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Weighing the toll of our ‘angry summer’ against climate change

Last week the Climate Commission released its latest report entitled The Angry Summer. It seeks to “provide a summary of the extreme weather of the 2012/13 summer and the influence of climate change on…

Extreme events such as Tasmania’s bushfires were devastating, but did not contribute to higher than normal property losses this year compared to previous ones.

Last week the Climate Commission released its latest report entitled The Angry Summer. It seeks to “provide a summary of the extreme weather of the 2012/13 summer and the influence of climate change on such events”.

The report refers to, amongst other things, how the significant impacts of extreme weather on property highlights the serious consequences of failing to adequately address climate change.

So has property damage during 2012-2013 been higher than normal?

The answer, in terms of insured losses from weather-related disasters, is no.

To place the 2012-13 insured loss from weather-related disasters in a historical context we turn to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) Natural Disaster Event List. The Disaster List contains industry-wide losses for natural disasters in Australia that have caused significant insured losses since 1967. It is one of the most comprehensive databases of its kind in the world.

Figure 1 shows the normalised insured losses from Australian weather-related disasters for years beginning 1 July. Each year then spans a single summer. Loss normalisation allows an apples-to-apples comparison of losses to be made over time by adjusting for changes in dwelling numbers and values and applying a building code adjustment to tropical cyclone losses.

This updated dataset in 2011-12 values is an extension of the data and normalisation analyses described in our 2008 study and and this report for the Insurance Council of Australia in 2011 to 30 June 2012. The loss normalisation analyses were funded by the ICA. The current loss for the ongoing 2012-13 financial year is also included.

Figure 1: Normalised losses for weather-related events in the Disaster List aggregated by years beginning 1 July. The loss for 2012 does not cover a full 12-month period and further losses may occur between 11 March 2013 and 30 June 2013.

The long-term average annual normalised insured loss from weather-related disasters is around $1.1 billion. To date, insured losses during the 2012-13 financial year from bushfires in Tasmania and Coonabarabran and flooding in Queensland and New South Wales currently total almost $1 billion. This loss is certainly not “angry”.

Of the top ten normalised insured losses, the 2010-11 Queensland floods register only fifth on the list with the highest-ranked loss of about $4.3 billion due to the 1999 Sydney hailstorm.

There is no doubt the industry has been hit hard in recent times, but there have been more expensive individual events and years in the past.

And any claim of a climate change influence on increasing disaster loss totals to date is simply unfounded and in contradiction to the international scientific evidence. After summarising the peer-reviewed literature on this point, the Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) concluded:

Long-term trends in economic disaster losses adjusted for wealth and population increases have not been attributed to climate change, but a role for climate change has not been excluded (high agreement, medium evidence).

The major cause of increases in the insured and economic costs of weather-related disasters has been more assets and people in harm’s way. And recent loss experience in Australia reflects this.

For this reason, the authors welcome the recent announcement by the Federal Government of $100 million in funding for disaster mitigation projects. It represents an important and positive initiative towards managing future disaster losses, especially in the short term, and reducing this nation’s vulnerability to natural disasters.

Climate change is an important concern, and deserves policy attention. However, making supportable scientific claims is important as well. Those who point to increasing disaster losses as a signal of human-caused climate change are doing no favours for those working to address growing losses and accumulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

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130 Comments sorted by

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  1. Don Aitkin

    writer, speaker and teacher

    A straightforward counter to the alarmism of the Climate Commission, supported, alas, by the Bureau of Meteorology. You'd expect government agencies to express whatever they say with due consideration to the uncertainties, but the Climate Commission is remarkably free of such caution.

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Don Aitkin

      Shame you obviously haven't actually bothered to read the report, Don.

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  2. John Phillip
    John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Grumpy Old Man

    Thank you Ryan and John for providing facts and a rational, non-alarmist argument. Do you think it's possible that insurance companies are 'milking' climate change for financial ends? Cheers

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    1. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to John Phillip

      "Do you think it's possible that insurance companies are 'milking' climate change for financial ends?"

      Of course they are. They're part of the conspiracy.

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    2. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to John Phillip

      Good on you John. Always first with the latest conspiracy.

      If you check above in John McAneney's disclosure statement, you will see that John and Risk Frontiers are part funded by the insurance industry.

      Strange sort of conspiracy where they fund a report which plays down the disaster losses due to climate change.

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    3. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike, insurance reports have been quoted in various pages on this site as support for AGW. What I am asking is whether or not it is possible that they are manipulating public fear to increase coverage rates.

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    4. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Really? What 'conspiracies' have I been 'first with' previously? Ditch the ad hom bullshit Mike.

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  3. Chris Booker

    Research scientist

    From what I understand you're trying to make the argument that, since insurance losses have in fact been relatively stable, that extreme weather events are in fact not on the rise?

    Maybe you're actually just trying to say that insurance losses are not increasing, but your article seems to blur the two, e.g. 'This loss is certainly not “angry” ' - okay, so the loss to insurance companies might not be as large, but people usually talk about weather being 'angry' as being extreme, and that's what…

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Chris Booker

      I agree with your summation of this article Chris.

      John McAneney has form in downplaying the impact of climate change by using as his measuring stick the "normalisation analyses described in our 2008 study".

      He makes essentially the same argument in relation to Tasmanian bushfires. He attacks the following statement from a Tasmanian blog.

      "No weather event can conclusively be linked to climate change, but it is worth noting that the frequency of extreme events like these from now on will…

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    2. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Chris Booker

      "Sure, if we have sufficient disaster mitigation and efforts to prevent damage to buildings and property, then clearly the financial impact is not as large, but that doesn't mean the weather is the same."

      My thoughts exactly as I read this article.

      I could just as blithely state, using Crompton & McAneney's logic, that recent weather events have not been too difficult for me to manage living in the Yarra Ranges as I do - but I also have home insurance. Coincidently, I have never had to claim on my insurance until the past 10 years. Just a coincidence, of course.

      Also coincidental is the demise of many trees and ferns indigenous to this environment which have died from heat stress. A shame that ecosystems cannot take out insurance, if they could I am sure that Insurance corporations would be right into that as well.

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    3. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna,

      Wow! There is a really interesting thought in your response and one worth investigating.

      Do the policies show a spatial shift in extreme events over time? Are we seeing movements in claims for fire or storm damage to areas where perhaps it was less frequent before?

      I hadn't thought of using insurance claims as a measure of the spatial shifts forecast by climate models by using extreme event claims before. Does anyone know of any research that might have taken on this question?

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    4. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Alvin Stone.
      There is extensive research in the USA in particular.
      Overall, no case has been shown that there has been an increase in the frequency or severity of any class of damaging event attributable to anthropogenic climate change.
      Some events have shown have large decreases over the decades, like the ACE index of storms on Eastern USA. Some, like bush fires are very hard to analyse. How does one separate arson from man-made climate change? Some effects, like rainfall, just random walk over the years, in defiance of predictive analysis.
      Check the insurance company data. It might be commercially compromised, but so is the alarmist climate change industry. See how wealthy Al Gore became on the back of alarmism? See how often he was dead wrong?
      Nah, studies like that are not for academics. Just defend the authorities and you can't go wrong with your career path.

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    5. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Geoffrey, I think you need to classify damaging events before making such a sweeping statement. Are we talking storms, tornadoes, drought, cyclones - or just some of these?

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    6. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Alvn Stone,
      There is a required prior step. We are discussing man-made climate change. You have to provide me with examples where the Hand of Man has plausibly made a change. We can then debate the magnitude and direction of the change, hopefully over a significant time.
      So, make the anthropogenic connection then provide you favourite evidence of an induced effect.

      Cheers Geoff.

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    7. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      What a complete and utter cop-out. As anyone who follows climate science knows, there are some events which are expected to increase and some which are expected to decline under a climate influenced by global warming.

      All I am asking is that you tell me what damaging events you mean and then we can look at them in relation to the expected changes under anthropogenic warming?

      Are we talking increased bushfires, cyclones, tornadoes, blizzards or what? There have quite clearly been some definite…

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    8. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      In the first instance, I will quote from the last paragraph of the principal authors: "Those who point to increasing disaster losses as a signal of human-caused climate change are doing no favours for those working to address growing losses and accumulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere".

      It is not a cop-out, it is a mandatory prerequisite that you separate your events into those under natural change and those under human-caused climate change. That's what the authors are talking about…

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    9. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      If you were across the science - ie proof for the hand of man in global change - you would be aware that the pattern of warming through the atmosphere coincides with anthropogenic warming caused by atmospheric, not radiative, forcing; the satellite measurements which show energy returning to space has been reduced at the spectrum where CO2 sits; and the clear isotopic signature of carbon in the atmosphere that shows us the increase in CO2 is man made. That is just for starters.

      Address why these are not the case in scientific terms and we might have a decent discussion.

      Now, for the third time, could you please identify the extreme events you are referring to in your original statement?

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  4. Mike Swinbourne

    logged in via Facebook

    Since the authors of this article very nicely provided a link to the Climate Commission paper, you would have thought that they - and the commentators so far (Don Aitken and John Phillip) would have read it before they made their cases. But I guess it is easier to construct a strawman and argue against that, or to put your case in ideological terms than to rely on evidence.

    The report has this statement in it's Key Facts:

    ".....Australia’s Angry Summer shows that climate change is already…

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    1. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      What strawman argument Mike S? I asked a pretty straightforward question. Dont put words in my mouth. I suggresdt that your argument is based on a reactionary overdefensiveness of your misinterpretation of my comments as an attack on the mainstrweam view on agw.
      Commentators frequently fail to read the linked docs because a) the comments are about the article and b) hey dont have the time. Unless it's a TC policy that all links must be read before commenting

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    2. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to John Phillip

      To finish:...Unless it's a TC policy that all links must be read before commenting, I think your point is moot.

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    3. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Phillip

      You should go back and read my post John. I very clearly showed what the strawman argument was. The authors have based their whole piece on something that wasn't even claimed in the Climate Commission report.

      And you admit to not reading the report but nonetheless you still have an opinion on it? Only the arrogant has an opinion regarding something of which he is ignorant.

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  5. Michael Rowan

    Emeritus Professor at University of South Australia

    The authors report that there has not been a recent increase in insured losses due to weather events in Australia. They conclude that 'any claim of a climate change influence on increasing disaster loss totals to date is simply unfounded'. Their argument clearly assumes that there has been no increase in either the level or the effectiveness of the resources the community is devoting to firefighting, flood mitigation and other efforts to limit the damage from severe weather events. WIthout this assumption the argument simply does not go through. Perhaps the authors might provide this data to ensure they are not making unsupportable scientific claims.

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    1. David Semmens

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Michael Rowan

      The authors also choose a single year with which to make their comparisons with previous single years. I reckon that is statistically inappropriate. Just eye-balling their graph, I'd wager that insurance payouts during the last decade have been higher than any other 10 year period shown, with maybe the exception of the 1970s. Picking 2012 - 2013 where no serious natural disasters occurred despite the conditions is a little dishonest. Risks, as I am sure the authors are aware, are based on probabilities not certainties. Contrary to this, the authors' arguments seem to based on climatic conditions being strongly predictive of insurance payouts.

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    2. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Michael Rowan

      Michael, that is a good observation. There is more complexity in these matters than is often evident initially.
      Your stance is much like mine, so be carefull you are not labelled as a troll. I care little what the climate is doing, but I do care about poor scientists giving good science a bad name. That's healthy scepticism. If I make a statement about science, I'm a fool f I cannot defend it. Almost nobody, until today, had accepted this long standing challenge, but there have been numerous insults…

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  6. Michael Marriott

    logged in via Twitter

    Having gone back and re-read the Climate Commission "Angry Summer" report I was struck by the fact the report makes no reference to increasing insurance claims. Steffen makes it very clear in the report that Australia experienced record breaking weather extremes: no reference is made to 2012-2013 being exceptional for property damage.

    The sentence in question reads thus: "The significant impacts of extreme weather on people, property, communities and the environment highlight the serious consequences of failing to adequately address climate change."

    Thus the report indicates the extremes of the past summer may be indicative of future risks. No attempt is made to quantify those in terms of insurance loses.

    I do have to ask the authors of this article to clarifying what they are saying: are they saying there was nothing special about the climatic events themselves?

    The data itself is worth looking at.

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    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      My reading of this article is that it is making no statements about climate-related events themselves.

      Adaptation measures, such as building a more cyclone-proof house to replace the one you just lost, should help constrain future insurance losses.

      So too, will the refusal by insurers to offer flood insurance.

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    2. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      Michael Marriott
      Are we talking natural variation of climate, or climate change induced by the Hand of man? One can't progress this line of argument unless you can show the anthropogenic component.

      e.g. for bushfire frequency, how do you count arson, lightning, lightning damage to power lines, flying foxes, equipment failure, availability of airborne water droppers ....

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  7. Christopher Johnson

    Professor of Wildlife Conservation and ARC Australian Professorial Fellow at University of Tasmania

    It's good to see these data, but I'm surprised that the authors have not actually tested for a trend. The problem with relying on inspection of the data rather than analysis to draw a conclusion is that the eye is most impressed by peak values, and can miss information in the surrounding non-peak values. Calculating a 5-year moving average and testing if it shows a trend would solve that problem, especially if the data were log-transformed first (which would be appropriate given their obvious skew). Until that is done, the authours really have no basis for their conclusion.

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    1. George Takacs

      Physicist

      In reply to Christopher Johnson

      Chris,

      I agree with your comments about lack of trend analysis. That was my immediate reaction on looking at the graph and the accompanying text - nothing more sophisticated than eyeballing the data.

      In the absence of an analysis of the trend one can do some slightly more sophisticated eyeballing of the data. Looking at the last 7 years, 5 are significantly above the stated long term average of $1.1 billion dollars, whilst the 2 which are not are very close to the long term average. One of those 2 years is the current one with three months to go.

      So we are currently in a 7 year period where losses are never significantly below the long term average, something which occurs nowhere else in the data set shown. Hmmm.

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    2. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to George Takacs

      My observation as well: I'd be keen to see some robust trend analysis.

      Thus I went to the IPCC SREX report (full report 500+ pages): http://ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/images/uploads/SREX-All_FINAL.pdf

      I looked at the quote used by the authors, however the report makes the following point:

      "Economic losses from weather- and climate-related disasters have increased, but with large spatial and interannual variability (high confidence, based on high agreement, medium evidence). Global weather- and…

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  8. Felix MacNeill

    Environmental Manager

    Ryan and John, if you're going to make strong criticisms of a publication like the Climate Commission's 'Angry Summer' report, it helps to have actually read the bloody thing properly - otherwise you start to look a tad hypocritical and one starts to wonder about the honestly of your motivations.

    The report is filled with validated data from the BoM and other authoritative sources about objectively measured results such as extreme heatwaves and catastrophic bushfire warnings. No substantive claims…

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    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      "pretty much inevitable that insured losses will ultimately rise"

      Err, no.

      We can be pretty confident that the insurance industry, as an act of self-preservation, will utilise both premium increases and refraining to offer certain forms of insurance cover (eg flood cover in Rocklea?) to minimise increases in insured losses.

      It is TOTAL losses, both insured and uninsured (taxpayer-funded) that more accurately reflects impact of changing frequency and severity of weather events.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Arthur

      Good clarification there, David, it was indeed total losses that I meant.

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  9. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

    Boss

    What global warming? What climate change? All serious players in the global temperature game are agreed that there has been no significant change in global temperature for 16 years or more. A few recalcitrant Australians still deny horizontal lines on temperature/time graphs.
    Thank you authors, for pointing to weaknesses in making guesses about future disaster frequency as a replacement for the bogey man of greenhouses gases to pick the pockets of the gullible and uninformed.
    The science community is well past the time when (controlled) funding should have been shifted from climate change to more needy and humane areas of research, including poor health and low living standards.
    There is NO reliable, accepted index that will be an accurate guide to manage future changes in global climate, especially those where humans are part of the plausible cause. Show me one and I'll show you the weakness.

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    1. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      "A few recalcitrant Australians still deny horizontal lines on temperature/time graphs."

      That would be the scientific community. Silly how they pay attention to multidecadal trends based on global temperature trends, the rise sea-surface temperatures and ocean heat content.

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    2. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Bollocks, Sherrington. Both 2005 and 2010 were warmer than year poster year, 1998, and La Nina years 2011 and 2012 would also have been warmer than El Nino year 1998 but for temperature effect of ENSO.

      Meanwhile, the real looming climate disasters - melting icecaps and thawing permafrost - continue apace.

      How do you account for yourself to your grandchildren?

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    3. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Sorry Geoff, I can't tell if you are being serious or are attempting to write Poe. I mean, when you claim that, "All serious players in the global temperature game are agreed that there has been no significant change in global temperature for 16 years or more", you obviously aren't basing your position on facts.

      Just so we can properly address your points, could you tell us what your source of this claim is please? We know it was initially made by the UK Daily Mail as supposedly based on a UK Met Office report. But perhaps you haven't read that it was refuted by the UK Met Office and denounced as nothing more than lies and spin by every reputable climate scientist.

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    4. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to David Arthur

      David Arthur,
      With scientific integrity.

      Prepare for some news. The horrendously anti-science behaviour revealed by the release of several thousand emails between many of the pro-man-made global warming camp was named Climategate 1 & 2.

      Some 220,000 further emails were released to selected places last night. Wish upon a falling star if you choose, but don't torture scientific data. I'm too tired to add more, but if you don't have you opinions changed, then you are an iconoclast.
      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/03/05/has-global-warming-stalled-now-includes-january-data/

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    5. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      My apologies, Felix, but you and your fellow believers are morphing into the trolls of tomorrow. You backed the wrong horse.

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    6. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Thanks Geoff.

      You got your information from WUWT. I think that pretty much shreds your credibility on the issue.

      A tip for free - try reading peer reviewed journals and science papers rather than discredited meteorologists with ideological agenda. You will be better informed.

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    7. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      The relevant statement from the UK Met Office is online at http://metofficenews.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/met-office-in-the-media-14-october-2012/ and the most relevant section follows. It includes a response to an emailed question from David Rose.

      Hi David,

      Here’s a response to your questions. I’ve kept them as concise as possible but the issues you raise require considerable explanation.

      Q.1 “First, please confirm that they do indeed reveal no warming trend since 1997.”

      The linear trend…

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    8. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike Swinbourne
      Your first 2 sentences are a non sequitur unless you provide contrary evidence.
      While I agreed - at least until a year ago - that peer review was the best approach, the time lapse is far too long compared to a blog. There in nothing intrinsic in the blog processes that causes data to be wrong. I read several global warming peer reviewed papers a month in detail and often do work on supplementary information. I skim though many more to get a sense of them.

      For blogging, I am using data each day the day after release, for some purposes. It might not be peer reviewed, but it has been approved for release by known, prominent bodies, many government.

      Did you look at the graph on the WUWT link, or would that have caused you to turn you head back and suffer the fate of Lot's wife?

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    9. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      No non-sequitur at all Geoff.

      Anthony Watts is well known for lying (oops, sorry, changing his mind) with regard to climate science. You may note well his statements of support about the BEST project ("I will accept the results even if they go against me"), which he immediately rejected as soon as they did. He also tried to claim that BEST should not be accepted because it was not peer reviewed, despite his use of non peer reviewed papers on just about every occasion; and his advocacy for his…

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    10. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Mr Sherrington, if you have any integrity at all, it is most certainly not that of science. This is because science is founded on observations.

      Observation 1. Sun irradiates earth with short-wave energy.

      Observation 2. Earth re-radiates long-wave energy.

      Observation 3. Greenhouse gases retard transmission of long-wave energy, not short-wave energy.

      Observation 4. Satellite observations show decreasing emission to space of this long-wave energy, at EXACTLY THE SAME WAVELENGTHS as CO2…

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    11. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to David Arthur

      Oh come off it, David Arthur. If you wish to debate, do rise above kindy level.
      Pick your strongest point, back it with your favourite recent paper and I'll tear it apart.

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    12. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      The Conversation is not a credible site, it cherry picks data, mis-represents the data, Ergo, your arguments need proof.
      If you dislike blogs, why do you write on them?
      If you prefer one over another, you have to do more than state a preference, you have to give actual examples.
      What a disordered mind you have.

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    13. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      With all due respect, Mr Sherrington, it's not a debate you need, it's a remedial science lesson.

      Earth is warmed by absorption of short wave sunlight. Because of this, Earth's temperature can remain unchanged by returning the same amount of energy to space. That is, solar shortwave energy is balanced by the earth re-radiating to space as a 'black body' radiator with a characteristic temperature of ~255K; that is, from space the earth's spectrum is roughly that of a radiating body with an…

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  10. Mark Lawson

    senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

    Whatever else you may think about climate change, it is only one of many factors to take into account in trends in losses caused by storms and fires, even if the more extreme scenarios actually occur. Changing building codes so that houses can better withstand storms and fires, and improving emergency procedures so that, say, people are warned well in advance and (just as importantly) trust the warnings, mean that death rates and damage will go down, not up, even if there is a trend towards more extreme events.

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      I agree that is possible Mark.

      Which is why it is problematic to use the trend in losses as a measure of past or a predictor of future climate change.

      But as the World Bank point out in their report, business as usual CO2 emissions will result in a world where there is “no certainty that adaptation to a 4 degree warmer world is possible”.

      https://theconversation.edu.au/world-bank-calls-for-greater-climate-preparedness-in-australia-planning-unravels-10807

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      All true enough, until you realise that there is a limit to how storm- and fire-proof you can actually make a house before you hit the limits of aviable technology under the laws of physics and/or it becomes prohibitively expensive to beuild...and before the damage done to the surrounding area becomes so severe that half the occupants of the bunkers will be wondering whether they really want to crawl out and survey the damage.

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    3. John McAneney

      Managing Director of Risk Frontiers at Macquarie University

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Just to be clear and in response to some of the earlier comments, we are NOT saying that insured (and economic) losses are not going up. They certainly are rising, but as the absence of trend in the normalised figures show, they are rising because of the increase in exposure in vulnerable areas.

      The losses will also continue to rise unless we take this risk more seriously in terms of better land-use planning, mitigation measures and building codes. It is not an easy problem to solve but blaming…

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to John McAneney

      John, you're just repeating the strawman pseudo-argument.

      The Climate Commission report was absolutely NOT trying to use economic loss data to affirm the reality of climate change - it used direct factual data from the BoM and fire services - from which it follows axiomatically that worse weather is bound to produce worse disasters which is bound to cost more, one way or another. In short, the Climate Commission report used data on extreme weather to demonstrate trends in extreme weather. How…

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    5. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Oh there are a heap of other factors, particularly in storm damage, where more homes and communities are being built near the sea where storms can get at them.. probably by far the largest factor of all.. also the spread of homes around the edges of cities, such as Melbourne, where bushfires can get at them..

      The real question would seem to be the rate of change. The four degree forecast implies a rate of change far in excess of anything we've seen for many decades (particularly the last one, when nothing much seem to happen at all).. when we do start to get anything like that rate of change you can alert the planning authorities..

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    6. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix - as noted the planning laws are winning at the mo, or so it would seem.. the number of houses affected by either fire or storms is, in any case, a tiny percentage of the number of houses.. so if climate change is going to wreak havoc it wont' be that way..

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    7. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      This deserves repeating:

      "Nobody ever attempted to argue that worsening weather caused by climate change was the sole cause of increased losses, merely that it is one of the major causes - and one that could be solved, at least to some extent.

      Unless human populations are going to shrink rapidly and/or increased prosperity is going to decline sharply, then inevitably there will be more people and more valuable stuff in danger. Yes of course you can do something with better land-use planning, mitigation measures and building codes - but only so much and the solutions tend to become increasingly expensive pretty quickly (what happened to the economic logic there?).

      For someone who makes a living out of risk management this is unbelievably illogical."

      One of the least reasoned articles I have read on TC.

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    8. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Nobody said it would. The impacts will fall more heavily on things like agriculture, fisheries, greatly increased refugee numbers and so forth. We were talking about damage to things like houses because that was central to the original article and to your post. nonetheless, damage tro houses and other property and infrastructure, which were high enough in Oz anyway, are only going to get worse, so it's still worth thinking about and working on.

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    9. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to John McAneney

      Do you really not understand the issue here?

      The issue is you made implications that the climate commission paper stated property damage increased due to angry summer

      no such thing happened, this is not in the report at all - you made it up and then proceeded to attack your own imagination

      you fabricated claims made by a government agency and then attacked that government agnecy based on claims you fabricated

      This is disgraceful journalism, this is disgraceful academic inquiry, this is disgusting and inherently dishonest on every level

      And now you come back with absolutely no apology or recognition that you have done anything wrong - hypocrits, liars, I dont have enough words

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  11. Comment removed by moderator.

  12. Dave McRae

    logged in via Twitter

    Christopher Johnson mention trending the graph. Good idea, but it's only 1/2 the story.

    The other half, ignored by the authors, is the minimisation of exposure to weather related disasters by the insurance industry - as one would.

    The insurance industry, and the re-insurance industry, are not deniers and have been employing spatial, GIS, hydrologists etc and renting satellite times especially since mid 2000 to more accurately determine risk, and minimise exposure and cost it. I'm amazed the authors seem unaware of these activities.

    As an aside, it is worthwhile to Google "Swiss RE climate change" or "Munich RE climate change" for good articles on global re-insurance assessment of the risks.

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  13. Alice Kelly
    Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

    sole parent

    "Climate change is an important concern"
    Climate change "deserves policy attention"
    "Making supportable scientific claims is important as well"
    "Those who point to increasing disaster losses as a signal of human-caused climate change are doing no favours for those working to address growing losses and accumulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere" .

    I think use of the term "to date" has much relevance in this article. However when thinking about "growing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere…

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  14. Ryan Crompton

    Catastrophe Risk Analyst at Macquarie University

    A number of replies to some of the above comments:

    * Insured losses in Australia are increasing (see Figure 2a in Crompton (2011)) but societal factors are the primary driver of this.

    * Australia does not maintain an economic loss database hence the analysis of insured losses.

    * Our focus is on property damage and we are not using our analysis to draw any conclusions about the frequency or intensity of extreme weather.

    * We are not disputing the extreme weather records presented in the…

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Ryan Crompton

      Ryan - your argument does not make any sense.

      It is like arguing that

      1. Faulty brakes in a particular model of car cause accidents.
      2. Those accidents do not show up as a statistically significant anomaly in an loss assessment of accident data.
      3. Therefore to claim 1 is wrong.

      If I understand you correctly

      1. You do not dispute the partial attribution of the extreme climate events described in The Angry Summer to climate change.
      2. Those events caused significant property damage as well as having a severe impact on people's lives - a fact that no one disputes.
      3. But because in your analysis there is no clear trend in the loss data due to climate change, you are disputing this key fact:
      "The significant impacts of extreme weather on people, property, communities and the environment highlight the serious consequences of failing to adequately address climate change."

      Seriously?

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Ryan Crompton

      What utter crap. I've already quoted to you the paragraph in the key facts section and it makes no claim anything like what you are accusing it of making. It merely observes that, if weather gets more extreme, bushfires more common, etc. (which they demonstrably are) it's pretty much inevitable that there will be significant impacts on a range of things, including damage to property. Now it may be that we can mitigate or reduce some of that damage with better construction and smarter zoning, but…

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    3. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Ryan Crompton

      Ryan, most of your research seems to stop at 2011. Super-storm sandy occurred in 2012. Credible scientific thought seems to think this is one storm which can be attributed to climate change. Nasa's chief scientist predicted it obliquely. (can't find reference). Put simply, ice loss in the arctic over summer caused unusually violent summer and autumn storms, one of which collided with a tropical hurricane over new-york . What was the cost? I'm sure the New York mayor is thinking about this with respect to both sea-rise and the geography of the complex coast-line in this city, which contributed to the flooding of the sub-way etc. I'm sure he is also considering the possibility of future "events"

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/11/hurricane-sandy-arctic-ice-climate-change_n_2853220.html

      It's a narrow window you seem to be looking through, and I think the idea that single events/economic loss can't be attributed to climate change can, and should now be challenged.

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    4. takver takvera

      Journalist and Editor at Indymedia

      In reply to Ryan Crompton

      "Those who point to increasing disaster losses as a signal of human-caused climate change are doing no favours..."
      I am wondering then if the authors take issue with Mendelsohn et al 2012, 'The impact of climate change on global tropical cyclone damage'
      http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n3/abs/nclimate1357.html
      which looks at "the economic costs of tropical cyclone damage taking into account climate change, forecasts that tropical cyclones will cause $109 billion in damages by 2100…

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    5. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Ryan Crompton

      Hi Ryan - thanks for jumping into the conversation. Can I ask why reference the CC report? By implication it feels very much an attempt to undercut it's central message about climate extremes.

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    6. Ryan Crompton

      Catastrophe Risk Analyst at Macquarie University

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      So do you accept the IPCC SREX statement in our article?

      Moving on to your analogy, it falls down at point 1.

      To clarify, I do not dispute the temperature, rainfall, flood or heatwave records in the report.

      However, insured property damage in the ICA Disaster List is due to the following extreme weather events: tropical cyclones; storms (including hailstorms); floods, and bushfires.

      Here is what the IPCC SREX has to say about tropical cyclones, storms and floods:

      “There is low confidence…

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    7. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Ryan Crompton

      OK Ryan. That is much clearer. What you are really objecting to are the attribution statements in the report.

      e.g.

      "Extreme heatwaves and catastrophic bushfire conditions during the Angry Summer were made worse by climate change."

      and

      "All weather, including extreme weather events, is influenced by climate change. All extreme weather events are now occurring in a climate system that is warmer and moister than it was 50 years ago. This influences the nature, impact and intensity of extreme weather events."

      That is what I thought but it took you a while to cut to the chase.

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    8. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike - sorry but your argument about car brakes is not relevant. If faulty brakes caused car accidents then you would expect that to show up in the data, provided there are no other, larger factors at work. Ryan's just saying he can't find any significant trend. There may still be damage there but there are so many other factors overshadowing it.. as if all the other parts in the car are also faulty.. I might point out that, even if you accept the Climate Commission's report then you still have the question of just how significant the climate change has been to date.

      While on the job you might ask yourself who else is saying that this seasons's storms and fires represent an unusual pattern, apart from activists (which includes the climate commission). I think you'll find the refereed material is quite contradictory..

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    9. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix - dear, dear. Ryan seems to have struck a nerve with you. All he's really saying is he can't find any significant trend. There may still be damage there but there are so many other factors overshadowing it.. I might point out that, even if you accept the Climate Commission's report then you still have the question of just how significant the climate change has been to date.

      While on the job you might ask yourself who else is saying that this seasons's storms and fires represent an unusual pattern, apart from activists (which includes the climate commission). I think you'll find the refereed material is quite contradictory.

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    10. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      This article from Skeptical Science puts this discussion in some context.

      It contains links to the US Senate testimony of Christopher Field, co-chair of the SREX report and describes an attack on Field by Roger Pielke Jr and Steve MacIntyre

      Fields' testimony begins
      "My testimony today will address the state of scientific knowledge concerning three key points.
      1) Overwhelming evidence establishes that climate change is real
      2) Strong evidence indicates that some kinds of climate extremes are already changing
      3) Climate change leads to changes in the risk of extreme events that can lead to disasters"

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/pielke-jr-mcintyre-assist-christy-extreme-weather-obfuscation.html

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    11. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Hi Mark,

      Your comment: "While on the job you might ask yourself who else is saying that this seasons's storms and fires represent an unusual pattern, apart from activists (which includes the climate commission). I think you'll find the refereed material is quite contradictory."

      I would dispute that. Last week a paper in AMS by Dr Sarah Perkins showed an increase in length and number of heatwaves in Australia over the past 50 years. In April 2013, Hamish Clarke's paper showed that fire days…

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    12. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Ryan Crompton

      Ryan,

      Again your engagement and references are appreciated. Please take these comments in the spirit they are intended.

      The CC report refers to the climatic extremes experienced across Australia: no claim is made to the extent of the loss measured against previous events. It merely notes - in what is clearly intended for a lay audience - the risk such extremes pose. The scientific literature anticipates future increased incidents in extremes: thus it is reasonable to anticipate future events…

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    13. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      "While on the job you might ask yourself who else is saying that this seasons's storms and fires represent an unusual pattern, apart from activists..."

      That would be BOM:

      Record dry conditions across the South Australian interior
      http://www.bom.gov.au/announcements/media_releases/sa/20130307.shtml

      Bureau of Meteorology confirms it's been the hottest summer on record
      http://www.bom.gov.au/announcements/media_releases/ho/20130301.shtml

      Hottest month on record, final figures highlight climate extremes
      http://www.bom.gov.au/announcements/media_releases/ho/20130201.shtml

      Record breaking heatwave to continue this week http://www.bom.gov.au/announcements/media_releases/ho/20130109.shtml

      The CC report merely referenced these and other record breaking extremes.

      Surely you're not claiming BOM is an activist group making up stuff?

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    14. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Mark, the moment you start using code words like 'activist' there's realy not much point taking any further notice - particularly when you try to use that to besmirch the reputation of the BoM.

      And, if you actually bothered to read what I said, my objection was to their false criticism of the Angry Summer report, which simply presented the factual evidence about the weather extremes recorded and barely touched on the property/insurance question at all - merely once or twice making the perfectly…

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    15. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Oh right - now that is fair enough.. at least as far as heat goes. I was thinking of the shorter term. Over 50 years certainly you can point to increases in hotter days because global temperatures have gone up.. they increased between the mid-70s and the turn of the century. I was thinking about turn of the century and now and so was the climate commission I'm pretty sure.. but okay, confusion.. my apologies.However, you will find the confusion I spoke of over storms.. they thought they'd found a…

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    16. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      Michael - go back and look at the material you referenced. They say its an unusually hot summer, and it was.. but an unusual pattern? Go and look at the temperatures they cite. Note that BoM doesn't say what the last record was in the 1930s.. a sure sign that the record wasn't broken by much at all, so perhaps it was just a very hot summer. The Climate Commission seized on the fact that it was an unusually hot summer to push its claims..

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    17. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix - you're clutching at straws.. The article was perfectly valid in pointing out that there had been no measurable damage, and your reaction should have been more measured.. as for besmirching BoM.. the Climate Commission itself does that by taking BoM's comments several steps too far.. BoM's claim is that it was a record hot summer, exceeding the last record in the 1930s, but they never said by how much.. so how much was it? And after 80s years or so of damaging climate change how significant is that additional amount?

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    18. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Hi Mark,

      The confusion, or lack of trends, around storms goes with the science. There are a number of factors, not just observational length, that make it difficult to assess what will happen with storms and climate scientists have been open about this for some time. If we are talking cyclones then we are looking at a likely reduction in total numbers over time but with an increase in intensity but again the observational record - particularly the satellite record - is far too short to confirm…

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    19. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Hi Mark,

      The Bureau does deal with the summer heatwave in its special climate statement - number 43 - http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/statements/scs43e.pdf

      It was an unusual pattern when compared to the 1970s, the last time we saw such a pattern: "(Introduction) However, the most extreme aspects of the 1972–73 event were confined to inland areas, whereas in late 2012 and early 2013, 40 °C was reached at least once in every capital city except Brisbane and Darwin."

      Nationally averaged temps go back to 1910. This heatwave beat the last nationally averaged temp, from 2002, (El Nino, big drought if memory serves me correctly) by .01 degree C.

      Page 4, continues explaining how this was unusual event in so many ways. From page 11 on you can see the number of records broken, by how much and how many years ago the earlier record was set.

      It's pretty comprehensive and certainly does suggest that this was an unusual summer.

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  15. Alvin Stone

    logged in via Facebook

    Hi Ryan and John,

    I have been fascinated by the relationship between damage from extreme events and climate change for quite some time. I completely understand how more people concentrated in a single area can lead to increased pay-outs for extreme events (assuming everything else remains unchanged over that period) but is it a realistic reflection of what is happening on the ground?

    With this in mind I have just a couple of quick questions re the normalisation process used to achieve your…

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    1. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Alvin

      Your question:

      "Do those figures include the fact that more people seem to be underinsured and that there is a decline in policies held because people can no longer afford them? Less policies, it seems to me, would mean less cost to insurance companies. Are we seeing an increase in damage where people do not have insurance?"

      Was on my mind - I can certainly confirm that insurance costs rose dramatically after the summer of 2009.

      Also problems for people who thought they were covered…

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  16. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    The implication behind this article is that climate change is not driving any worse weather events than previously experienced. I wondered what Munich Re have to say, so I googled "munich re global warming" and came up with a number of interesting hits. If one of the world's biggest re-insurers is worried, there may be more to the situation than meets the eye by merely reading this article. Not that this article is factually wrong, but it does provide traction for obfuscators working to downplay the risks of AGW.

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  17. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

    Boss

    It might shorten the discussion and bring some of you more up to date if you search for your area of speciality here

    http://stopgreensuicide.com/

    This is most recent draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Assessment Report 5 (IPCC AR5). It was made public as a service to the community by Alec Rawls in December 2012.

    Various sections of the report have different closing dates. If normal, heavily criticised procedure is followed, there will be a "Summary for Policymakers…

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  18. Amanda McKenzie

    Climate Commission

    The Climate Commission has published a response to this article on our website:

    Correction to misrepresentation of Angry Summer report.

    Today in the Conversation Ryan Crompton and John McAneney badly misrepresent the Climate Commission’s recent report, The Angry Summer.

    Commissioner Professor Will Steffen has released the following statement responding to the article. He commented that the article is “opportunistic and unbecoming of a research institution”.

    Crompton and McAneney assert…

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    1. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Amanda McKenzie

      "He commented that the article is “opportunistic and unbecoming of a research institution”."

      That seems an inappropriate remark for Climate Commissar Steffen to make. Someone can come to a different conclusion from the evidence - even a different conclusion than a Climate Commissar - at not be "opportunistic and unbecoming"

      Scientific discourse requires that all reasonable opinions be aired and debated and not have a group of government appointed Commissars acting as gate-keepers and determining what should be published and what should not..

      The authors here asked themselves this question: "So has property damage during 2012-2013 been higher than normal?" and answered it according to the evidence they had to hand.

      I would suggest that it would not be a bad thing if the Climate Commissars did not exhibit such glass jaws.

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    2. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Amanda McKenzie

      Thank-you Amanda, I'm not mad, and the strange miss-mash of conflicting argument above is not in my imagination. I hope you can write on the conversation more often.

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    3. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      In claiming that Will Steffen and the CC are acting as gatekeepers, Sean Lamb echoes the Andrew Bolt definition of free speech which conflates criticism of his views with denying him freedom of expression. Who can forget Bolt's claim on the front page of the Herald-Sun that his free speech was being impinged upon.

      Perhaps Lamb (note the self-appellation of "Science Denier") could point out where in the CC statement, Steffen states that this article or even future articles from Crompton and McAneney should not be published. With no science to call on, Lamb resorts to the usual trick of distraction "look - over there a wombat".

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    4. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      "Steffen states that this article or even future articles from Crompton and McAneney should not be published."
      That's implicit in his remark that it was opportunistic and unbecoming of a research institution.

      The Commissar was quite within his rights to dispute the points of argument, but the Commissar did not restrict himself to that.

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Sean, cut the childish 'commissar' crap - even the dogs have stopped responding.

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    6. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Crap.

      Unless you agree that your description of him as 'Commissar' indicates that you are advocating his exile to a gulag? The logic would be just as strong.

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  19. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

    Boss

    Back to the start, what global warming?
    Here are the main collectors of data, providing their global temperature figures, with a plot of Mauna Loa CO2 (which itself is had culled before release). At the least, it shows no comfortable correlation between CO2 in the air and global temperature change. Perhaps it should be tortured until it does.
    There has been no statistically significant global warming for the past 16 years.
    I thought all up-to-date readers were agreed on that.
    Where do the graphs say otherwise?

    http://www.geoffstuff.com/Plateau.PNG

    Not much point rabbiting on about global warming unless something capable of remediation was set in train with a lag that needs to be watched. Each year, more irrelevant evidence accumulates at great cost towards a non-event.

    Please, where am I wrong?

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    1. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      From http://tamino.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/arctic-sea-ice-loss-part-2/#comment-80000 :

      Even the phrase “no statistically significant warming” is a bit misleading. The statistical test will tell you if the calculated trend is significantly different from the expected trend. If the expected trend is zero, then you are testing whether the trend is significantly different from zero. You can just as easily do a test to see if the calculated trend is significantly different from any other value – such…

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    2. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Hilarious. The plot posted by Geoffrey illustrates the deceptions, scientific errors and rank hypocrisy of climate change deniers, including members of Jo Nova’s “Independent Research Team”.

      The plot is a classic example of cherry picking. It shows less than two decades of data when many decades are available.

      The hypocrisy is startling. Geoffrey accused me of being deceptive for showing a CSIRO sea level plot that has 130 years of data and illustrates the long-term trend, but (unfortunately…

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    3. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Chris O'Neill
      Show me where I used the word zero for rate of change of temperature. Zero has a quite special place in math and I seldom use it, except to warn of complications like making equations where you end up with a zero below the vinculum.
      There have been many comments on the net about the error envelopes of the temperature data. IIRC, you can select shorter sections where you briefly go outside 2 sigma, but in general you are within that bound. You can easily find these discussions, I'm…

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    4. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      "Show me where I used the word zero for rate of change of temperature."

      So you agree that the global average temperature is warming. That's all we need to know.

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    5. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Geoffrey says "there has been no statistically significant global warming for the past 16 years" and asks "Please, where am I wrong?" He is wrong when he uses the term 'global' in his statement. The global system includes atmosphere, land and oceans, but the lack of statistically significant warming refers only to the land surface temperature: the global system has continued accumulating heat energy, as one would expect from looking at the top of atmosphere energy imbalance (more energy coming in than being radiated out). On a global scale, the increase in energy continues unabated http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998.htm

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    6. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Chris,
      What a terrible non sequitur you use! I did not exclude cooling, or warming, by (for example) 0.01 deg C per decade. Read my words with a fair mind. Please.
      Or tell me where the graphs are wrong, given that they are sourced from USA NOAA.
      Any reasonable reader of graphs would agree that the temperature response is flat.
      Do you have graphs that carry more authority?

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    7. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug,
      While not wanting to make a point out of this, there are processes at top of atmosphere that are unconnected with events at land or sea surface. A balance at TOA is not proof that an equilibrium temperature exists at surface. An excursion at TOA is not proof that surface temperatures are changing. Look up Trenberth's missing heat travesty - it's a bit old, but it conveys a few good thoughts.

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  20. Roger Davidson

    Student

    You have just set up a straw man and now having fun beating the living hell out of it.

    Nowhere in the "Angry Summers" does it mentioning increasing insurance claims.

    You might as well have argued that "The Angry Summer says that global warming has led to higher employment but that is clearly not the case, unemployment rose."

    Makes as much sense.

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  21. John Hunter

    Manager

    Not sure if these rubbery figures are the true story.

    Its obvious that the eastern Suburbs storm would be more costly than the Queensland floods, as the population effected was in the highest density area in Australia.

    Because of the number of properties effected, and the fact that tradesmen add a sort of rounding up surcharge any any work done is this affluent part of sydney. the costing would have gone through the roof.

    Talking of roofs....... We escaped with only damage to our slate…

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  22. John Hunter

    Manager

    Additional....
    If we factor in the Sandy (US estimated $64b ) costings that some Australian Insurance companies were exposed to, and also future projections ( beach erosion , would this change the graphs......just a thought...........

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  23. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

    Boss

    The ACE index for storm severity is used in the USA after the work reported in Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray Colorado State University. They issue an annual report and intermediate changes. Other indices are also used. Here is a discussion of some methodology and complications.
    http://tropical.atmos.colostate.edu/Forecasts/2012/dec2012/dec2012.pdf

    If a blogger here asks me about the science of events in the paper that are caused by the Hand of Man, my suggestion is that you read the…

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    1. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      You need to read your reference again Geoffrey. I was aware of this and other research into Atlantic hurricanes. There are two key lines that point to the way this is being framed and also why satellite records are important.

      "This paper also discusses how the US has been very fortunate to have a large and unexpected reduction in US landfalling hurricanes (particularly major (Category 3-4-5) hurricanes) from what would be expected as a result of our having been in an active phase of the THC…

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    2. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Alvin,
      Please name one piece of evidence that allows any quantitative link between the Hand of Man and the weather event named "Sandy".
      Fundamentally, I note that no author has yet produced a robust mathematical relation between greenhouse gases and global temperature. We've been asking for this for a decade now.
      So, feel free to toss around secondary terms like AMO and THC which might be a consequence and not a cause of weather. They won't mean much until the overall fundamental equation is derived. Until then, we continue with a string of guesses that go in and out of favour.

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    3. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      "Fundamentally, I note that no author has yet produced a robust mathematical relation between greenhouse gases and global temperature. We've been asking for this for a decade now"

      You mean you have ignored for over a decade, the answers are there, go to CSIRO or NASA or ANU or Melbourne UNI or MIT or any other research institute

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Roger Pielke Jr.

      Dr Pielke - you appear to have borrowed at least one argument from the "Science Denier" troll Sean Lamb from above where he claims that the CC's criticism of this article is an attack on free speech when you claim

      "The statement by Will Steffen, a scientist speaking for the government in his official capacity on the climate commission, beggars belief -- "opportunistic and unbecoming of a research institution." The comment, which explicitly makes reference to the university as a whole, brings to…

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    2. Ryan Crompton

      Catastrophe Risk Analyst at Macquarie University

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike, please don't tell me what I have or haven't conceded. The purpose of my discussion, in response to your analogy, of the hazards that have caused insured losses was to show that there is considerable uncertainty wrt attribution. And, with that in mind, you would not necessarily expect to see a signal in insured loss data.

      Our article is directly addressing the third Key Fact of "The Angry Summer" in relation to property.

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Yup, Mike, last time I checked 'opportunistic and unbecoming' in English translates into paranoic, in which language Dr Pielje is obviously fluent, as 'burn the witches'. Still, it's interesting to see that he feels comfortable falling back on the Boltean-hysterical-self-pity defence - tells you a lot about his world view.

      And people like Mark Lawson wonder why people like me get angry about this kind of dishonest publication.

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Ryan Crompton

      No it isn't!

      The third Key Fact did not at any point claim that there have been increased insurance losses registered to date and that this constitutes evidence for climate change, as you implied.

      They merely made the sensible observation that increased extreme weather would cause a range of impacts and damage, including to property. That statement is so uncontentious that there was no basis, in good faith, for you to make the claims you did in your original article and have persisted with here.

      If your intent were honest, you could perfectly well simply have pointed out that, so far, there wasn't particularly strong evidence of increased damages reflected in the insured losses figures. That would have been trivial, but at least it would have been honest. imnstead, you chose to produce a beat-up.

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    5. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Ryan Crompton

      Ryan, do you honestly fail to recognise the dishonesty and manipulation that is in this article - you didnt respnd at all to the third key fact, you misrepresented what was written and then attacked your own misrepresentation

      this is known as strawmanning and its disgraceful

      This type of thing should carry some sort of consequence for the Authors or the editor who approved it for publishing - Authors Intentionally spreading mis-information and Editors allowing it to be published is why we are in this mess.

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    6. John McAneney

      Managing Director of Risk Frontiers at Macquarie University

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Re: response from the Climate Commission.

      Our article addressed the third Key Fact of “The Angry Summer” in relation to property.

      Risk Frontiers does not step back from any of the views expressed therein, which are firmly based on data and science, and fully in accord with the IPCC SREX Report.

      Our article states:

      “Australia’s Angry Summer shows that climate change is already adversely affecting Australians. The significant impacts of extreme weather on people, property, communities…

      Read more
    7. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to John McAneney

      Right so long and short of it is that you dont see anything wrong with what you have written?

      Can I just ask, who are you accusing of making unscientific statements about extreme weather and climate change?

      Because this article is about the "Angry Summer" report and you then make an argument that someone somewhere has made unscientific statements - who are you refferring to?

      "The report refers to, amongst other things, how the significant impacts of extreme weather on property highlights the serious consequences of failing to adequately address climate change.

      So has property damage during 2012-2013 been higher than normal?

      Climate change is an important concern, and deserves policy attention. However, making supportable scientific claims is important as well."

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    8. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to John McAneney

      Reconcile these 2 sentences for me please

      "Nowhere in our article, did we, as claimed by the Climate Commission in their response, “assert that the Commission wrongly used insurance losses in the Angry Summer report”. "

      "The (Angry Summer) report refers to, amongst other things, how the significant impacts of extreme weather on property highlights the serious consequences of failing to adequately address climate change.

      So has property damage during 2012-2013 been higher than normal?"

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    9. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to John McAneney

      A response would be appreciated seeing as your claiming that you have been mis-understood - here is your chance to rectify that

      Who are you accusing of making un-scientific claims about weather and climate change? because it seems you refer to the Climate Commissions report and imply they are making unfounded claims

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