Over the past decade, a compelling body of evidence has linked a range of extreme weather events to human-caused climate change. This area of research – known as “event attribution” – provides a means for climate scientists to examine how the severity and frequency of weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts and storms, are changing as greenhouse gas concentrations rise. In a pair of new journal papers, we have attempted to open up a new avenue for quantifying the “attributable costs” of weather-related disasters. We focus on recent droughts and floods in New Zealand and the landfall of Hurricane Harvey in Texas in 2017. Using event attribution as the scientific basis for quantifying how extreme weather has changed, we have been examining the links between changes in extreme weather and their economic consequences. If we can quantify the contribution from climate change to an extreme weather event and we can also know the cost of the associated disaster, then we can put a financial figure on the climate change component of those costs. These calculations then provide us with the price tag of climate change, through its impact on extreme weather events.
Carbon Brief 12th June 2020 read more »
At least $67bn of the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 can be attributed directly to climate breakdown, according to research that could lead to a radical reassessment of the costs of damage from extreme weather. Harvey ripped through the Caribbean and the US states of Texas and Louisiana, causing at least $90bn of damage to property and livelihoods, and killing scores of people. Conventional economic estimates attributed only about $20bn of the destruction to the direct impacts of global heating. Climate breakdown is known to be making hurricanes stronger and may make them more likely to occur, but separating the effects of global heating from the natural weather conditions that also cause hurricanes is complex. In a study published in the journal Climatic Change, researchers used the emerging science of climate change attribution to calculate the odds of such a hurricane happening naturally or under increased carbon dioxide levels, and applied the results to the damage caused.
Guardian 12th June 2020 read more »
Twin wildfires are ablaze across hundreds of acres in Ventura County north of Los Angeles and evacuations have been ordered in the region, according to reports.
Independent 11th June 2020 read more »