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Scientists decry insurer's extreme weather claims

The Local · 19 Oct 2012, 06:26

Published: 19 Oct 2012 06:26 GMT+02:00

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Insurance companies have long been sending letters out warning of the growing likelihood of extreme weather, storms and resulting natural disasters.

German insurance company Allianz for example writes to potential clients to explain the advantages of its "offers which reduce the risks associated with climate change."

But one Munich-based insurer has gone one step too far, infuriating climate change scientists by claiming to have found the first proof of a link between man-made climate change and an increase in extreme weather in the USA.

Münchener Rück (MR) recently claimed that their database - "the largest on natural disasters in the world" - demonstrated the first clear proof of man-made climate change creating weather disasters.

Their study uses data on weather catastrophes in the USA over the past 30 years to argue that they have been becoming more frequent and dangerous – and that this is a direct result of man-made climate change.

"There has never been such a strong chain of evidence for the influence of climate change," head of MR’s Geo Research department, Peter Höppe, told the magazine on Thursday.

According to MR, material damage in the USA due to weather disasters is five times as high as it was in 1980. This, argues the insurance company is due to rising sea temperatures which in turn has led to an increase in the number of hurricanes.

But scientists are furious, saying the insurance company has no proof to support the claim. "Most [of the study] doesn't make sense, and it contradicts observations," atmosphere researcher Clifford Mass from University of Washington in Seattle told the magazine.

Although the UNO Climate Change Committee (IPCC) has been warning of a potential increase in heat waves, torrential rain and floods, no serious scientist has been able to prove a direct link between man-made climate change and extreme weather, according to the article.

And there is no evidence that it will get worse - IPCC reports have even suggested that cold-snap-related catastrophes and storms could be less frequent in future.

Although it has been proven that the earth is getting warmer due to greenhouse gas effect, a link between this and extreme weather is less certain, scientists told the magazine.

More data needs to be collected over a longer period of time before anyone can say with any certainty whether the greenhouse gas effect has influenced extreme weather.

Der Spiegel said a recent study showed that with the exception of Hurricane Katrina which devastated New Orleans in 2005, all of America's most dangerous hurricanes of the last century occurred before 1930.

The author of this study, Roger Pielke of the University of Colorado dismissed the MR insurance report as bad science.

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"If MR thinks they have discovered the first footprint, they should submit their study to a scientific journal for evaluation," Pielke told the magazine. Releasing scientific findings in the form of a press release, on the other hand, looks "suspicious."

"Climate change is serious, but the trend of hyping it up and distorting it is irresponsible," agreed Mass.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:53 October 19, 2012 by authun
So much flak for telling it like it is?
15:21 October 19, 2012 by ron1amr
I think the insurance have got it right. There is without a doubt man made climate change. If you check the amount of tornadoes that swept through America in 2012 I have not followed the records but I know it is quite high. it is also common sense. The amount of tree felling along with the increased population with record numbers of emission vehicles and plane flights worldwide space travel war fair. We are seeing more droughts severe weather. The mixing of warm air with cold air that create storms. More salinity in the oceans more dead spots in the sea. Record number of dead fish because of no oxygen. And the fact that every year there is a climate summit meeting to tackle climate change you have to have your head in the sand if you think or pretend nothing has changed. Good on the insurance company for bringing this on because it is realistic and very hard for insurance when a disaster occurs.
15:35 October 19, 2012 by hanskarl
If one needs to take this tack then one must admit that not all of this is blamed on America. Clear cutting of large tracts of jungle in Central and South American and in Asian countries and the unchecked pollution in many of the far left socialist and communist countries in the far east also are of greater cause of this. I discussed this climate change and what is seemingly the downward spiral of the world with a PhD in Physics. This person is all for alternative energy as an alternative.

But this person made it quite clear that based on the mass of our planet and atmosphere that if in fact we were in a downward spiral all that we could ever do even as a one world globalist nation could not stop the final result. So, as it were the whole intention of the climate change argument is to dupe those who fervently accept this as a cause celebre for globalisation and the uninformed that we need to bring the world into servitude. In reality scientists have clearly proven weather patterns are cyclical. Wasn't it was reported just this week that the ice pack in Antarctica is the largest on record?
19:06 October 19, 2012 by XFYRCHIEF
@ron1amr...I did check the statistics (http://www.spc.noaa.gov/climo/online/monthly/newm.html)

So far, 2012 may go on record as the second LOWEST number of tornadoes since 2000 currently at 1008. Last year was the highest with 1894 tornadoes. As for total "severe weather" reports (hail, wind, tornadoes) this year will also likely be the second lowest with 21660 reports, the highest was in 2008 with 36,184 - almost 50% higher. Also note that this years death total from tornadoes was a very low 6 compared to 363 in 2011. If you look at the data for the last 10 years there are some anomalous years (2 years with total severe weather reports over 30,000) but, overall, the number is remarkably consistent at around 22000 - 26000 per year.
20:05 October 19, 2012 by DaBilk
Sorry to burst yer bubble ron,

Tornado count is down
21:58 October 19, 2012 by Wise Up!
Another unintended consequence in the religion of man made global warming. Can you believe that this belief is now being used to by capitlist businesses? Sacrilege!!! Hey, If its good for the goose, its good for the gander. it was just a matter of time. Going to be interesting to see where this winds up. LOL!!!
01:24 October 23, 2012 by treecat
I Was grinning while reading this article. Tongue in cheek writing about the American, excuse me, global con man who are today s business men.

Then I crack up at the 'Posts" of some sheepel..
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