Thursday, December 1, 2011

In honor of Durban, more on global warming

Here's a link to an article from New Scientist via Slate, about extreme weather events, global warming, and a new technique British meteorologists want to use that considers the odds of particular events to assess the extent of human-induced climate change involved. (You know: was Hurricane Katrina really a 100 year storm, or was it worse than it might have been because of global warming?) Peter A. Stott, a climate scientist in the UK, wrote the article. We don't have a good enough system yet, he says, but:
What we need is an attribution system, operated regularly like the weather forecast and made available to the public. Its purpose would be to deliver rapid and authoritative assessments of the links, if any, between recent extreme weather events and human-induced climate change.
In the event of, say, a severe flood, the system would provide estimates of the extent to which the event was made more or less likely by human-induced climate change. It would also take into account alternative natural explanations such as the El NiƱo Southern Oscillation, a large-scale climate pattern in the tropical Pacific Ocean that affects weather worldwide.
Such a system would be useful - it's hard to tell from one day to the next what is causing particular weather events. And it might even move the discussion in the US from whether climate change is happening to what to do about it.

Sometimes it helps to go outside US news sources, and today's BBC World News Service has a fascinating interview with David Attenborough about his new programs about global warming. I can't find a direct link to the interview, but you can listen to the BBC's webcast here. The Attenborough interview is in the Newshour.

And, FWIW, since I use Wikipedia a lot, here's a link to the Tech Crunch blog post complaining about the placement of Wikepedia's fundraising pleas.

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