Bjorn Lomborg's latest spin on things being not too bad after all is pretty silly. For one, he says
if the main effort to cut emissions is through subsidies for chic renewables like wind and solar power, virtually no good will be achieved—at very high cost.
and then just a little later
President Obama should focus on dramatically ramping up investments into the research and development of green energy. Put another way, it is the difference between supporting an inexpensive researcher who will discover more efficient, future solar panels—and supporting a Solyndra at great expense to produce lots of inefficient, present-technology solar panels.
Why support your inexpensive researcher if solar is a "chic renewable", and what do you mean by support if not subsidy...and so forth. Nevertheless, he does pick up on the real message
The U.N. Climate Panel in 2012 concluded: "Some regions of the world have experienced more intense and longer droughts, in particular in southern Europe and West Africa, but in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, in central North America and northwestern Australia."
So - places historically affected by drought will be drier, and those affected by floods will be wetter. How much more dramatic can this get than Australia? A continent always prone to weather extremes, and particularly La Nina and El Nino events, it is rapidly becoming Ground Zero in the spectacular changes that climate change is bringing us. Previous once-in-decade events are now annual events, as shown by the Queensland floods happening every year now for the past three years, and again this year.
However, many people in the towns of Grantham and Laidley are fleeing their homes, fearful of a repeat of the floods that claimed so many lives in January 2011.
Many of the communities hit hardest in the 2010/11 floods have been inundated again and pummelled by tornadoes generated by the remnants of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.
Meanwhile, fires and abnormal temperatures continue in the South.
With temperatures soared into the forties on Saturday - despite the first signs of an unexpected cool change - a total fire ban across the state was extended for a further 24 hours through Saturday in response to the threat. Australia is now a country under climate siege.
The fires stem from the continent's lingering, seasonal droughts. Cruel, dry and arid conditions now permeate even in its humid climatic regions.
While the merest stretch of dry years bring the disaster of fire hazards, the summer of 2012/13 has eclipsed most heatwaves on record and witnessed the outbreak of hundreds of fires in virtually every Australian state.
Now in Australia, drought condition conducive to widespread outbreaks of wildfire extends into the Humid Subtropical and even Marine climates. One of the most damaging fires this week occurred in Tasmania, an island state with a climate more usually equated with the highlands of Scotland.
And all this with relatively mild solar insolation! An abnormally weak sun and few major El Nino events in the past 15 years has meant less heat for the earth's oceans to absorb. But, because the underlying temperature trend has been climbing, as nicely explained by Tamino, an extreme temperature fluctuation in the next few years could make for truly spectacular weather.
Real data — temperature, for instance — are almost always the combination of signal and noise, which we could also refer to as trend and fluctuation. Fluctuations are ubiquitous, they happen all the time. Sometimes they go up, sometimes down, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot, but the one thing they don’t do is stop.
That’s why, even in a stable climate, we’re sure to see extremes. Heat waves will happen. So will floods, drought, and giant storms. It’s the nature of the beast, those things can happen for no apparent reason — for no reason at all, really, just because they are random fluctuations. When extremes arrive, they often bring trouble with them. It’s good to be prepared for such fluctuations, because they’re unavoidable.
How extreme they are, and how often they occur, depends on the nature of the fluctuations. By measuring conditions over long periods of time, we not only get to know what the average conditions are, we also learn about the fluctuations. That enables us to define climate as the mean (average) and variation (fluctuations) of weather.
Fortunately such fluctuations are exceedingly rare. A once-in-a-thousand-years heat wave only happens, well, once in a thousand years. On average, that is … we could get two such events in rapid succession just because of (very very) bad luck. Fortunately, such concordances of extreme extremes are very very exceedingly rare.
In just the last decade we’ve seen a number of extreme extremes. Even if we only count the heat waves, recent history is remarkable. Europe in 2003, Australia in 2009 (not once but twice in a single year), Russia in 2010, the U.S. in 2012. And now Australia (again!) in 2013. All these heat waves were extreme, some were extreme extreme, and they all brought disaster. Their frequency is just as remarkable as their severity, having come one after another in rapid succession.
That could be just a coincidence — one hell of a whopper of the worst weather luck imaginable.
Just this month, Australians experienced a similar large upward fluctuation in nationwide temperature. Again, all by itself that’s not such a big deal. Heat waves and wildfires happen, and since Australia is a pretty hot place anyway those who live there are well prepared for such fluctuations. But when they are added on top of a substantial trend it becomes like nothing they’ve seen before.
He then goes on to show the estimated trend
The dot with a red circle around it is the temperature in 2012. That was a national disaster. Now imagine that the endpoint of the red line, so much hotter than what brought about a national disaster, becomes the norm.
What will life be like when unprecedented disaster becomes the norm? We are not prepared.
Alas, “the post-1975 trend continues in the U.S.” is an optimistic forecast. It only leads to an average temperature anomaly of about +6°F by the year 2100. That’s on the low side of actual forecasts by legitimate climate scientists.