Brooks said global warming has been responsible for only about a half degree of temperature increase on average,
but it doesn't take much of a temperature change to have an effect on weather conditions. And temperatures are
expected to continue to rise over the next century.
"We're very confident that global temperatures have increased. That's a slam dunk," Brooks said. "And we can
tell there are regional temperatures that have gone up significantly. We know we're setting a lot more high
temperature records than low temperature records.
"When it rains, the rains will be more intense, but there will be longer gaps between rains," Brooks said. "The
overall amount of rain has slightly gone up in much of the U.S. It's getting more concentrated into heavier rain
There is also meteorological modeling and "empirical evidence" that shows if nothing else changes, the strongest
hurricanes will get stronger, according to Brooks.
"There are indications that wind speed and damages are tied pretty closely together. If we're talking a few
meters per second more in wind speed, that could lead to 10% to 20% more damage. We may not notice the wind change
all that much, but we may notice more damage," he said.
The 'hugability' factor
"Last year was the worst year we've had in the history of disasters," said Al Berman, executive director of the
Disaster Recovery Institute (DRI). "I've been doing this since the 1990s. I started out hearing this was going to
be a very calm summer, and now I'm hearing it's not going to be." The DRI is a nonprofit organization that provides
educational services and certification for contingency planning and business continuity professionals.
Berman said one thing he still can't understand is why companies insist on maintaining an IT presence in a
single building - something he calls the "hugability" factor. Even the largest banks, he said, like to have their
technology in the same building as their business operations. That kind of proximity, however, means a single
regional disaster can take out a company's entire infrastructure.
"If they were just smart enough to move their servers from one building to another, they'd avoid these regional
issues," he said.
At far greater risk, however, are small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The SMB market, which is made up of
33 million companies, represents the sector where most U.S. workers are employed, yet it's the sector that's least
prepared to respond to disasters because it has far fewer resources.
Cloud backup providers, such as Carbonite, Box.net and Dropbox, are good alternatives to building out a
company's backup infrastructure, Berman said.