Show me slowly what I only know the limits of

Some observations on some recent quick turns around the Disaster Tango dance floor:

In discussing how we should think about the most extreme severe events, I suggested that we focus on a collective look at recurrence times. This suggestion, though it has a certain logical sense to it, has some pretty serious practical weaknesses, and thinking about them will prove to be instructive in itself.

The case at hand (extraordinary rains in South Carolina) has already developed an interesting and revealing twist which can shed some light on the difficulties.

We’ve been talking about how NOAA data indicate that rainfalls during the Joaquin event were at 1000-year repeat times at numerous places in the state.

You can play around with this widget .

Please note that the distribution from 10 year to 1000 year events is fairly steep.

For instance, at the station I am looking at, (CHARLESTON WSO AP, just north of Charleston) a two-fold increase in precipitation at most time scales is enough to change an event from a 50-year event to a 1000-year event.

In what is for me an unprecedented turn, I found an interesting link via Marc Morano (a.k.a. “Climate Depot”) via a retweet.

It seems that though according to the National Weather Service many places in South Carolina attained to a “1000-year rainfall”, according to the US Geological Survey,

“USGS provisional data and preliminary analysis show NO indication that a 1000-year flood discharge occurred at any USGS streamgages”.

While that was the lead-off, the article went on to be a bit more equivocal.

“However, based on that analysis, it does appear that the USGS streamgage on the Black River at Kingstree, SC and the one on the Smith Branch at Columbia, SC both measured peak floods in the neighborhood of a 500-year flood. Currently, there appear to be a few more streamgages experiencing a 25-year to 50-year flood, but the majority of USGS streamgages had flood peaks that were less than 10-year floods.”

“How can we have a 1000-year rain that does not result in a 1000-year flood?

It comes down to a number of factors, including the pattern of movement of the rain storm in each particular watershed, the conditions of the soil and plant matter on the ground in the watershed, and the timing of rain storm in one watershed versus other watersheds, among other things. An example would be that ground that is saturated before 1 inch of rain fell would result in more water going into the stream that if the ground was dry and could soak up more of the rain. Also, less water will runoff into streams from 1 inch of rain falling in the summer with the trees full of leaves versus the winter when there are no leaves to intercept the rain. This is all the science of hydrology, which is the study of the movement and distribution of water on the earth. Of course, in South Carolina, many of the watersheds have streams that are regulated by dams.”

Marc Morano, a dedicated ClimateBall player, knows his moves, and skips the bits about 500 year vs 1000 year floods, and the bits about the differences between flood repeat intervals and rainfall repeat intervals, in writing about this, cherry picking the most denial-friendly points, as is entirely to be expected.

Feds declare no climate link to floods – SC’s ‘1000 year flood’ only a 10 year flood!

U.S. Geological Survey: ‘No linkage between flooding & increase in GHGs’

Dr. Robert Holmes, USGS National Flood Hazard Coordinator: ‘The data shows no systematic increases in flooding through time’ – ‘USGS research has shown no linkage between flooding (either increases or decreases) and the increase in greenhouse gases. Essentially, from USGS long-term streamgage data for sites across the country with no regulation or other changes to the watershed that could influence the streamflow, the data shows no systematic increases in flooding through time.’

I can imagine some reasons for this null result other than that there is no signal to be found, but let’s be fair and acknowledge this is the official position of USGS at this time.

On the other hand, there is a recent trend to more severe rainfall events in the US, as elsewhere. Whether that is attributable to greenhouse gases is complicated. It certainly doesn’t regress directly, and I could easily contrive to get a null result, but the recent uptick could very well be a nonlinear response to climate forcing.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 3.23.29 PMAnd then there’s the very peculiar meteorological history of this event (and its coincidence with various other large climate anomalies elsewhere, notably flooding in France, record wildfires in the western US (*), and an astonishing early-spring heat wave in Australia.) Each event is disconcerting in itself, but at what point are we on solid ground claiming there’s a pattern?

Anyway, a number of issues are raised by the USGS vs NWS data, among them

  • Should we treat meteorologically bizarre events separately in some way? (this has come up in discussions already)
  • Should we focus on flooding recurrence or on rainfall occurrence, or both? Flooding has the advantage that it’s specific; river flows are river flows, while rainfall can be record-valued at anything from 5 minutes to 60 days on the NWS website, and of course, other time scales in principle as well? If we focus on flooding, though, we lose sight of the high intensity events in favor of high-duration ones. And one of the questions we might want to ask is whether high-intensity events are increasing.
  • How much do we really know about the tails of the distributions anyway? We only have a few decades of records so the very long repeat intervals in which we are most interested are not very well constrained. Are these estimates even consistent between flood data and rainfall data?

Now I don’t expect Morano to take such questions up. He is an advocate, not a scientist. His role is to cherry pick evidence and reassure deniers that they ought to be denying. So he collects the stuff he thinks his readers want to see and feeds it to them.

However, it’s more than a little discouraging to see Prof Roger Pielke Jr., who is supposed to be an academic and indeed famously advocates for science to be “an honest broker”, to follow Morano’s lead and dance the naysayers’ part.

He tweets:

It wasn’t a “1000-year flood” in South Carolina.
http://water.usgs.gov/floods/events/2015/Joaquin/HolmesQA.html
More climate porn & shoddy scientific claims on extremes.

Ahem.

It was certainly a 1000-year rainfall (on various time scales up to 3 days) in a great area of South Carolina, even if it wasn’t a 1000-year flood. That’s not “climate porn”, it’s data.

I often disagree with Roger, but I sometimes find that he has good observations as well. This isn’t one of those times, to say the least.

Despite how Roger writes about this material, there is no law of Nature that guarantees that there will never be trends in severe events associated with climate change. To the contrary, there are many reasons to expect it.

If we want to improve the realism of discourse, to put good information ahead of policy conversation rather than as an weapon in a debate, we don’t get to pick evidence from one side of the dance to the exclusion of the other side’s legitimate evidence. I don’t expect better from Morano, but from Pielke this is extremely disappointing. It certainly supports those who have been claiming that Pielke has been an advocate for no-policy all along.

Interestingly, Roger retweeted Mike Shellenberger’s tweet of this infographic, with whose message I heartily agree (**)

fallac

Roger could do with a bit more practicing what he preaches.

* This is disputed; there’s a peculiar graphic on yet another federal website (the Forest Service) that indicates we are far from record territory. I have to say that it looks wrong and the brief gloss in the text sounds wrong. As far as I know the provenance of this graph is unknown.

** (even if this is the sort of low-information-density infographic I could do without)

(not sure how long I can keep up this vaguely-related pop song lyric blog post title thing…)

 

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128 Responses to Show me slowly what I only know the limits of

  1. You didn’t like that one Tweet. Fair enough.

    Here is some more substance on this very topic of extreme events and climate, let me know where you object:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rightful-Place-Science-Disasters-Climate/dp/0692297510/

    It is very easy to object to a Tweet here and there, of course. But it’d be nice to engage more deeply, no?

    Thanks!

  2. Michael Hauber says:

    One important issues for a heavy rainfall event is whether the duration of rainfall matches the size of the river catchment – a river with a long catchment will reach highest flood levels with moderate rainfall rates maintained over an unusually long period of time, so that the water keeps accumulating. But a short catchment will require more intense rainfall as over a long duration the rain at the start will be all the way out to sea halfway through the rain event. Also were the rains intense over the entire catchment, or just a portion?

  3. Magma says:

    When comparing trends, whether of rare extreme events or not, it’s critical to ensure the validity of older data and ensure that one is comparing apples to apples.

    The graph noted towards the end of ATTP’s post is from a June 2011 USDA Forest Service report (see http://www.fs.fed.us/research/sustain/national-report.php). The data is likely taken from the agency’s own databases, however (without assigning any blame to the report’s authors) the data seems doubtful.

    From 1931-1954, the annual burn rates (yearly burn area/forest area) for the United States excluding Alaska are as follows:
    Protected federal lands 0.22% (range 0.05% to 0.41%)
    Protected state and private forests 0.99% (range 0.42% to 1.45%)
    Unprotected state and private forests 15.9% (range (10.7% to 21.2%)
    (From Table No. 708, Statistical Abstract of the United States 1956, plus data for 1931-1932 from previous reports)
    https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=FLi4OJU8QYsC&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&hl=en_GB&pg=GBS.PA708

    Given the crude firefighting equipment and resources available during the 1930s to early 1950s, a >70-fold difference in burn rates between protected federal forests and unprotected forests maintained over a quarter-century seems literally unbelievable. It’s impossible to see how unprotected forests could possibly have had, and sustained, burns of 15 to 20% of their total area, year after year, by any current definition of wildfire.

    Or maybe federal organizations deliberately fiddled with the numbers. Both because of a perceived need to halt wasteful (in the view of the time) and dangerous wildfires as well as the rapid expansion of federal agencies in the post-World War I and Depression eras, the Forestry Service aggressively lobbied to expand its size and mandate in the early 1930s. (Around the same time the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its rival the Bureau of Reclamation) did much the same with respect to building dams wherever and however they could.)

  4. Magma says:

    Hopefully the last paragraph of my preceding post only superficially resembles the tired “NOAA and NASA changes the temperatures to show warming” meme favored by deniers.

  5. > It wasn’t a “1000-year flood” in South Carolina…

    I don’t understand why you didn’t like that. People *were* saying the opposite – and not just the Morano’s of the world. E.g. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/04/445751027/joaquin-churning-toward-bermuda-causes-massive-floods-in-u-s: “South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says her state is experiencing a 1,000-year flood…” and so on. That’s one example. Are you suggesting it was an isolated example?

  6. Ethan Allen says:

    Magma,

    Good point.

    Why attribute to climate change what might be better attributed to other known anthropogenic influences (e. g. river engineering).
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Mississippi_Flood_of_1927
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Mississippi_River_floods

    As to precipitation extremes …
    Current NWS Precipitation Frequency (PF) Documents
    NOAA Atlas 14
    http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oh/hdsc/PF_documents/Atlas14_Volume9.pdf
    See page 22 Figure 4.6.3 …

    “Results of χ2- and Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests and visual inspection of probability plots for all seven distributions for 1-hour, 1-day and 10-day durations, like the one shown in Figure 4.6.3, were considered during distribution selection.”

    Seven distributions! Almost a factor of two difference for the 1000-year event. Assume a distribution and extrapolate by a factor of 10-20. This “problem” has been well known for several decades. I myself have known of this “problem” for four decades now.

    Does anyone notice the semilog nature of a recurrence plot? Now shift that curve upwards along the LINEAR y-axis a finite amount and what happens to the SEMILOG recurrence period? OMFG, a linear transformation along the linear axis has quite a dramatic effect on the return period. D’oh!

    Here’s another example sea level rise …
    Increased threat of tropical cyclones and coastal flooding to New York City during the anthropogenic era
    http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Benjamin_Horton/publication/282344945_Increased_threat_of_tropical_cyclones_and_coastal_flooding_to_New_York_City_during_the_anthropogenic_era/links/5610004c08ae483375181760.pdf

    “As a result, flood risk has greatly increased for the region; for example, the 500-y return period for a ∼2.25-m flood height during the preanthropogenic era has decreased to ∼24.4 y in the anthropogenic era.”

    So adding (more or less as it’s almost a linear process as per the paper) 2.25-m to the water level recurrence curve changes 500-year to ~25-year return period. So by moving the water level curve up the LINEAR y-axis we see a disproportionate change in the SEMILOG x-axis. But some of us already knew that. D’oh!

    Similarly for this paper …
    Risks of Coastal Storm Surge and the Effect of Sea Level Rise in the Red River Delta, Vietnam
    http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/7/6/6553/html
    (see Figure 5 which does assume linear superpositioning)

    “Our analysis finds that sea level rise through 2050 could increase the effective frequency of the current 100-year storm surge, which is associated with a storm surge of roughly five meters, to once every 49 years.”

    That’s a factor of ~ 2 for 0.5-m SLR because a linear shift on the x-axis produces a greater than linear change in the return period on the x-axis. Again D’oh!.

    And if you are going to talk about temperature extremes, then it appears that one should carry the first four stochastic moments, instead of just the first two stochastic moments (mean sigma). Not so obvious anymore (see several posts over at Tamino’s).

    So, in summary, there are issues with the recurrence interval concept too, in stationary, as well as, non-stationary environments.

  7. Ethan Allen says:

    William,

    The basic difference AFAIK was that the USGS looked at areas where there was only a minor anthropogenic footprint. Now in developed areas where we’ve installed water control structures for a 100-year event, that’s likely to cause very major problems if the design is exceeded. For example, a culvert is sized for a 100-year discharge (volume per unit time), fill that culvert up and it works less effectively, flood that culvert entrance and a whirlpool forms, air is entrained and the culvert is no longer hydraulically efficient (it does not turn into a complete suction, try that in your sink sometime with a plate).

  8. Ethan Allen says:

    Ah forgot, Haley would have been looking at the NOAA precipitation curves and maybe, just maybe, the FEMA 100-year floodplain maps (FEMA does not currently have 500-year or 1000-year floodplain maps).

  9. Ethan Allen says:

    Ah forgot, Haley would have been looking at the NOAA precipitation curves and maybe, just maybe, the FEMA 100-year floodplain maps/elevations (FEMA does not yet do 500-year or 1000-year floodplain maps/elevations (that would change, at least to 500-year elevations in some areas per EO 13690 for federally funded projects only)).

  10. WMC,

    I don’t understand why you didn’t like that. People *were* saying the opposite – and not just the Morano’s of the world.

    Sure, but we’re still talking about what was an extreme event. It would be wonderful if state governers, the media, anyone who comments got it completely correct and distinguished between precipitation and flooding, but they don’t always do so. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t correct these errors, but calling it more climate porn and shoddy science seems a bit polemical.

    Of course, I’m slightly biased given that Pielke Jr blocked me after I pointed out something that he was promoting was simply not true. Be nice if those – like Pielke Jr – who go around pretending to be honest brokers were honest enough to correct themselves when they promote things that turn out to not be true. It works both ways.

  11. Actually, maybe I’ll add something more about Pielke Jr’s tweet. Clearly the whole issue of climate change and extreme events is complex. It’s something we should, however, be willing to discuss. A consequence of that, though, is that people will get things wrong. People like Morano, we expect to latch onto these errors as indicative of greater failings. Others, we might expect to see this more broadly and recognise that people who discuss these complex topics don’t always get everything right. No harm in correcting them, but there is a difference between correcting misconceptions, and looking for them so as to try and make some kind of point.

  12. > more climate porn and shoddy science

    Agreed, that’s the side of RP Jr I don’t like. Its not quite false, it can be argued, but its pushing the line to your side more than is reasonable.

    And, of course, if he’s blocking sensible people like you then he’s rather lost the plot.

  13. And, of course, if he’s blocking sensible people like you then he’s rather lost the plot.

    He’s not the only one. I can be rather blunt times, especially when someone claims I’m trolling when I point out that what they’ve just promoted isn’t true 🙂

  14. I should probably add that I’ve blocked a fair number of people, so I have no issue with being blocked. It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do. The choice is with the person doing the blocking.

  15. Joshua says:

    Roger –

    ==> “You didn’t like that one Tweet. Fair enough.It is very easy to object to a Tweet here and there, of course. But it’d be nice to engage more deeply, no?”

    What’s missing there is any sort of accountability. It looks like you’re trying to shift responsibility away from the unproductive nature of your tweet. Advocacy in and of itself isn’t a problem, IMO, but stealth advocacy and lack of accountability are.

    Like mt, I think that you add useful analysis to the public discussion, but IMO your lack of accountability for your advocacy is problematic.

  16. Joshua says:

    ==> “Its not quite false, it can be argued, but its pushing the line to your side more than is reasonable.”

    In other words, it’s stealth advocacy.

  17. Joshua,
    I hadn’t even noticed that Roger had commented. I don’t get the comment announcements if I’m not the author. It’s quite nice really (in general, I mean, not specifically in this case). I guess we all have to read Roger’s book, though, before we’re allowed to interact further. I do have a copy (thanks Roger) I just haven’t read it….yet?

  18. Andrew Dodds says:

    The reviews for RP’s book are.. interesting.

  19. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    It’s interesting to me, and I think instructive, how polarizing Roger is.

    The polarization around him fits with the more general patterns of personality politics and identity-protective cognition (aggressive and defensive) that characterizes much of the public discussion about climate change.

    In that sense, I think that the animosity directed towards Roger often reflects identity protective cognition on the part of “realists.”

    On the other hand, I think it is unhelpful that Roger seems (IMO) to not control for how his own behaviors also reflect identity-protective cognition, made all that much worse because he tends to self-victimize when his input engenders animosity that could be entirely predictable. It isn’t, IMO, that he has some obligation to prevent those kinds of responses, but it is unfortunate that he seems (IMO) to deliberately poison the well and then complain that the well has been poisoned.

  20. I’ve just look at Chapter 2 of Roger’s book which starts with

    This short volume addresses a very specific scientific question …..

    Have disasters become more costly because of human-caused climate change.

    This may indicate why we rarely reach any kind of agreement. I don’t really regard that as a scientific question – well, not if you mean scientific as in “the physical sciences”. It’s an interesting question. It’s even a question worth trying to answer. However, there are other scientific questions that are related, but which aren’t necessarily related to costs or damages. For example

    • Have we seen a change in the frequency and intensity of extreme events?
    • Would we expect to have already seen a change in the frequency and intensity of extreme events?
    • How will a warmer world influence the frequency and intensity of extreme events?
    • Can/should we use the impact of extreme event today, to plan for what might happen in the future?
    • How will rising sea levels influence the impact of these extreme events?
    • What does physical climatology tells us about how continued warming will influence the frequency and intensity of extreme events.

    Feel free to add more. There are plenty of questions worth asking and trying to answer.

    There’s also nothing wrong with looking at how costs/damages due to disasters have changed and whether or not one can attribute that to climate change, or to other factors (where we build things, how we develop infrastructue, how our wealth has increased,….). However, doing this tells you little about physical climatology, given that it is looking at a reasonably narrow societal indicator (damage/cost) not at some physical characteristic of these systems.

    It seems unlikely that looking at damage/cost due to landfalling TCs in the USA can really tell us much about how the properties of TCs, in general, change as we warm due to anthropogenic emissions.

  21. Willard says:

    > I guess we all have to read Roger’s book, though, before we’re allowed to interact further.

    It’s the other way around: Junior dodges MT’s criticism, handwaves to his own proprietary material, and challenges MT to “engage” when he does not. Common moves in Junior’s ClimateBall’s playbook to express his refusal to “engage.”

    Amazon science is cheap.

  22. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Roger say:

    Have disasters become more costly because of human-caused climate change.

    An issue that I have with Roger’s advocacy is that he so frequently uses GDP as a reference point for evaluating the impact of extreme weather phenomena.

    Consider a situation where GDP increases at a good clip, and the cost of extreme weather phenomena remains constant as a proportion of GDP.

    Obviously, it would mean that more people would be experiencing negative impact from increases in extreme weather phenomena.

    Does a lack of increase in comparison to GDP mean that we shouldn’t be concerned about the potential for ACO2 emissions to increase extreme weather phenomena?

    Or does it mean that so much focus on costing the impact of extreme weather as a % of GDP is a form of stealth advocacy?

    I think the answer to the latter question is “yes,” when the trend in costs of extreme weather phenomena are presented as a % of GDP without inclusion of a discussion about the limits of that metric. That’s a situation that looks very similar, to me, to Roger’s tween about rainfall/flooding in South Carolina.

  23. Willard says:

    > This short volume a very specific scientific question […] Have disasters become more costly because of human-caused climate change.

    If that’s the only specific question, then there’s no need to read the book. Here are other reasons, besides the fact that Amazon science is cheap.

    First, this indicates that Junior recycled his blog material and his old papers. Reading them ought to be enough.

    Second, disaster costs is a questionable proxy for “this very topic of extreme events and climate.” This displacement is so frequent that it can be anticipated:

    The big problem here, IMHO, is that we need events to talk about types. Another big problem is that there’s always room to raise concerns about the choice of types. A smaller problem might be to decide a metric to estimate impacts.

    Some may argue that the smaller problem is brokerable in an honest manner.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/if-i-had-ever-been-here-before-i-would-probably-know-just-what-to-do/#comment-64467

  24. Marco says:

    Joshua, consider another situation: a government spends 100 billion to prevent damage from extreme events they know will come. The preventive measures then do what they were designed to do and significantly reduce the direct cost of the extreme event. Should that 100 billion be taken into account or not, when calculating the damage from extreme events?

  25. matt says:

    > spends 100 billion to prevent damage from extreme events they know will come. The preventive measures then do what they were designed to do and significantly reduce the direct cost of the extreme event.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/wsj-sandy-global-warming-asking-right-questions.html#87488

  26. Joshua says:

    Marco –

    I would guess the answer is that “it’s complicated,” as you’d have to find some way of measuring a ratio of money spent to costs reduced – quite a task.

    It seems to me that if you agree that ACO2 emissions are likely to cause more intense or more frequent intense weather phenomena over time, as I think Roger agrees, then trying to quantify the precise signal of trends in costs associated with extreme weather over the last couple of decades is of limited value. First, it’s obviously a difficult thing to do, and I’m not entirely convinced by Roger’s claims to have fully controlled for the impact of mitigating factors such as building codes, improved weather forecasting, etc. But more importantly, assessing economic cost doesn’t negate the reality that more intense or frequent extreme weather will impact people’s lives.

    It seems clear to me that an implication that many people take from much of Roger’s advocacy on this issue is that by quantifying trends over time we can then reverse engineer to interpret the science of attribution of ACO2 impact on weather phenomena. It seems to me, as Anders suggests, that it a useful question to investigate. But the problem is when people mix the lines and then use Roger’s advocacy as justification for positions on policy.

    It seems to me that there exists valid science to support a hypothesis that ACO2 emissions will exacerbate extreme weather mechanisms. As we all know, proving that hypothesis beyond a shadow of a doubt is an unrealistic standard. Investigation of that scientific hypothesis should, of course, be informed by measurements of trends over the last few decades and the costs associated are information in that regard, but such data aren’t sufficient to draw conclusions about what is scientifically justified looking forward.

  27. I appreciate the pro bono psychoanalysis and evaluation of my character 😉

    The short book covers trends in extreme heat & precip, tropical cyclones, floods, drought and tornadoes from both climatological (physical) and societal ($$) perspectives. It draws heavily from the IPCC AR5 and is 100% consistent with it. Fun to see discussions of what I may have or have not written, utterly uninformed. The book even provides the final word on “the pause” and offers a solid analysis of CO2 policies.

    Your host here has a copy that I sent him. He is welcome to have a look (it is short and readable, even for a physicist;-) and post up a review. The book doesn’t cover everything that everyone cares about, and no doubt some stuff few care about. But it is the book I wrote on a narrow topic that many people do seem to care about, and are also misinformed about.

    Have a look if you want, or don’t. I can be your ink blot or we can discuss data and arguments (or Tweets!) Caveat lector ….

    Thanks!

  28. BBD says:

    The book even provides the final word on “the pause”

    Oh, I doubt that, Roger 😉

  29. Joshua says:

    Yo! Got a comment stuck in moderation.

  30. Joshua says:

    Roger –

    ==> “I appreciate the pro bono psychoanalysis and evaluation of my character ;-)”

    Could you be more specific?

  31. evaluation of my character

    Well, it’s kind of hard not to when you block people when they point out that you’re promoting things that aren’t true, while criticising others for making claims that aren’t correct. To be clear, though, I’m not complaining about being blocked, just pointing out the background.

    The book even provides the final word on “the pause”

    Now I wish I’d brought it home, rather than leaving it on my desk. Oh well, will have a look tomorrow and see these words of wisdom.

  32. Joshua says:

    Roger –

    ==> “I appreciate the pro bono psychoanalysis and evaluation of my character ;-)”

    When you assert that others are engaging in stealth advocacy, as you often do, does that mean that you’re offering pro bono psychoanalysis and evaluation of their character? 🙂

    Thanks!

  33. Joshua says:

    Roger –

    This comment of yours is worth quoting yet another time:

    ==> “I appreciate the pro bono psychoanalysis and evaluation of my character 😉 ”

    That was the kind of self-victimization that I mentioned above. Perhaps, rather than justifying a portrayal of your victimization, you could engage with the criticisms offered? Just a thought.

  34. Roger,
    Actually, this is why discussions with you are essentially a waste of time.

    Fun to see discussions of what I may have or have not written, utterly uninformed.

    Why not point out what it was claimed you had said and why it wasn’t what you’d said? I can’t find anything on this thread that isn’t consistent with things I’ve seen you say, or promote. If people aren’t interpreting what you say correctly, the only real way to correct that is to clearly point out what it is they’ve said and why it isn’t consistent with what you’ve said. You, of course, don’t have to do this, but if you don’t, it seems unlikely that people will change their perception. Simply claiming that they’re “utterly uninformed” is the kind of response I expect from denizens on climate blogs, not someone who purports to rise above that kind of thing (I think you don’t, but you could always put some effort into proving me wrong).

  35. Joshua- Try the decaf … I’m happy to answer specific questions on climate science or policy. Got any?

  36. Willard says:

    > Fun to see discussions of what I may have or have not written, utterly uninformed.

    The “utterly ininformed” might a tad too strong. If an author writes that This short volume a very specific scientific question […] Have disasters become more costly because of human-caused climate change, then there no need to read a book cover to cover to expect that the author will talk about disaster costs. Knowing that it’s what he did for a few years helps too. However, it is possible that the author threw squirrels while delivering what he promised, which seems to be something about disaster costs.

    Amazon science is cheap. Shirt ripping is cheaper.

  37. Joshua says:

    Roger –

    ==> “Got any?”

    Self-victimization is sameosameo.

    I raised a number of points related to your advocacy on climate science and related policies (including why it look, to me, like stealth advocacy, as outlined explicitly in mt’s original post).

    Why not address at least a couple of them? Take your pick.

    How about just one of them?

  38. Willard says:

    > I’m happy to answer specific questions on climate science or policy.

    Try reading MT’s post, there are some in it. Report.

  39. Joshua, Willard — go ahead, humor me, ask a specific question or two.

  40. Joshua says:

    Roger –

    In this comment:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/show-me-slowly-what-i-only-know-the-limits-of/#comment-64777

    I raise a number of points. Trying to reduce them to a specific question wouldn’t be particularly helpful for me. I would find it more useful if you could address the points more generally.

    For specific questions…pick a couple:

    Do you agree on the limits of measuring costs as a % of GDP?
    Do you agree that there are limits to the value of using cost trends over the past few decades as a guide for developing policies to address future impact of ACO2?
    Can you explain if/why your Tweet about flooding vs. rainfall in South Carolina should be excluded from “stealth advocacy?”
    Can you explain why you didn’t accept accountability for that Tweet?

  41. Joshua says:

    Roger –

    Anyway, unfortunately I gotta go now. I’ll check back later. Before I go, I also raised some more general points here that I would find it interesting if you’d address:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/show-me-slowly-what-i-only-know-the-limits-of/#comment-64769

    I look forward to reading your responses.

    Thanks!

  42. Joshua, Thanks.

    Do you agree on the limits of measuring costs as a % of GDP?

    A: Absolutely. I’ve written on these limits since the early 1990s.

    Do you agree that there are limits to the value of using cost trends over the past few decades as a guide for developing policies to address future impact of ACO2?

    A: Absolutely. I’ve written on these limits since the early 1990s.

    Can you explain if/why your Tweet about flooding vs. rainfall in South Carolina should be excluded from “stealth advocacy?”

    A. “Stealth advocacy” refers to those who argue along the lines “Science tells us we must do X.” I don’t make such arguments. Values motivate action. Further, my advocacy on climate policy is open and advertised. If you have questions about it, ask.

    Can you explain why you didn’t accept accountability for that Tweet?

    A: I don’t understand. Here I am.

    Off to a meeting, will check in a bit later., Thanks.

  43. Willard says:

    Dear Junior,

    Here are three sets of questions MT asked:

    Anyway, a number of issues are raised by the USGS vs NWS data, among them

    Should we treat meteorologically bizarre events separately in some way? (this has come up in discussions already)

    Should we focus on flooding recurrence or on rainfall occurrence, or both? Flooding has the advantage that it’s specific; river flows are river flows, while rainfall can be record-valued at anything from 5 minutes to 60 days on the NWS website, and of course, other time scales in principle as well? If we focus on flooding, though, we lose sight of the high intensity events in favor of high-duration ones. And one of the questions we might want to ask is whether high-intensity events are increasing.

    How much do we really know about the tails of the distributions anyway? We only have a few decades of records so the very long repeat intervals in which we are most interested are not very well constrained. Are these estimates even consistent between flood data and rainfall data?

    There’s also this you may like to discuss:

    Despite how Roger writes about this material, there is no law of Nature that guarantees that there will never be trends in severe events associated with climate change. To the contrary, there are many reasons to expect it.

    Amazon science is cheap. Refusing to engage with MT while asking for a Q&A, and coming here to promote your latest book after having officially retired from ClimateBall might not be “100% consistent,” as you put it so well.

  44. JCH says:

    Some people learn; some people never do.

    What this graph hides is Marco’s 100 billion.

    We build infrastructure – mitigation:

  45. Willard, Please call me Roger. Respectfulness helps improve communication.

    Some replies:

    Should we treat meteorologically bizarre events separately in some way?
    A: Very imprecise. But maybe.

    Should we focus on flooding recurrence or on rainfall occurrence, or both?
    A; Both, as a function of what question you are asking. We know that rainfall extremes and flooding extremes are not easily or closely related.

    How much do we really know about the tails of the distributions anyway?
    A: Depends on the phenomena, and whether you are characterizing the past or projecting the future.

    Are these estimates even consistent between flood data and rainfall data?
    A: There is not a simple relationship between the N-year rainfall and N-year flood in either time or space.

    there is no law of Nature that guarantees that there will never be trends in severe events associated with climate change
    A: True, of course. Thank goodness for the data that we do have to answer specific questions about specific phenomena with some degree of certainty.

    Thanks

  46. Willard says:

    > Respectfulness helps improve communication.

    The converse is even more helpful. Here’s a short list of all the communication barriers you dressed up so far in that thread:

    – You didn’t like that one Tweet. Fair enough.

    – Here is some more substance […]

    – It is very easy to object to a Tweet here and there, of course.

    – But it’d be nice to engage more deeply, no?

    – I appreciate the pro bono psychoanalysis and evaluation of my character 😉

    – Fun to see discussions of what I may have or have not written, utterly uninformed.

    – Try the decaf…

    – [G]o ahead, humor me, ask a specific question or two.

    – Absolutely. I’ve written on these limits since the early 1990s.

    – I don’t understand. Here I am.

    If you got questions about how these ClimateBall moves deflect from discussing MT’s post, feel free to ask.

    ***

    > Please call me Roger.

    Very imprecise. But maybe.

    I once or twice used Dodger, for obvious reasons, but prefer Junior, which is precise enough. I also have a project called “honestly brokering”:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/tagged/honestlybrokering

    I nicknamed MT “Dr Doom,” so don’t feel priviledged. Your specific character is not the topic of the post, but the fact that you lead and dance the naysayers’ part instead of “taking up such questions” as the ones you just vaguely answered.

    As you can see, I don’t even need to call you anything.

    Thank you nevertheless for your concerns.

  47. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    In the UK extreme rain fall is as important if not more important than river flow when considering flooding. Approximately 5.2 million properties in the UK are at risk of flooding from all sources 2.4 million from rivers and sea, 1 million of which are also at risk from surface water flooding and 2.8 million are at risk from surface water flooding. So that’s 3.8 million properties in the at risk of surface water flooding in the UK alone. Surface water flooding is often caused by run off from impermeable surfaces therefore antecedent catchment conditions are largely irrelevant. Rainfall events that cause this type of flooding are usually convective and often during summer months. Recent UK flood events include the Toon Monsoon in June 2012 and Canvey Island July 2014.

    With each degree of warming, based on the Clausius Clapeyron equation, the atmosphere can hold an additional 7% more water. This relationship has been demonstrated for extreme convective rainfall events, and is referred to as CC scaling. For certain places super CC scaling has been shown with unto a 14% increase in rainfall per 1oC temperature rise for extreme events. I can dig some references out if people are interested. As a really rough approximation a 10% increase in rainfall will increase a 10% Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) (1in10 year) rainfall event to a 5 % AEP (1in20 year) storm in the UK. This has large implications for surface water flooding as most sewer systems are designed for an (AEP) of between 5% (1 in 20 year) and 3.3% (1 in 30 year) . A lot of sewer systems are also very old and poorly maintained. Add in development and urban creep (people paving over drives and gardens) and surface water flood risk in the UK is a big problem.

    The other big risk from Climate Change is potential for atmospheric blocking patterns caused by the north-south elongation of the jet stream like the one that caused the 2014 floods in the UK, which was the wettest winter in UK records. This will give successive large storms which saturate the catchment and cause large river flooding events for relatively small return period rainfall events.

    Another interesting year for the UK was 2012 this was the wettest year on record despite the first 3 month being exceptionally dry with a number of regions in England being in drought conditions.

    Anyway, apologies for the ramble.

  48. And with that I’m out … Thanks for the refresher.

  49. Roger,

    And with that I’m out … Thanks for the refresher.

    Implying – I assume – that you’re above all this? Back to promoting untrue posts from WUWT?

  50. > Implying – I assume – that you’re above all this?

    No. What he means is, that Willard – and others, probably including you – have given him a perfect excuse for not commenting any further. Any reasonable (non blogging person) if asked to read the childish insults directed against RP here would agree that under the common-courtesy rules of discussion, he’s allowed to stop talking.

  51. WMC,

    Any reasonable (non blogging person) if asked to read the childish insults directed against RP here would agree that under the common-courtesy rules of discussion, he’s allowed to stop talking.

    Of course, he’s allowed to stop talking, and that wasn’t my point. I think you’re also ignoring the implication in “thanks for the refresher”. I’ve also been through all my comments. I can’t see any “childish insults” and I can’t see anything that I would take back. In fact, Roger has completely ignored all my comments, despite making at least one substantive one. Of course, it is MT’s post, not mine, so that’s fair enough.

  52. Willard says:

    > Willard – and others, probably including you – have given him a perfect excuse for not commenting any further.

    I’m the one who kept bringing back MT’s topic on the table, but I’m the one who made him run away. Playing the ref never gets boring.

    “Any reasonable person” (I just met them all – I assure you they all agreed) can recognize that the very first comment has very little to do with “engaging” or, for that matter, “common-courtesy rules of discussion”:

    You didn’t like that one Tweet. Fair enough.

    Here is some more substance on this very topic of extreme events and climate, let me know where you object: […]

    It is very easy to object to a Tweet here and there, of course. But it’d be nice to engage more deeply, no?

    Thanks!

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/show-me-slowly-what-i-only-know-the-limits-of/#comment-64732

    It would have been nice if Junior “engaged more deeply” with MT’s post, but he did not. Instead, he plugged in his book and, when asked questions, handwaved to some unspecified research. Any reasonable person can recognize that his answers don’t meet any standard of responsiveness.

  53. afeman says:

    Instead, he plugged in his book and, when asked questions, handwaved to some unspecified research.

    Let’s at least give him credit for expanding his approach.

  54. > I’ve also been through all my comments

    You’ve been blogging too much and not talking to enough respectable people :-). Try reading your mother the “Back to promoting untrue posts from WUWT?” one. I admit that was post-fact; and I admit that the general air of incivility to RP Jr here isn’t all, or even mostly, your fault. Or even that in blog-discussion terms, it is regrettably unremarkable. Didn’t you use to have a slogan about that?

  55. WMC,

    Try reading your mother the “Back to promoting untrue posts from WUWT?” one.

    If Roger is going to promote posts on WUWT that are simply not true, and then get upset when someone points that out, then he’s not really in a position – IMO – to start critiquing others when they get something wrong. It seems pretty fundamental. The first part of that response (Implying – I assume – that you’re above all this?) was less called for than the second.

    Didn’t you use to have a slogan about that?

    I got rid of that. I was struggling to stick to it 🙂

  56. mt says:

    While I have always advocated erring on the side of civility, I note that Roger is “out” before I have had a chance to make any response whatsoever, substantive or otherwise, to his reply, or to moderate comments at all.

    I regret also that Roger blocked me some time ago on Twitter, and that I have to open a separate non-@mtobis Twitter session to follow what he is saying.

    He had a point, though: I was a mite snarky and ad hominem just before he blocked me. But his behavior on this thread is very close to the point of my snark, and some of Willard’s snarks as well.

    I think it’s worth taking up the substantive and rhetorical importance of Roger’s scale-by-GDP claim sometime, but that isn’t the point I’m raising here. The point here is that if you want to address an open scientific question, manning the barricades and lobbing insults isn’t the way to do it.

    It was Morano who called attention to the USGS page which Roger echoed, and he did it in a singularly one-sided and tendentious way, albeit unsurprising. Where is Roger’s critique of Morano’s lawyers’ science to balance his vague criticism of “climate porn”?

    I’ll wait for the crickets here.

  57. While I have always advocated erring on the side of civility, I note that Roger is “out” before I have had a chance to make any response whatsoever, substantive or otherwise, to his reply, or to moderate comments at all.

    Yes, that is unfortunate.

    Since I’ve been suitably told off 🙂 by WMC, if Roger wants to come back and try again, I’ll endeavour to keep the tone more civil. It may not work, but I’ll at least endeavour to do so.

  58. mt says:

    William, it makes no sense to accuse Governor Haley of “climate porn” as she is a Republican governor of a southern state, and so is contractually obligated to have no interest in climate change. (Indeed South Carolina’s recent Senator Lindsey Graham was booted out of office in a primary (intra-party) election, in no small measure because he took the time to learn enough about climate to develop a bit of concern.)

    It is true that Haley made a mess out of the recurrence time, as I mentioned here recently. The quote I have is “South Carolina has seen nothing like this for a thousand years”. This is obviously wrong, but is neither climate porn, nor related to the confusion between rainfall recurrence and flood recurrence.

    I don’t doubt that ludicrously excessive comments about the impending end of the world are being made about this storm in various dark recesses of Facebook and lefty paranoid blogs. Sure. But Roger speaks of “shoddy scientific claims”. It would be interesting to know who is making such claims in his view that might widely be considered as representing science, and what is wrong with the claims in specific that informs the use of the tendentious characterization “porn”.

    Otherwise, in addition to being divisive, his claim is straw-mannish as well.

    And it was here that I was disappointed. In some ways I am taking up Roger’s cause here – I’d like a voice for science in these matters.

    My contention is that though each event must be looked in a very broad context, some events will more clearly have a climate change signature than others. The Disaster Tango allows for no such resolution of the question – every single event is left in the public’s perception as having exactly the same ambiguous import. This obviously constitutes a failure, and it’s habitual and important enough of a failure that we ought to start to attend to it. All disasters are bad, but some are spookier than others.

    We should learn to have this conversation, as the occasions for it are not going to go away. Is Roger helping?

    He claims to want to bring science to bear on policy in a neutral way. But when this particular sort of question comes up, he is predictably aligned with one side of the shallow debate-club competition, and unwilling to concede that the question is often a hard one. In the case of the tweet at hand, what he said was the opposite of helping.

  59. Sure, I’m easy (Thanks ATTP) .. MT, fire away .. RP

  60. > the tendentious characterization “porn” / shoddy scientific claims

    I’ve already agreed with you on that:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/show-me-slowly-what-i-only-know-the-limits-of/#comment-64762

    > various dark recesses of Facebook and lefty paranoid blogs

    Ah, but that one I doubt. See my https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/show-me-slowly-what-i-only-know-the-limits-of/#comment-64750. That links to NPR, which I gather is considered respectable. I admit that I stopped after finding only one example: do you challenge me to find another?

    > We should learn to have this conversation

    Yes! And part of that is doing what the Watties are terribly bad at: being nice to the guys from “the other side” of the argument, when they show up to talk. Its easy to have a blog where all the commentators agree; its hard to have one where people can disagree. So, fine, I agree that RP Jr wasn’t trying terribly hard to be agreeable; but that’s not the point. But I think I’ve said that often enough now; I won’t re-say it unless invited.

  61. mt says:

    William, re the NPR story, there’s a difference between a mistake (unclear whether the mistake was by the governor or the reporter in this case) and being irresponsible.

    For what it’s worth I also thought the many locations with > 1000-year recurrence events would lead to many 1000-year floods. I will go back over my two prior postings to see if that belief propagated to my text. On current evidence that belief is wrong.

    More to the point, admittedly it takes two to Tango. I’m not saying this is entirely one-sided in general.

    But insofar as our current conversation goes, aside from the inevitable Morano Mangle, the clearest example of the Tango on the table regarding the Joaquin flood event is Roger’s tweet.

    I’m not saying there aren’t other examples. That said, neither you nor Roger has identified any. Whether you or he looks for some or not is up to you or him, not me.

    Clear instances of excessive attribution are of considerable interest to me. So far, though, I’ve found the examples on the naysayer side to be typically more egregious, except on the lunatic fringe.

    (I just tried to explain to someone on Facebook that the jet stream is not “broken” in the sense that we should refer to it in the past tense. This may have earned me a “denier” accusation of my own. We’ll see.)

  62. izen says:

    Well at the risk of indulging in pro bono psychoanalysis and evaluation of character.

    RPjr is clearly a neophyte when it comes to giving obtuse, uninformative and irritating answers compared with he who must not be named. But a good try was the response;-

    “A: Absolutely. I’ve written on these limits since the early 1990s.”
    which tempts the reply,
    “what a pity you haven’t reached any definitive conclusions you can share. Maybe in another couple of decades…

    This just seems wrong;-

    ‘Are these estimates even consistent between flood data and rainfall data?
    A: There is not a simple relationship between the N-year rainfall and N-year flood in either time or space.’

    there is one simple relationship between rainfall and floods; the first is necessary for the second to occur, but not sufficient.

    Flooding without rainfall involves sea level rise which IS directly linked to AGW.

    However the answer I find most interesting, but with no expectation of an explanation beyond the assertion that they have been ‘writing about it since the early 1990s’ is;-

    ‘How much do we really know about the tails of the distributions anyway?
    A: Depends on the phenomena, and whether you are characterizing the past or projecting the future.’

    Depends on the phenomena is a wonderful discursive line – how, WHY does it ‘depend on the phenomena ?’
    But the aspect I have been puzzling over because I suspect that it has a significant influence on how policy responds to reported events is the idea that what we really know depends on whether we are characterizing the past or projecting the future!
    What we know about the future, especially of extreme and rare events, is crucially informed by our knowledge of the past. In most cases our estimate of future recurrence rates is entirely dependent on the past.

    Except in those circumstances where we have robust knowledge of a change in conditions which will alter the PDF and long tails. What this ‘answer’ does not engage with is how and when our extra knowledge beyond the known past record can or should alter what we really know about the tails of the distribution. And how that extra knowledge should or can influence policy beyond assuming the historical status quo.

  63. > he who must not be named.

    You can call me Wee Willie, like Denizens do.

  64. izen-

    If you’d like I can point you to several places where I (and others) have expounded at length on exactly these subjects in the peer-reviewed literature. I won’t be repeating those writings here, since they are free to read, but they do exist. If interested, just ask and I’ll point.

    mt-

    On “1,000-year flood” Google News points to many: https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&gl=us&authuser=0&tbm=nws&q=%221000-year+flood%22&oq=%221000-year+flood%22&gs_l=serp.3…22842.25347.0.25556.2.2.0.0.0.0.82.160.2.2.0….0…1.1.64.serp..2.0.0.0rwFsmvvyBw

    I’ll admit to sometimes succumbing to even less of a prompt to motivate me to Tweet on many topics. Thx

  65. mt says:

    Roger, I don’t think the level of incivility on this thread is the tiniest fraction of what I’ve endured at the naysayer blogs, or even your own blogs, on the few occasions that I’ve ventured to comment there.

    Willard may dismiss this as a tu quoque fallacy, and perhaps it is.

    Still, Roger, you need to decide if you can get as good as you give. This is no place for someone with a thin skin. If you’re going to be bandying around vague accusations of “climate porn” you should expect at the least for the kid gloves to come off.

    I agree with Willard that you have not defended yourself on the topic that I raise here. That is, if one is criticizing oversimplification and polarization in scientific discourse, and if one is trying to carve out a position as a neutral observer, why indulge in a one-sided, non-specific attack?

    Clearly, Morano’s approach was just as unbalanced as any putative writing on the other side. Is it “skeptic porn”? I would think so. Yet you charged ahead in supporting its approach, piling on rather than calling it out.

    That’s what I’m interested in here. Do you want to perpetuate the Tango, or do you propose something better?

  66. mt says:

    The question is not whether people have confused 1000-year rains with 1000-year floods. Sure, that’s established. That is an honest error at worst (assuming that any water upstream or shoreward of a river gage is not a flood – both of these were likely real issues and not hairsplitting in this event).

    The question I would like to see answered is whether anyone has prominently overstated the climate relevance of the event in a way remotely comparable to way Morano dishonestly has dismissed it.

    I’m not saying nobody has. Maybe someone has.

    But until you have such an example, why not take Morano to task instead of some imaginary boogeyman? Are you representing evenhanded discourse, or are you a partisan?

    Roger, if your tweet isn’t Stealth Advocacy, I don’t know what is.

  67. mt says:

    I find it possibly of interest to note that USGS does not actually define a 1000 year flood gage event in SC. Their analysis stops at 500 years. I don’t know if this matters.

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs-001-00/

    It revives my wonder at who controls the page Morano linked to, and what made them phrase it the way they did.

  68. mt-

    What is it that I am advocating for in stealth fashion? It is kind of hard to be a stealth advocate when you have written a popular book advocating very specific policies (like a carbon tax), but I gather not everyone reads 😉

    There is lots of talk on this thread about Morano. I know he is a fascinating character, but he is a different person than me and we do not conspire together at the Koch Bros lair of doom. In fact, I don’t even know what you are referring to – I have been commenting on “climate porn” just fine on my own since Morano was busy Swift boating.

    Anyone want to talk about the science of extreme events aka “how do we avoid climate porn”?

  69. Roger,
    Do you agree that advocacy doesn’t have to necessarily be for something explicit? What about undermining what others are doing, in an asymmetric fashion? Criticising selectively, for example.

    but he is a different person than me and we do not conspire together at the Koch Bros lair of doom.

    Hmmmm?

    Anyone want to talk about the science of extreme events aka “how do we avoid climate porn”?

    What about not using “climate porn”? I think that is partly the point that is being made.

  70. izen says:

    So the SC governor states it is a 1000 year FLOOD instead of a 1000 year rain event.

    ‘Many’ media sources pick this up and use it because ‘FLOOD’ is more dramatic. Especially as a cretain percentage of the readers and viewers may think it is only around 4000 years since the last big one…

    The more responsible sources use 1000-year rainfall, and explain the source.

    But then in ‘tone troll’ mode the Morano end of this issue complain the this mistaken characterization is evidence of scientific exaggeration and alarmism.

    But the ‘credible source’ for the ‘flood’ description that has allowed it to gain currency in the media was the SC governor Nikkie Haley. Not the scientific analysis of the event that has emerged.

    Irony overdose, the science gets attacked for alarmism because of something said by a politician with this policy position.

    http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140604/PC05/140609653

    South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley opposes new EPA regulations on carbon dioxide emissions for power plants because they would be too costly to electric customers.

  71. izen says:

    @-willard
    “You can call me Wee Willie, like Denizens do.”

    Thank you.
    however you may be suffering from a degree of hubris to think your posts are as obtuse, uninformative and irritating as the one I had in mind.
    (grin)

  72. rogerpielkejr “Anyone want to talk about the science of extreme events aka “how do we avoid climate porn”?”

    I’d be happy to discuss the science of extreme events (extreme value theory is pretty interesting branch of statistics). Sadly I don’t think a scientific discussion is likely to be productive if it is going to involve emotive rhetoric like “climate porn”. That sort of thing is good for getting a twitter following, but I suspect it isn’t a good way of having a rational discussion of science. If you want to have a scientific discussion, the expressing yourself like a scientist, rather than a journalist, is probably a good idea.

  73. izen says:

    @-“If you’d like I can point you to several places where I (and others) have expounded at length on exactly these subjects in the peer-reviewed literature.”

    This sort of thing perhaps.

    http://www.lse.ac.uk/geographyAndEnvironment/whosWho/profiles/neumayer/pdf/Natdis_norm.pdf

    Which I find… dismal.
    the standard means of disaster cost normalisation merely removes the trend in costs by adjusting the past costs upwards to match the present wealth.
    The alternative method described in the paper simply measures how much faster we have got wealthier than disaster incidents have increased.

  74. Magma says:

    mt says: I find it possibly of interest to note that USGS does not actually define a 1000 year flood gage event in SC. Their analysis stops at 500 years. I don’t know if this matters.
    http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs-001-00/
    It revives my wonder at who controls the page Morano linked to, and what made them phrase it the way they did.

    The page was written by Dr. Robert R. Holmes, USGS National Flood Hazard Coordinator: https://profile.usgs.gov/bholmes

    1000-year flood levels/flows can be estimated from the 500-year levels/flows, or recalculated.
    Techniques for estimating magnitude and frequency of floods in South Carolina, 1988
    http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/wri914157

  75. oarobin says:

    dikranmarsupial,
    if i may engate your thought your thoughts an the application extreme value theory both to damages and physical climate extremes . specifically i would like to know your thoughts on how well we can fit an extreme value distribution to damages or extreme climate events, the relationship between sample estimates and population values (i.e. whether or not they converge or the rate of convergence) , which tend to be neglected in trend analysis and whether or not it is reasonable to assume these distributions are heavy tailed or not.

  76. For what it’s worth, I started to use “ClimateBall” as an alternative to “climate porn,” which I believe I saw first at Lucia’s, e.g.:

    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2011/blah-blah-blah-mt-and-communicating-climate/

    Featuring Dr. Doom. Fancy that.

    Cf. Eli’s comics.

  77. Eli Rabett says:

    The interesting thing about flooding, is that it is associated with rapid mitigation (flood control measures) and adaptations (move the damn house out of the flood plane). On that basis alone, if flooding remains at a level then the meteorological problem has gotten worse.

    In honor of the late Sir Geoffrey Howe, Eli and Ethon will refrain.

  78. oarobin it seems to me that the main problem is whether the extreme events are just the tails of the same distribution that generates the more usual events or whether they are generated by a different process. As long as it is all one process, then I suspect the convergence results will apply reasonably well. I think it is a bit like the difference between a prediction and a projection, statistical analyses are dependent on the validity of the assumptions, if we don’t know whether the assumptions are valid or not, the best thing to do is to investigate different sets of assumptions (c.f. scenarios) and leave it to the reader to use their judgment as to which are more plausible.

    My preferred solution is to try and model the distribution of all events (rather than a point estimate) and then integrate the upper tail of the distribution to get a handle on the probability of an extreme event. In other words I use a uncertainty quantification approach rather than EV. The advantage of that is that you can build some expert knowledge into the model of the distribution. It worked well for the statistical downscaling problem I worked on, but that doesn’t mean it is a good approach for all problems.

  79. I should point out I am most definitely not an expert in extreme value theory, I tend to find things most interesting when I don’t know much about them!

  80. Michael Hauber says:

    rogerpielkejr: ‘We know that rainfall extremes and flooding extremes are not easily or closely related.’

    Really?

    The relationship of more rain = more flooding seems about as simple as anything can get in climate. I’d agree with ‘not perfectly related’ in that an individual 1 in 10,000 year rain event may quite reasonably cause a 1 in 10 year flood event. But then Co2 is not perfectly related with temperature either as Co2 can go up in the same year that temperature can go down. But if we are talking trends in the future that may be of interest for policy determination I find it hard to see why the trends would diverge significantly for any reasons other than our efforts to mitigate. Or perhaps how much we make things worse by replacing grass/forest with paving.

  81. John Hartz says:

    My wife and I live in Columbia, South Carolina and personally experienced the 1,000-year rain event that is the topic of this OP. We are fortunate to live in Northeast Richland County in the sandhills area created by an ancient sea millions of years ago. The water from the two-day rain bomb that fell on our area was quickly absorbed and we experienced no flooding in our neigborhood. Nontheless, two-days of continuous sheets of rainfall was scary.

    Although I have not been able to thoroughly read the comments posted to date, I did a quick scan and found many of the comments to be rather silly and based on a rather shallow understanding of what transpired. If I have the time to do so, I will wade into the discussion in more detail over the next couple of weeks.

  82. izen says:

    @-Magma
    “1000-year flood levels/flows can be estimated from the 500-year levels/flows, or recalculated.
    Techniques for estimating magnitude and frequency of floods in South Carolina, 1988”

    http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/wri914157

    Interesting paper, but it does not present any 1000-year flood estimates. Some of the graphs include 500-year estimates, and the method use could be extended I suppose.

    However there are some problematic details.
    When actual river flow data is not available a means of converting longer, better rainfall records is used to synthesise the flood flow data.
    To avoid giving undue weight to recent extreme events which might skew the record and make the incidence look worse than it is, longer records are weighted. So any recent change in recurrence rates is intentionally damped out of the estimates because of an underlying assumption of unchanging incidence. I suspect people with better stats insight than i could question the method described on page 8 to generate the 100-year incidence estimates.

  83. I think I found where Roger mentions the pause. “Last word” might be a bit much, but it’s pretty reasonable

    While such a slowdown might give scientists good reasons to ask hard questions of climate model projections, it has been going on for too short a time period to understand what, if anything, it might be telling us about changes in climate,….

    This, however, is pretty poor

    …climate “deniers” (thus equating them with those who deny the existence of Nazi genocide),….

    Rubbish. It means that they deny the basics of climate science. My personal take is that I avoid (generally) labelling individuals, but there clearly are people who deny our well-founded understanding of climate science. Here’s a quote from one of the reviewer’s of Roger’s book

    Puts to bed the myth that human activity is causing what is a natural phenomena, global warming.

    To be clear, I’m not suggesting that this reflects on Roger, simply pointing out that there are people who deny anthropogenic global warming and Roger must be aware of such people. To suggest that the use of the word “denier” (which has a clear definition) automatically implies an association with something as horrific as the holocaust is poor, and – if anything – is using what is an horrific event to score some kind of point, and to deligitimise perfectly reasonable terminology.

  84. John Hartz says:

    For a good explanation of what happened in Charleston and what lies ahead, read the following in-depth article…

    Area leaders fail to take serious action in face of rising threats from above and below by Doug Pardue and Tony Bartelme, Charleston Post & Courier, Oct 10, 2015

  85. Ethan Allen says:

    izen,

    I’m not the SME you are looking for (meaning I haven’t practiced hydrology.pretty much since my book learning days in college).

    However, the USGS uses PEAKFQ …
    http://water.usgs.gov/software/PeakFQ/

    “Program PeakFQ implements both the Bulletin 17B and Expected Moments Algorithm (EMA) procedures for flood-frequency analysis of streamflow records, providing estimates of flood magnitudes and their corresponding variance for a range of 15 annual exceedance probabilities, including 0.6667, 0.50, 0.4292 0.20, 0.10, 0.04, 0.02, 0.01, 0.005, and 0.002 (recurrence intervals 1.5, 2, 2.33, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, and 500 years, respectively.) The output also includes estimates of the parameters of the log-Pearson Type III frequency distribution, including the logarithmic mean, standard deviation, skew, and mean square error of the skew. The output graph includes the fitted frequency curve, systematic peaks, low outliers, censored peaks, interval peaks, historic peaks, thresholds, and confidence limits.”

    Current version is 7.1 dated 14 Mar 2014.

    The USACE Hydrologic Engineering Center …
    http://www.hec.usace.army.mil/

    “The Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC), an organization within the Institute for Water Resources, is the designated Center of Expertise for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the technical areas of surface and groundwater hydrology, river hydraulics and sediment transport, hydrologic statistics and risk analysis, reservoir system analysis, planning analysis, real-time water control management and a number of other closely associated technical subjects. HEC supports Corps field offices, headquarters, and laboratories by providing technical methods and guidance, water resources models and associated utilities, training and workshops, accomplishing research and development, and performing technical assistance and special projects. The products that are developed from these activities are for the Corps but are available to the public and may be freely downloaded from this web site.”

    The NWS/NOAA …
    http://water.weather.gov/ahps/
    http://water.weather.gov/ahps/rfc/rfc.php
    http://www.srh.noaa.gov/lmrfc/

    The Tri-Agency Fusion Team …
    http://mvs-wc.mvs.usace.army.mil/fusion/fusion.htm

    “The Fusion Team mission is to improve the accuracy and utility of river/rainfall observations and river forecasts. The Fusion Team is comprised of representatives from the National Weather Service, US Geological Survey and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The team works collaboratively to identify needed improvements and develop plans to implement those improvements given the current science, manpower and level of funding. The ultimate goal is to optimize the accuracy and utility of the forecasts provided to the Public in accordance with all applicable regulations. ”

    Notice the location of the URL? USACE.

    Oh and FEMA does do 500-year floodplain maps (they don’t do engineering so that work gets farmed out to other federal agencies, guess which ones) …
    https://msc.fema.gov/portal
    https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search?AddressQuery=south%20carolina

    BTW, not all ENGINEERS are ME’s and EE’s. The actual applied science and ENGINEERING gets done after the fact with respect to weather/flooding events. That type of work you won’t fine here or in the MSM. Are AOGCM’s/ESM’s basic science or applied science? Parameterization, means applied science last time I checked.

    Signed,
    Retired and formally of the USACE ERDC WES CHL (coastal ENGINEERING)

  86. Joshua says:

    Roger –

    Well, I spose I’m a bit late here…

    ==> “A. “Stealth advocacy” refers to those who argue along the lines “Science tells us we must do X.” I don’t make such arguments. Values motivate action. Further, my advocacy on climate policy is open and advertised. If you have questions about it, ask.

    Well, I guess you pretty much invented the term, so you get to define it in a sense. But when I was referring to your steal advocacy, I mean of the sort exemplified by your tweet. You incite with manipulative comments that don’t present the arguments in their full spectrum, and then complain that the water’s been poisoned. That, to me, is stealth advocacy in the sense that it pushes an agenda without being up front and open about that agenda.

    ==> “A: I don’t understand. Here I am.”

    Yes, you’re here, but you’re still not accepting accountability for the role that you play in degrading the discussion.

  87. John Hartz says:

    Having personally experienced the 1-in-1,000 year rain event in South Carolina, I have been on the lookout for quality articles about the causes and consequences of this particular severe weather event. One of the better ones that I have come across is…

    South Carolina’s Catastrophic Floods Caused By One of the Most Prolific Rainfall Events in Modern U.S. History by Nick Wiltgen, Weather Underground, Oct 8, 2015

    Wiltgen’s article speaks directly to some of the issues raised by ATTP in the OP.

  88. Roger Jones says:

    Hi mt and all,

    in Australia for floods engineers and flood authorities have moved to Annual Exceedance Probabilities (AEP) and are avoiding recurrence intervals so that the “biggest flood in a thousand years” misconceptions can be minimised. This also allows them to say “even though we just had a one in hundred flood, the chance of the same flood next year is 0.01%”. Actually, it’s slightly higher than that because if a rainfall event of AEP 0.01% occurs, the catchment will be wet increasing the chance of a greater (riverine) flood than 0.01%.

    By the way, I don’t think the trend analysis methods that RP Jr and many others use to suggest whether there is a signal or not should have much confidence invested in them for a number of reasons including:
    * the climate change signal is non-linear on decadal time scales and includes step change and regimes (so any good analysis has to include this)
    * methods to control mitigation and exposure are usually too crude to provide reliable changes in protection, preparation and response
    * the statistics produced are too uncertain to quantify what the null case / hypothesis “proved” cases are. They aren’t a simple yes/no threshold and there is a huge grey area where both can be possible. My feeling is that those grey areas swamp the current signal space for most climate-related extremes.

    As far as I know no work that I have seen has tackled these together. We are interested in doing so if anyone wants to drop me a line (I’m easy to find). (as part of our research portfolio, so not tomorrow – these undertakings are not straightforward). If anyone has seen analyses that factor in joint uncertainties, please let me know.

  89. Roger,
    Thanks, it would be interesting to get MT’s take. My own view is similar to yours. Trying to extract a meaningful signal from complex data (like cost/damages) must be extremely difficult, given all that one has to correct for and given that we may not even expect such a signal to be present in the physical data, let alone the societal data. And, as you say, we may not even be sure what such a signal would look like, given the complexity of the processes we’re trying to understand. That’s why I have an issue with those who seem to claim that there is no signal, rather than “we can’t identify a signal”.

  90. BBD says:

    That’s why I have an issue with those who seem to claim that there is no signal, rather than “we can’t identify a signal”.

    Yes! That’s it exactly. In a single sentence. Thank you ATTP.

  91. Willard says:

    To return to MT’s title “show me slowly what I only know the limits of,” there seems to be at least two limits involved, the if and the when. Conflating the two (as Mr. T so often does) can lead astray when it comes to communicating uncertainty:

    We examined whether responses to projections were influenced by whether the projection emphasized uncertainty in the outcome or in its time of arrival. We presented participants with statements and graphs indicating projected increases in temperature, sea levels, ocean acidification and a decrease in arctic sea ice. In the uncertain-outcome condition, statements reported the upper and lower confidence bounds of the projected outcome at a fixed time point. In the uncertain time-of-arrival condition, statements reported the upper and lower confidence bounds of the projected time of arrival for a fixed outcome. Results suggested that people perceived the threat as more serious and were more likely to encourage mitigative action in the time-uncertain condition than in the outcome-uncertain condition. This finding has implications for effectively communicating the climate change risks to policy-makers and the general public.

    http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/373/2055/20140464

    Speaking of uncertainties, Leonard Cohen’s song had a more transcendental connotation than a romantic one at first:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dance_Me_to_the_End_of_Love

  92. BBD says:

    I’m not on a fucking team, Joshua. My acceptance of the scientific consensus is logical, not some nitwit confirmation bias. So as far I am am concerned, you incessant attempts to equate me with denialists are nothing short of blatantly offensive.

    Just saying.

  93. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    ==> ” So as far I am am concerned, you incessant attempts to equate me with denialists…”

    I wasn’t equating anyone in particular with anything.

    I will say, however, that your reaction is fairly similar to one that I get from individual “skeptics” when they are presented with evidence about the general patterns of motivated reasoning.

  94. BBD says:

    I will say, however, that your reaction is fairly similar to one that I get from individual “skeptics” when they are presented with evidence about the general patterns of motivated reasoning.

    And more of the same. Do you have no idea how tedious *and* offensive your incessant hobby-horsing on this theme is getting, Joshua?

    The day you can show me that accepting the scientific consensus on the basis of logic equates with politicially motivated climate change denial is the day you will have a point.

  95. John Hartz says:

    Given how far the current crop of Republican/Tea Party elected officals of South Carolina have painted themselves into the anti-science corner, the answer is most likely “No”.

    Will historic SC floods wash away state leaders’ climate science denial? by Sue Sturgis, Facing South, Oct 8, 2015

  96. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    ==> “Do you have no idea how tedious *and* offensive your incessant hobby-horsing on this theme is getting, Joshua?”

    I certainly get that you consider it tedious and offensive when I post comments about the general patterns related to motivated reasoning, but once again I’m not making any assertions about your reasoning or that of any other individual.

    If you take offense to the evidence of such pattern, AFAIC that’s on you just as it is on “skeptics” if they find it tedious and offensive when I point out the general pattern of group overlap between “skeptics” and conservatives who think that Obama is an illegal immigrant Muslim.

  97. Vinny Burgoo says:

    BBD, the day you climb down off your big scientism horse and recognise that there’s a difference between physics and what to do about physics might be the day you have a point.

    You and your team’s constant insistence that physics has all the answers got stale long ago.

    Just sayin’.

  98. You and your team’s constant insistence that physics has all the answers got stale long ago.

    Just strawmanning.

    Seriously, I do expect better from you. Why do you think that is a fair representation of the general view?

  99. BBD says:

    Vinny

    You and your team’s constant insistence that physics has all the answers got stale long ago.

    I don’t think this is what is being argued, except in the wider sense that physics shows that more CO2 means more warming and less means less warming.

    This is not scientism.

  100. BBD says:

    Joshua

    I certainly get that you consider it tedious and offensive when I post comments about the general patterns related to motivated reasoning,

    I think you over-state the ability of motivated reasoning to influence all individuals equally.

  101. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    I don’t think that motivated reasoning affects all people equally.

    I think that all people are potentially influenced by motivated reasoning, particularly in polarized contexts where people are strongly identified.

    I believe that it is possible, to some extent, to control for that influence. The scientific method is a particularly valuable method for exercising that control.

    That is why I think the consensus of expert opinion on the impact of AC02 is relevant for assessing the impact of motivated reasoning w/r/t the issue of climate change.

  102. BBD says:

    But we aren’t talking about the scientific consensus itself. The issue is to what extent accepting or rejecting it is determined by motivated reasoning. I maintain that just reasoning on its own, without the qualifier, plays a larger part in acceptance. Motivated reasoning entirely dominates rejection.

  103. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Jus’ trollin’ along, ATTP.

  104. Well, at least you’re honest.

  105. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: I suggest that you immediately levy a $25.00 per incident fine on any commenter who ends his/her comment with:

    Just sayin’.

  106. BBD says:

    It’s okay so long as you don’t go all down-home and folksy and drop the final ‘g’. The awful fad for channeling all this sepia-tinted backwoods fantasy and the attendant dressing-up box is what opened the door to the horrors of hipsterism.

  107. “My acceptance of the scientific consensus is logical, not some nitwit confirmation bias.”

    And now for more irony.

    Blind-Spot Bias:“Failing to recognize your cognitive biases is a bias in itself.”

    And here’s a paper indicating the more educated one is, the more prone to blind-spot bias one may become.

    Of course, it indicates my own blind-spot bias to point this out.

    ATTP exhibits his own biases when he censors my posts here.

    We are all biased so in some sense, the argumentative nature of exchange is beneficial, as long as all get a say and people are open to acceptance of demonstrable data.

  108. anoilman says:

    Vinny Burgoo says:
    October 15, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    “You and your team’s constant insistence that physics has all the answers got stale long ago.”

    Speaking of Stale Vinny… Your behavior is not exactly a class act.

    More often than not you go after the science and not anything else. Multiple times you have been proven miserably wrong. You’ve even gone so far as to grab documents that you clearly haven’t read, only to discover later on that they back the science you fear so much.

    I’ve also noticed a distinct pattern of willful ignorance on your behalf. You’ve complained about medical documentation here that they got wrong at Skeptical Science… only for us to go over there and see that A) you did it there… B) they updated and corrected it… and C) you had no more complaints (for them anyways).

  109. TE,

    ATTP exhibits his own biases when he censors my posts here.

    I’ve never censored anyone’s posts. I’ve chosen to moderate some posts. Some people call it censorship, but given that they are free to post exactly the same thing somewhere else, and often do, it’s hard to see why it is. I can’t remember doing any moderation of your posts. I may well have, but can’t remember doing so.

    Also, if you read my moderation page you may notice an explicit acknowledgement of bias.

  110. anoilman says:

    Lucifer (ahem now called Turbulent Eddy so as not to be confused with the Prince of Lies): I’ve read a lot of your posts. If you have anything salient or of value I’d be surprised. Most of what I’ve seen it utterly biased drivel.

    I think you should pick up one of many many many text books on climate science and give them a read before posting here. Its not like this is new science. Its old proven and done.

  111. anoilman says:

    Anders has censored me many times. I can be abrasive and repetitive.

  112. “If you have anything salient or of value I’d be surprised. Most of what I’ve seen it utterly biased drivel.”

    Could be evidence of your bias.

  113. Most of what I’ve seen it utterly biased drivel.

    But is it true?

    Confirmation bias is not so much believing falsehoods, but rather rejecting other truths that complete the picture.

  114. Michael 2 says:

    izen says: “South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley opposes new EPA regulations on carbon dioxide emissions for power plants because they would be too costly to electric customers.”

    Delighted to see this news item. It’s not entirely obvious why it’s on the same page with knowing that a particular rainfall hasn’t been equaled in the past 999 years.

  115. mt says:

    Vinnie: “You and your team’s constant insistence that physics has all the answers got stale long ago.”

    Two straw men in barely a dozen words. There’s a team? That insists that physics has all the answers? I expect better of you.

    It’s not a team sport to suggest that it’s better to base a preferred policy on valid evidence than to base validity of evidence on a preferred policy.

  116. Joshua says:

    Wrong thread……

    TE –

    =>> ” ATTP exhibits his own biases when he censors my posts here.”

    Self-victimization is one of the sure signs of confirmation bias.

    Just sayin[g]

  117. anoilman says:

    Turbulent Eddie: More drivel. I’m right, and no… you are clearly the biased one here. If you acted like you do here on the job, you’d be fired for gross incompetence. Everyone with technical job can tell this fact about you.

    Tell me exactly what page in IPCC AR5 is wrong, and why. (Oops… you can’t look at Tol’s stuff… not even he has clarified what he’s doing, and keeps repeating mistakes and perpetuating his own errors.)

    Honestly I’ve been looking for something to be wrong with the with the science of Global Warming for years now. ‘Cause I am worried about it and I don’t want to be. This is how I got dragged in.

    Failure to produce an exact and meaningful error on your behalf will be considered by me as evidence that you have no useful knowledge. Currently I have you lumped in as ‘serial misinformer’. I dare you to prove me wrong on that count.

    Citing unique, unusual, old, off the wall, and out of the way papers is not going to impress me. You need to find something credible, not something from Jim Bob’s junk paper collection and uneaten nose pickings, like this place;
    http://www.populartechnology.net/2009/10/peer-reviewed-papers-supporting.html

    FYI: I’ve gone through a few papers from there and had a laugh. I particularly liked it when some of the papers were disproven only to suddenly see their references CENSORED (using your words), removed, and bragging rights deleted. (But its not like they were good papers to begin with.)

  118. John Hartz says:

    Hartz’s law:

    The more days that pass from the date that an OP is posted on this site, the more esoteric the commentary becomes.

  119. Pingback: A few thoughts | …and Then There's Physics

  120. Willard says:

    Earlier, izen referred to Neumayer & Bartel 2012. In the pre-print we can read:

    The authors acknowledge financial and other support from the Munich Re Programme “Evaluating the Economics of Climate Risks & Opportunities in the Insurance Sector” at LSE. All views expressed are our own and do not represent the views of Munich Re. We thank Jan Eichner, Eberhard Faust, Peter Hoeppe, Roger Pielke Jr., Nicola Ranger, Lenny Smith and an anonymous referee for many helpful comments. All errors are ours.

    http://www.cccep.ac.uk/Publications/Working-papers/Papers/40-49/WP41_economic-loss-nat-disasters.pdf

    Considering that RPJ has been critical of Munich Re on his archived website [1], it would be nice to know the nature of these helpful comments.

    ***

    This paper is cited by this recent one:

    The global impacts of river floods are substantial and rising. Effective adaptation to the increasing risks requires an in-depth understanding of the physical and socioeconomic drivers of risk. Whereas the modeling of flood hazard and exposure has improved greatly, compelling evidence on spatiotemporal patterns in vulnerability of societies around the world is still lacking. Due to this knowledge gap, the effects of vulnerability on global flood risk are not fully understood, and future projections of fatalities and losses available today are based on simplistic assumptions or do not include vulnerability. We show for the first time (to our knowledge) that trends and fluctuations in vulnerability to river floods around the world can be estimated by dynamic high-resolution modeling of flood hazard and exposure. We find that rising per-capita income coincided with a global decline in vulnerability between 1980 and 2010, which is reflected in decreasing mortality and losses as a share of the people and gross domestic product exposed to inundation. The results also demonstrate that vulnerability levels in low- and high-income countries have been converging, due to a relatively strong trend of vulnerability reduction in developing countries. Finally, we present projections of flood losses and fatalities under 100 individual scenario and model combinations, and three possible global vulnerability scenarios. The projections emphasize that materialized flood risk largely results from human behavior and that future risk increases can be largely contained using effective disaster risk reduction strategies.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/112/18/E2271.full

    The disaster risk reduction strategies seem to be a bargain:

    In words:

    If all countries that are currently relatively vulnerable (i.e., loss and mortality rates above global average level) would reach the current global average vulnerability levels by 2080 (medium-adaptation scenario), global fatalities and losses would be reduced by an estimated 2,138 (25%) and US$233bn (48%), respectively (average of all projections). Under the high-adaptation scenario, the reductions in global fatalities and losses would be as high as 5,960 (69%) and US$468bn (96%) (average of all projections), respectively. These substantial possible reductions in future risk emphasize that advancing risk reduction could result in vastly lower future impacts.

    Risk reduction does not seem to imply we institute breakthrough technology as our main mean to cope with the surprising changes that are coming.

    ***

    [1]: http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2013/04/fool-me-once-munich-res-thunderstorm.html

  121. Vinny Burgoo says:

    I have no idea what you’re talking about, anoilman. I seldom ‘go after the science’. (I prefer to bash hippies.) I did ‘go after the science’ in about 1990 when I wrote to New Scientist making fun of the notion that our planet was threatened by farting cows but I don’t suppose that’s what you’re thinking of.

    (Don’t bother. I’m better informed these days and know that the planet is threatened by belching, not farting, cows.)

  122. Vinny Burgoo says:

    MT, I was riffing (trollishly) off an exchange between Joshua and BBD.

  123. Deanna Conners says:

    Thanks for linking to my blog on wildfires. I spent some time tracking down the original source for the pre-1960 wildfire data that you linked to in the footnote of your blog—the original source for the U.S. Forest Service graph was “America’s Renewable Resources: Historical Trends and Current Challenges,” which was published in 1991 by the non-profit organization Resources for the Future. The original graph is located on page 117 of Chapter 3, and the author (R. A. Sedjo) cites “U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, 1926–1967, Forest Fire Statistics, various annual issues,” as their data source. The author also cites “U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, 1968–1989, Wildfire Statistics, annual issues,” as their data source for post-1960 data. Unfortunately, the text of that document did not describe the data in detail.

    I did find a useful supplemental document (http://www.fs.fed.us/research/sustain/docs/national-reports/2003/data/documents/Indicator%2015/Indicator%2015.pdf) to the more recent U.S. Forest Service reports/graphs that had this to say about the pre-1960 data (page 19):

    “Between 1930 and 1950, in excess of 10 million acres were burned by wildfires annually. Most of the area burned during this period was in the Southeastern United States (South RPA Region) and were primarily incendiary fires. Since 1960, between 2 and 5 million acres were burned annually by wildfires. In recent years, the average area burned has increased, especially in the Rocky Mountain and Pacific RPA Regions. A peak fire year occurred in 1988 when 7.4 million acres burned. This was the year of the extensive fires in the Greater Yellowstone Basin. The range of recent variation (since 1960), in terms of area burned, was exceeded in 2000 when wildfires burned more than 8.4 million acres. This was the largest area burned in more than 40 years.”

    So it appears that much of the pre-1960 data were related to incendiary forest fires (per http://www.interfire.org/features/wildfires.asp, an incendiary fire is one that is set intentionally) and not to true wildfires. The post-1960 dataset that I analyzed only contained data for wildfires; the National Interagency Fire Center explicitly separates the wildfire data from the prescribed fire data. Hence, comparisons to earlier data may indeed be akin to comparing apples to oranges, as Magma cautioned earlier in their comment.

  124. mt says:

    Thanks very very much indeed, Deanna!

  125. Pingback: The Mysterious Wildfire Chart | …and Then There's Physics

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