The tendency of the hysterics to blame hot weather on climate change, and then remembering that it’s only weather when it gets cold outside, is a bit funny.
What’s happening in Russia, Pakistan and China is not.
Russia has had record temperatures for a couple of weeks, and the death rate in Moscow doubled. (Many of those who perished had gone for an extended dip in the river after a bit too much vodka.) Meanwhile, there has been extensive flooding and loss of life in Pakistan and China.
The more restrained analysts say, and possibly correctly, that this could serve as a preview of what global warming has in store for us. More intense heat waves and precipitation that falls more intensely than previously. It may end up that way–although there’s a lot of uncertainty about where, when and how much.
And when they speak rationally we should pay attention–lot of smart people over there.
But then there are the hysterics (some of them are smart, too, at least part of the time). They’re running around the internets saying that global warming has ‘arrived’ early. It hasn’t.
As Roger Pielke points out, unusual weather events are not unusual, in the sense that it’s a big enough world that someplace will have a freak weather instance every couple of years or so. And certainly a two-week heatwave in Moscow (like the similar spell in France a few years back) does not compare with the decade of drought and desertification that affliced the U.S. Southwest in the Thirties, or parts of Africa more recently.
It’s just weather.
What frosts me a little is when the hysterics start talking about the increased loss of life and destruction of property and agricultural land due to these ‘global warming inspired’ occurrences.
First, loss of life due to weather has dropped 98% over the past century, due to better forecasting and the increased ability of people to get out of harm’s way. Second, floods and heat waves in particular used to be far more devastating. In 1887, flooding along China’s Yellow River killed over two million people.
Third, a lot of the problem faced in all three countries is due to internal immigration. The Moscow metropolitan area has grown rapidly due to the same developmental forces that affect all developing nations. The population of Pakistan has grown from 33 million in 1950 to 173 million today. And it’s nicer to live in the valleys than the mountains. And it’s nicer to live along a river so you don’t have to walk for miles to get the daily water. Population increase and internal migration are a big factor in China as well.
The temperature in Moscow averaged 1.4 degrees C over the summer normal temperature. This is not exactly earth-shattering news. Human mismanagement let some forest fires and peat fires get out of control, so the heat was accompanied by ever-present smoke.
But to hear the hysterics talk, it’s Thermageddon. My reply to them is, after the valium kicks in, can we get back to discussing serious issues?