Tag Archives: australia

Insanity in the media (Australian temperature colours, and beyond…)

Much ado about new colours added to the Australian coloured temperature maps.

Then one reads (in a Revkin DotEarth post maddeningly relying on Joe Romm and Jeff Masters) “For the moment, while extreme and widespread heat is predicted to persist, the country looks to be avoiding the new purple zone“. So they could have added 15 colours for all we should care.

Then one reads (in a cursory NYT archive search on “australia heat”) the following piece from January 3, 1960:

Australia has a heat wave – SYDNEY, Australia, Jan, 2 (AP) – A heat wave gripped large areas of eastern and central Australia today. The highest official reading was 123 degrees at Codnadatta, in central Australia.

(123F=50.56C)

Who knows how many more examples of heat wave in early January in Australia one could find. But who cares.

What matters is that Global Warming has transmogrified into “it’s hot in summertime”.

Australian Whingers?

Come rain or shine

Recent heavy rainfall in parts of Queensland has prompted large numbers of marsupials to flock to the newly green countryside. Further south, however, a long-standing drought has forced authorities to suspend the culling of kangaroos in parts of New South Wales.

Drought News From Australia (Guess The Date!)

LONG AUSTRALIAN DROUGHT NOW IMPERILS CITIES

Date: (try to guess!)

(Reuters) – A drought that has parched Australia’s rich eastern farmlands for the last few years is now forcing the nation’s cities to take drastic measures to save water.

Melbourne, the second largest city and the leading commercial center, has sharply restricted the use of water after an unusually dry winter that has left its reservoirs only half full.

Official cars will prowl the streets looking for people illegally watering their lawns or washing their cars. Anyone doing so risks a fine of $950.

The water board has warned the city’s 2.8 million residents that tighter limits will be imposed during the normally dry summer months unless the new measures succeed in cutting consumption.

With no seasonal rain due for almost six months, fears are growing that the drought could turn much of eastern Australia into the sort of dust bowl seen in the United States during the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

Dust Blankets Town

The first signs appeared recently when the remote mining town of Broken Hill in New South Wales reported its first dust storm in decades.

A cloud of red dust, swept by hot dry winds from the interior deserts, settled over the town, cutting visibility to less than 1,000 yards for several hours.

Sydney, Australia’s largest city, still has adequate water supplies, but a city official said the situation could change if a recent run of above-average temperatures continued and brush fires now smoldering around the suburbs burst out of control.

It is the rural areas, however, that are bearing the brunt of the drought, now in its fourth year in some areas. Prime Minister XXX has described it as the worst in living memory. YYY, president of the National Farmers Federation, said last weekend that the drought had become a disaster for the Australian economy as well as farmers. Government figures show that four out of five farms are affected by the drought.

The federation estimated the value of crops lost in the drought at $2.4 billion. Since economists say that every dollar of farm income generates two dollars in the rest of the economy through related industries, the total loss would be around $7 billion.

(this is the link if you want to know the original publication date…)

Victims Of Climate Change, Or Of Human Stupidity

It has been a busy month of August for all things climate change…apologies then if contrarily to this site’s policy, some news will appear that have been already well beaten by people like Watts, McIntyre, Marohasy, Nova, etc etc

Despite its title (“Coastal home owners face huge losses from rising sea“), there is nothing in a recent Reuters article about any rise in sea levels due to climate change or whatever else. Funny also how the solution to the “huge losses” is clearly at hand, and yet people blame “climate change” for…a presumed risk:

One hour drive north, a defensive line of seawalls and years of pumping sand onto beaches has replenished the tourist Gold Coast, protecting them from powerful cyclones this year.

The real eye-opener is a quote from the printed version of that same article (on the International Herald Tribune), that for some reason has not been deemed worth of preservation by Reuters themselves:

Risk-averse insurance companies, with their passion for actuarial tables and probabilities, are as much in the dark as anyone else when it comes to the unknown consequences of climate change

BBC And Climate: News Before Things Happen?

[ UPDATED 22:50 GMT June 15: Andrew Bolt kindly links here and then makes a good point in his blog, with the help of “reader Anthony“, further demonstrating the BBC bias on the topic of AGW: “That’s not reporting, but propagandising. You disagree? Then ask why the BBC reported on a Melbourne protest of a few hundred believers of its preferred green faith, but ignored this Melbourne protest by even more believers of a more traditional one“]

[ UPDATED 23:47 GMT: According to Singapore’s Straits Times, it was “Hundreds of environmental activists” marching in Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald focuses on Brisbane and “a crowd of 600“, after reporting that “thousands of environmental activists marched in central Sydney“. Finally, Melbourne-based The Age writes that “The rallies attracted about 6,000 people nationwide“.

That article is timestamped at 6:24PM, or 8:24AM GMT, a little less than 4 hours after Phil Mercer’s piece for the BBC. QED.]

[ UPDATED 13:50 GMT: I have inserted the pictures grabbed earlier today.

There is now an ABC article saying “At a protest rally in central Sydney, streets were blocked off as more than 1,000 people marched through the city streets to the office of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd“. And yes, it mentions just Sydney.

There is also a blog (with a photo) claiming “Thousands marched from Melbourne’s State Library to the Treasury Gardens to demand more action on climate change“.

To be perfectly clear, the point of this blog is not to ask if thousands have marched in Australia against climate change or not. Had the BBC reported manufactured news, that would have been fraud. Instead, the point is to ask on what basis did the BBC find it necessary to rush this kind of news first, and without having had the time to check what they were writing about.

That is not fraud: it is bias. And I do not think the BBC can afford to show bias.]

Australians demand climate action“, writes Phil Mercer from Sydney on the BBC News web pages

Thousands of demonstrators have rallied across Australia to demand greater government action to protect the environment from climate change

BBC report on marching Australians
BBC report on marching Australians

Or have they? Has Mr Mercer written his piece before the fact (could happen), and much worse, before having the information needed to verify the contents of his article?

It is rather strange, for example, that there was no picture of those thousands of people available for the BBC to publish…

Mercer’s article as of now is timestamped as “Page last updated at 04:20 GMT, Saturday, 13 June 2009″. That corresponds to 2:20pm in places like Brisbane and Sydney. The National Climate Emergency Rallies were scheduled for 1pm Brisbane time. I suppose that could put Mercer’s article in the “breaking news” category.

But look now at what else is available on the ‘net about thousands of people marching in Australia. When limited to the past 24 hours, and sorted by time, Google results include only two relevant news articles apart from the BBC’s

Google's web results sorted by date
Google's web results sorted by date
thewest.com.au report on hundreds of Perth marchers
thewest.com.au report on hundreds of Perth marchers
AFP picture of Sydney marchers from Business Recorder
AFP picture of Sydney marchers from Business Recorder

(the Nigeria Best Forum entry is a copy-and-paste from the BBC)

from Nigerian Best Forum blog
from Nigerian Best Forum blog

Notably, the AFP picture cannot be used to judge a crowd’s size. Even more notably, there is nothing as of now from Australian’s sites and blogs about “thousands of people“.

So if there’s no pictures, and the only local report is about “hundreds of people” in one city, where is the BBC picking up its “thousands…across Australia” figure? Why, look at the National Climate Emergency Rallies website:

National Climate Emergency Rally web site
National Climate Emergency Rally web site

On June 13, join thousands of people around the country at the National Climate Emergency Rally. The rally is a vital opportunity to send our governments a united message that the Australian public wants strong, swift and real action to solve the climate crisis

———-

In summary, BBC’s Phil Mercer’s “news” article has likely been pre-packaged with an “informed guess” using activists’ own estimates made long before any demonstration had taken place.

And it has been rushed up to appear as top “Top Story” in the Science & Environment page just in time for Britons to read early on Saturday morning: before any meaningful check about its content could be done. More: before any other major news media thought is meaningful to report about it. Google News, in fact, shows nothing else apart from what already listed above.

———-

Now…by what stretch of imagination can an organization rushing itself forward, with pre-packaged rathern than breaking news, present itself as reporting on climate change impartially and without a bias? Were this any other aspect of politics, BBC news could easily be categorized as a political outlet.

Perhaps some Editor over there will have an answer to this…

(note: I have grabbed most of the sites above as PNGs…later today I will insert the relevant pictures)

Behind Climate, Weather Is Still King

Twenty-third century historians debating who would be so anti-scientific as to associate an episode of extreme weather to climate, and especially to global warming, will have to look no further than two recent blogs on the recent Australian disaster:

A few things need to be firmly kept in mind:

With that in the background, let’s have a look at Brook’s work first. And it is not a pleasant one:

So, in Adelaide we have two freakishly rare extreme events happening with a 10 month period. How likely is that? Well, if the events are totally independent, we’d expect the joint likelihood of two such heatwaves (of 0.25% probability per year [the 2009 event] and 0.033% per year [2008 event], respectively), occurring within the same 12 month period, to happen about once every 1,200,000 years. Is that unlikely enough for you? But if there is ‘autocorrelation’ (dependencies between the two events due to a linked cause — such as climate change), this calculated probability is not valid.

If that isn’t a true example of why statistics have such a bad reputation (“lies, damned lies, and…”), then I do not know what is. And if that doesn’t show that Brook cannot properly talk about climate, as he doesn’t look like having even the faintest clue of what makes some days warmer than others, then I do not know what does.

And what does make some days warmer than others? Weather. By definition.

The 2009 Australian summer around Adelaide and Melbourne has seen some particularly hot days because of a peculiar weather pattern, with winds bringing hot, dry desert air towards the inhabited coast (there might have been also an intervening Foehn (warming) effect, but let’s keep that aside for the moment).

The underlying weather pattern has been described by the National Climate Centre at the Australian Government’s Bureau of Metereology:

The presence of a slow-moving high pressure system in the Tasman Sea, combined with an intense tropical low off the northwest coast of Western Australia and an active monsoon trough, provided the ideal conditions for hot tropical air to be directed over the southern parts of the continent

NASA’s Land Surface Temperature Anomaly picture reinforces this point: one can clearly see how warm air has been pushed towards Victoria, just as cool air towards Queensland. And an intervening band in the middle has then experienced whatever temperatures it usually experiences.

It’s just the same air movement. If you push “oceanic air” over Queensland, the existing “Queensland air” will move towards Victoria, and so on and so forth closing the high-pressure system circle somewhere to the East of Australia. You can get a similar result with a low-pressure system somewhere to the West too. If the two combine, so much more evident the Queensland cooling and Victoria warming. Does one need to be a veteran metereologist to understand such an easy point?

Even the briefest introduction to metereology and climatology should  make very clear to everybody how incredibly naïve and totally anti-scientific is the belief that “global warming” means hotter days in this or that part of the planet. In fact, the question Brook should have asked is: do that “slow-moving high-pressure system” and “intense tropical low” in those particular places, and that “monsoon trough”, have anything to do with (anthropogenic) climate change?

But of course Brook just about cannot get anywhere in that direction

the heatwave that struck Europe is 2003 provides a good way to illustrate my final point, thanks to a neat analysis published in Nature in 2004

Who knows, one day he may wake up to a 2007 paper, three years later that is, by Chase et al. published in the Geophysical Research Letters, asking “Was the 2003 European summer heat wave unusual in a global context?” and responding

Regression analyses do not provide strong support for the idea that regional heat or cold waves are significantly increasing or decreasing with time during the period considered here (1979–2003)

I am all for free speech, and Brook and the likes can keep on blaming perversity for the worst kind of climate change denial but there must be a point where they have to recognize how silly it is to appeal to science without understanding a iota of it.

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Karoly’s contribution is of a different quality, with no absolute-weather-beginner mistaken mention of reality-divorced probabilities (Karoly even talks, briefly, about weather patterns…).

His point appears to be a rather old one though. Why would heatwaves be attributable to anthropogenic global warming? Because Karoly himself, with Braganza, managed some time ago to simulate observations using climate models that include “increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases and aerosols” (see his 2004 paper referred to in the blog).

Actually, to be more precise, what happened is that Karoly and Braganza were unable to simulate observations using “natural climate variations alone“. Perish the thought that the problem might have been an inappropriate definition of those “natural climate variations”…

In any case, given the apparent strength of Karoly’s convictions dating from 2004, one might start wondering why the Chair for the “Detection and Attribution: State of Play in 2009” (Parallel Session 9) in Copenhagen would be Ann Henderson-Sellers of all people. Who she? The one claiming in the session’s very description that

the detection and attribution story was incomplete [at the time of the IPCC AR4 in 2007] due to ‘Key Uncertainties’ listed by IPCC

and listing in a September 2008 article, among the seven “Serious inadequacies in climate change prediction that are of real concern

  • The rush to emphasize regional climate does not have a scientifically sound basis […]
  • Until and unless major oscillations in the Earth System (El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) etc.) can be predicted to the extent that they are predictable, regional climate is not a well defined problem. […]

Notice how Henderson-Sellers goes on to say that “WGII is easily the weakest of the three reports. The reasons seem to be two-fold: (i) poor downscaling and (ii) the lack of a coherent methodology for impact study“.

I am sorry for Prof. Karoly but either Prof. Henderson-Sellers is very wrong on more than one point (and then what would she be doing as Chair of one session in Copenhagen?); or Karoly’s own 2004 work, and his present stance are just an example of what Henderson-Sellers describes as the rushed, scientifically unsound regional climate emphasis around a non-well-defined problem, plagued by poor downscaling and dealing with a climatic impact without a well-recognized methodology.

Does Karoly understand this problem? I think he does. Cue his large caveat about his large claim

Although formal attribution studies quantifying the influence of climate change on the increased likelihood of extreme fire danger in south-east Australia have not yet been undertaken, it is very likely that there has been such an influence

Karoly’s own language gymnastics is remarkable, with just about the right mix of “clear” and “likely” to pass most logic tests, in case things don’t turn up as expected. He’s not the first athlete to enter such a competition though.

Finally, it certainly doesn’t look too good when Karoly provides three papers linking “observed and expected increases in forest fire activity […] to climate change” but no mention of the lack of any comprehensive analysis (think of the absence of trends in fires around the Mediterranean region for example).

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It is rather sad to see what started as the science of climate turning pretty much into a parody, with reports and explanations forever running after the latest disaster. Very simply, this cannot be right.

Last (Beer) Orders (Climate Change's Consequence #492)

Numberwatch looks like already updated today with the latest scare: beer shortages due to climate change. Notably (or maybe not) there has been a quick jump from the original observation of problems growing barley during a drought in Australia, to the “news” of beer going to disappear world-wide due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions (no, there is as yet no long-term climate model providing meaningful predictions at a regional level, Australia included).

Yawn. No more beer at the end of the century? Let’s drink to that!