Understanding Climate Risk

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Archive for the ‘Risk’ Category

Frontiers retraction controversy

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The following is a long post, but on an important issue.

Frontiers is an open source science publisher based in Switzerland. Their aim is to provide an open access, open science platform that empowers researchers in their daily work and where everybody has equal opportunity to seek, share and generate knowledge. They have started up a whole host of “Frontiers in” journals covering a wide range of subjects. They have also been linked with the Nature publishing group who is interested in the open access model Frontiers is developing.

So I jumped at the opportunity to be an associate editor of the newly established area of Interdisciplinary Climate Studies. The Editor in Chief is the Swiss climatologist, Professor Martin Beniston. An associate editor invites a panel of reviewers who review a collection of articles each year. The associate editor establishes their interdisciplinary area with a “challenges” paper to set the ball rolling. Their task is to encourage researchers to submit innovative papers exploring the frontiers of knowledge. Read the rest of this entry »

McLean follow up

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Elaine McKewon book-ended my letter to the editors of Fairfax papers The Age and Sydney Morning Herald regarding the publishing of John McLean’s error-ridden piece on the IPCC (the editors, by the way, have not responded) with a terrific take down of McLean in Crikey.

She questioned McLean’s byline on the original article, to whit:

John McLean is the author of three peer-reviewed papers on climate and an expert reviewer for the latest IPCC report. He is also a climate data analyst and a member of the International Climate Science Coalition.”

asking “But is that accurate? Who is John McLean? What qualifications entitle him to speak as an expert on climate science? What is the ICSC, and which groups, interests and agendas do McLean and the ICSC represent? What exactly does it mean to be an “expert reviewer” of IPCC reports?”

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Backburning

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Lucy J Evans – ‘I might explain myself a little further. My family home is in the fire affected area and my parents are currently awaiting bad winds on Wednesday which could possibly blow embers into their property, even though the fire has already burned its way completely around them. My dad was a member of the RFS for 18 years and I have grown up with a deep respect for fire and all men and women who risk their lives. I’ve experienced first hand what it is like to leave your home, not knowing if you’ll return again. I’ve also witnessed the tremendous work they do whether it be back burning or trying to contain a fire front. Tony Abbott rolled on into Bilpin, sat around and ate, got some happy snaps (despite this being a terribly sad situation), watched some people complete a back burn operation, drove a fire truck, got his moment of glory and then left. Not only is it completely irresponsible of him to put himself at risk (seen as though he somehow managed to get the top job), he also managed to exploit this situation to the tenth degree.’

This came from a tweet and unfortunately the link did not take and I no longer have it, but the original source was Facebook.

Meanwhile, the PM has been doing more backburning – this time on twenty-five years of research: Graham Readfearn at The Guardian (updated Oct 23, 2:30 pm EAST)

Written by Roger Jones

October 22, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Posted in Australia, Fires, Politics, Risk

Tagged with ,

Fire and climate change: don’t expect a smooth ride

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By Roger Jones, Victoria University (reproduced from The Conversation)

With fires still burning across New South Wales, it’s time to have a look at the role climate change might have played. Are the conditions we’re seeing natural variation, or part of a long term trend?

In fact, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

Has bushfire risk increased due to climate change?

In research I did with colleagues earlier this year we looked at the Fire Danger Index calculated by the Bureau of Meteorology, and compared how it changed compared to temperature over time in Victoria.

South-east Australia saw a temperature change of about 0.8C when we compared temperatures before 1996 and after 1997. We know that it got drier after 1997 too.

We then compared this data to the Forest Fire Danger Index, to see if it showed the same pattern. We analysed fire data from nine stations in Victoria and did a non-linear analysis.

We found that fire danger in Victoria increased by over a third after 1996, compared to 1972-1996. The current level of fire danger is equivalent to the worst case projected for 2050, from an earlier analysis for the Climate Institute.

While it’s impossible to say categorically that the situation is the same in NSW, we know that these changes are generally applicable across south-east Australia. So it’s likely to be a similar case: fire and climate change are linked. Read the rest of this entry »

Bolt vs Bandt – pants on fire

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Adam Bandt published an op-ed in The Guardian on October 16 linking Tony Abbot’s repudiation of the carbon price to increased climate risks for Australian’s then tweeted it with a link to the current fires in NSW. Andrew Bolt had to tell us how morally bankrupt Bandt is in the HeraldSun today. He cited me:

“Nothing in the records shows ­global warming has made bushfires bigger or deadlier in NSW – or ­globally. The US is recording its quietest fire season a decade.

The most telling point against Bandt’s alarmism, of course, is that global temperatures have barely changed for 15 years. Indeed, Canberra last week recorded its coldest October night in history. Like Sydney’s hot spell, it’s called weather, Adam, not climate change.

So Bandt is wrong about the cause of the fire and wrong to pretend these fires are worse. He’s wrong to imply global temperatures have been steadily rising, and wrong to claim Abbott could make the slightest difference.

Just ask Professor Roger Jones, an author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which estimates that even if Abbott kept Labor’s carbon tax policies, Australia would at best cut temperatures by an imperceptible 0.0038 degrees by 2100.

So Bandt is wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong. And a hypocrite as well as a vulture. Oh, and a disgrace.”

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Written by Roger Jones

October 21, 2013 at 5:13 pm

ConspiracyGate!! Researchers collaborate and email each other – Oh noes

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Apparently  those with access to the purloined emails from CRU have built a database of all the researchers mentioned in those emails and it is posted on a site that purports to show the real story behind the ‘few’ activists who are dictating the whole climate-is-changing fiasco. They are also developing exposés into the science of the IPCC to show how shonky it is. Can’t wait. Meantime, the real IPCC is scheduled to release its Fifth Assessment Report Science of Climate Change Summary for Policymakers on September 27.

Of course, the first thing one does with these sites is to see what it says about moi. So I looked myself up, and lo and behold, I am a conspirator of considerable conspiratocracy, appearing twice:

Jones RN
Jones Roger

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Roger Jones

September 11, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Isn’t stalking illegal?

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But I digress. Kevin Rudd has risen twice, breaking the souffle effect and reinforcing the glass ceiling. Graham Readfearn has a great post on The Grauniad environmental blog: Can Kevin Rudd protect Australia’s climate change credibility?

Given that Greg Combet has resigned, Australia has no climate change minister at present. And what about policy? Let’s see how the government manages (perhaps in its last few days) to manage the “great moral, environmental and economic challenge of our age.”

Written by Roger Jones

June 27, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Climate Vulnerability Monitor 2012

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The Climate Vulnerability Monitor 2nd Edition, released today, reveals that climate change has already held back global development and inaction is a leading global cause of death. Harm is most acute for poor and vulnerable groups but no country is spared either the costs of inaction or the benefits of an alternative path.

Key findings include estimates that carbon-intensive economies and associated climate change are responsible for five million deaths a year, 90 per cent of them related to air pollution, according to an Agence France-Presse report.

“Failure to act on climate change already costs the world economy 1.6 per cent of global GDP amounting to $US1.2 trillion ($A1.16 trillion) in forgone prosperity a year,” said the report, produced by the DARA research centre and released at the Asia Society in New York.

In addition, “rapidly escalating temperatures and carbon-related pollution will double costs to 3.2 per cent of world GDP by 2030.”

According to the report, “unprecedented harm” is being inflicted on humanity.

However, tackling climate change’s causes would bring “significant economic benefits for world, major economies and poor nations alike,” the report said.

The report was published by DARA, and compiled by the World Vulnerability Forum. 45 Mb download of the entire report is here and the page where parts of the report can be downloaded is here - data can be downloaded as well.

It contains complex information and graphics, so is not easy to decipher. Hopefully, I’ll have time to digest the main points and summarise them here. Hat-tip Rob Gell.

Wicked, epic fail problem

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Two strategies used in problem solving are reframing and rebadging. A problem can often be reframed or looked at in a different way. Any parent who uses reverse psychology to turn a chore into a game knows that one – Tom Sawyer getting his friends to whitewash the fence for fun is a classic example.

Expert and operating languages around a problem-solution sequence has one or more specific grammars. These terms become the labels for a particular narrative that contains a problem, a process and an outcome. So when Paul Harris, Deputy Director of the HC Coombs Policy Forum at the ANU has a go at wicked problems (Rittel and Webber, 1973) for being, well, wicked – is he rebadging, reframing or is a he just erecting a straw man and flaying it to bits in an attempt to change a prevailing narrative?

straw man THE STRAWMAN ILLUSION

Harris’ complaint is about wicked problems. They are everywhere and their number is constantly growing: Read the rest of this entry »

Food Security and Climate Change

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An excellent briefing from Paul Rogers of the Oxford Research Group on food security and climate change is updating the current global  situation with respect to recent climate events (Hat tip to Jamie Doughney). I’ll reproduce it below after making a few comments.

Most of the briefing concentrates on the conditions of the 1974 food crisis to add a historical perspective. Globally, the US and North America is in the second year of drought, looking at greatly reduced maize production and other other crops. The southwest Indian monsoon is somewhat late and currently at 17% below the 50-year average after a poor year last year. The Horn of Africa is in a delicate recovery stage after last year’s disaster, and efforts to build resilience in the region are ongoing. A recent report from scientists at the UK’s Met Office and the USA’s National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that the number of below average rainy seasons in East Africa could have been attributable to warming in the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans.

Rogers states that economic growth has been patchy, so that the proportion of people under food stress has not changed greatly since the 1970s. This time around though, he nominates climate change as making a significant contribution to that stress. I agree. One part of that is the asymmetric impact of warming on land affecting drier regions. This is pretty well known. The other is that he suggests climate change is accelerating:

The loss of Arctic sea in recent summers has exceeded forecasts using climate modelling and some recent events have been startling in their intensity, including the extent of the thawing of surface layers of the Greenland ice cap during the early part of July.

This is because climate change is strongly non-linear, and there is increasing evidence that the world, or at least much of the  northern hemisphere, is in a warming episode similar to that experienced in 1997-98. The idea that extremes should change gradually on a smoothly changing mean climate is seriously wrong, and if the world continues to adapt based on that assumption, millions of people will continue to be at risk through insufficient adaptation efforts.

I’m champing at the bit to get back to this research because I use different methods to those of mainstream climate science (but also have a truckload of other work to do). However, both lines of research are pointing to a strong climate change signal in recent extreme events, thereby increasing scientific confidence in its conclusions.

Rogers’ briefing is reproduced below.

Read the rest of this entry »

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