Get ready for more weather disasters, climate panel says


This article appeared on page 11A in the local corporate press (Detroit Free Press) a few months ago.   Though we are beginning to see many more references to “global warming” and “climate change,” the subject is not getting the same kind of attention as, for example, the calamitous shootings in Colorado, or the pedophile scandal at Penn State University.  So it doesn’t hurt to post this article even now, in the hopes that more and more people get the message.  Weather reporters across the US refuse to consider the connection between the extreme weather that crowds their reports, and the underlying weather volatility resulting from the warming of the planet.  The more we make the connection, the more they will be forced to as well.  

WASHINGTON — Global warming is leading to such severe storms, droughts and heat waves that nations should prepare for an unprecedented onslaught of weather disasters, an international panel of climate scientists says in a report issued Wednesday. The greatest danger from extreme weather is in highly populated, poor regions of the world, the report warns, but no corner of the globe — from Mumbai, India, to Miami — is immune. The document by a Nobel Prize-winning panel of climate scientists forecasts stronger tropical cyclones and more frequent heat waves, deluges and droughts.

The 594-page report blames the scale of recent and future disasters on a combination of man-made climate change, population shifts and poverty.In the past, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, founded in 1988 by the United Nations, has focused on rising temperatures and oceans. This report by the panel is the first to look at extreme weather changes.“We mostly experience weather and climate through the extreme,” Stanford University climate scientist Chris Field said Wednesday. He is one of the report’s top editors. The scientists say that some places, particularly parts of Mumbai could become uninhabitable from floods, storms and rising seas. Other cities at lesser risk include Miami; Shanghai, China; Guangzhou, China; Bangkok, Thailand; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Yangon (formerly Rangoon), Myanmar, and Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India. The report — the summary of which was issued in November – is unique because it emphasizes managing risks and taking precautions, Field said.The study forecasts that some tropical cyclones, including hurricanes, will be stronger because of global warming, but the number of storms should not increase and may drop slightly. The scientists also predicted more heat waves worldwide and increased downpours in Alaska, Canada, north and central Europe, east Africa and north Asia. Study coauthor David Easterling of the National Climatic Data Center said this month’s U.S. heat wave fits the pattern of worsening extremes.

Seth Borenstein
Associated Press – March 29, 2012