Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

An ill wind....

Roof tiles flying, TV aerials ripped off, fences down, flying glass and scaffolding, trees blocking roads, flash floods, injuries and tragic deaths. It has been another windy day in Britain.

Does climate change make these events more likely or more frequent? It is difficult to ascribe a cause to any particular day's weather, but Friends of The Earth had this to say in a briefing as long as 10 years ago -

Recent years have seen many extreme weather events, including a number of 'floods of the century' and the hottest year on record. While climate variability is a natural phenomenon, there are indications that the human footprint on the climate system is becoming increasingly visible. According to the IPCC 'the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate'.

. In the short-term it is difficult to distinguish between natural variability and climate change, so it is not possible to definitely link a specific weather event (or sequence of events) to climate change. However, many climate scientists think that recent weather extremes are consistent with climate change predictions.

. The insurance industry has few doubts that the frequency and intensity of natural catastrophies have increased. Cost to the insurance industry during the last 10 years were 15 times higher than during the 1960s.

. The human suffering and economic damage caused by recent extremes demonstrates that the risks associated with climate change are great. Precautionary action is needed sooner rather than later.

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