Burger
Journalpaper

Comments. Clarifying the Attribution of Recent Disaster Losses: A Response to Epstein and McCarthy

Abstract

The December 2004 issue of BAMS contains an article warning of the threats of abrupt climate change (Epstein and McCarthy 2004, hereafter EM04). The article seeks to raise awareness of the risks of an abrupt change in climate related to human influences on the climate system, but, in doing so it repeats a common factual error. Specifically, it identifies the recent growth in economic damages associated with weather and climate events, such as Hurricanes Mitch and Jeanne and tornadoes in the United States, as evidence of trends in extreme events, arguing “the rising costs associated with weather volatility provide another derived indicator of the state the climate system . . . the economic costs related more severe and volatile weather deserves mention an integral indicator of volatility.”
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