Just ahead of the Durban climate change summit, the IPCC has released a major report focused upon extreme weather events and adaptation strategies it believes should be implemented to cope with them. (www.ipcc.ch – ‘Special Report’). The timing is likely to have been influenced by the expectation that final agreement on the USD 100bn climate fund can be reached during the summit. This fund would see developed countries combine to provide annual funding (the UN would like this to total USD 100bn) for climate change adaptation activities in developing nations.
We have read this report and found it disappointing. The main criticism would be that it attempts to cover too much ground and in doing so will leave readers confused. In particular the chapter on ‘Climate Extremes and Impacts’, which is really the crux of the matter, the examination ranges over every possible weather-related event, from coastal erosion, hurricanes/typhoons, to heat-waves, droughts and flooding. This inevitably leads to a great number of conclusions, probability levels and hedging around. Most people reading this section will end up very confused.
At this point we would like to draw people’s attention to a more concise, but much less publicised paper, available here
This is James Hansen’s latest paper on extreme weather events (published a few days earlier than the IPCC report). His paper focuses upon the statistical record and presents very clear and compelling conclusions. Anyone reading Hansen’s paper will be left in little doubt that global warming and extreme weather events are now very probably related, according to statistical evidence. It would have been better for the IPCC to present something more resembling the Hansen paper, i.e. more focused, more evidence based.