So can I have some questions please?
Yes, somebody with the microphone here.
Thank you, John. Ciaran Cuffe is my name.
I think much of your data in your presentation shows
that the effect of climate is relatively limited at this point in time.
It’s a snapshot of 2015.
How would you expect this to change over then next decade or so?
So in nutshell do you think that we will see a much greater effect
in ten years or in 20 years’ time,
if you were to revisit the data at that point in time?
Well I mean it’s important to do that kind of work rather than speculating.
And so I am speculating here I would say.
But it would be, based on these results
you can see that those lines are pretty straight.
We are moving in one direction.
We know that the signal of human influence is strengthening.
So my gut expectation would be that we would see
a progressive strengthening as the signal strengthens.
And again I would expect, for want of a better estimate, that
we are at 0.8 degrees now.
When we are at 1.6 degrees I would expect more or less double the effect.
But that might be naïve, in that the world…
the pattern of change may evolve over time.
You may actually see an acceleration in changes.
You may see a plateauing off,
as the climate hits a sort of sticky patch
and maybe stops warming for a decade or two.
So it’s dangerous to say,
just because we have seen these changes over the past 60 years
we just extrapolate a straight line and say
those will be the similar changes over the next 60 years.
But it’s clearly…that’s the direction of travel.
Yes, there’s also a question here from UCC.
That your message of your talk seemed to be,
not to worry too much, that the change in risks is subtle.
Well in this part of the world so far the change in risk is real but it’s
still, for wind storm events it’s not huge - 25%.
It’s not really up to me to say.
whether that’s important or not.
That’s really a matter for the public.
Is that an important change or not?
It depends. If I lived in Lahinch I might feel very differently about it.
So when I was saying it was a subtle effect,
I meant subtle in the sense of challenging for a scientist to pin it down.
So I meant it in a positive way.
I didn’t mean subtle in the sense of unimportant.
That’s an important difference.
You need to be careful to understand….
when scientists use words sometimes it’s not quite in the sense you expect.
Right. Somebody with the microphone here, yes.
Hi. My name is Mark White.
I am Director of Meteor Group, a private weather company based in Ennis in County Clare,
and part of Meteor Group, the European private weather company.
But I, just as a Joe Soap living on the west coast of Galway,
sense storms just by the amount of noise they make around my house.
And we all talk about the Lahinch storms,
which from my point of view wasn’t a particularly massive wind storm.
It happened to coincide with very high tide,
we got a bit storm surge and the water did the damage
as opposed to the wind.
But we did have a very high frequency of storms.
And we have seen this over the last few years.
There’s been like a train track of low pressure systems coming up the Atlantic.
You didn’t talk about frequency,
which I think has a bigger impact on us humans
than perhaps the one in 80 year big storm.
Have you any data around this increased frequency of these low pressure systems?
Yes. Another way of cutting this data we got
would be to actually look at the number of days
in which the weather is in a particular regime which might generate storms.
And we have actually …I can give you the paper
where it goes into these things in lots of detail.
There’s sort of many different ways of doing this kind of analysis.
And we do find a systematic increase in the tendency of the weather
to get stuck in the kind of regime
which funnels storms in from the Atlantic to the west coast of Ireland.
So the short answer to your question is,
yes, we can and do look at the problem in that way.
I was just presenting this,
because the highest wind speed is a nice simple index
and by that stage of the talk I reckoned simplicity was at a premium.
But I appreciate the specialists in the audience will be interested in the other ways of cutting into this.
Yes. Somebody here….yes.
Hello Dr. Allen, thank you very much for your presentation -
very interesting and thought provoking.
But you did concentrate particularly on the weather in Ireland in 2013/2014
and how the risk of that increased because of human influence on climate.
I am just wondering are there other parts of the world
where the data shows a much greater increase in risk
and where it’s less, as you would say, subtle.
That’s just my question.
Absolutely. That’s a really important question.
And yes, in many ways this is one of the hardest parts of the world
to detect the impact of global climate change on the weather.
If you look at changes in the weather in the tropics, in particular,
because there’s a much lower level of variability from year to year,
the impact of human influence on climate is much more obvious.
If we look at temperatures,
I have been looking here at rain and wind,
if we look at temperatures, again the impact is much more obvious.
So I was looking at some of the hardest problems there are here,
because scientifically that’s interesting.
We want to know.
And these are the kind of events that affect us.
We are not particularly affected,
except perhaps in a positive way by warm seasons.
In other parts of the world where crops are heavily sensitive to agriculture,
the risk of temperatures exceeding thresholds
which crops can be tolerant of is actually a really important question.
And climate change inducing crop failure
through heat waves is becoming a really topical issue.
And that’s one of the areas which we do address.
I mean this was a snapshot of one part of our research.
But there’s a lot of groups around the world working on this
and we have got a project looking at
North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
We have got another project looking at South Asia,
another looking at Australia and New Zealand.
So these are all parts of the world where the impact of climate change
is very different from what it is in north west Europe
and also potentially much more important.
Agriculture tends to be very subtle when it comes to climate.
I mean I know the wine industry is a very obvious example.
But there are a lot of industries,
a lot of economies which are dependent on the existing climate.
Absolutely. And a lot depends on …
and this is moving out of my own expertise.
But I know there’s a lot of good crop modelling
that’s actually done not far from here.
And understanding how different crops respond to a changing climate
is actually something which is really important,
but also potentially developing new crops
such that we can provide farmers with the seeds
they need to deal with the climate of the future.
Yes, here. Yes, somebody with the microphone.
Stand up when they have it. Yes.
Hi. Just a question.
I think in terms of….obviously you don’t want to be extremist in your ….
you put it as very…as the effect being sort of mild…
to moderate in terms of being 25% or ….
that it’s not that extreme in terms of our weather,
our events being more frequent.
But I am from Clontarf myself.
And I have noticed that our flooding has been more frequent.
And not always sea based.
In fact, that’s probably part of the problem is this…
extreme weather, when we get flooding…flash flooding.
And if you look at the infrastructure that we have
that was quite adequate in terms of the storm weather
that was there 100 years ago,
it’s no longer adequate for the flash flooding that we get.
And that comes up through the drains.
And surely that in itself is an indication that …
if that engineering was effectively for back then,
there’s no higher population in my Clontarf than there was back 100….
there’s not that many new houses being built.
It’s a fairly stable population area.
So also have you modelled….another question…sorry,
if I may ask two questions is, have you modelled in what would happen if ….
if we didn’t reduce carbon …our carbon…
that if you put in various factors into the model,
what the differential would be.
Because obviously it’s going to…
no matter what we do we are going to have extreme…
we are going to have more…I believe more extreme weather…..
or frequent weather…more extreme weather conditions…
probably moreso in other countries,
which will affect us inadvertently because they grow food and crops,
and then will have to rely on us.
But if you were to look at the model that could possibly be….
if we don’t reduce…and also the effect that would happen if you did reduce
or completely went down to zero emissions,
and look at the comparison.
Because that would…we need to influence people’s changes I believe.
And something, even though you are being very scientific about it,
I would be concerned that people wouldn’t feel that it’s going to affect them that much,
that they will have a storm maybe in another 80 years
they will be dead and they don’t really get that concerned about it.
So they don’t need to change their lifestyle.
So that would be my concern.
OK. Well let me…so let me reiterate the point I made earlier.
When I was saying…when I used the word subtle
I didn’t want to downplay the importance of these events for people affected by them.
I live in the flood plain myself.
If we got flooded ….we haven’t been flooded yet…touch wood.
It’s a nightmare. I mean these events are really important.
And it’s really important for people to understand how the odds are changing.
So I certainly don’t want to downplay the importance of these changes at all.
Because when you add them up, they translate into potentially an enormous cost to society.
And one of the problems we have at the moment is,
we worked very hard at quantifying the cost of doing something about climate change.
We are always hearing people say, oh it will cost us so many billions of euros
to actually reduce emissions and so on.
We have much less clear an idea about what climate change is costing us now.
Even today, we have various vague estimates
about what climate change might cost us in 50…100 years’ time.
Those estimates are very dependent on suppositions
about how the world economy develops over the intervening 40 years…50 years.
So they are very hard to pin down.
They are very intangible for people.
I think it’s really important that we start to make a serious effort
at pinning down what is climate change costing us today.
What’s the bill?
Because one thing we can be sure about is the bill won’t be being paid
by the same people precisely as are benefiting most
from the processes that cause it.
And one of the…to sort of make
a little bit of a more provocative point…
since you are accusing me of being a sort of bland scientist….
by putting carbon into the atmosphere you are changing risks.
You are imposing risks on society in the future.
But you are not really taking a risk yourself,
provided you pay for your emission permit
or stay within the law, there’s no risk associated with polluting the atmosphere.
If we actually build this science to the level that there is some risk,
some perceived risk that the crows may come home to roost,
and those responsible for putting these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
may get called upon to pay to clean up the damage,
which after all is only the polluter pays principle,
that suddenly changes that equation.
putting carbon into the atmosphere
becomes not just an attractive economic activity,
but it becomes a slightly risky activity as well.
And that’s what it should be.
Because after all aligning risks with benefits
is exactly what we should try and do
in constructing an efficient modern economy.
And, as we have seen in other parts of our economy,
if you end up in a situation where the people who benefit from taking risks
are not the ones who have to tidy up after the risks go wrong,
you end up with the banking crisis.
So we need to do this work
in order to align risks better between emitters
and those affected by climate change.
So I hope that response may convince you, that yes,
I am thinking about these implications as well.
But arguing that the polluter should pay,
which is what you have just been doing there,
assessing the bill and persuading or coercing the polluter to pay,
that is a political minefield where the polluter will probably escape.
Well you are making a prediction about society of 40…50 years’ time.
Well by then the polluter will be long since…awarded his CBE or whatever else
he might get by that stage, and he won’t be paying.
Well, at the national level the issue of loss and damage due to climate change
is now formally on the inter-governmental negotiations over climate change.
What that means is, that countries, particularly small island states
and countries such as Bangladesh,
have recognised that they are going to suffer from climate change,
and they want the discussion to begin about who should pay.
And I think that’s a reasonable discussion for them to call on the rest of the world to enter into.
The rest of the world doesn’t seem in a great hurry to start that discussion.
But I think it’s a perfectly reasonable discussion that should begin,
between countries as a matter of nation to nation transactions.
Between individuals, well if you asked
those affected by climate change in poor parts of the world ,
should they just rely on,
on aid hand-outs from the rich world to help them clean up the mess?
Or should they be entitled to compensation from those who are causing the problem?
I think they would probably prefer the latter,
because after all, the tax payers of the rich world have rather empty pockets at the moment.
So you would probably rather seek your compensation elsewhere.
Somebody with the microphone already.
Yes, I will take you. Thanks.
Thank you very much, Myles, for the presentation.
My name is Sanday Ado.
And during the presentation in one of the slides that you showed,
I noticed that the most industrious parts of the world
are the ones that are contributing most emissions to the atmosphere.
And I suppose the response factor for these
is a series of technological development.
And technology would need…or technology could develop,
and at the same time this is affecting the climate
just as it was shown during the presentation.
So as an expert in this field I want to seek your opinion,
I want you to advise that….
how do we balance the social, ecological interface
of these technological advancements with climate change?
Well I think a big part of this interface is connecting the costs and benefits of using fossil fuels.
At the moment we sort of rely on government committees
or something to tell us what the cost of carbon is,
to tell us what the impact of our use of carbon is
on future generations and therefore, in effect,
to tell us how much we should reduce emissions.
I think it’s important to democratise that process if you like,
to actually get people talking about,
what is climate change actually doing…
what’s it doing to us now?
What will it be doing to our children?
How much do we care about that?
And my suspicion is that once these impacts become more real to people,
and it’s not just what emerges from some government assessment
and it’s actually tangible impacts that people are looking at and saying,
that’s what it’s costing here, that’s what it’s costing there,
it will become much easier for people to accept
the fact that we need to use fossil fuels much more wisely,
and eventually phase out the practice of dumping CO2 into the atmosphere altogether.
One question which recurs, and it’s coming in on this system.
A number of people asking it,
how better to communicate climate change to the widest public to prompt action?
How do you get the message across?
Well, as I say, as a scientist I want everybody to understand the problem
and make their own decisions about what they do about it.
I think there is a problem with the way most people think of the problem today,
which is…they think of it as very remote, very distant…
and as I said in the talk,
something that happens to polar bears and our grandchildren.
I think a lot of documentaries on climate change don’t really help
because documentary makers tend to like sort of big dramatic planetary scale events
that might happen in 100 years’ time,
because that makes for good movies.
It’s harder for a documentary maker to get
much mileage out of a 25% increase in wind storm risk in the west of Ireland.
Although, there’s some good photographs in that as well.
So people therefore get the impression
that climate change is somehow remote,
something that happens to somebody else.
I think where this sort of research is really important is,
it gives us a way of honestly telling people how climate change is affecting them.
I do emphasise honestly there,
because there is a tendency of some commentators,
normally not scientists,
to blame absolutely every instance of extreme weather on climate change,
as a sort of way of banging the climate change drum.
And that is wrong.
Not all kinds of extreme weather are being made more probable by climate change.
Some kinds of extreme weather are being made less probable by climate change.
So there is scientific research to be done to sort out which is which.
And if we do that, and if we present the results honestly
and dispassionately to the public
I think it will have a profound effect on how people perceive the problem.
Will it have a profound effect and sufficiently quickly on how the politicians will respond?
Or are they on such a cycle of four and five year election cycles
that this …we are talking here about a long term policy change
which they may not be that happy to embrace because of its effect on jobs and so on.
Well, similar to as I was responding to one of the questions earlier,
a clearer picture of what climate change is doing…
of actual harm caused by greenhouse gas emissions
introduces this element of risk into the current practice of just venting CO2
into the atmosphere and not worrying about it.
Now as soon as that element of risk comes in,
the equation for industry changes.
Industry doesn’t like that kind of risk.
No CEO would like their company to be shut down by a class action suit.
And suddenly you might find the attitude of industry to regulation
to change rather rapidly.
Because most industries would rather a nice predictable regulatory regime
than the risk of getting sued every time the weather turns nasty
any time in the world, any place in the world in the next century.
Yes. My question is based on consumption versus production of goods
where carbon is emitted as distinct from where the goods are consumed.
China for example produced a lot of goods in recent years
that are consumed in the western world, in the United States and in Europe
for example, and other countries.
So if there was good information on consumption,
people who produce low carbon goods
would have a better chance of exporting them,
because the consumer could discriminate between goods,
and people would be…and countries would be accounted…
made accountable on the basis of consumption and not of production.
And trade wise it would give a big advantage to countries
that can produce with a low carbon footprint.
Yes, obviously there is a very important distinction. It’s relatively recent.
I mean when we are talking about the early years of that animation,
most goods and services were consumed pretty close to where they were produced.
So the explosion of global trade
which has happened over the past couple of decades of course is changing that.
And a lot of China’s carbon emissions
people argue are sort of exported back to Europe.
That’s an important issue,
but in the context of the sort of attribution of harm
that we are talking about here, I would argue that….
if you require emitters to pay for the consequences of their emissions,
or at least to take a risk of paying for the consequences of their emissions,
then they would naturally charge more for their goods.
If you are undertaking a risky activity you charge more for it.
So that cost would be passed on to the consumers of goods,
in an ideal free and open market,
which of course is not the one we live in.
But there are ways in which that cost might be passed on.
But it is certainly something one would have to monitor the impact of very closely.
One of the sort of important implications of this cumulative…
the fact that the impact of carbon dioxide emissions
sort of accumulates over time,
is that a lot of people are very worried about the impact of climate policy
on the world’s poor, but if you think about the problem in this framing.
The world’s poor, they have done nothing.
They may be starting to emit a little bit now,
but they emitted absolutely nothing 50 years ago.
So it really does, when thinking about this problem in this cumulative way,
it really does make that problem go away.
And that’s an important aside.
Yes. The gentleman there.
Thank you for the talk.
I just wanted to ask you to expand a little bit on the science
that informs the model around flooding.
And the reason I ask is that,
I remember reading last year from the UK Met Office,
they had said that certain causal elements were quite clear,
for instance a wetter atmosphere leading to more rainfall.
But that there was other factors such as the melting Arctic
and the effect that had on our weather patterns,
such as the polar jet stream that were much more speculative.
And I was just curious as to which of these inform your models.
We specifically tested the melting Arctic hypothesis.
So we….again you can do this kind of thing in silico, in computer simulations.
So we wiped out the ice to see what difference it made,
and it didn’t make much difference.
So in our framework…and that seems actually
to be what most groups seem to be coming down towards on that argument.
There are still some groups who passionately feel
that the retreat of the Arctic sea ice has played a big role
in these shifting weather regimes over the past few years.
But I think…well we agree with…I think…
the majority on that one, that that’s a pretty small factor.
We are reporting in these results that …not just that….
we are seeing more than just the impact of warmer air holding more moisture.
We are seeing the impact of a shifting jet stream,
of a changing pattern of weather events,
or as the gentleman alluded to,
the gentleman from County Clare alluded to,
the weather getting stuck in a particular regime for longer periods of time.
So we are starting to see an impact on the dynamics of our atmosphere,
as well as just on the water vapour loading of the air.
Do your colleagues in the inter-governmental panel on climate change,
do they vary in their attitude as to the role of the scientist
as a potential advocate of sort of political choices,
and becoming involved in the whole political debate?
Well the mantra of the inter-governmental panel on climate change,
as I am sure you heard from the co-Chair speaking to you last year,
was that the job of the IPCC is to be policy relevant, not policy prescriptive.
So it’s not our job as IPCC scientists to tell people what to do.
I feel, personally, when the assessment is over and I am back home,
I am a property owner in the flood plain of southern England,
the same as everybody else, so I have got a right to express my view.
But I am always quite careful to say this is science, and now it’s me.
And I hope…I may not have pedantically made the distinction this evening.
But I hope it was reasonably clear when I was talking about IPCC science,
when I was talking about new fresh science
that’s just come out of my group, and when I was just talking about my opinions.
And you should bear that in mind.
I am not…because I am a scientist
I don’t think my opinions should have any more weight than the next person
on what we should do about it.
But I am in a position to tell people the implications of the different choices we can make.
And I think that is our job of scientists to do.
And I think it is our job also to look at how the public perceive an issue.
And if we see the public to misunderstand the issue in a certain way,
then I think it is important for us to focus on making sure
that that misunderstanding is corrected.
So as I have said several times,
I think this perception of climate change
as this distant very far future phenomenon
is something that as scientists we should be working to rectify.
But at the heart of a lot of this debate is the precautionary principle.
Isn’t it? That if those who are pessimistic about climate change are right,
well then so catastrophic would the consequences be
that perhaps on a precautionary basis we ought to be doing more sooner.
That’s one interpretation of the precautionary principle.
The other side of it, of course, is that
climate change is about changing risks,
as I have been explaining in this talk.
And the rational application of the precautionary principle
means that you have to align risks with the activities that cause those risks.
And that’s what we are not doing at the moment.
We have a completely safe activity which is just…
safe for the individual doing it,
which is venting fossil…and carbon into the atmosphere.
And then all the risks are borne by other people,
future generations, future taxpayers or the residents of Bangladesh.
So it’s that mismatch of risk that’s the problem.
We are building up, a climate bubble if you like.
Because just as we did in the financial sector,
where we allowed the risks to be divorced
from the people who had to pay for the consequences,
we are seeing the same thing going on on the climate issue.
The gentleman here, yes.
Maybe a button at the bottom.
Is this working now?
Douglas Gordon, Quest Utility Services.
Thank you for your talk.
This is a small country, so our impact on global is we understand very small.
Now if I am correct, I am going to just talk about flooding here for a second.
If I am correct we have eight flood catchments or water catchments.
And we have to have retention in that.
But there’s an interesting thing going on.
Last week was tree week….is it tree or timber week,
I can’t remember.
We are paid by the EU money into the government,
through to the Department of Agriculture, to tidy up farms.
There’s wholesale slaughter of trees.
Now I am not a tree hugger,
but I do know that trees are essential for trans-evaporation
and maintaining the water levels.
Because I live in the middle of this country,
and the water level is only a few feet below the ground,
so most of the winter it’s above.
What I am saying is, if we are getting money from the EU
to take the trees down that are essential for cooling the ground,
so that the water can actually penetrate the ground into the groundwater.
Instead we have the ground heating up,
closing all the pores and the rain goes straight off.
The farmer’s top soil or humus is going down the rivers.
That is their livelihood. Now who are the leaders?
Who are we meant to believe?
Our government? Our agricultural advisors? Who?
And can I just put one other thing here?
It’s really important, because I have done research on this.
A colleague of mine, a mathematician, statistician,
showed the British Met Service that their assumptions about the rainfall returns
and storm returns were actually out of sync by 20%.
That means engineers designing drainage systems,
whether it’s our city, your cities, are actually 20% under capacity.
OK. So on the first point there,
I hate to duck a question, but I work on really simple systems like the global climate.
Please don’t ask me to explain the European subsidy regime.
But on the second point though, it’s a very good one actually.
Pinning down the real risk we face is very hard.
I mean insurance companies obviously want to….
you know they are really interested to know,
well what risks are they actually running.
And you would be surprised how hard that is,
particularly once the climate starts changing.
You can’t just look back at the historical record and say,
well we have had this many houses blown down, so that’s the risk.
So it is very important that we understand how these risks are changing.
It’s very important for insurance,
probably because nothing frightens insurance companies
more than an unknown change in risk.
They tend to react to that by just pulling out of a market entirely.
And that can be absolutely catastrophic for people.
So in big chunks of the UK now we have insurance companies
suddenly refusing to offer cover, and people suddenly discover
they have got a house they can’t sell, because nobody will insure it.
Now if you are seeing….and the insurance companies are kind of blaming climate change for that.
Although in fact there’s usually quite a few other factors at play
as well in those kind of decisions.
If you have got a situation like that where,
this sort of research becomes really important,
so that you can say to the insurance company,
look it would be rational to increase your premium by 20% or 30%,
because the risk has increased.
But it’s completely irrational to say,
I am not going to cover it at all because I don’t know what’s going on.
So I think it really is important that we understand
how these risks are changing, so that we can continue to manage
the modern insurance marketing, which is absolutely crucial
to the way our economy works.
And presumably that market has been churned up by all
of this in Britain on the flood plains in Somerset, in the home counties.
Yes. I mean it’s a very….it’s a challenging environment,
both for home owners, but also for the insurance companies themselves.
They are looking around for how they are going to proceed in the future.
And I think the old notion that you just sort of…
look to see how often a place was flooded in the past no longer works.
We need to understand what’s going on much better.
Yes. I will take two more questions.
Somebody with the microphone here and then this woman here. Yes.
Hello. Thank you for your talk.
I am Paul Price from An Taisce.
You talked about cumulative emissions and the strong relationship of emissions with warming.
And so could you talk a bit more about the future carbon budget
and the probability of avoiding 2 degrees of dangerous…
so-called dangerous climate change.
I would love to give you another lecture on that.
But in a nutshell if you just think in terms of the warming
caused by carbon dioxide alone.
Before the industrial revolution we started off with about 7 trillion tonnes of fossil carbon….
3.5 trillion tonnes of fossil carbon sitting underground available.
It’s taken us about 250 years to burn the first half trillion tonnes.
It will take us about 35 years to burn the second half trillion.
And the next half trillion will take us over two degrees.
So that’s the amount of time we have got.
That puts the challenge of staying below two degrees into perspective.
We need to get global emissions to zero.
That doesn’t mean that we need to stop using fossil carbon altogether.
We just need to stop the practice of dumping fossil carbon into the atmosphere.
Or, if we do dump fossil carbon into the atmosphere,
that needs to be compensated for by some CO2 being pumped out somewhere else.
We need to get to that situation, net zero emissions,
before the century is out, if we are going to have any hope of meeting the two degree goal.
Probably quite substantially before then as well.
A woman here, yes.
Hello. I am Dr. Mary Burke, Professor in Geography at Trinity College, Dublin,
a geomorphologist. And I would like to put on my geomorphologist hat for this final comment.
We study the land service and its dynamics.
A take home message for me, that is a welcome reminder,
is that we live in a very variable climate at this northern latitude.
And that in these extreme events we need to keep that in mind.
And your predictions of increased risk of what you think are low percentages,
or your reporting maybe…of 25%, I would be quite frightened.
Simply because it’s not only climate change
that is causing a lot of the hazards that our small island are experiencing.
If you think about floods, it’s the other anthropogenic effect.
The anthropocine, the way in which we are currently changing our farmers,
our urban areas, changing our land surface.
We are exacerbating floods.
So for this country, this small country,
this argument of the impact of climate change needs to take in other anthropogenic influences.
Now that’s absolutely true.
Climate change is one of the factors that we are faced with,
one of the things we need to understand as we are changing the planet we live in.
And I would just sort of take the opportunity to reiterate,
when I am talking about the subtlety of these risks,
I am not talking about their unimportance.
These are very important things.
They are just quite hard to discern.
They are quite….they may take a lot of investigation to pull them out.
But that doesn’t lessen the importance of changes in risk.
And as you pointed out, a 20% underestimation of risk in planning
for building engineers and so on, could be a big deal.
That could be a significant error.
So we do need to understand how these risks are changing.
And we need to understand that the buildings,
the infrastructure, the sea walls and so on,
which we build today, that we hope will still be there in 50 to 100 years’ time,
when the weather we are experiencing may be very different.
Certainly if we continue with emissions on the sort of business as usual path
and push the planet towards four degrees then the,
slightly over half a degree we have seen so far,
we are talking six times that amount
by the time we get to the end of the century.
And then you could be talking about a completely different picture for our weather.
So the subtlety of the changes
we have seen so far should not be seen as
me saying that these things don’t matter.
It’s the beginning of a process that will be one of the big drivers of life over the coming century.
There is one further questioner who has been given the microphone.
So I will call you. Yes.
I don’t think it’s on.
Yes, it is.
Hi. Just two very quick questions.
Just…there is an imminent disaster in Sao Paulo
where they have 20 million people and no water.
So I would just like to hear your comment on that.
And then from our own perspective here in Ireland,
we are very much an agricultural based economy.
Do we have a higher risk of increased precipitations or reduced precipitations?
Because clearly, if we have reduced precipitations,
that could be a catastrophic event or our agricultural sector. Thank you.
On the first one, we are working on the factors behind the Brazilian drought,
the Sao Paolo drought.
I would just have to ask you to stay tuned on that.
I don’t know the answer myself.
But I know that my colleagues are in fact working on that as we speak.
Well….probably not quite as we speak.
They are probably gone to the pub.
But that is actually something the group is working on.
Because obviously that’s a really important, high-impact event,
and it’s important to know what the role of climate change might have been in that event.
On the second point, this kind of work that we are doing allows us
to study not only the total precipitation
but how the precipitation is distributed over seasons.
And just because I might say for southern England
for example that precipitation has gone up in January,
that doesn’t mean it has gone up in every month of the year.
We may see different changes in different parts of…different seasons.
And that’s really important.
Because, of course, for agriculture it’s the seasonality of rainfall
through the year that’s really important for farmers, not just how much they get.
And that’s part of what this research can deliver.
One of the big concerns is that rainfall appears to be becoming more concentrated.
So we seem to be seeing more ….a greater fraction of our rainfall
falling in more intense rainfall events, which,
for farming practices that have been developed based on sort of steady, gentle rainfall,
if the rainfall is concentrated it has bad impacts on soil quality,
bad impacts on agriculture in general.
So farmers will have to adapt to that.
helping that adaptation process is all about what this research can deliver.
And telling people what climate change is doing to them
is all part of helping people to deal with the consequences.
At that point I would like to thank Professor Allen
for his contribution and for a very provocative paper,
and compliment him again on his presentation.
And the slides and the views…not all of that was appreciated in UCC,
because they had some challenges on seeing all the detail.
So my thanks particularly to UCC also for joining us tonight.
And a couple of final points.
I have been asked to mention….
I know that you are a very learned and sophisticated audience,
and that is why as you come in to the Mansion House on these occasions
you are captured by various people handing out leaflets
and they are most welcome to do so.
But they are not necessarily there on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency.
And if they say that this is part of the EPA, it is not so.
But they are, of course, welcome to capture you on the way in or out
and you may take their leaflet or otherwise.
But there is one leaflet which you may have got here
which is that there is a sequence of climate change conversations
beginning at Liberty Hall on 18th March,
and that is www.climategathering.org as you see there.
And I would commend that to you. Thank you very much.
Can I just briefly….for the benefit of those in University College Cork,
I am very happy for the powerpoint to be passed on.
So if people weren’t able to see,
I am sure the EPA will be able to work this out.
And so you will be able to get the verbal if you want to go back and follow what I was saying.
I am sorry you weren’t able to see the visuals at the time.
At that point, thank you very much for being such a good audience again. Thank you.
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Myles Allen. Environmental Change Institute School of Geography and the Environment and Department of Physics University of Oxford
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