Climate change and weather – Why should I worry?

2011 sees record breaking

weather-related disasters

Climate change? What climate change?

The Right insisting that climate change doesn’t exist is looking more and more like “fiddling while Rome burns”.  Time for a reality check.

global warming

The United States is on a pace in 2011 to set a record for the cost of weather-related disasters and the trend is expected to worsen as climate change continues, officials and scientists said on Thursday.

“The economic impact of severe weather events is only projected to grow,” Senator Dick Durbin said at a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Financial Services and Government, which he chairs. “We are not prepared. Our weather events are getting worse, catastrophic in fact.”

Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, held a hearing on the role of government in mitigating the economic impact of weather disasters as Republicans in the House of Representatives were considering an appropriations bill with a number of riders designed to curtail environmental regulation.

As of June, the United States has seen eight weather disasters exceeding $1 billion each in damage, and the annual hurricane season has hardly begun, said Kathryn Sullivan, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction and NOAA’s Deputy Administrator.

The record is nine in a single year, 2008. But April alone saw separate tornado, wildfire, flood and drought disasters.

“Any one such a event in a year would be considered quite notable, and we had four in totally different hazard categories in the space of a month,” Sullivan told Reuters.

The costs of weather-disaster damages have climbed past $32 billion for 2011, according to NOAA estimates.

The agency also projects that water flowing into the Gulf of Mexico from record flooding will create the largest-ever “dead zone” from pollutants led by run-off from agricultural chemicals, threatening marine life and threatening the $2.8 billion annual commercial and recreational fisheries.

Climate and climate change as context

“Every weather event that happens nowadays takes place in the context of the changes in the background climate system,” University of Illinois scientist Donald Wuebbles, who worked on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told the panel.

“So nothing is entirely ‘natural’ anymore,” he said.

Since roughly 1980, the United States has seen a total of 107 weather-related disasters of over $1 billion each in damage, with total losses exceeding $750 billion.

Almost 90 percent of all Presidentially declared disasters are weather-related, and vulnerability to the impacts is also increasing with population, Sullivan testified.

“The scientific and analytical consensus is … that patterns and frequencies of weather events are changing,” said Sullivan. “That alone says past is no longer prologue.”

Durbin flagged the trend of rising weather disasters as a major budget issue for Congress. Over the next 75 years, he said, cumulative exposure of the U.S. government budget to weather-disaster damages could reach $7 trillion.

Durbin said federal funding for disaster relief has been typically provided only as needed, rather than as regular budget projections. So weather disasters have been a budget disaster too, he said.

“In years with catastrophic events, we are left scrambling to fund relief programs,” he said. “If we hope to put this country on a sustainable fiscal path, we need to be prepared to manage this increase in natural catastrophes.”

Congress has asked the Government Accountability Office to determine how federal, state and local authorities are adapting to climate change. But David Trimble, Director for Natural Resources and Environment at the GAO, told Reuters that environmental regulations addressing climate change have fallen victim to political pressure in the current budget debate.

“I think it’s more your sort of pressing needs today versus tomorrow, the ‘my roof’s not raining now’ idea,” he said.

“This is a difficult, complex issue that involves pretty much every aspect of the government,” he said. “To tackle it we need greater clarity about where the money we are spending on climate change is going, and on our national priorities.”

climate change global warming graph chart

Thanks to Reuters and YahooNews

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Posted by on July 29, 2011. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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5 Responses to Climate change and weather – Why should I worry?

  1. rightrobert

    July 29, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    You folks keep on moaning about how people don’t agree with you. Get used to it, the American people don’t agree with you.

    • Holte Ender

      July 29, 2011 at 10:42 pm

      These folks are not moaning Robert, just stating the facts and nothing but the facts. Research them and find out for yourself, stop listening to Rush Limbaugh and branch out on your own.

      • Bradley scott

        July 29, 2011 at 11:08 pm

        Facts don’t require agreement to be facts. And ‘experts’, with ulterior motives, like the climate change denyers are never the source you want to bet the farm on. Concider that scientists stated that cigarette smoking caused cancer as early as the mid-thirties. Tobacco corporations with deep pockets kept warning labels off cigarette packages for thirty years by hiring ‘researchers’, lawyers and lobbyists to refute the legitmate science, pressure lawmakers and prevent responsible labeling with litigation. But, would any logical person believe that lighting a paper tube of chemical laced weeds and inhaling the smoke could not harm you? Just think of smokestacks as giant cigarettes, pumpimg kilotons of carcinogens, as well as other toxins into the atmosphere, a cyclical system, and you can’t help but see how ridiculous the denyers argument is, whether you want to agree with them or not.

        • Bradley scott

          July 29, 2011 at 11:17 pm

          P.S. Robert, 150 years or so ago, public opinion of the notion that ‘little beasties’ in the drinking water were making people sick was that scientist trying to warn people about ‘germs’ were crackpots, although their assertions were as well supported by science as clmate change is today. Should we bet the life of the planet of the type of minds that would believe germs are imaginary and cigarette smoking is a completely harmless passtime?

  2. Anonymous

    August 18, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    I do agree that climate change is really a what I have witnessed and heard in our siminar about this…this is really happening..!!and we should be aware!!