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Letter: We should see less weather extremes, not more

Re: Hurricane Irene and the staggering costs of climate change

To the editor:

It is unlikely that global warming will cause increased extreme weather. If the world warms due to increasing greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures at high latitudes are forecast to rise most, reducing the difference between arctic and tropical temperatures.

Since this differential drives weather, we should see less weather extremes, not more.

It is also a mistake to blame human activities for current weather extremes. For example, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (www.nipccreport.com) includes a study published this year about the causes of the 2010 Russian heat wave.

Researchers concluded that "it is unlikely that the warming attributable to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations contributed significantly to the magnitude of the heat wave."

It is also important notice decreasing trends in extreme weather. For example, we are now near a 30 year low in worldwide "accumulated cyclone energy"* ("hurricanes" in the North Atlantic), something that was not supposed to be happening if the forecasts of climate models were correct.

Instead of futilely trying to stop extreme weather events, we need to prepare for them by burying electrical cables underground, reinforcing infrastructure and ensuring reliable energy sources so that we have the power to heat and cool our dwellings as needed.

Tom Harris, executive director
International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC), Ottawa