Climate Obsession Is Distracting From Flood And Storm Protection, Experts Warn
Obsessing over climate change is distracting politicians from dealing with floods and storms, experts warned yesterday. Trying to link all extreme weather to man-made global warming ‘has been a social and policy disaster’, they said.
Instead, the focus should shift towards dealing with the impact of fierce weather, which will happen regardless of climate change, argued David Schultz and Vladimir Jankovic.
The academics from the University of Manchester said flood defences must be given greater priority to avoid a repeat of the impact of this winter’s storms.
In a paper published last night, they said the Government was too focused on cutting greenhouse gases, which was crucial but would never eliminate devastating floods or powerful tidal surges.
Senior politicians have been eager to link Britain’s severe floods to global warming.
The Prime Minister said man-made climate change was ‘one of the most serious threats’ the country faced and that he ‘very much suspected’ it caused the floods in Somerset and along the Thames Valley.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has described global warming as ‘an issue of national security’ which would bring ‘more flooding, more storms’.
And UN executive Christiana Figueres prompted fury when she said the floods had a ‘silver lining’ as they forced climate change on to the political agenda.
But Professor Schultz, an expert in meteorology, and Dr Jankovic, a climate historian, said that it was almost impossible to link any one weather event to global warming.
Trying to do so was ‘a distraction’, they wrote in the journal Weather, Climate and Society.
Linking ‘climate change and high-impact weather events, although an interesting scientific question, has been a social and policy disaster’, they added.
‘The over-emphasis on “was this associated with climate change?” distracts from the issue that weather happens whether or not climate change is occurring.
‘For most purposes, any change due to climate change is a less immediate concern than the impact of the weather itself.
‘Society ought to do its best to protect the planet but society should also protect itself against weather disasters.’
Politicians wrongly thought cutting greenhouse gas emissions should be the main response, the authors said.