Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Weather throws the punches but climate trains the boxer"

In a recent grant application those of us contributing had a long debate over the appropriate use of "weather" and "climate".

In the end it was clear we were talking about "weather" although it sounds far less "current" and interesting than using "climate".

We were talking about the economic impact of severe weather events (not climate events).

The quote "weather throws the punches but climate trains the boxer" now makes it all clear to me and would have saved a number of long email debates on the distinction between the two.

This quote came up when reading a review of a new book.

In a review in the TES the reviewer continues the boxer theme and suggests that some of climate change's heavyweight contenders have not even entered the ring yet. Rising sea levels are one such heavy weight.

This book is suitably doom-laden so should appeal to economists everywhere.

"At the end of the last Ice Age, for instance, oceans rose over 420ft over a few millennia, including one period when the process topped 15ft per century".

If the same speed of change occurred today it would be far harder for humans to adapt. Back them you would quite literally just "up sticks" and move inland.

Those economists who argue that even if man made climate change is real it does not matter because we can adapt would do well to read this book. There are practical limits to adaption under extreme scenarios.


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