A week a ago there was a spate of stories about the year in weather disasters, and many of the stories raised the question whether climate change could be said to be the cause of this year's troubles in Pakistan, Russia, Iowa, etc. Some went too far and put "proof" in the mouths of scientists. Today, Andrew Revkin reports in his blog Dot Earth on a study that looked a similar, related question by reviewing a couple of dozen papers on losses in weather events.
It's refreshing to have some data. The conclusion is that it is well-documented that there is more impact from natural disasters now than in the past, but making a statistically reliable connection can't be done now. The paper, "Have disaster losses increased due to anthropogenic climate change," was written by Laurens Bouwer, a scientist at Vrije University in Amsterdam. He concludes that it is too difficult to disentangle the weather events from the places they are happening, which are more populous, more economically developed, simply more vulnerable to loss than they have been historically. Prosperity complicates things.
I have no doubt that the various links between events and climate in general will get clearer, but unfortunately not fast enough for the policy makers in some slow-to-react nations. It will be necessary to make reasonable thinking-ahead policy before the data convinces everyone.