I’m not a great fan of Pat Michaels. But whether you like a person or not doesn’t affect whether they are right or wrong.
In the context of whether recent events in eastern Europe and western Asia have a precedent, Michaels comes up with this.
Surface temperature anomalies (°C) for July, 1936 (figure from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies).
It certainly looks like the same pattern we saw this year over the eastern hemisphere, perhaps slightly less intense, but not much so. North America is different, but ENSO is neutral to cool and the Atlantic is hot, similar to this summer. This calms me down a bit, since I don’t actually want an unprecedented climate disaster.
Further, let’s admit this gives ammunition to RP Jr., who says disasters are MORE about human habitation and management practices than about weather extremes. In fact that is true, and Roger’s tendency to overemphasize it at the expense of other factors shouldn’t cause us to forget it.
While this may take a bit of the edge off of recent arguments, neither of these items should encourage us to let down our guard too much. First of all, the Pakistan human disaster is BECAUSE of water management, not despite it: the population has greatly increased because the Indus river has been channelled and diverted all across the otherwise barren land. So now there is a much enhanced population in a much expanded flood plain. (I think Russian mismanagement of their environment both pre and post communist is well-known and demonstrated here.)
Secondly, even if the pattern is not entirely unprecedented, it is not a good pattern. So while the attribution to climate change may be weakened (and again, let’s not jump the gun in either direction here, let’s let the weather guys think about it for a while) it still isn’t good news that we are seeing wild oscillations, and we still have reasons to suspect these are becoming more frequent.
Finally, we still have an open question. How will we know when we’ve “rolled a 13