I’m afraid Dr John Cameron is missing the essential point about the causation of cyclones (Letters, 17 March). He fails to differentiate between air temperatures and ocean temperatures. There is no dispute about the current slowdown in temperature increases in the lower part of the atmosphere, the so-called “pause”, but this is irrelevant to the Vanuatu disaster.
Tropical cyclones are caused by warm oceans in the tropical regions. The sea surface temperature needs to be above 26.5 degrees centigrade to provide the energy for a cyclone.
Most climate scientists confirm that global ocean temperatures have continued to rise during this “pause” in air warming, that greenhouse gas emissions are responsible, and that the effects of this warming on marine ecosystems and on the intensity of cyclones, and Atlantic hurricanes, have been significant.
The fact that this disaster happened as the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction got underway emphasises the urgent need for such a debate. Prior to the conference, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, which co-ordinated the event, published a ten-year review which showed that climate-related disasters now account for 87 per cent of all disaster events.