Disaster Signal

February 3, 2010

Here’s Roger at the BBC table defending his research on a climate signal in the disaster data. Need background? Yulsman gives us the full skinny.

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  1. “professionally damaging”: Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. Roger’s entire career has been oriented toward getting him appearances like this one.

    I didn’t see this post until after I provided the Leakegate link on another thread, so here it is again.

  2. There are two unspoken issues here and Roger is very careful not to speak them.

    First, much as with the global warming signal in the 1990s, the signal is just emerging from the noise, but there are good theoretical reasons to believe that the signal will emerge. Current best thinking is that there will be fewer tropical cyclones, but among the fewer, more will become damagingly intense. Since damage increases much more than linearly with wind speed, the net will be more damage.

    The second is that Roger never deals with the costs of adaptation to increasing flooding/storm damage. This includes all sorts of flood contral and is quite expensive on an annual basis. If this is taken into account then the balance of costs would shift away from Roger’s preferred position

    The third is that to show that costs are not increasing, even within Roger’s restricted view, you have to eliminate the Katrina year 2005. Now true, this is like including 1998 for global temperatures, but, like 1998, you have to acknowledge that although it was exceptional, it was exceptional from an elevated base. Since Roger has played the baseline game including 1998 in the temperature record, why does he get to wash out 2005 from hurricane damage

  3. Eli lies. Wow. I just read a couple of Pielke’s hurricane and flood papers and, lo and behold, there is Katrina. There also is a discussion of adaptation. Why does Eli lie so?

  4. You can’t spell Eli without LIE:


  5. Well, let’s see.

    Point 1. Where does Prof. Pielke deal with the high probability that there will most likely be more damage from tropical cyclones in the future according to our best models. Link please

    Point 2. where does Prof. Pielke deal with the past costs of adaptation to increasing flooding/storm damage. Pielke goes on and on about how wonderful adaptation is, but he never applies the costs of adaptation in the past (say the last 25 or 50 years) to his estimates of the costs of tropical cyclone damage.

    and finally

    Point 3. This statement DID NOT SAY THAT PIELKE does not acknowledge Katrina, merely that he does not consider it in stating that there has been no significant increase in costs from tropical cyclone damage. That may be completely justified.

    2005 was exceptional, with Katrina and Ike especially. IF you include 2005, there IS a statistically significant trend if you exclude it, there is not. To quote from Muir-Wood

    “We have attempted to survey losses from 1950 to 2005 although data availability means that for many regions even for the largest events the record is incomplete before the 1970s. After 1970 when
    the global record becomes more comprehensive we find evidence of an annual upward trend for normalized losses of 2% per year) that corresponds with a period of rising global temperatures. However over this same period, in some regions, including Australia, India and the Philippines normalized losses have declined. The significance of the trend in global normalized losses is dominated by the affect of the 2004 and 2005 Atlantic hurricane seasons as well as by the
    bias in US wealth relative to other developing regions.”

    In short, economic losses may not be a very good metric.

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