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The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change Paperback – November 1, 2014
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Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, the conviction that climate change is already increasing weather-related natural disaster losses is strengthening. In Disasters and Climate Change, Roger Pielke, Jr. lays out the evidence with his usual cogency and invites readers to come to their own conclusions. A valuable and timely contribution. --Prof. John McAneney, Managing Director, Risk Frontiers, Macquarie University
While Roger Pielke, Jr. and I hold quite different views on the policy implications of climate change, we are in agreement that the public is not well served by the politicization of climate science or by excessive emphasis on the role of global warming as a contributor to today's weather disasters. I found his short volume on these topics to be highly informative, engaging, and thought provoking. --Prof. John Michael Wallace, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington
Roger Pielke, Jr.'s book shines a welcome beacon of light on the science of climate change and extreme weather events. Whilst underlining the importance of human-caused climate change, he argues forcibly, in agreement with the IPCC, that such changes in climate cannot be seen as increasing the intensity and frequency of hydro-meteorological disasters, and thus damage related to extreme events. A thought-provoking read! --Dr. Peter J. Webster, President, Atmospheric Section: American Geophysical Union and Professor, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology
About the Author
Roger Pielke, Jr. has been on the faculty of the University of Colorado since 2001 and is a Professor in the Environmental Studies Program and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). At CIRES, Roger served as the Director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research from 2001-2007. Roger's research focuses on the intersection of science and technology and decision making. In 2006 Roger received the Eduard Brückner Prize in Munich, Germany for outstanding achievement in interdisciplinary climate research. Before joining the University of Colorado, from 1993-2001 Roger was a Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Roger is a Senior Fellow of the Breakthrough Institute. He is also author, co-author or co-editor of seven books, including The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics, published by Cambridge University Press in 2007. His most recent book is The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won't Tell you About Global Warming (Basic Books, 2010).
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Pielke Jnr is an expert on the use of science in politics and on disasters and climate change. He's been involved with the IPCC in a number of their reports. He also says something that many climate activists do not want to hear, which is the IPCC view that extreme weather costs have not increased due to climate change. Costs have gone up due to more people living by coastlines and increasing value of housing, but as, the IPCC Special Report on Extreme Weather states:
Long-term trends in economic disaster losses adjusted for wealth and population increases have not been attributed to climate change, but a role for climate has not been excluded.
While climate change may, in future, lead to a signal in extreme weather events at this point according to the consensus it has not. This point is something that is made in more detail in the book.
Pielke Jnr goes into detail about how writing about this point led to political pressure being applied to stop him writing for the statistically inclined 538 website. He also says how climate scientists have told him not to make this point because it isn't helpful even if it is true.
The book also extends into points about the Kaya Identity and the failure of 20 years of climate activism to reduce C02 emissions. He describes the immense challenge of decarbonizing the economy and the requirement that to meet targets for 2050 the world would require one nuclear power station per day or equivalent. The points made in this section are those made by the Breakthrough Institute.
It's an excellent, short, crisp book on climate change that describes the consensus science and provides extensive examples of what is said on this aspect of climate change.
Pierce is writing this book to correct a misconception- one that has gone round the world whilst the truth is getting it boots on.
The specific question he asks is, "Have disasters become more costly because of human-caused climate change?" He describes the information and dat he uses to answer this question. He uses data on weather events and records of insurance company payments and uses them to see if the patterns match or not. His conclusion is that,
"All we can say is that the record of disaster losses is fully explainable by changes in society. There is at present no evidence that human caused climate change is responsible for any part of the global increase in disaster costs. We cannot say there is no such influence.
But as I have explained on many occasions, from a practical standpoint a signal that may exist, but which cannot be detected, is indistinguishable from a signal that does not exist...
Science is concerned with evidence, not with supporting pre-existing beliefs."
The main meat of the book provides plenty of evidence from many recorded and referenced sources to support its negative answer to its main question.
This is a good book showing well how to use scientific evidence to answer a well defined question. He also rightly warns against, "But efforts to intensify public opinion through apocalyptic visions of weather-gone-wild or appeals to scientific authority, instead of motivating further support for action, have instead led to a loss of trust in campaigning scientists."
He concludes, "But the false link between disasters and climate change also distracts us from the many politically pragmatic and economically sensible justifications for accelerating the transition to clean cheap energy."
This book brings a clear scientific eye to a large amount of evidence and shows us how it looks, and where we should be looking for answers that might help people. The noise elsewhere is a distraction from clear thought. We owe Roger Pielke a debt of gratitude for taking the risk to provide us with this clear account.
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caused global warming - a given in the book - is causing an increase in natural...Read more