Monday, January 19, 2009

John Fleck is right

OK, Eli is obsessed with Roger Jr. A charter member of the Pielke fan club even. It's been obvious for years that Ethon is a hungry bird, and the seed is really good over there. John shouldn't complain given that he too is a bird watcher. Eli has to admit that the feathered folk are eating him out of house and home too. Hopefully Ms Rabett will not discover how much it costs to feed the guys but sometimes there is a tasty morsel in Boulder.

The latest is a letter to Roger from Eberhard Faust of Munich Re. The Re stands for Reinsurance, the guys who accept offloaded risk from your smaller insurance companies, like Geico, All State, etc. Naturally they are like hawks on what is happening, and have long recognized the risk inherent in climate change. Faust has several presentations on the web, including this recent one. He also holds that hurricane and other natural weather related disasters are increasing in frequency, this does not endear him to Roger Pielke, who went off on this subject and got a long letter in response.

Bunnies can go RTFL, and most of you, (no Dano, not you) can even comment over..there, but what caught Eli's eye was this graph

Figure caption: Percentage change of global annual counts assuming that the 1980 values represent 100% (according to the linear trend extrapolation).

Faust argues that the trend in geophysical effect frequency (Eli assumes mostly earthquakes) is much less than the increase in bad storms like hurricanes, floods and temperature extremes. Since the former is not connected to climate change and all of the latter are, there are some fish swimming in the milk**. Munich Re has a lot of money riding on this which tends to concentrate the mind.

UPDATE: Pielke is playing the three card street game again, accusing Munich Re of exaggerating the science. In the comments here, Magnus points to a post by Ivan Schneider on Ecotech that reinforces the point

The reinsurance game doesn't rely on scientific consensus.

The burden of proof in science has been set impossibly high. Scientists can propose, argue and refine theories, but the scientific process never quite arrives at an absolute statement of truth. . . .In business, insurers don't have the luxury of waiting until there's a broad scientific consensus until they write policies. . . . .

Höppe never claimed that he had explicit scientific proof that the "weather machine" is increasing losses, and nor would he in an actuarial context. Instead, my understanding of his remarks is that they've built a proprietary model of the weather machine based on underlying assumptions about greenhouse gases and climate change, along with actual information about the tendency for modern economies to concentrate wealth along coastal areas.

Considering that the model was uncannily accurate at predicting actual losses using previous data, there's reason to believe that it would continue to have predictive value for 2009 and beyond.

** old line, finding fish swimming in the milk is pretty good evidence that someone watered it.



Magnus said...

Well, this was a good one....

Arthur said...

Faust and Pielke have published together? Was that Pielke Jr. or Sr.? And why would somebody who clearly understands the problem agree to publish a paper with ambiguous wording like "it is still not possible to determine the portion of the increase in damage” due to anthropogenic climate change ?? More importantly, why did Science agree to publish something with blatant ambiguities of that sort? As bad as Physics Today's recent Pielke Sr. piece. By the way, did you catch the indignation from Sr. over RealClimate's discussion of a paraphrase of it? Yes indeed, ambiguous wording leads to wrong impressions, doesn't it. Let's try to avoid that in our science...

Anonymous said...

There was nothing ambiguous in RP Snr's somewhat effusive praise of a recently recognised (weblog award-winning) "outstanding website" that "is providing a much needed discussion of climate science".


Cymraeg llygoden

EliRabett said...

Why should there be. RPSr is the guy who started the whole photo thing. BTW, he has a reply to Peterson out there.

Hans Erren said...

The graph shows "events", isn't an "event" for an insurance company related to pay out value?
Is there a "normalised event" graph available, which adjusts for inflation, population growth and property value increase?