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New UN Climate Row: Alarming Report Contradicts Its Own Data–De Telegraaf

October 15, 2020
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By Paul Homewood

While (to the best of my knowledge) the UK media have gullibly lapped up that UN report claiming a “staggering rise in climate disasters”, the Dutch paper, De Telegraaf, has had the gumption to challenge it:

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The row was triggered by the new report on “Human Cost of Disasters”. The report announced a “staggering rise in climate-related disasters over the last twenty years”. However, the same report contains a graph showing that the number of climate-related disasters has actually decreased by 15 percent since 2000.

It is not the only contentious element of the report by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) in Geneva. Some of the data used is also said to be unreliable while the alarmist language of Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of UNDRR, seems to have been inspired by activist groups like Extinction Rebellion.
Due to the fuss, there is now an international call for at least rectification.
“This is a huge, embarrassing blunder,” said Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, a British think tank. “The United Nations must immediately withdraw this report and apologise for misleading the public.”
Roger Pielke Jr, a renowned American scientist in the field of natural disasters – and anything but climate denier – also regrets the sharp position by the UNDRR. In an e-mail to De Telegraaf he says that the authors have drawn “flawed conclusions”.
It is not the first time that the UN is accused of climate exaggeration. UNICEF stated last year that hurricane disasters in the Caribbean is driving more and more children to flee. “Pure scare tactics,” said a hurricane expert at the time. And a report by the IPCC once predicted that the Himalayas would be glacier-free by 2035. That also turned out to be a scientific mistake.
However, the UNDRR report substantiates its statement about increasing climate disasters with data from the renowned Belgian Centre  for  Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters  (CRED). Between 1980 and 1999, the Leuven database counted 4,212 disasters and 7,348 from the turn of the century to 2020. Ergo: the climate has gone wild.
“This is clear evidence that in a world where the global average temperature in 2019 was 1.1˚C above the preindustrial period, the impacts are being felt in the increased frequency of extreme weather events including heatwaves, droughts, flooding, winter storms, hurricanes and wildfires.”, according to the report, which also included CRED researcher Joris van Loenhout.
But here too, the report goes wrong, warns Pielke Jr. The data on disasters from the last century are, as the CRED has repeatedly acknowledged, flawed – and therefore unreliable. During the time before the internet existed, not every disaster was reported the way it is now. British blogger Paul Homewood also discovered a “leap” in the number of disasters the Belgian institute listed which suddenly rose in 1998 — exactly the year the CRED began to receive US funding to start publishing statistics.
The datasets about the two different periods are therefore too different in quality, says Pielke Jr. “You should not draw any conclusions about a changing frequency in climatic extremes on the basis of this data set,” says the researcher at the University of Colorado.
Van Loenhout disputes this criticism. In an e-mail the researcher trained in Utrecht acknowledges that CRED has previously been critical of its own database, but claims that much of the data has been improved recently. Of the dataset dating back to 1900, only the first 60 years may not be reliable, he says. “Disasters will be missing.”
But that is not a problem for the current report, he claims. “From about 1960-1970 onward, the completeness of the data is much greater, and the share of missing disasters much smaller. We are constantly working to improve completeness, and this is also happening for previous years and decades. For this reason, statements made in 2004 and 2006 are now somewhat outdated, as the completeness of the database has since improved,” says Van Loenhout.
Pielke Jr is surprised that, to his knowledge, this is the first time that the Belgian institute is suddenly so convinced of its older data. The American also disagrees with Van Loenhout’s criticism that he should not deduce a downward trend in climate-related disasters over the past 20 years. “Nonsense. Of course you can – it’s the definition of a trend.”
The fierce clash can be explained by the significant deviation of the UNDRR findings with the research studies that Pielke Jr has published. Time and again he has shown that despite an increase in financial damage from natural disasters, there has not been a change in the intensity of most weather extremes. Increasing damage is due to the growth of population, real estate and properties in vulnerable areas.
The UN’s Intergovenmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has confirmed these findings: the near future may bring an increase in floods or hurricanes. But until now this is barely detectable. “Everything I find is consistent with the IPCC,” says Pielke Jr.

One of the most telling trends the American scientist has highlighted is this: the number of fatalities from natural disasters in the past 100 years has fallen by 95 percent — despite a rapidly growing world population. This makes the UNDRR report much more dogmatic about climate trends than its sibling the IPCC, both under the same UN umbrella.
This does not stop UN envoy Mizutori from adopting an alarmist tone. She commends UN staff and volunteers who have saved countless lives in past natural disasters. “But it is being made more and more difficult for them, especially by industrialised countries that are terribly lacking in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions to the level agreed in the Paris Agreement.”
GWPF director Benny Peiser is appalled by this political blame game. As if residents of industrial countries are guilty of future deaths from natural disasters in other countries. “This is no longer science, but a purely political report.”

Translation GWPF

Full story (in Dutch)

 

I want though to pick up on this particular point:

The datasets about the two different periods are therefore too different in quality, says Pielke Jr. “You should not draw any conclusions about a changing frequency in climatic extremes on the basis of this data set,” says the researcher at the University of Colorado.
Van Loenhout disputes this criticism. In an e-mail the researcher trained in Utrecht acknowledges that CRED has previously been critical of its own database, but claims that much of the data has been improved recently. Of the dataset dating back to 1900, only the first 60 years may not be reliable, he says. “Disasters will be missing.”
But that is not a problem for the current report, he claims. “From about 1960-1970 onward, the completeness of the data is much greater, and the share of missing disasters much smaller. We are constantly working to improve completeness, and this is also happening for previous years and decades. For this reason, statements made in 2004 and 2006 are now somewhat outdated, as the completeness of the database has since improved,” says Van Loenhout.
Pielke Jr is surprised that, to his knowledge, this is the first time that the Belgian institute is suddenly so convinced of its older data.

 

 But is Van Loenhout correct when he claims “We are constantly working to improve completeness, and this is also happening for previous years and decades. For this reason, statements made in 2004 and 2006 are now somewhat outdated, as the completeness of the database has since improved”

 

First let’s recap. According to the latest report, there were 4212 disasters between 1980 and 1999:

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If we go back to the 2004 report, which Van Loenhout refers to, we find there were 3973 disasters between 1979 and 1998:

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Click to access publication_2004_emdat.pdf

To get to the 1980 to 1999 figure, we need to take off the 1979 number and add on 1999. EM-DAT do not give numbers for individual years in that 2004 report, but they do give this graph.

We need to do a bit of eyeballing, but 1979 and 1999 look to be about 140 and 300 respectively. Regardless of the actual numbers, there is clearly a big increase from 1979 to 1999:

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But if we work with an increase between the two of 160, this leaves us with a figure of 4133 for 1980 to 1999. This is not far short of the figure of 4212 now being quoted.

It is amply evident from these figures that the database has not been significantly improved for that period, and that comparisons should not be made between that period and the last two decades. This, of course, also bears out what Roger Pielke saying that, to his knowledge, this is the first time that the Belgian institute is suddenly so convinced of its older data.

EM-DAT warned against making such comparisons in both their 2004 and 2006 reports, and such warnings are still valid. Van Loenhout is wrong to claim that those warnings are now “outdated”.

I am contacting EM-DAT to ask what evidence they have to support their claim.

22 Comments
  1. HotScot permalink
    October 15, 2020 7:05 pm

    It will be interesting to hear what their excuses are, if they even respond.

    • October 15, 2020 7:37 pm

      Given the shear arrogance and confidence currently on display, “just pretending it never happened” is probably going to be their agreed way to deal with it because the bought media will not create the sh1t storm which they should do so like with Sleezy Joe and his non to bright son it will disappear because none of the media will do anything but promote the alarmist message, false as it is. After all….what is new from the United department of smoke and mirrors?

  2. MrGrimNasty permalink
    October 15, 2020 7:19 pm

    Also the GWPF reports that Ridd disputes the obviously grossly inflated reef damage claims widely championed by the collusive MSM.

    https://www.thegwpf.com/claims-of-dramatic-loss-of-great-barrier-reef-corals-are-false%E2%80%A8/

    • October 15, 2020 7:42 pm

      Worse it turns out Tezza Huges like the infamous MANNipulator of tree ring data who blazed the trail of trashing normal scientific procedures, he is refusing to divulge his data. How then did his paper EVER see the light of day? Where were the bought, sorry rigorous peers? How did they allow the paper through? And Dr. Peter Ridd is “got rid of”! Rotten to the core and the reason is as it has ever been throughout history, MONEY and POWER.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        October 15, 2020 10:38 pm

        And the forthcoming appeal in the Australian Supreme Court between Ridd and JCU. In fact, it almost certainly is the reason for the release of this “paper” now.

        https://www.gofundme.com/f/peter-ridd-legal-action-fund-2019

        He has about 90% of the funding he asked for (but obviously getting the last 10% would be a help not merely financially, but also in terms of campaigning), so JCU have a contest.

      • Phillip Bratby permalink
        October 16, 2020 6:51 am

        This from Jennifer Marohasy:

        “While there is nothing in this new book specifically about the Great Barrier Reef, chapter 17 is about sea levels and how in the western Pacific they fall quite dramatically at least every 18.6 years in association with the lunar declination cycle. To be clear, there was an El Nino event in 1997-1998 it was really hot and sea levels fell quite precipitously at the Great Barrier Reef. The setup was very similar in 2015-2016 and there was bad coral bleaching across some section of the Great Barrier Reef, as there was in 1997-1998.

        So, Terry Hughes from James Cook University surveyed worst affected reefs immediately after the bleaching and published a paper with media headlines just yesterday claiming half the reef is dead. Never mind that the bleached corals were not dead back then (just bleached), and most have since taken back their zooxanthellae and are looking magnificent again. I’ve written more about the false claims about half the corals being dead, that made headlines, and Anthony Watts/Charles Rotter have republished it here: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/10/15/half-the-corals-dead-but-not-in-real-life/

  3. October 15, 2020 7:34 pm

    “GWPF director Benny Peiser is appalled by this political blame game. As if residents of industrial countries are guilty of future deaths from natural disasters in other countries. “This is no longer science, but a purely political report.”

    Can someone please help me here. I have not read any UN outpourings on this subject which were not purely political. This makes even the IPCC look creditworthy! The IPCC take work from paid scientists * who have to walk the talk or they do not get invited back”. Then NONE scientists write the summary of their findings and as a consequence have been clearly sexing reports up. ONLY a scientist is capable of writing a summary of scientific work and what it means, no one else.

    I just wonder how much more absurd the claims can be before those with three or less active braincells cotton on to the fact that they is being ‘ad?

    • Gerry, England permalink
      October 16, 2020 9:59 am

      Don’t forget the very odd issue that the Summary for Policymakers to an IPCC report appears but you can’t have the actual report for at least 3 months. How can you say the report is not ready when you have already summarised it? Or is it because during the writing of the ‘summary’ some of the content of the report is changed – adding a new definition to the word ‘summary’ – and the report is then changed to match?

  4. Harry Passfield permalink
    October 15, 2020 8:28 pm

    This is just part and parcel of the big censorship that is being controlled by the likes of Facebook and Twitter: Biden’s story not being allowed to be mentioned on Twitter; Trump’s account locked – and more. How much more powerful must the failed MP, Nick Cleg feel in his new job?
    How much longer before AGW scepticism falls foul of Cleg’s new mates?

  5. MrGrimNasty permalink
    October 15, 2020 9:16 pm

    Floating windmill insanity – now possibly £500M for 50MW @ CF40%!

    https://www.thegwpf.com/floating-windfarm-to-sink-backers/

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      October 16, 2020 12:47 am

      Another way to look at it is that Hywind and this project get 3.5ROCs per MWh – that is a subsidy of £175/MWh on top of market price for their output. That’s over £30m a year for ~20MW of actual output, or over £450m over the life of its ROCs.

  6. markl permalink
    October 15, 2020 10:26 pm

    Since when is a disaster attributed to climate and not weather? Climatological? If that means what I think it means how do they prove that climate, not weather, was the cause?

  7. October 15, 2020 10:52 pm

    It is not the first time that the UN is accused of climate exaggeration.

    Should probably say ‘not the first time this week’ or some other short period.

  8. October 16, 2020 7:30 am

    The events that led to the extension of the UN’s powers to the role of global environmental manager and the manager of climate change in charge of saving the planet were also faked.

    Pls see

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/10/10/mario-molina-1943-2020/

  9. Dodgy Geezer permalink
    October 16, 2020 8:38 am

    Evidence? We don’t need no stinking evidence…

  10. October 16, 2020 9:40 am

    Speaking of challenging you might want a look at Mcgrath’s latest

    Extreme weather: October downpour sees UK’s wettest day on record

    Saturday 3 October was the wettest day for UK-wide rainfall since records began in 1891, Met Office researchers have said.

    The downpour followed in the wake of Storm Alex and saw an average of 31.7mm (1.24ins) of rain across the entire UK.

    The deluge was enough to exceed the capacity of Loch Ness – the largest lake in the UK by volume – the researchers added.

    The previous record wettest day was 29 August 1986.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54561601

    • Gerry, England permalink
      October 16, 2020 10:01 am

      Yes, The Mail today has this and throws in the ‘hottest day evah’ crap from Cambridge.

  11. Gerry, England permalink
    October 16, 2020 10:03 am

    The first thing I see when looking at the graph is a hockey stick. I am no Steve McIntyre but the exponential growth of disasters just looks unbelievable.

  12. October 18, 2020 11:03 am

    An analysis of human and economic costs of disasters, where the numbers of the October 2020 report have been normalized for growth can be found at:

    Click to access analysis-of-un-report-revised.pdf

  13. Nick Dekker permalink
    October 30, 2020 9:02 pm

    Dear Sir
    a) When reporting on windfarms it is always stated that the windfarm ‘ would supply a number of homes ‘.

    I imagine that they arrive at that figure by taking the nameplate capacity of the windfarm divided by the average daily electricity usage of the average home.

    However windfarms production ranges from Zero to a maximum figure depending on the weather. It will never however produce the nameplate output. At the very least the ‘ No of homes’ value should be reduced by a factor more related to proven expected maximum value.

    We have data on the average amount of electricity that a windfarm will produce over a year relative to the theoretical nameplate output.

    However do we have any information on the maximum output a windfarms has produced compared to name plate capacity. I imagine that no windfarm has ever produced over 80% of its nameplate capacity and I would not be surprised if it was well short of this.

    b) Also, a Prof. Hughes from Edinburgh produced figures on the deterioration of wind turbine output with age. Has there been any update on his findings ?

    Regards

    Nick Dekker

    ________________________________

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