Scientists finally attribute extreme weather to man-made climate change

The usual refrain that ‘you cannot attribute any single weather event to global warming’ is increasingly becoming unsustainable. It was predicted, that the effects of climate change would be observable in more extreme weather events such as killer heatwaves, devastating forest fires and destructive flooding.  In fact, the only unpredicted aspect of these changes is that they seem to be occurring more quickly and with greater intensity than anticipated by climate scientists.

Using models to simulate climate with and without greenhouse-gas emissions, climate scientists have been able to attribute recent examples of extreme weather to the effects of human activity on the planet’s climate systems for the first time, marking a major step forward in climate research.

The findings make it much more likely that we will soon – within the next few years – be able to discern whether the extremely wet and cold summer and spring so far experienced in the UK this year are attributable to human causes rather than luck, according to the researchers.

Last year’s record warm November in the UK – the second hottest since records began in 1659 – was at least 60 times more likely to happen because of climate change than owing to natural variations in the earth’s weather systems, according to the peer-reviewed studies by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US, and the Met Office in the UK. The devastating heatwave that blighted farmers in Texas in the US last year, destroying crop yields in another record “extreme weather event”, was about 20 times more likely to have happened owing to climate change than to natural variation….

NASA’s Jim Hansen at TED 1of2 Why We MUST SPEAK OUT on Climate Change

NASA’s Jim Hansen at TED 2of2 Why We MUST SPEAK OUT on Climate Change

In the US, 100 million people in 17 states have now had to be warned about the dangers of one of most intense heatwaves of the last century….with temperatures well over 100F (38C )… More than 40,000 temperature records have already been set in the US this year and freak storms, record rainfall and giant forest fires have left millions suffering….

May was the second warmest ever recorded worldwide and the warmest on record for the northern hemisphere…. Arctic sea ice melting at a record pace, the Amazon reaching its highest level on record, massive forest fires in Siberia and the Russian east, temperatures climbing to a barely imaginable 48C in northern India, and an abnormally strong monsoon which has so far left many hundreds dead and nearly 7 million people homeless from floods in Assam and southern Bangladesh.

There’s always been freak weather, but climatologists increasingly think these events are becoming less unusual. Instead of taking place every 10 or 20 years, they are happening every two or three. This, they are beginning to say, is the new normal, a taste of the future as the planet warms.

…  more droughts, sudden downpours, more widespread wildfires, volatile heat, violent storms and more frequent heatwaves – are all here now. This, say the scientists with increasing conviction, is what the early stages of global warming looks like.

So how much more extreme weather does it take for governments and individuals to act, or for the oil companies to withdraw from the Arctic, or the media to link global warming with the events now being witnessed around the world?

Unless the climate of opinion changes, the present economic storms may seem as nothing.

7 thoughts on “Scientists finally attribute extreme weather to man-made climate change

  1. The real problem that is that we require such massive changes to the way we organise things and culture in general, that politicians haven’t got the balls nor the imagination to do what is required.

    Modern politicians now only think “Can we tax it?” or “Can we turn it into a business?”, neither of which actually addresses the problem or a leads to a solution, but if it doesn’t fit into those categories they are stumped. Out political system doesn’t reward clear thinkers or problem solvers any more. There are no visionaries politicians. Few even understand science. Our political system is a failure. Can you even imagine, any agreeing and planning something massive infrastructure changes such as the Victorian sewers these days? I can’t see any that could get anything working.

    Do you think that if they cannot seriously even approach monetary reform since 2008 that they have a clue about making meaningful changes. Just business as usual, except this one is not even a business problem!


  2. I still think that this tax idea, although a bit different in that the government doesn’t get to waste it, is equally naive. Economists as we have seen are not particularly good at guiding advice.

    Without also changing the amount of resources aimed at convincing people to buy crap (incentives too), people will probably just spend the extra income on more crap. People’s brains are exploited by advertising, dodgy PR and newspaper. What do we do? Reform media and advertising so we end up with a more rational population. Companies will fight that tooth and nail. Again requires politicians with vision and balls which we don’t have.


    • I am equally rather dubious about the ‘simple solution’ of the tax on fossil fuels. I am certain that ‘green capitalism’ simply cannot produce the changes that are required quickly enough, and is a very back to front way of doing it. Expecting the big six energy producers, to reduce energy consumption and increase renewables, when their first duty is to maximise profits for their shareholders, reminds me of voting, Christmas and turkeys.

      In fact, the economy needs job creation and the stimulus of government spending. This could easily provide for the necessary ‘powering down’ of energy consumption. For example with a mass insulation programme, retrofitting of the existing housing stock and the building of sustainable new housing. This plus investment in renewables and microgeneration of clean energy, would cut greenhouse emissions, cut unemployment, create apprenticeships, new manufacturing .. and cut household and industrial bills. The UK has many renewable resources and could be a net exporter of energy. But that would take profits and political power away from the energy producers which they and the financial sector are unwilling to do. We need to have democratic control over energy production and remove the distortion of profits as the primary motivation.


      • When people talk about corruption they usually think of rogue actors. A system can be corrupt in itself though even when most people play the rules and try to ‘do the right thing’. A corrupt file system on a hard drive for instance isn’t anything wrong with the drive or the computer program trying to read it. When the program follows the existing rules the result is garbage.

        That is the situation we have – a corrupt system because it is simply poor design. It will produce a bad result when we continue to follow the rules.

        The monetary system is the same. It would produce a bad result if without any rogue traders at all. It is systemic. Considering the monetary system is what is supposed to take us through this ‘transformation’ there is little hope without that redesigning that first.

        Its like we are watching a slow motion car crash or explosion and hoping it will be alright. Politics is the side show.


  3. The first simple, cheap and practical improvement to the political system is to add an extra box to the ballot form that says ‘none of the above/no confidence’. Politics would become more responsive very quickly. There is currently not even a way to measure that. #baddesign



    The idea that the weather is driven by C02 is complete bollocks, astrophysicist Peirs Corbyn has amply proved that the global weather is driven by the complex interaction between the magnetic fields of the earth and moon and their effect on varying radiation from the sun. He has accurately predicted the extreme weather we have had in the UK recently, likewise for the US just using a lap top computer !


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