Disasters and Climate Change

The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change (2014) by Roger Pielke Jnr provides an excellent overview of the scientific consensus on extreme weather events and climate change. It also provides an interesting examination of what happens when you put forward the majority view in an area where the science is contested.

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.

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