is an anathema. i.e the precautionary principle is, for me, utter crap!

There is one and one only rational method of choosing between uncertainties: one multiplies the estimated costs of the various options by their probabilities, estimate the time frames and apply the appropriate discount rate. Then go for the least expensive, or most profitable, option. When the risks, costs, time frames or discount rate cannot be reasonably estimated the best option is to do nothing.

That is where Stern cocked up. He fiddled the discount rate down in order to make his costs look sensible. Would you lend money to someone at 2% or less? Of course not. Nevertheless Stern expects the NZ taxpayer to pay huge sums of money to solve some uncosted and possibly non existent problems, at some unknown time in the future and values our money at 2% to do it. An accountant or auditor would be kicked out of the profession for giving that sort of advice to a client.

R2D2 September 7, 2010 at 1:58 pm
R2D2 September 6, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Gareth, comment 28, “You refuse to accept the evidence — to even read it, as far as I can tell”

I understand the theory that more heat will cause more rain. However there are other things that cause rain, so I do not accept the conclusion that you jump to.

The following is an interesting read,

“It now seems that these two apparently disconnected events [Russian heatwave and Pakistani floods] have a common cause. They are linked to the heatwave that killed more than 60 in Japan, and the end of the warm spell in western Europe. The unusual weather in the US and Canada last month also has a similar cause.

According to meteorologists monitoring the atmosphere above the northern hemisphere, unusual holding patterns in the jet stream are to blame. As a result, weather systems sat still. Temperatures rocketed and rainfall reached extremes….

So what is the root cause of all of this? Meteorologists are unsure. Climate change models predict that rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere will drive up the number of extreme heat events. Whether this is because greenhouse gas concentrations are linked to blocking events or because of some other mechanism entirely is impossible to say. Gerald Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado – who has done much of this modelling himself – points out that the resolution in climate models is too low to reproduce atmospheric patterns like blocking events. So they cannot say anything about whether or not their frequency will change.

There is some tentative evidence that the sun may be involved. Earlier this year astrophysicist Mike Lockwood of the University of Reading, UK, showed that winter blocking events were more likely to happen over Europe when solar activity is low – triggering freezing winters (New Scientist, 17 April, p 6).

Now he says he has evidence from 350 years of historical records to show that low solar activity is also associated with summer blocking events (Environmental Research Letters, in press). “There’s enough evidence to suspect that the jet stream behaviour is being modulated by the sun,” he says.

Blackburn says that blocking events have been unusually common over the last three years, for instance, causing severe floods in the UK and heatwaves in eastern Europe in 2007. Solar activity has been low throughout.
Go to: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727730.101-frozen-jet-stream-links-pakistan-floods-russian-fires.html

Roger Dewhurst September 6, 2010 at 5:14 pm

It seems that there are differences of opinion which will not be resolved without an objective look at the science.

Gareth September 6, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Yes, I read that when it first came out. It’s interesting. Extreme weather events are delivered by — (oddly enough) weather. Has a jet stream pattern similar to this one occurred before? Yes. IIRC recent reading, I think there was a similarly long-lived blocking pattern in the 1930s. The key point is that the Russian heatwave was unprecedented, not because heatwaves have never happened there before, but because of its length and intensity. Similarly, the Pakistan and much of the Chinese flooding was delivered by the Asian monsoon – a normal weather event – but the amounts of rain delivered were very unusual.
Lockwood’s theory is interesting, because he proposes a mechanism by which the solar wind might modulate jet stream patterns (again IIRC) and affect the pattern of the weather.
However, there is one method by which global warming can directly affect weather patterns – the reduction in Arctic sea ice. I’ve written about that often enough, and there are some clear signs that it’s already happening.

R2D2 September 6, 2010 at 6:31 pm

So no apology for multiple articles claiming these sad events were caused by AGW I take it?

Gareth September 6, 2010 at 7:50 pm

These events were very probably made worse by global warming. No apologies for stating the obvious.

R2D2 September 6, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Very objective look at the science that was!

Gareth September 6, 2010 at 10:05 pm

At least I look at the science, You, it seems, prefer to grandstand from a position of ignorance.

R2D2 September 6, 2010 at 11:23 pm

You mis-interpret or mis-represent the science. How is the article I posted not ‘science’? Which article has directly claimed the floods were caused (or made worse) by AGW?

Gareth September 6, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Well, for a kick off, “science”is in the literature, not news articles, however interesting they may be. And you’re the one requesting apologies for unreferenced articles.

R2D2 September 7, 2010 at 9:03 am

It was a news article about science. Get off it Gareth. The news article contained its own references. The link between the winter event and solar activity is in the below article. I note at the time you claimed this was caused by CO2. The article on the link between the summer events is in press. When are you going to admit that it is irresponsible and distracting to write articles claiming every strange weather event is caused by CO2? By doing this you only discredit yourself and other passionate AGW believers (and give weight to counter arguments).


Gareth September 7, 2010 at 9:14 am

R2, if you are going to persistently misrepresent what I write about this subject, then I will disengage from any further discussion.

R2D2 September 7, 2010 at 10:38 am

“The last few weeks have seen some extraordinary weather events around the world: relentless extreme heat in Russia, biblical flooding in Pakistan and devastating landslides in China. Tens of millions of people have had their lives disrupted and thousands have died, and — beyond reasonable doubt — global warming is playing a part in creating these extremes. But how much of a part? Michael Tobis asked this question in a recent post:

Are the current events in Russia “because of” “global warming”? To put the question in slightly more formal terms, are we now looking at something that is no longer a “loading the dice” situation but is a “this would, practically certainly, not have happened without human interference” situation?

The answer, at least in the case of the current extremes, would appear to be yes.” – Fire and Rain post

Do you still believe what you wrote above? Given that the event was caused by a blocking of the jet stream and not radiative forcing from CO2? Would the event, “not have happened without human interference”, or not have happened without solar interference?

I am not misrepresenting you.

Gareth September 7, 2010 at 10:55 am

R2: I am not misrepresenting you.

You are, because you are determined, it seems, to misunderstand what I am saying. Here’s an analogy that might get through. Global warming increases the total energy in the system – it’s like a boxer training for a big fight, getting fitter and stronger, but it’s weather that lands the punches. And those punches are heavier because of the extra energy. Now go away and read the references provided for you up-thread, and which you seem terribly keen to ignore.

Richard Christie September 7, 2010 at 11:30 am

R2, let’s take it back to basics, if you add energy to a system, how do you expect it to behave?

R2D2 September 7, 2010 at 11:35 am

I understand the theory.

I’ll give you an analogy.

I have a theory that smoking will cause death. This death can be lung cancer, throat cancer, heart trouble, and a multitude of other smoking related illnesses. This theory is well understood and not in dispute.

A person arrives in the morgue. They are aged 50 and I am told they have smoked their whole life. Do I know the cause of death?

You jump from, I have a theory that AGW will increase extreme weather events, therefore all extreme weather events are caused by AGW. Weather is caused by many things. You state plainly in ‘Fire and Rain’ that the floods and heat wave wouldn’t have happened without people (“is a “this would, practically certainly, not have happened without human interference” situation?” “The answer, at least in the case of the current extremes, would appear to be yes.”).

Now you move the goal posts and say AGW causes the punches that would have been thrown anyway to be bigger. This is true (if AGW has warmed the planet). But it is impossible to quantify. Does this cause 1% more rain or 100% more rain? We don’t know. To say, more heat equals more rain, therefore these events would not have been extreme without AGW is a MASSIVE leap in logic that I am not willing to take without at least a little reliable evidence. To do so is to unscientifically use the deaths and suffering inflicted on millions of people to promote your own agenda.

Gareth September 7, 2010 at 11:39 am

R2: To say, more heat equals more rain, therefore these events would not have been extreme without AGW is a MASSIVE leap in logic that I am not willing to take without at least a little reliable evidence.

But you appear to refuse to read the evidence when it’s presented to you! That’s why arguing with you is, frankly, a waste of time.

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