Nightly News   |  November 18, 2011

Extreme weather tied to climate change

A report from the intergovernmental panel on climate change confirms that weather will only get more extreme as greenhouse gasses continue to be pumped into the air by burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

Share This:

This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: We have spent so much time here this year reporting on extreme weather events . Think about it. The loss of life, the property damage that's gone along with them. Well, tonight a new report from the United Nations panel on climate change says there's more where all that came from. And we may be in for some adventure. Here is our chief environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson .

ANNE THOMPSON reporting: If you think the weather is wacky now, just wait. Today's report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms what many already suspect, our weather will only get more extreme as greenhouse gases continue to be pumped into the air by burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal.

Mr. THOMAS STOCKER (Climate Change Panel Co-Chair): The frequency of hottest days will increase by a factor of four within the next 30 to 40 years.

THOMPSON: And by the end of the century , a once in 20-year hot day has a very good chance of happening once every two years. Along with more frequent and longer heat waves , the panel says we can also expect an increase in heavier rainstorms. And though the number of hurricanes is likely to stay the same or even decrease, the panel says the hurricanes that do form will have higher wind speeds. But it's not all doom and gloom. This report is aimed at the world's policy makers to show them what can be done to reduce the devastating impact of extreme weather and save lives. In the first eight months of this year, the US recorded 10 weather events costing $1 billion or more, a new record. From the Groundhog Day blizzard to the destruction in Joplin , Missouri , to Hurricane Irene . The damage topping $45 billion.

Total Cost: More Than $45 Billion

Source: NOAA

THOMPSON: Scientists say it doesn't have to be that way. Ms. SABRINA McCORMICK ( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report Lead Author ): We can build more safely. We can climate -proof our infrastructures such that when there are extreme impacts, our buildings are safe.

THOMPSON: Cities can plant more trees and green space to reduce the heat island effect . Development can be limited in coastal areas at risk from sea level rise.

Ms. McCORMICK: Extreme weather events don't have to have extreme consequences.

THOMPSON: A warning from which people and the planet can benefit. Anne Thompson , NBC News, New