The Reverend Bayes Visits Russia

In a post last week,  I discussed how Bayesian analysis could help with determining whether certain events are due to climate change — and by the same token, how events can help reinforce the evidence for climate change.

The Russian heat wave is a case in point.  As the Economist explains:

According to Geert Jan van Oldenborgh of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, a straightforward comparison of the temperatures seen in European Russia this summer with those of the past 60 years suggests that a lot of the country is experiencing temperatures which might be expected only once every 400 years or so. For parts of the patch, it is hotter than might be expected over several millennia.

If you take into account the warming trend of the past half century, however, the extraordinary heatwave starts to look less improbable: a once-in-a-century event, perhaps. As the warming trend continues in future, the chances of such events being repeated yet more frequently will become higher still.

As Ann Carlson pointed out in an earlier posting, we can expect more of these extreme events, and we can expect to break records by bigger margins as climate change continues.   How many heat waves can we have before we all recognize the reality of climate change? The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind.

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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