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Climate change and Australia's weather on steroids


'Weather On Steroids' by Chris Johnston

On ABC Radio National's Summer Breakfast, John Doyle interviewed Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who was attending the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. Carr said that what struck him most at Davos was the consensus about global warming, with even Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund saying it is 'the biggest economic problem for this century'.

'The time we've wasted in Australia accommodating climate change denial is quite striking and contrary to the way the rest of the world is veering on this issue,' said Carr. He added that 'The Economist magazine referred to climate change as "mankind's craziest experiment" saying that the world will face "a crippling financial burden" as we adjust to something we have "inflicted on ourselves via a colossal addiction to fossil fuels".'

Coming from Australia where climate change denial 'fills the air' he found it significant that world leaders see climate change as the world's most important concern 'even above the slow world economy'.

Doyle challenged him with the fact that we're the world's largest coal exporter. Seamlessly changing tack and now sounding more like Resources Minister Martin Fergusson, Carr said Australia is 'pricing carbon' and is leading a global push for 'a comprehensive network of agreements' on global warming.

Carr is too intelligent not to see the monumental inconsistency in government policy between exporting coal, a massive polluter when burned, and calls for action on global warming. But he is right that we have indulged 'denialism'. Perhaps it is because, as T. S. Eliot says in 'Burnt Norton', we 'cannot bear too much reality'.

While sceptics have said little about recent heatwaves in Australia, January's heavy snow storms in North America, Europe and even in Jerusalem have them in a lather denouncing the global warming scientific consensus and claiming that cold winters prove climate change theories are wrong, but ignoring the fact that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the US.

They claim it is all part of a natural variation in weather patterns and cite differences between the medieval warm period (MWP) and the little ice age (LIA).

What this argument misses is that climate change is all about averages. Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe says 'Climate is the average condition, weather is what we get.' And the overwhelming evidence is that the average global temperature is rising.

In Australia each decade since 1910 has been warmer than the last decade, and most of that warming has occurred since 1970. Australian daily average temperatures have increased by 0.9°c and overnight temperatures by 1.1°c since 1910. The US average temperature has risen 2° over the last 50 years.

In the middle of the early-January heat wave one commentator said Australian weather seemed to be 'on steroids'. We see this in the increasing number of extreme weather events that are occurring globally. The snowstorms and blizzards of the northern hemisphere and heat waves of Australia as well as floods in Queensland are all symptoms of long-term climate change with the planet warming.

On the question of weather over the last 1000 or more years, sceptics claim we are now simply in another warming period like the MWP. The MWP lasted from about 750 to after 1200, followed by the LIA which lasted from the mid-14th to the early-19th century.

Scientific evidence indicates that from about 800 to 900 the Northern Hemisphere experienced the warmest period in the last 2000 years, with the exception of 1990 to 2012. This was followed by a slight cooling between 900 and 950, which was succeeded by a general warming until about 1100. Temperatures then slowly fell toward the advent of the LIA in about 1400.

Weather is never constant and the period 750–950 also saw at least eight incidents of extremely severe winters. The average increase in temperature in the MWP was not much more than 0.2° to 0.3°c whereas we're facing an increase of 1°c over the last 100 years.

It's good to know that at least one federal minister actually understands these issues even if he's not going to do anything about coal exports. 

Paul CollinsAuthor and historian Paul Collins is a former specialist editor — religion for the ABC. His most recent book is Burn: The Epic Story of Bushfire in Australia

Topic tags: Paul Collins, climate change, global warming, carbon gas emissions



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Existing comments

"The snowstorms and blizzards of the northern hemisphere and heat waves of Australia as well as floods in Queensland are all symptoms of long-term climate change with the planet warming." Paul, can you provide peer-reviewed, academic references for these assertions? I seem to remember studies that ruled out anthropogenic global warming concerning the previous devastating Queensland floods, for example.

HH | 01 February 2013  

There is no inconsistancy. If Australia doesn't export coal on principle it will just be sourced from some where else having no real term impact. Just give us a warm and fuzzy, make us poorer & make it harder to fund adaptions & R&D. Price Carbon & slow production as world demand drops. Why shut down one of the most efficient producers in the world, with high grade ore, for it to be sourced from further a field and lower quality. There is no inconsistancy in the Government position its a fallacy, born of wealthy Green idealism, with no concern for the poor, that rely on Government welfare payments that are under pinned by Coal royalties

Darrin Gray | 03 February 2013  

http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2010/s2886369.htm John Clarke is clever about the semantics and Paul Collins is easy going about the political history, but it is the 26th Prime Minister of Australia who said that climate change was "the greatest moral, economic and environmental challenge of our generation". One of the most unsatisfactory things about this debate is that Australia, far from being backward and in denial, has had leaders at the forefront of the international debate. It is the silencing of those voices that is a big part of the scandal. Australians pride themselves on being pragmatic, and it is that pragmatism that the denialists want to stomp on. I sometimes have my doubts about the fabled pragmatism of Australians, when I witness the refusal of many of them to see common scientific sense about climate change.

PHILIP HARVEY | 03 February 2013  

HH01 Feb 2013 wrote: "Paul, can you provide peer-reviewed, academic references for these assertions? I seem to remember studies that ruled out anthropogenic global warming..." - is that a peer reviwed seeming to remember?

Simon Crase | 04 February 2013  

If an intelligent man with both insight and the power to implement change in policy is unprepared to do so for the benefit of us all then what hope should we ever have in the political process.

graham patison | 04 February 2013  

I suspect, in this election year, the majority of voters will not be focussing on 'the environment' as the no. 1 issue facing our country. The LNP, leading comfortably in the polls, are intent on scrapping the carbon tax and mining tax and presenting us with a 'stronger' economy. Labor may regard their primary goal as being to stem the flow of blood from wounds inflicted by the Coalition. (I very much hope this is not the case). The Greens, who actually regard the environment as important, are viewed as leftist loonies by a largish section of the voting public. All very demoralising for tree-huggers!

Pam | 04 February 2013  

Careful. Trying to find other means to give mankind its ever increasing need for energy is one thing. A "good" thing. Claiming that our carbondioxid is causing climate change or not is another thing, It took 20000 years or so for Tasmania to be separated from the mainland as the very first wave of aboriginals found out. The sea rose some 400 meters over that period without any anthropomorphic carbondoioxide to blame. Keep studying of course, but please don't jump to quickly to conclusions, Check e.g the Dutch deltqcommission studies e.g.

Theo Verbeek | 04 February 2013  

We seem to be incapble of mamking changes on a community evel let alone a global level of the magnitude needed to slow the process. The patterns we are now experienecing were being being talk about when I was working in the envirnoment movement in the 60's. What we have to be 'moral' about is picking up the pieces when people have to move somehwere elese because their homes are flooded or it is no longer viable for them to stay where they have lived for centuries. We seem to be increasingly reluctant to help there. A big price to pay for 'car love' and air conditioners.

jorie ryan | 04 February 2013  

Great article! Please put this on the front of the Telegraph, Age, The Australian, SMH & especially all those business papers such as Fortune & Wall Street Journal

Mary O'Byrne | 04 February 2013  

Bob Carr is also the ONLY ALP politician to speak out about the foolishness and waste Gillard engages in with her unending support for Christian evangelists to enter state schools under the auspices of the school chaplaincy scam. But here too he has gone strangely quiet now he is in the Senate. Graham Pattison's comment here, in referece to Carr going quiet on global warming, applies to Carr going silent on the waste-with-chaplains too. It seems that merely being a politician allows people to stop sounding the least bit credible - just look at Peter Garrett.

janice wallace | 04 February 2013  

it is not only tree huggers who despair about the continued march of coal mines and coal seam gas drills across this land. It is also those who want to have food to stay alive, fresh, good food grown not too many hundreds of miles away from home! We can all look forward to living on a hot, excavated land, whatever the weather.

Janet | 04 February 2013  

@HH wants peer-reviewed studies. For a start, read this lot, then read the references contained in each paper. Westra et al. Global increasing trends in annual maximum daily precipitation. Journal of Climate, 2012; : 121214093302009 DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00502.1 O’Gorman. Sensitivity of tropical precipitation extremes to climate change. Nature Geoscience, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1568 O’Gorman. Understanding the varied response of the extratropical storm tracks to climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1011547107 Turner & Annamalai. Climate change and the South Asian summer monsoon. Nature Climate Change, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1495 Schindler et al. Changes in the annual cycle of heavy precipitation across the British Isles within the 21st century. Environmental Research Letters, 2012; 7 (4): 044029 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/044029 Norton et al. Projecting changes in future heavy rainfall events for Oahu, Hawaii: A statistical downscaling approach. Journal of Geophysical Research, 2011; 116 (D17) DOI: 10.1029/2011JD015641 Coumou & Rahmstorf. A decade of weather extremes. Nature Climate Change, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1452 I look forward to HH reporting back to us on what he/she has learnt.

David Arthur | 04 February 2013  

@Darrin Gray, who notes that: "If Australia doesn't export coal on principle it will just be sourced from some where else having no real term impact." 1. As these other cheaper, nastier coal suppliers come on line, Australia's coal customers will start purchasing the cheapest coal available. Australia will be a price-taker, not a price-setter - so Australian environmental and labour standards will be driven down to lowest common denominator status. That's export income that we can do without. 2. Not only that, but Australia's coal customers are going to wean themselves off coal sooner rather than later. In other words, Australia's economy needs to start adapting to NO coal export income, sooner rather than later.

David Arthur | 04 February 2013  

Thanks Paul, and Thanks David Arthur. It seems to me that the climate change deniers look at one report which favours the view of the deniers and neglect the majority of peer reviewed reports which paint the alarming picture of global warming due to our own efforts

Tony Santospirito | 04 February 2013  

This tedious language of 'tree huggers' and all the rest of it. We are talking about the future of the species and the planet and the best people can come up with is 'tree huggers'. Wake up!

PHILIP HARVEY | 04 February 2013  

Well said, Paul. Unless Tony Abbott recants his dangerous position on the carbon tax, no responsible well-informed Australian could consider voting Coalition in September - whatever Labor's failings in other areas, they now have climate policy about right. And this matters.

tony kevin | 04 February 2013  

Many thanks Paul for this timely article. It is very helpful to have the numbers you provided. Regarding the Little Ice Age Ruddiman (find him on google) in the journal Climate Change published a landmark paper showing that the human population of the planet was almost halved over two centuries from 1350 (when Black Death reached Europe). Large areas of agricultural land all over the planet were naturally reforested and the CO2 level in the atmosphere fell significantly. The link between the size of the human population, addicted to carbon energy, and global warming is confirmed by this work. As we grieve for the loss of all the benefits of carbon use, from travel locally and around the planet if we can afford it, to trade and transport of everything, to adjusting the comfort of our homes and workplaces, it is indeed tempting to go into denial. The future looks like it will have to be very different. Those with great wealth can and do carry on regardless, but they will be in the same boat as the rest of us as the inevitable natural dissters intensify and become more frequent.

Mike Foale | 04 February 2013  

Good article PC. Check the wisdom of David Arthur by checking out his links.

John Whitehead | 04 February 2013  

David, I genuinely appreciate the efforts you’ve made to offer me peer-reviewed confirmation that the Brisbane floods of 2001 were extreme due to man-made global warming. I’ve gone through the abstracts of these papers, but they left me with some queries. In particular, can you advise me re. the paper: “Changes in the annual cycle of heavy precipitation across the British Isles within the 21st century”? It seems to be an entirely model-based projection of precipitation across Britain (ie not Brisbane, Queensland) for the next 100 years, given a range of modeled temperature scenarios. Here is its rather underwhelming conclusion: “The annual cycle's relative amplitude shows no robust signal, where differences in projected changes are dominated by global climate model differences. The relative contribution of anthropogenic forcing and internal climate variability to changes in the relative amplitude cannot be identified with the available ensemble.” I could be totally misreading this, but to me it’s saying, “Our modelling doesn't offer a clue as to how the distribution of heavy precipitation across the year in Britain [not Brisbane] will vary according to the scenarios suggested by the various climate models, and they certainly don’t yield anything about how anthropogenic factors might influence that pattern of distribution in Britain [not Brisbane]”. You’ve read the body of this paper. Explain to us why you think that, notwithstanding its agnosticism re. the region that is it's focus, it nevertheless furnishes good evidence that the extreme nature of the 2011 Brisbane (Australia, historical, non-model) floods is attributable to anthropogenic global warming.

HH | 04 February 2013  

Has no one heard of the use of uranium to make power????? No carbon emissions!!!!!!!!! A very simple solution!!!!!

Peter | 05 February 2013  

David, re: Westra et al. "Global increasing trends in annual maximum daily precipitation." This paper finds a median increase in maximum daily precipitation of between 5.9 and 7.7% per degree increase in temp. on a global scale. So, to apply (VERY roughly) to Brisbane on January 10 2011, where some areas received 150 mm, then perhaps 11.6 mm (less than half an inch in 6 inches in the old scale) was due to the roughly 1 degree increase in warming over the last 60 years in Australia. Another, rather unconvincing, result (completely bracketing the question as to how much of that 1 degree of warming is anthropogenic). But more important is that the paper's globally focused conclusion can't be applied to the Australian situation anyway - at least, according to Dr Westra himself. Westra, "IMPLICATIONS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON FLOOD ESTIMATION. DISCUSSION PAPER FOR THE AUSTRALIAN RAINFALL AND RUNOFF" FEBRURARY, 2011 "Results from Australian studies on trends in extreme daily rainfall are less clear and usually not statistically significant ... although generally the direction of trends in indices of extreme daily rainfall reflect trends in mean annual rainfall, with declines since the 1950s observed in southwest Western Australia, southeast Australia and the eastern coastal region [that would include Brisbane? HH]... The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (2010) also recently conducted an analysis on daily annual maximum precipitation, and found few statistically significant increasing or decreasing trends, and no strong spatial pattern of the significant trends. It is likely that at least part of any observed change to extreme precipitation is due to natural variations in climate at interannual and interdecadal timescales, although the relative contribution of natural and anthropogenic influences on extremes has not been quantified." http://www.ncwe.org.au/arr/Website_links/CC_Workshop_DiscussionPaper_Final.pdf 2 down, 5 to go.

HH | 05 February 2013  

Great work HH. It seems to me that David Arthur has well and truly been hoisted with his own petard.

MJ | 06 February 2013  

No. 3: O’Gorman. "Sensitivity of tropical precipitation extremes to climate change." O'Gorman finds that tropical regions will see precipitation extremes blow out more than subtropical regions will as the temperature rises. Bottom line: About 10% per degree (K) of surface warming for tropical areas v. 5%/K for subtropical areas. Note: Brisbane I understand to be a mid latitude, or subtropical, city. So the 5% figure applies there... which seems consistent with Westra's findings cited in my previous post. But the O'Gorman paper, again, assuming it to be valid on a global scale, does nothing to overturn Westra's crucial proviso that regardless of what is going on elsewhere on the globe, precipitation extremes (maximum daily rainfall) have actually DECLINED in many parts of Australia (including the east coast - ie, Brisbane) since the 1950s. So again, nothing that links global warming to the Brisbane January 2011 floods. 3 out of 7 papers so far, and not a smidgeon of proof. David, is this a wild goose chase you've sent us on?

HH | 06 February 2013  

No need for academic, peer-reviewed references on this one - just turn off your computer, open the window and take a look outside. If you're in Japan, you'll probably start spluttering at the cloud of smog blowing over from the Australian coal being burnt by China. (Sorry, but this is anecdotal - no references)

AURELIUS | 06 February 2013  

Al Gore pointed out on 'Lateline' last Monday night that: - Australia, like the United States, has recently been the victim of extreme weather events. - With advancing climate change, weather events will become more frequent and more extreme. - Direct action policies like that of the Coalition didn't work in the United States and have never worked anywhere else. - You're either serious about tackling climate change or you're not. The Coalition isn't serious about tackling climate change. The ALP has adopted a carbon tax, as advocated by the Greens. The Greens are the true prophets on the climate change mitigation issue. Think globally but act locally! If HH and other climate change deniers could only accept the high probability of anthropogenic climate change, read what the Australian Academy of Science has to say on climate change, and channel their efforts into mitigation, the Earth wouldn't be so likely to be facing runaway climate change. Do we listen to mainstream climatologists or to the deniers - those effectively advocating for a temperature rise of up to 7 degrees Celsius by 2100? A vote for the Coalition is a vote for runaway climate change, and more profits for big polluters!

Grant Allen | 06 February 2013  

HH, the articles to which I refer you demonstrate 1) severity of recent N hemisphere winters are exacerbated by climate change 2) increased likelihood of extreme summer weather (both floods and droughts) are exacerbated by climate change. While there is no specific PROOF that climate change is 100% responsible for recent Brisbane floods (there weren't floods in Brisbane in 2001, by the way, regardless of your claiming to have lived through them), it is quite evident that climate change has exacerbated the likelihood of such occurrences. That is, climate change is CONTRIBUTING to these events. Many people seem incapable of understanding that one effect may have more than one cause; are you one of these people, or is it just that you lack the moral courage to stand accountable before your children for the choices that you have made?

David Arthur | 08 February 2013  

David, I asked for peer-reviewed evidence that the extremity of the Brisbane 2011 floods stems from anthropogenic global warming. None of the papers you cited - except Westra - came near to this, and as I showed, another paper of Westra's actually excised Australia from the considerations of his paper you cited. On the other hand, I can offer you 1. Cowan, et al, 2012: "The 2011 Brisbane flood and the status of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation: is there an impact from climate change?" Conclusion: "Thus, IF there is a climate change influence on SEQ summer rainfall it is NOT conducted through the upward trend of the SAM." https://publications.csiro.au/rpr/pub?list=BRO&pid=csiro:EP117624 and 2)Rahman et al, 2010: "Regional Flood Estimation in Australia" (http://www.ncwe.org.au/arr/Website_links/Rahman_Ataur.pdf) Of 429 stations analysed, 364 showed NO flood trend, 127 showed DECREASING flood trend, and only 29 showed INCREASING flood trend according to "Mann-Kendall" analysis. And if you check the map on p. 6, you'll see in the Brisbane area a mix of stations with increasing flood trends and decreasing flood trends, and no trend. I have no idea if these papers are peer reviewed or not, but if valid, they certainly undermine Paul Collins' thesis about the Brisbane floods.

HH | 08 February 2013  

I refer readers go 'The Conversation' website for an article by Ian Lowe, Emeritus Professor of Science, from which I quote: "The forthcoming Australian election will be a critical one for the environment. The most urgent issue is climate change. We are already seeing the social, economic and environmental impacts of about one degree increase in average temperature. The possible impacts of two degrees are frightening enough, but we face the possibility of even greater increases if the world fails to take concerted action. As the worst polluter per person in the developed world and a major exporter of fossil fuels, we have a critical responsibility. It is crucial for the next government to take considered advice from the Climate Commission on the scientific basis for our reduction targets. ... We need concerted programs to promote renewables and to improve the efficiency of turning energy into the goods and services we use. The Howard government’s National Framework for Energy Efficiency showed we could cut pollution by 30% using measures that pay for themselves within four years." Do taxpayers realise that they are subsiding fossil fuels with 10 billion annual subsidies? I agree with Ian Lowe to drop fossil fuel subsidies!

Grant Allen | 09 February 2013  

Paul Collins, like others of a similar viewpoint, has baulked at using the word EXTINCTION yet humanity is faced with the extinction of homo sapiens (Not so sapiens now)and other life on earth.Politians may espress oncern but action is needed on an international scale to avert the loss of humans and all life on Earth. We must change our ways and accept a return to a simpler lifstyle to defer our own extiction. I use the word "defer" because it may be too late to avert disaster now.Species become extinct but it seems we humans are the only ones on this path because of our own misguided actions.

Mary Samara-Wickrama | 10 February 2013  

I'm very happy to go along with HH's point of view that there is no global warming problem, nothing to worry about as far as climate is concerned, pedantically push for peer reviewed confirmation that the Brisbane floods were the result of climate change, accept alternative arguments regardless of their peer reviewed status and generally disregard information about climate change from the CSIRO and other scientific research agencies around the world. It makes life so much easier.

Brett Gray | 13 February 2013  

Thanks, Brett. You'll be even happier when you read the latest draft IPCC report on the issue of floods: "There continues to be a lack of evidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale..." (2-73) http://davidappell.com/AR5/ZODS/WG1AR5_ZOD_Ch02_All_Final%20observations.pdf Note that, although a draft, the wording is that there "continues" to be a lack of evidence. Which implies that there was a lack of evidence in all the IPCC reports so far. Amazing that the IPCC, with all those "men in white coats" (thanks, Kevin Rudd) feverishly searching, is unable to find a flood trend/global warming link no? And the CSIRO? Well, you'll be delighted to know the Cowan et al article I cite above is from ... the CSIRO "Research Publications Repository"!

HH | 13 February 2013  

HH, perhaps you should also read the draft Australasian chapter of the paper you cited. Here is one of the key findings and conclusions (the paper does say do not cite, quote or distribute, but it is on the internet and, well, I’m just following your example): “We have high confidence in projecting future annual decline in rainfall in southwestern Australia and medium confidence in projecting annual rainfall declines in southeastern Australia. In other areas of eastern Australia, and in northern Australia, the direction of future rainfall change is uncertain. In these regions and in southern Australia in summer, two broad scenarios need to be considered in vulnerability and adaptation research: a hotter drier climate and a warmer wetter climate.” http://davidappell.com/AR5/ZODS/WGIIAR5-Chap25_ZODall.pdf The paper also notes “The bigger (but less frequent) floods as a result of more intense extreme precipitation (high agreement and high confidence) will increase flood damages, place pressure on existing stormwater and wastewater infrastructures and increase erosion and sediment and nutrient delivery to waterways.” We can go on doing this until the cows come home or the moderator decides enough is enough. But I suspect you realise the impossibility of your request for peer-reviewed evidence that the extremity of the Brisbane 2011 floods stems from anthropogenic global warming. We are still learning about it. To say or imply the absence of peer reviewed evidence means climate change is not influencing events is just denying the possibility that it is happening. I’ll leave politics and the last word to you HH, knowing that the last word does not necessarily conclude the discussion... but I’m glad you are crediting the CSIRO, even if it is just for things you agree with. Cheers.

Brett Gray | 14 February 2013  

Thank you Paul Collins for a very timely article. The world is now seeing more frequent and many more extreme weather events that are taking lives and doing masssive damage. There isn't an Academy of Science anywhere in the world that doesn't give credence to anthropogenic climate change. But still the climate change sceptics promote their agenda loud and clear in this country! I'm pleased to see US President OBama is now serious about taking action to tackle climate change. Australia's Coalition remind me of the US Republicans, obstructively opposing progress to a clean green economy. Al Gore stated recently on Lateline that a Direct Action policy hasn't worked in the United States or anywhere else. Who are the Australian Coalition Opposition trying to fool?

Grant Allen | 15 February 2013  

Thanks again, Brett, but note that neither of these two quotes does anything at all to substantiate the claimed link between the Brisbane floods and global warming. The first says we don't have a clue about future rainfall scenarios except for southeast and southwest Australia. (Brisbane is not in either place.) And the second - as far as I can tell - only applies in those places as well: less frequent but more intense rainfall. It's ambiguous, I'll admit, but if it applies to Brisbane/northeast Australia, the previous paragraph would be rendered unintelligible.

HH | 18 February 2013  

Thanks Paul for an inspiring article. I add the following two quotes for readers' condideration: “There are two great challenges in the 21st century: overcoming poverty and managing climate change, not separate acts but linked in interdependence.” (‘Special Report on Ecology, Healing a Broken World’, Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat, Society of Jesus. pages 36, 37.) “The multidimensional nature of climate change, far beyond the environmental impacts, shows how it hits the most vulnerable, especially the poor in the developing world, not only because they are dependent on the very resources impacted, but also they have far less capacity to protect or adapt themselves.” (Nicholas Stern, 2010.) Readers may wish to download and read more of the material I have briefly quoted. Australians have certainly been significantly waylaid by the climate change deniers and the disproportinate amount of media coverage they have received. This has been to the detriment of early effective action on climate change mitigation. Ultimately it will cost numerous human lives. The UN World Health Organisation estimates that climate change is already costing over 150 000 human lives annually.

Grant Allen | 23 February 2013  

I had not intended another contribution but HH seems to have missed (or wanted to miss?) my point. He probably knows he is asking the impossible when he demands peer reviewed evidence of a direct link between anthropomorphic climate change and the Brisbane floods. I doubt it exists in the form he wants. It is part of a trend involving a number of events over time and reading the reports of reputable bodies like the CSIRO would be a point in the right direction. I doubt this will satisfy HH's demand for peer reviewed evidence (strange request from a denier) but denying the possibility of any climate change influence is burying one's head in the sand. This is just a small point in Mr Collins' article and we should not lose sight of the bigger picture.

Brett Gray | 25 February 2013  

Brett, if your point was that there are no peer-reviewed papers to prove the link, why didn't you leave it at that? Instead you threw up two comments from draft AR5 which, I felt obliged to point out, did nothing to support a Brisbane floods global warming link. Is it not reasonable for me to draw your attention to this? Of course I accept that a lack of peer-reviewed papers doesn't prove there is no link - though you'd think the original bald assertion might have something solid to back it up. Be that as it may, I went much further than that: I supplied papers specifically pointing to a lack of flood/positive maximum daily rainfall trends in the Brisbane area over the past few decades of warming, etc. Nothing in your reply addressed that crucial point. Disappointing. BTW, "deniers" is no longer acceptable terminology, according to John Cook of the blog "Skeptical" (sic) Science. And I'm sorry if I've wasted everyone's precious time asking for peer-reviewed research for a bald assertion. I didn't realize it's more about divining chicken gizzards. Neither, it seems, did David Arthur, above-at least, until his offerings were exposed as irrelevant or inconclusive. (NB. Not all my analyses were published.)

HH | 25 February 2013  

HH, sorry if my comments hit a nerve but you do seemed to be caught up in a small groove of demanding peer reviewed evidence of the link. I think we agree there is no peer reviewed evidence that would satisfy your demand and I doubt you would be surprised by this. The paper I drew from did not provide that evidence. But it does discuss the potential influence of climate change on weather patterns, which I thought was a useful contribution. Interesting the Climate Commission is making a similar observation which I imagine you would disregard as well. The work is ongoing of course and conclusions may change as more information becomes available and is analysed. That is the nature of science. I don’t think it is your call on what is “acceptable terminology”. “Denier” is accurate, so I don’t know why climate change deniers dislike the word so much. You can call an onion a rose if you want, but your eyes will still water when you cut into it.

Brett Gray | 05 March 2013