Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Oh drought!

Al Gore told a US Senate committee and then anyone else who would listen that "droughts are becoming longer and more intense."

That's inconveniently untrue.
US researchers, led by Gemma Narisma, have now shown that, far from becoming more frequent in recent decades, serious droughts have in fact become rarer than they were a century ago... they identified the 30 most "severe and persistent" drought episodes of the 20th century. Seven of these occurred before 1920, seven between 1921 and 1940 and eight between 1941 and 1960, dropping to five between 1961 and 1980...
You'd wonder what he had to gain by making this stuff up, wouldn't you.

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15 Comments:

Anonymous Banker said...

Living in the wonderful lucky country one is continuously bombarded with stories about terrible droughts. These are fun to listen to, especially when it is raining. All joking aside, the place is a desert and most of it always was. It's just been lucky that the previous 200 years have been a wet spell.

Banker

9/11/2007 10:33:00 am  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Maybe Al Gore meant that it's an absolute fact that people sweat more in these severe modern AGW generated droughts, proving they hit hotter and harder than ever before ... or that there are more fat bastards around?

9/11/2007 11:11:00 am  
Anonymous DenMT said...

Ask yourself this PC: Is Gore's claim untrue, or has it been challenged by alternative research findings?

Starkly discrediting language in these sort of situations is always used by those on the fringes, be it the 'warmist' or 'denialist' end of the spectrum. And it doesn't elevate the debate.

DenMT

9/11/2007 11:48:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

I'm sure the Bore appreciates your support, Den -- and perhaps he'll fly over one day and express his appreciation in person -- but in the world of science, in which the Bore claims to be, you don't make claims such as his unless you DO have the evidence.

He didn't.

9/11/2007 11:58:00 am  
Anonymous Fat Girl said...

PC, do you think that the author of the article you linked to , by By Christopher Booker of Sunday Telegraph is a reader here at Not PC? The term warmist seemed to me, that it first surfaced here in your blog.

9/11/2007 11:59:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

Fat Girl: It's possible. :-)

9/11/2007 12:04:00 pm  
Anonymous DenMT said...

Sigh.

It says a lot that CO2Science (and the Telegraph article that quoted it) never actually drilled that far into the Narisma paper. I'll link it at the end (because it is a monster link) but on reading it (it is very short) you will see a couple of key things:

- That the definition of 'drought' is very specific, pertaining only to droughts that correlate to an 'abrupt and prolonged climate shift' in a region.

- That the clear-as-day conclusion of the paper has been specifically ignored - that climate change and manmade changes to landscape are likely to cause the increased frequency of these events over the last 100 years.

I don't know where Gore got his information from, but certainly the IPCC said in the FAR:

"More intense and longer droughts have been observed over wider areas since the 1970s, particularly in the tropics and subtropics. Increased drying linked with higher temperatures and decreased precipitation have contributed to changes in drought. Changes in sea surface temperatures (SST), wind patterns, and decreased snowpack and snow cover have also been linked to droughts."

Do you think it might be possible that the IPCC (and Gore, I imagine, not that I want to put words in his venerated little gob) and the Narisma paper may have an entirely different scope? In that the IPCC comment discusses drought conditions generally, and the Narisma paper deals with a specific and limited range of very severe events?

It is my opinion that the CO2Science reading of the Narisma study is entirely self-serving, in that rather than referring to the conclusion of the researchm, they merely cherry-pick some data that (at face value only) appears to show that drought events are decreasing in frequency.

Don't take my word for it, read the paper (it's short) - maybe google up 'Gemma Narisma' to get her thoughts on the significance of the study, and then let me know if you think this paper makes the IPCC liars.

DenMT

(BTW PC, as stated previously ad nauseum, I really don;t give a fuck about Al Gore and your painting of me as some kind of sycophant is ridiculous).

LINK TO PAPER

http://64.233.167.104/custom?q=cache:o7gbSsxc7fAJ:www.sage.wisc.edu/pubs/articles/M-Z/Narisma/NarismaGRL2007.pdf+gemma+narisma+abrupt+climate+change&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=12&client=pub-8993703457585266

9/11/2007 12:45:00 pm  
Anonymous Really Fat Boy said...

"More intense and longer droughts have been observed over wider areas since the 1970s, particularly in the tropics and subtropics. Increased drying linked with higher temperatures and decreased precipitation have contributed to changes in drought. Changes in sea surface temperatures (SST), wind patterns, and decreased snowpack and snow cover have also been linked to droughts."

Hey, Den: I thought that events like Katrina were products of global warming according to the IPCC. So what are they saying? Lack of water and too much water both mean global warming?

Is that not, like, having a dollar each way?

9/11/2007 12:57:00 pm  
Anonymous DenMT said...

Really Fat Boy: Not in the slightest. Simple answer: hurricane formation and drought conditions are occasioned by different climate conditions (which are very likely to be exacerbated by warming).

The complex answer is available from many separate sources, however the finest and most easily digestible in my opinion is Tim Flannery's 'The Weather Makers'.

DenMT

9/11/2007 01:02:00 pm  
Anonymous DenMT said...

RFB: I just reread my post above and it was a bit garbled. Oh, for an edit function.

Warmer temperatures mean a lot of different things. Warmer seas mean more energy for hurricanes to gobble up as they travel about. A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, meaning more water is available as rain or snow. And the most intuitive one, warmer temperatures mean more dryness and drought.

How to put it all together? Various regions will be affected in different ways, and that is what a lot of the modelling process is about - trying to make educated guesses as to what regional effects are likely to be.

In a nutshell, global warming is unfortunately not as simple as 'everything gets gradually a bit warmer'.

DenMT

9/11/2007 01:08:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Er, perhaps before perusing Flannery' flannel on the question of droughts, as Den suggests you do, you might examine the success (or lack thereof) of his predictions in relation to the recent Aussie drought, and subsequent floods.

As Tim Blair says after summarising his proud achievements on that score,
"when you talk about “overwhelming scientific evidence” and “respected scientists”, are you including Flannery in that? Because I’m not getting much of a feeling that Flannery consults any charts or tables or records before announcing these predictions of his. It’s more like he comes up with whatever crap he thinks will scare children or sell more books. "

9/11/2007 01:16:00 pm  
Anonymous DenMT said...

PC: Regardless of your disparaging view of Flannery's 'predictions', his book is an excellent discussion of the actual physical basis of meteorological phenomena and likely exacerbating effects from warming. It's no newsflash you don't like the guy, but if you have a better suggestion for a resource to explain said phenomena for RFB, it might be more helpful to offer that instead of another dreary attack on a 'warmist'.

And I would be interested on your comment on the post I made above. Do you still characterise the IPCC as wrong, given the actual content of the Narisma paper?

DenMT

9/11/2007 01:25:00 pm  
Anonymous Simon said...

Agriculture commodity prices were at historical lows around 1999. Demand from India & China has moved agricultural prices up, nowhere to the extent of energy prices. If the same droughts that existed years ago were around now then agricultural commodity prices would be through the roof. This is clearly not the case.

Could be Al Gore is lying or relying on selected academic definitions of droughts which have no meaning in the real world.

9/12/2007 05:51:00 am  
Anonymous lgm said...

All this climate change religion and the rainforest of "papers" that get produced are quite comical. They remind me of an old story about the Australian Met Office. It goes like this:

Among the aborigines, there was an old man who was thought to understand the "old ways" of predicting the weather. When he died the mantle of forecasting fell to his son. Unfortunately the son was not really knowledgable about the weather. All he knew was what he'd heard when the old man made his various pronouncements over the years. When the tribe asked the son, "Hey Uncle, will the winter be cold or wet this year?" He said, "hang on, I'll let you know tomorrow". He raced down to the Station (Ranch) and got on the phone to the Met Office.

He asked them what the winter would be like. They said it would be cold in the winter. That's what he told all the people in the tribe. Soon enough they all set to, collecting enough firewood and blankets for the chilly days to come.

Some while later one of tribe asked, "Will this year have a really, really cold winter or just the usual?" "I'll let you know tommorrow," he said and off to the Station he ran. He phoned the Met again and asked whether the winter was going to be a cold one and was told, "Yes. It is going to be very cold this year and probably a long winter as well. Worse than usual." With that he returned to the tribe and reported his "forecast". There was great consternation. People scurried around looking for extra wood, more blankets were purchased from the Station Shop. People got hold of kerosine and raincoats. They stocked up.

One little boy asked,"Will it really be that bad this year?" The son decided to check and shot back off to the Station. He got on the phone to the Met ofice and asked, "Are you sure it's going to be a really cold winter this year?" They replied, "Yup, it's going to be a shocker." Wanting to be absolutley certain he asked for clarification. "How do you know that?" The Met man answered, "Because the abos are scurrying around collecting heaps and heaps of firewood and blankets and kero and raincoats, so it must be a bad one coming. We've never seen them so concerned..."

And there you have it. Climate change and the cries for compulsory "gotta do something about it" look to be a similar business, a circular run around. Lots of puff chasing lots of puff.

LGM

9/12/2007 06:56:00 am  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

LGM said...
"Because the abos are scurrying around collecting heaps and heaps of firewood and blankets and kero and raincoats, so it must be a bad one coming. We've never seen them so concerned..."

LGM, you have just stated the feedback control theory in its application to Aborigines forecasting method. In fact it amplifies the output by feeding it back to the input. The situation is a simple closed-loop feedback. Good example.

9/12/2007 10:25:00 am  

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