When Disasters Return


I’ve got a new essay up at Risk Frontiers on the decade-long dearth of weather disasters. An excerpt:

To the extent that people believe that we are presently in an era of large or unusual disasters, many will be in for a shock when large weather disasters again occur. And they will. A simple regression to the mean would imply disasters of a scale not seen worldwide in more than a decade.

Consider that 2005 saw weather disasters totaling 0.5% of global GDP. In 2017, if the world economy totaled $90 trillion (in a round number), then an equivalent amount of 2017 disaster losses to the proportional costs to 2005 GDP would be about $450 billion. That is about equivalent to Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Andrew, the 2011 Thailand floods, the 1998 Yangtze floods all occurring in one year plus about $100 billion more in other disaster losses. And there is no reason why we should consider 0.5% of GDP to be an upper limit. Think about that.

Panel on IAAF & Testosterone Regulations

Over the weekend I participated in a panel discussion with Bruce Kidd, University of Toronto professor, and Mianne Bagger, former professional golfer, moderated expertly by Tracey Holmes on her weekly show, the Ticket on ABC News (Australia).

You can hear the discussion here where our discussion starts at minute 7:45. My critique of the recent IAAF study of the effects of testosterone on female athletes, mentioned in the discussion, can be found here.

My March, 2017 Congressional Testimony

I came across this video today of my short, 5 minute opening statement before the House Science Committee last March. The focus of my testimony was to ask members of Congress not to spend their time going after scientists whose work they don’t like and instead, to defend the importance of scientific assessments for obtaining robust answers to their questions.

Upcoming Lecture in London


On July 20th 18:30 I’ll be giving a lecture on climate politics in Westminster, in London, hosted by the Global Warming Policy Foundation. My title is “Climate Politics as Manichean Paranoia.” Details, including how to secure an invitation, can be found here.

Here is my abstract:

Climate Politics as Manichean Paranoia

Roger Pielke Jr.

20 July 2017

The decision by US President Donald Trump to remove the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change was met with both derision and applause. Such is climate politics in the United States in the 21st century. This talk focuses on climate politics as “Manichean paranoia,” a term used by the late US statesman Zbigniew Brzezinski to describe an worldview in which your opponent is considered to be malign and willfully ignorant, whereas your own side is noble and uniquely enlightened. While the two sides of the contemporary US climate debate disagree on many things, they are firmly united in their Manichean paranoia. I will describe this pathological approach to climate politics and why it matters. There are alternatives, and I’ll recommend five specific actions to improve political debate over climate. Changing climate politics won’t be easy and isn’t possible without a demand for change. The shared commitment to partisan battle between otherwise dueling camps of the climate debate is deeply held, and the siren calls to join the ranks on one side or the other is difficult to resist. However, rethinking climate politics should matter — not just for those who care about climate policy, but more generally for achieving the broadly shared goals of economic growth and the sustainability of liberal democracy.