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Land use not climate change

Myles Allen may feel that the Prime Minister is right to suspect a link between the recent floods and climate change but the published literature inveighing against that idea is building up. Not only was there the IPCC's SREX report but a paper published recently comes to the conclusion that it's population density and land use that are the critical factors involved.

A holistic perspective on changing rainfall-driven flood risk is provided for the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Economic losses from floods have greatly increased, principally driven by the expanding exposure of assets at risk. It has not been possible to attribute rain-generated peak streamflow trends to anthropogenic climate change over the past several decades. Projected increases in the frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall, based on climate models, should contribute to increases in precipitation-generated local flooding (e.g. flash flooding and urban flooding). This article assesses the literature included in the IPCC SREX report and new literature published since, and includes an assessment of changes in flood risk in seven of the regions considered in the recent IPCC SREX report—Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, North America, Oceania and Polar regions. Also considering newer publications, this article is consistent with the recent IPCC SREX assessment finding that the impacts of climate change on flood characteristics are highly sensitive to the detailed nature of those changes and that presently we have only low confidence1 in numerical projections of changes in flood magnitude or frequency resulting from climate change.

You see what I mean about Owen Paterson being on the side of science?

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Reader Comments (14)

Every evening on the local BBC news we get a report from those affected by flooding in the Somerset Levels. Every evening the locals, in particular the farmers, say the rainfall has been nothing worse than they have seen before, and to a man they blame the EA for its policy of not dredging the rivers anymore and for allowing developmet upriver, which hastens the run-off rate.

Jan 22, 2014 at 1:15 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Note the authors of that article. One of them represents an insurance company. Munich Re.

Is that a welcome signal to their shareholders that they are returning to the straight and narrow after their global-warming excursion?

Jan 22, 2014 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered Commentermichaelhart

Last week The Met Office's Peter Stott had his name splashed (no pun intended) all over the papers supporting Cameron's statement that he "suspected" the increased flooding was linked to climate change.

Despite being challenged in the comments section of the Met Office's own blog to produce the data to support this claim, Stott has so far refused.

Cat got your tongue Peter?

Jan 22, 2014 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Change its name from a Flood Plane to a Climate Change Plane.

And don't give planning permission to build on it.

Jan 22, 2014 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

I find Myles Allen a useful bellweather - whatever he says tends to rebound, crumble or meet with contrary reality in short order. In other words, you won't go far wrong believing the opposite.

Jan 22, 2014 at 4:44 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Isn't it odd that everybody knows what the real problems are except the so called expert advisors and the government?

Jan 22, 2014 at 6:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterA C Osborn

AGW is now the great excuse for bureaucrats and other ineffective over paid government leaders.
No dredging and now floods result? Blame it on CO2. Fod crop diversion to fuel causing price increases and food scarcity? Blame it on AGW.
Energy prices freezing out the poor? Blame global warming.
Easy, once you get the trick.

Jan 22, 2014 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Owen Paterson is one of the very few MPs who can see through the pseudo science peddled by many other MPs, and government ministers: including David Cameron. He is already becoming a hate figure of the illogical greenies, that sit on the opposition benches, and those on the government side. Hopefully the PM will reward Paterson, not push him to the back benches.

Jan 22, 2014 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

"Change its name from a Flood Plane to a Climate Change Plane"


Jan 22, 2014 at 8:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterRightwinggit

Too cruel, Hunter, they might get their feelings hurt! The insurance "Pyramid Selling" operations is responsible for much of the flooding & increased costs as a result. The simple "New for Old" policy developed some years ago as a marketing ploy is largely to blame. In the good/bad old days the insurance assessor would say "it's only worth "X" amount as it has been used". These days one gets it all replaced brand new! Why didn't the insurance industry seek advice from civil engineers in the know before consenting to insure property built on flood planes? Irresponsibility & culpability, as are successive Guvments!!! Nobody listens, & frankly the ICE should have been far more vocal & determined, but I dare say they have, like so many once hallowed institutions, been infiltrated by the activists expressing their "feelings", as opposed to objective science & empirical evidence!

Jan 23, 2014 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

"You see what I mean about Owen Paterson being on the side of science?" A pity that he isn't when it comes to slaughtering badgers. Does that make me a "greenie" I wonder?

Peter Höppe, head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research division, said in 2009:

“We should make no mistake: despite the lack of severe hurricanes and other mega-catastrophes, there was a large number of moderately severe natural catastrophes. In particular, the trend towards an increase in weather-related catastrophes continues.“Initial analyses indicate that, apart from socio-economic factors, this is already due in part to climate change.”

"In 2008, Munich Re began collaborating with Lord Nicholas Stern, lead author of the Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change, (earlier post) and the London School of Economics, where Stern is a professor, on research concerning the economic impacts of climate change."
"A new powerhouse to generate ideas for action on climate change was switched on by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) today as it launched the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

LSE also announced a partnership with insurance giant Munich Re, which is investing £3 million in research to learn more about the economic impact of climate change."

In 2007, Dr. Torsten Jeworrek of Munich Re said: "The trend in respect of weather extremes shows that climate change is already taking effect and that more such extremes are to be expected in the future. We should not be misled by the absence of mega-catastrophes in 2007."

Jan 24, 2014 at 10:27 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa

The answer to Jeworrek ought to be "give us the evidence" which would have been exactly what I would have said if a press release like that quote had hit my desk while I was still a reporter.
And having given his PR staff my deadline I would then have been more than happy to go to press with something along the lines of "claims that the trend , etc .... However when asked to back up this statement he was unavailable for comment/ his PR staff did not get back to us ..." Whatever.
As long as people like that are allowed to get away with making any old claim apparently safe in the knowledge that they will never get called out on it then western society is in big trouble — and not just from climate!
Why are modern journalists either brainless or gutless?

Jan 24, 2014 at 11:01 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The words "Environmental Agency" and "negligence" are being seen together in public more frequently. The local MP for Bridgewater (Ian Liddell-Grainger) is joining them together in the same sentence.


Local people are telling BBC Radio Somerset about this EA negligence as well. Hopefully it will be newsworthy.

Jan 26, 2014 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith Macdonald

After hearing another report on the news I found this:

It rather looks as if there was a plan to adjust where floods happen in order to mitigate
future climate change... and then came weather.

The Somerset flooding may have been caused by a response to expectation of climate change.

Jan 31, 2014 at 8:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMPhil

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