Friday, May 20, 2011

Climate change blamed for record Mississippi floods

Environment News Service has a story that about scientists explicitly stating the obvious about making the climate change component in the recent floods in the US. Let's see more of this!: Human-induced climate change is contributing to the recent heavy rain and ongoing record flooding along the Mississippi River, and we can expect more extreme weather events in the future, according to scientists and adaptation experts on a teleconference held by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"Climate change is about more than warming. What we're really seeing is global weirding," said climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, associate professor at Texas Tech University. "It is altering the character and conditions of the places we know and love. For many places around the world, what we are likely to see could be feast or famine - more frequency of weather at the extremes, from intense storms to prolonged droughts." "We can't attribute any one event to climate change," she said, "but we do know that every event that happens is already superimposed on very different background conditions than we had 50 years ago."

Economic losses from natural disasters have soared from a global average of $25 billion annually during the 1980s to $130 billion a year during the decade ending in 2010, said Nikhil da Victoria Lobo, senior client manager in the Global Partnerships team at Swiss Re, an international reinsurance firm. He told reporters that there's little doubt that "climate volatility was a major contributor," although he says it is impossible to estimate what percentage of losses were due to climate change.

Swiss Re is working with local governments around the world to help them bear less of the burden for costs associated with extreme weather. "We live in a world where rising budget deficits are being coupled with extreme weather events that further aggravate these financial burdens," he said. "However, insurance can put a price tag on climate risk, and help local governments more efficiently prepare for and finance what may happen."

Local governments must now determine what municipal infrastructure is vulnerable to future extreme weather and what capital investments will best protect residents and property….

From 1903, "Mule teams on the levee, New Orleans, La." Shows temporary emergency levee along the riverfront during the Mississippi River flood of the spring of 1903. Jackson Brewery building seen at right. Rice mill and sugar refinery further upriver. Boxcars seen on railine at right, labeled "Texas & Pacific", "A&V" (Alabama & Vicksburg) and "SICL" (Southern Iron Car Line)

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