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A new European report on climate extremes is out

A new report on extreme climate events in Europe is just published: ‘Extreme Weather Events in Europe: preparing for climate change adaptation‘. It was launched in Oslo on October 24th by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and the report is now available online.

Front cover of 'Extreme Weather Events in Europe: preparing for climate change adaptation'

Front cover of ‘Extreme Weather Events in Europe:
preparing for climate change adaptation’

What’s new? The new report provides information that is more specific to Europe than the SREX report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and incorporate phenomena that have not been widely covered.

It provides some compelling information drawn from the insurance industry, and indeed, a representative from Munich Re participated in writing this report. There is also material on convective storms, hail, lightening, and cold snaps, and the report provides a background on extreme value statistics, risk analysis, impacts, and adaptation.

The main difference with the recent IPCC reports (e.g. the SREX) is the European focus and that it includes more recent results. The report writing process did not have to follow as rigid procedures as the IPCC, and hence the report is less constrained. For instance, it provides set of recommendations for policymakers, based entirely on scientific considerations.

The report, in which I have been involved, was initiated by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and was written by a committee of experts across Europe. Hence, the final report was published as a joint report by the Norwegian meteorological institute, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC)

90 Responses to “A new European report on climate extremes is out”

  1. 51
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Money after all doesn’t vanish.
    I was agreeing with you up to that point, but on that one, I disagree. Most ‘money’ isn’t vanish-proof these days.

    What’s a coastal property worth, or a coal mine?
    The answer depends ….

  2. 52
    Walter Pearce says:

    Gee, what’s more likely…rising temperatures actually do pose increasing risks of cascading effects, as scientists tell us…or, a cabal of insurers and reinsurers are ginning up unreasonable fears per Jack Maloney?

    I’m so torn between those alternatives.

  3. 53
    SecularAnimist says:

    Jack Maloney wrote: “Argumentum ad hominem is the logical fallacy of attempting to undermine a speaker’s argument by attacking the speaker instead of addressing the argument.”

    Which is EXACTLY what you are doing by attacking the alleged motives of the insurance corporations, rather than addressing their argument that insured economic damages from global warming are increasing and will continue to increase.

    The quote from Ray Ladbury is not an ad hominem fallacy — it is simply an insult.

  4. 54

    Ray, technically you are incorrect. Jibes may properly be regarded as insults only if they are false. We should endeavor to use language precisely in this discussion.

  5. 55
    Ray Ladbury says:

    A scalpel may be an instrument of healing, but the wound it causes is still an insult.
    The truth, if administered to harshly, can also be an insult

  6. 56

    Ray, I stand corrected.

  7. 57
    Jack Maloney says:

    Ray #50: I made no “attack” on insurance industry motivations. As a professional with public relations, advertising and sales promotion experience in the insurance industry, I pointed out that they profit by promoting fear of future events – a fact of which many posters here are in denial.

    Hurling gratuitous insults from a safe distance does you and your imitators little credit.

  8. 58
    Tokodave says:

    Thanks to Timothy, Doug, Hank and others for a general discussion of what insurance is, and isn’t. My point when I brought up Munich Re, and Lloyds of London was to highlight the fact that the insurance industry is part of the free market capitalist world we live in. They are evaluating climate change because it is important from the standpoint of their ability to continue to make money for their stockholders. You don’t have to like’em, and I don’t, but insurance companies and reinsurance companies exist for sound reasons that others have explained above. If you own a car and drive, in most states, you have to have insurance coverage. There’s a reason for that.

  9. 59
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jack Maloney,
    Well, there’s the difference between you and me–I’m not looking for credit. I am much more interested in having the facts considered on their merits and not having them summarily dismissed with an ad hominem wave of the hand.

    I have nothing to do with insurance other than holding the obligatory policies for a responsible adult. However, insurance is one of the pioneering fields for the use of statistics and probability. They have to be, because a tiny mistake in estimating the tails of a risk distribution can sink the whole company. So there is more to insurance than PR, promotion and sales. I would also point out that the document under discussion is not a PR, promotion or sales document, but rather a document outlining a threat to their business model. Not every raising of the alarm is alarmist.

    Resorting to ad hominem does no one credit.

  10. 60
    Jack Maloney says:

    Ray Ladbury: I did not resort to ad hominem. I made a statement of fact which is absolutely germane to discussion of insurance industry credibility on matters of risk.

    As Steve Fish said in post #46, it would be ad hominem “to denigrate Al Gore’s video because he is fat,” because that fact is not germane to discussion of the video. But it is not ad hominem to point out that a British High Court Judge ruled that screening the video in British secondary schools violated laws barring the promotion of partisan political views in the classroom, saying that the film’s “apocalyptic vision” was not an impartial analysis of climate change(ABC News).

  11. 61
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jack Maloney,
    You attacked the credibility of the source rather than addressing the facts of the matter–that is classic ad hominem. Sorry, you are wrong. Hell, the Supreme Court has even defined corporations as “Persons”. Not sure how you can argue your way out of this one.

  12. 62
    SecularAnimist says:

    Jack Maloney wrote: “I did not resort to ad hominem. I made a statement of fact which is absolutely germane to discussion of insurance industry credibility on matters of risk.”

    You continue to confuse ad hominem, which is a classical rhetorical fallacy, with plain old insults and personal attacks.

    You alleged that the insurance companies have a motive — specifically, a profit motive — for exaggerating the present reality and future probability of increasing economic damages from anthropogenic global warming. And on the basis of that alleged motive, you argue that insurance industry projections of steeply increasing damages are without merit.

    That is a fallacy. Believing that someone has a motive to deceive does not establish that their statements are false, any more than believing someone to be honest establishes that their statements are true.

    Perhaps the insurance companies do have such a motive — or perhaps not, as several other commenters have argued. But either way, that tells us exactly NOTHING about whether insurance industry projections are sound or not.

    The only way to determine that is to examine the substance of those projections — which you, interestingly enough, seem unwilling to do, preferring to tell us that those projections should be disregarded a priori without such an examination because of the insurance industry’s alleged motives.

    Which is, of course, the whole purpose of the ad hominem fallacy: to distract attention from the merits of someone’s argument by directing attention to the person making the argument.

  13. 63
    SecularAnimist says:

    Jack Maloney wrote: “… it would be ad hominem ‘to denigrate Al Gore’s video because he is fat,’ because that fact is not germane to discussion of the video. But it is not ad hominem to point out that a British High Court Judge ruled that screening the video in British secondary schools violated laws barring the promotion of partisan political views in the classroom …”

    That is correct.

    And your comments denigrating the insurance corporations’ projections because they allegedly have a profit motive to exaggerate the escalating economic damages of global warming is just like “denigrating Al Gore’s video because he is fat” — or because he has a big house, or because he’s a “liberal”, or because he travels by airplane, or because he has investments in renewable energy, or because he won the popular vote in 2000.

    And your comments are completely unlike the British judge’s ruling, which dealt exclusively with the actual content of the video and had nothing whatever to say about Al Gore.

    If you wish to use that judge’s ruling as a model, then you need to address the actual substantive content of the insurance industry projections, and show how and why those projections are flawed or unsound.

    But to say, as you have done, that those projections should be dismissed a priori because of the alleged motivations of the insurance companies is a classic ad hominem fallacy.

  14. 64
    Jack Maloney says:

    Ray Ladbury: The Norwegian Academy’s report relies heavily on information sourced from Munich Re’s NatCatSERVICE database. Thus pointing out the potential bias caused by the insurance industry’s dependence on worries about future risk is not an ad hominem attack – no more than if I pointed out that Senator Inhofe’s subcommittee or GWPF reports use fossil fuel industry data. In any analysis of an institutional statement, the credibility of its sources is open for discussion.

  15. 65
    Jack Maloney says:

    62. SecularAnimist wrote:
    “You alleged that the insurance companies have a motive — specifically, a profit motive — for exaggerating the present reality and future probability of increasing economic damages from anthropogenic global warming. And on the basis of that alleged motive, you argue that insurance industry projections of steeply increasing damages are without merit… that those projections should be disregarded a priori without such an examination because of the insurance industry’s alleged motives…

    I argued none of those things – I only pointed to a potential conflict of interest, which is worth considering in any discussion. The conclusions you have drawn are the product of your own imaginings.

  16. 66
    Jack Maloney says:

    63 SecularAnimist:

    Burton found that screening the film in British secondary schools violated laws barring the promotion of partisan political views in the classroom. But he allowed the film to be shown on the condition that it is accompanied by guidance notes to balance Gore’s “one-sided” views, saying that the film’s “apocalyptic vision” was not an impartial analysis of climate change.”

    “The judge ruled that the film can still be shown in schools, as part of a climate change resources pack, but only if it is accompanied by fresh guidance notes to balance Mr Gore’s “one-sided” views. The “apocalyptic vision” presented in the film was not an impartial analysis of the science of climate change, he said. He said he had viewed the film and described it as “powerful, dramatically presented and highly professionally produced”, built around the “charismatic presence” of Mr Gore, “whose crusade it now is to persuade the world of the dangers of climate change”.

  17. 67
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- ad hominem

    Accusations of ad hominem are common among blog trolls because they think they sound more erudite when responding to insults. You guys are not trolls and definitions of the fallacy are very complicated. Read some of the philosophy sites to understand the grey areas and let this go. Consider the following:

    Is accusing the Koch brothers of profit motives to explain their opposition to climate science ad hominem?

    How about the Heartland Institute?

    How about Monckton?


  18. 68
    Hank Roberts says:

    Jack Maloney, you said your experience is in life insurance. Have you asked people insuring floods, or crop failures, or shipping, whether they market their product by trying to make people fearful? Because it seems to me individual insurance is weather, and large-scale insurance is climate.

  19. 69
    Walter Manny says:

    Now that Jack has [inevitably] had a comment bore-holed, I will join him there to note the obvious, that his problem here is not that he is wrong — though he could be — but that he disagrees with Ray, who is a Real Climate key-holder. Ray, whom I otherwise respect, can say that Jack is talking out of his asshole and claim it’s not an ad hominem attack, and others will nod and agree with… Ray! That sort of playground argumentation: I-Know-You-Are-But-What-Am-I? is why I believe this site has become so marginalized — any grown-up who spends more than a minute here knows there’s a line you can’t cross, that there is in fact little interest in exploring the conflict of ideas but rather to promote an orthodox view. Nothing wrong with that other than claiming it’s not so, but it’s difficult to recognize the orthodox if you believe it’s the truth.

  20. 70
    Radge Havers says:

    As to arguments without foundation, what the hooha is about its that participation by the insurance industry (which sits squarely in world of business where ideologues expect denial to reign) appears to lend weight to AGW. It’s like an explosion in the denialist PR armory, hence all the rapid fire blather from the usual perps.

    One good thing, it has illicited some illuminating comments about how the insurance industry actually works. The bad thing is that the denialist criticisms avoid being specific (a sign of their weakness) and so reveal nothing. They are exactly designed not to be constructive and so are worthy of contempt. Beyond saying that, I won’t tone troll, but personally when I’m pissed off, I have no qualms about smacking down nihilist bullies.

  21. 71
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Walter Manny — 6 Nov 2013 @ 8:43 AM

    I disagree.


  22. 72
    Hank Roberts says:

    > conflict of ideas
    That’s why I continue to ask Jack Maloney if his experience in the life insurance industry, where he says they use scare tactics, has any general applicability to the reinsurance industry that we were talking about.

    Okay, let’s take Jack Maloney at his word — he says life insurance companies like he works for try to scare people into being customers.

    They’ve got the actuaries, the individuals they’re targeting don’t, so maybe Jack’s right and the life insurance industry lies about risk.

    But we weren’t talking about the life insurance industry Jack represents.

    We were talking about — not _individual_ insurance — but the reinsurance industry.

    Now there, they have actuaries on _both_ sides, since reinsurance is selling insurance to insurance companies.

    There, they know they may well be wrong about risk estimates, and because the risk is changing with climate change, the cost of reinsurance goes up.

    But they have actuaries on both sides of the transaction.

    Jack Maloney may be overgeneralizing from his experience scaring individuals into buying life insurance, as he says he does.

    Jack, again — do you have any reason to believe the reinsurance industry is successfully scaring the insurance companies into buying too much reinsurance?

    Please — make the distinction.

  23. 73
    Jack Maloney says:

    Hank Roberts: good question, but the answer should be obvious: without fear of future loss, farmers, shippers, land managers, homeowners and health care consumers would not see a need for insurance. At all scales, insurance is all about perception of risk and loss; the greater that perception, the greater demand for insurance.

    The Munich Re NatCatSERVICE database focuses on financial losses from natural events. It concludes that the number of loss-relevant weather extremes has increased significantly globally, and that there is growing evidence that “at least part of” this loss-relevant increase is driven by global warming. They draw no conclusions as to what that unknown part is, or how much of it is natural and how much anthropogenic. Nor do they conclude how much of the anthropogenic part is due to population growth and urbanization, concentration of economic values, land use, water management, etc., compared with the hypothetical effects of CO2 emissions.

    Annual flooding in North Dakota is a good example of why loss-relevance is an important caveat. Insurance losses in the Red River Valley and the cities of Fargo ND and Moorhead MN have grown dramatically in recent years. But much of the increased flooding has anthropogenic causes that have nothing to do with climate change:

    – Urbanization: highways, streets, parking lots, sidewalks, and buildings now cover large areas of the ground that used to absorb excess rain water and snowmelt, speeding the rate at which run-off reaches rivers

    Value concentration: as the cities grow, insured values become more concentrated, so an extreme weather event today can cause far more loss than an identical one 50 years ago

    – Agriculture: a rapid increase in deforestation and draining wetlands and farmland (due in part to demand for corn ethanol) is speeding runoff into the river

    – Flood management: rising waters that used to be able to spread out over their natural flood plains are now channeled into the river by flood walls and levees; for example, a 2010 proposed improvement to the flood defense system in Fargo could cause a 4 – 10 inch rise in floods immediately downstream from the city, according to the Army Corps of Engineers

    Munich Re NatCatSERVICE bases their projections on loss-relevance rather than observed climate phenomena; two quite different things!

  24. 74
    Hank Roberts says:

    And for Walter — remember, provoking someone with a known short fuse into an angry outburst is an effective tactic once or twice, but after that person figures out he’s being used, he stops posting angry responses (for a while).

    Jack could clarify the point he’s trying to make; so far he’s just repeated it in ways that tick people off.

    It takes an effort to stay calm and keep the conversation going, when talking points are repeated. Not all of us can pretend calm all the time.

    That requires what Kahan describes as

    … appraisals that work to make sure that anger is properly directed, such as: Is the behaviour justified; Is the behaviour intentional? Is the behaviour harmful, Is the behaviour unfair etc. (see Russell & Giner-Sorolla, 2013 for a review)

    Kahan makes the further point that if we let anger overwhelm the conversation, it leads to disgust — a feeling both liberals and conservatives have — and people back off and conversation fails.

    Don’t let the fact that Ray uses a bad word cause you to exit the conversation. Ray’s a bit blunter than others at times.

    None of us are perfect. All of us need to be concerned and find some answers.

  25. 75
    Ray Ladbury says:

    OK, this is verging on silly now. And Gavin, feel free to borehole this if you feel it is a distraction.

    First, Jack, you argue against the FACTS presented in the study solely based on the identity of the author. You do not cite a single fact from the study that you find questionable. You do not present any other facts that challenge the report. The sole basis for your argument against the report is the source. It is THAT which makes your argument ad hominem. Note also, that I do not say that your admonition about possible bias coming from an big re-insurer is not relevant. It is. If accompanied by examples of that bias creeping into the report, it would be highly relevant and convincing.

    And yes, dismissing a report just because it comes from the Heritage Foundation or GWPF or the Koch Bros or a certain Viscount is also ad hominem.

    The whole point of the identification of the ad hominem attack as a fallacy by the ancients is that dismissal of facts or arguments based solely on their source is logically invalid, not to mention lazy.

    So, in short, Jack, I mean no harm. If some of what I have said was harsh, I am sorry. My intent was to goad you into strengthening your argument by citing facts from the report.

    Now to Walter Manny, who says, “…Ray, who is a Real Climate key-holder…”

    Say what? Dude, I am merely one of many, many commenters on this site. I enjoy no special knowledge, no special access, no special favor. If I have been shown some special latitude by the hardworking climate scientists who actually run this blog, perhaps it is because I say what I say with some humor and try to remain at least glancingly on topic.

    Most important, if you are looking for an “orthodoxy” here, I think you will come up empty. I would instead suggest looking for established scientific facts in the scientific literature. Stay consistent with those, and you’ll find your comments usually miss the borehole.

  26. 76
    SecularAnimist says:

    Steve Fish wrote: “Is accusing the Koch brothers of profit motives to explain their opposition to climate science ad hominem?”

    If you are debating one of the Koch brothers in a venue that adheres to the rules of classical rhetoric, and Mr. Koch puts forth arguments and claims against the proposition that something should be done about global warming, and you respond not by challenging the content of those arguments and claims as incorrect, but by arguing that they should be dismissed a priori as false and invalid because of Mr. Koch’s motives, then you have just committed the classical rhetorical ad hominem fallacy.

    On the other hand, if you have already established that the content of Mr. Koch’s claims is false — if you have shown that he is lying about climate science — then a “profit motive” might be a reasonable speculation as to why he is lying. And that, of course, is the situation regarding the Koch brothers in the real world, where they and their various puppets are spreading blatant, demonstrable falsehoods and nonsense.

    The problem with Jack Maloney’s posts is that he has not even attempted to offer any evidence that anything the insurance industry has said about escalating economic losses due to global warming is actually wrong. He just keeps repeating that we shouldn’t even listen to what they have to say — because of their alleged motives.

  27. 77
    Walter Pearce says:

    Walter Manny@69…Perhaps I’m misunderstanding you, but without getting into the ad hominem argument, my problem with Jack Maloney’s original point is that it has nothing to do with whether, as some insurers assert, rapidly rising temperatures will result in effects that threaten lives, property and infrastructure.

    Sure, all things being equal, any company will try to persuade customers they need its products. So what?

    I could just as easily respond that petroleum companies will try to downplay information that might hurt sales of their products. But few would dignify that kind of exchange by calling it a conflict of ideas.

  28. 78
    Hank Roberts says:

    Jack, thanks for the reply but you miss my point. If all the people buying crop and flood insurance are doing so because the insurance companies are selling them based on false odds, the insurance companies make more money. But again those are individual people without actuaries being swindled by insurance companies, if they do what you claim.

    But the reinsurance companies have actuaries. They should know if they’re selling reinsurance to companies that are faking the risks.

    And you miss the point of the climate science — which isn’t saying the risks are higher _now_ or that the climate change signal has unambiguously emerged from background variation. That would mean every disaster related to weather could get claimed as a climate catastrophe. We know that’s not the case — Realclimate has had topics on attribution.

    The reinsurance company actuaries are looking at the future risk, and they aren’t basing that on past history — why? Because: physics.

    Greenhouse gases have been and are still going up, warming has barely begun changing the planet, in predictable ways.

    The reinsurance companies are anticipating the change in the risks for the insurance companies. If the insurance companies are all fudging the risks they’re making more profit and won’t be losing money — right?

    But the reinsurance companies look at the science and anticipate a very different world because of climate change. And they have actuaries who are statisticians and they agree the physicists are right about where we’re going.

    You can’t make such a drastic change as we’ve begun to do, and assume all other things stay the same — when the numbers say otherwise.

    Seriously — you’ve taken your own experience in companies selling life insurance by exaggerating risks, and claimed all the other varieties of insurance are doing the same thing.

    Has nobody but you tried to bring this vast conspiracy to the public’s attention? No whistleblowers in your industry, aside from you?

  29. 79
    Jack Maloney says:

    I stated in post #45 that the insurance “game” makes its money by peddling fear. If no one feared the future, there would be no insurance industry. My purpose was only to point out a potential conflict of interest with the Norwegian report’s extensive use of Munich Re projections – nothing else. But the knee-jerk reactions in this forum have been swift, negative, and almost universally wrong:

    “Jack Maloney appears to be saying that insurance companies collude to artificially elevate premiums.” Mal Adapted

    “…a cabal of insurers and reinsurers are ginning up unreasonable fears per Jack Maloney” Walter Pearce

    “…the facts…summarily dismissed with an ad hominem wave of the hand.” Ray Ladbury

    “…denigrating the insurance corporations’ projections…” SecularAnimist

    “…the British judge’s ruling…had nothing whatever to say about Al Gore.” SecularAnimist

    “…you argue against the FACTS presented in the study…” Ray Ladbury

    If anyone here bothers to read what I actually posted, they’ll find that I made no argument against the report, challenged no facts, made no allegations, accusations or attacks (ad hominem or otherwise) and hurled no insults. I only indicated a potential issue with the report’s primary data source, without drawing conclusions. If participants here would take time to read and comprehend what has actually been posted, this forum might offer more light and less heat.

  30. 80
    Walter Manny says:

    Jack can speak for himself — I know nothing about the insurance business. I was commenting on the orthodoxy I believe pervades this site (and other sites, on either “side”) and which causes it to be less relevant than it should be. Ray, in my opinion, has not only made some great contributions here, he has also made any number of comments that belong in the borehole. None reside there. This comment does, of course, but not my site, and the moderators are free to do what they like.

  31. 81
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Jack Maloney — 6 Nov 2013 @ 11:28 AM

    In this post you refer to “the hypothetical effects of CO2 emmissions.” Please clarify what you think is hypothetical.


  32. 82
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Nov 2013 @ 12:01 PM

    Your statement about ad hominem argument is very good. So, if this were a formal debate there would be no talk of what comes out of which orifice, but it is not. When someone who works in insurance sales suggests that fear has been used as a sales tactic, do you really disbelieve this? Hyping ones product in search of profit is so widespread that it might be considered a component of human nature. Consider home loan sales, investment brokers, or car salesmen. In the past I have suggested to grandchildren that they go as an insurance salesman on Halloween. Trick or treat — eeeek!


  33. 83
    Walter Pearce says:

    Walter Manny @79…If you are saying there are two sides on the topic of climate, you are flat wrong. If RealClimate represents one side, what’s the other?

    You’ve hoisted yourself on your own rhetorical petard. Try cutting yourself down and starting over.

  34. 84
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Hank moved to be unusually loquacious. Worth listening to that; rarely is something said here that prompts such a response. A dubious badge of distinction.

  35. 85
    Jack Maloney says:

    78 Hank Roberts: …the insurance companies are selling them based on false odds, the insurance companies make more money. But again those are individual people without actuaries being swindled by insurance companies, if they do what you claim.

    Hank: you have misrepresented what I said, and entirely missed my point. I never stated or implied that insurance companies were making false claims, exaggerating risks, inflating premiums or colluding in fraud. In fact, insurance is a heavily regulated industry in most states and countries, and any fraudulent claims would be swiftly dealt with by law.

    What I said is that insurers peddle fear of risk and loss, which is absolutely true. No one buys insurance without fear of risk and loss. And it is in the insurers’ interest to emphasize perceptions of risk and loss in their marketplace. This is done by advertising, marketing, sales promotion, press releases, published reports, etc. – the same way that Budweiser peddles beer. If a national report on the health benefits of beer drinking relied almost exclusively on data from Budweiser, wouldn’t it be fair to point out the potential conflict of interest?

  36. 86
    Hank Roberts says:

    Orthodoxy? It’s a joint report by the Norwegian meteorological institute, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC). What do you expect?

    Orthodoxy can be found but it’s not so evenly distributed

  37. 87
    sidd says:

    Can we discuss climate extremes foraminnit ?

    1)Hansen has shown that the bell curve in local T is moving rightward worldwide.

    2)A similar calculation for precipitation gives analogous results (I have done this for the modern era reconstruction MERRA, and the literature exhibits this also.) I see that point 2) on page 13 of the report we are discussing states:” Meteorological and climatological measurements of
    climatic change in Europe show that intense precipitation has become more severe and more frequent …”

    3)Insurance companies report financial losses integrating extremes convolved with covered claims.

    1) and 2) are interesting to this blog. 3) does not seem to be, except insofar as one can deconvolve the climate signal in the insurance data for covered claims. I do not see how this can be easily done, since a Bangladeshi fisherman’s home, or a thousand of them, is not noticed in the insurance statements. One might of course go to great lengths, by tracing covered claim density at local level in the areas where coverage exists, but why, when we have so much climate data already. It is not as though we do not see a cyclone unless it hits an insured area, regardless of the claims of the Pielke cohort.

    Why don’t just we look at the climate numbers ? Is it indeed true that increasing signal of precip and T extremes is visible in the European climate record ? Just playing with MERRA for the last 40 years seems to indicate there is something there (but not nearly as clear as the worldwide signal.) In this context, duration of hot events is important also, as point 4) on pg 13 of the report says:

    “Some recent changes in the pattern of weather extremes have been considerable: in some parts of Europe, observed trends to more and longer heat waves and fewer extremely cold days and nights have been observed. Since the 1960s, the mean heat wave intensity, length and number across the Eastern Mediterranean region have increased by a factor of five or more. These findings suggest that the heat wave characteristics in this region have increased at higher rates than previously reported (Kuglitsch et al., 2010). ”

    Lastly: motivations of insurance companies and their integrity, or lack thereof, are red herrings that distract from the discussion. But perhaps that was the intent.


  38. 88
    Dan H. says:

    Perhaps we should glean the information from the report itself. Stating in the introduction is that “In Europe the increase in losses from extreme weather events has been about 60% since the 1980s.” This has occurred mostly in the U.K and west-central Europe, with other regions being lower. Of these, “75% are from storms and floods,” however, “in Europe, a ubiquitous increase in observed records of annual flood maxima is not evident.” Instead, “non-climatic factors such as human settlement have increased flood-risk.” The report concludes that, “damage from floods has increased in the past, but evidence linking this to changes in physical conditions is weak, partly because of a lack of data and partly because of the role of past flood-risk management. It seems that there has been a measure of adaptation but that vulnerability has increased economic losses because there is now more and higher value stock at risk.”

    There appears to be no clear-cut trend in extreme wind storms. Regarding droughts, “observations show inconsistent trends over Europe in recent decades.”

    Reagarding droughts, the reports states, “Analysis of the available data suggests that, although increasing summer dryness has been observed in Central and Southern Europe since the 1950s, no consistent trends can be seen over the rest of Europe.”

    From an insurance standpoint, “the increase in loss-relevant natural extreme events in Europe has been only moderate.” The reportrs does state that climate models predict an increase in some of these extreme events, so that Jack’s statement concerning fear has some basis.

  39. 89
    Ray Ladbury says:

    I think this discussion is moving too far afield from the topic of the post. I will reply on the Unforced Variations thread.

  40. 90
    Hank Roberts says:

    Manny, “climate orthodoxy” is a buzzword from the PR side.
    Do you think it has some meaning?

  41. 91

    There are quite a few affects that a warming climate will have on storms. It can’t not affect them can it. The profile is changed. Anecdotally it seems to me that powerful storms are spinning up much quicker.

    They are also happening earlier and later. Their tracts are also changing. They are starting and traversing over wider regions due to a greater spread of warmer surface temperatures. Are they lasting longer? Seems that way. Both these means they are combining with other weather phenomena more often like what happened with Sandy.

    Higher sea levels are having an impact on bigger storm surges. Their intensity certainly seems to be getting more or peaking higher at certain times.

    Precipitation for less intense storms is going through the roof. Thus making those quite devastating on a region. Not only for humans but for wild life etc.

    The frequency of more powerful storms seems to me to be increasing. See also this…

    So there are all these things and a few more which are happening due to global warming.

    We need to have a central reference repository that meteorologist and climate scientist can use as a base line when talking about storms and global warming. There is still too much confusion when this topic is presented to the public unfortunately.