climate change

How extreme weather becomes the new normal

 Risky Business is a new report with a number of big names attached, including Michael Bloomberg and Henry Paulson. It’s a climate change risk assessment for business in America, the first of its kind. Major risks are outlined, and then detailed region by region. The most economically damaging of these risks are projected to be “damage to coastal property and infrastructure from rising sea levels and storm surge, climate-driven changes in agricultural and energy demand, and the impact of higher temperatures on labor productivity and public health.”

You can read the report for yourself online, and I may come back to some of the key risks another time. It does a great job of explaining why businesses need to keep the risk of climate change in mind, and the thing I wanted to post today was a case in point. There is lots of speculation about weather events and whether or not they can be attributed to climate change. It’s not really possible to link events directly, but a warming climate makes extreme weather more likely. The odds shorten.

Risky Business puts its another way, showing how what is considered normal weather is on the move. You can chart all weather events on a curve, with extreme cold on one side, hot on the other, and the most likely events in the middle. As the climate warms, the potential range of temperatures begins to gradually shift. Colder snaps become less likely. Unusual warmth becomes normal, and new heat records are broken. As if to prove the point, yesterday NOAA announced that this May was the hottest on record.


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