When we were young, we never liked statistics much. The trouble was that they gave you probabilities. And that is no reassurance at all to those of a nervous disposition. “Look at the probability curve” clever people would tell us ” the chances of anything bad happening are so low, it’ll probably never happen to you!” “But you can’t say it won’t happen,” we fretted silently, “therefore we are bound to get cancer/eaten by a Kodiak Bear/hit by an asteroid strike/ lose our bet on the Derby/be filmed parking illegally/ get a spider bite/ eat a scotch egg with a bone in it/be taken in Adultery/ lose our keys/get called up for military service/encounter a flasher”…………….. and so on. After all, someone does-so why not us?
For a long time, the traditionalists were right- things like extreme weather events were pretty rare. But what if, rather suddenly, the statistics fail, and extreme events become more likely. It’s problem studied by Nicholas Leach and his colleagues at the University of Oxford, and they write it up in accessible form here for The Conversation  There’s some lovely new concepts to play with, we know you like that. Read it to find out more about things like extreme value theory, outliers and statistical implausibility. But the essential truth is that the steady accumulation of greenhouse gases has now become so great that soi-disant unlikely events are now becoming all too probable. With immense implications for social stability.
And here’s a message from our younger selves, aimed particularly a those unfortunate enough to live in Central America, Eastern Russia, the Beijing region of China and Central Europe. Statistically speaking, it could be you next.
#climate change #global warming #statistics #china #russia #central america #central europe #planning