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Is it wet or dry down here?

23 Mar 2022 | OP ED Watch

Another story that got pushed to the margins by the Ukraine crisis was the devastating droughts and related wildfires in Australia. No. Wait. That was two years ago. Right after the Amazon “lungs of the world” burned up and we all died complete with celebrities tweeting pictures of other fires in other places at other times. Now Australia is flooded, or at least New South Wales is, and you guessed it. All climate change all the time and all your fault.

New Scientist charges in as well, describing the flooding then quoting someone from the University of New South Wales that climate change is implicated because “For each degree that the atmosphere is warmed, it can hold 7 per cent more water and that’s 7 per cent more water that can fall to the surface”. This explanation is currently the ligne du jour even among people who two years ago blamed warming for the air drying out, and who admit that building in a floodplain is sort of silly especially if a computer told you it would rain harder. And since the general claim seems to be just over a degree of warming since 1850, we should be seeing seven percent more rain than 170 years ago in Australia, which means only about 3 percent more than, say, 40 years ago which wouldn’t exactly constitute massive “unprecedented” flooding. Not that anyone really knows what happened 250 or 2,500 years ago, “unprecedented” here being a word meaning “not recently”. (Though in fact we do know that since European settlement Australia has been hammered by repeated floods, the deadliest of which hit in ’52. As in 1852. And proxies suggest that by and large, over the last 2,000 years, Australian weather has been extremely nasty with drought predominating, while the middle of the 20th century was unusually wet.) So for balance the New Scientist story adds “’We know that because of climate change, we’re seeing more rainfall come in the form of intense and heavy downpours,’ says Simon Bradshaw at the Climate Council of Australia, an independent advocacy organisation.”

Then it throws in wildfires. Which sound different from floods but you know how it works, right? “These extreme events are in line with predictions made in a report commissioned by the Australian government 14 years ago. It said that climate change would result in ‘longer dry spells broken by heavier rainfall events’ in Australia, meaning more wildfires and floods.” So pretty much all bases are covered, and for further balance it quotes Bradshaw again that “The last few years really have brought home the brute reality of climate change in Australia”. We liked Old Scientist better, frankly.

Also, while we assume everybody knows where all Canadian provinces are, we feel obliged to note that New South Wales is the bit in the southeast that surrounds the Australian Capital Territory. And from the heart of wetness Jennifer Marohasy observes that the head of that same Climate Council now demanding alternative energy to stop the flooding, one Tim Flannery, “gave advice not so long ago that it would never flood again – that Australia was doomed to eternal drought.” And that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology is as bad at forecasting weather as it is good at fiddling data. And that “It should be obvious by now that the armchair environmentalists haven’t a clue when it comes to the weather.”

Meanwhile a viewer reminds us of Dorothea Mackellar’s 1906 poem “My Country“ which praises Australia’s dismal climate in prose that would have shamed the roughly contemporaneous “Canada First” movement.” (Wikipedia’s article on her poem doesn’t even link to it let alone quote it, whereas “Canada First” is to it a political not a poetic movement.)

To be fair Mackellar wrote her most famous ode while in England, whose climate could make almost anyone wish for almost anything else even before climate breakdown made it unbearably hot. But the point is that its famous 2nd stanza declares that instead of England’s wretched “green and shaded lanes” the author loves “a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains, Of ragged mountain ranges, Of droughts and flooding rains” with “pitiless blue sky” under which “We see the cattle die” only to transform to “The drumming of an army, The steady soaking rain.”

In her view “For flood and fire and famine, She pays us back threefold.” Well OK then. If you like 20-foot-long “salty” crocodiles (a “hypercarnivorous apex predator” in case you hadn’t guessed) and other such repayments, such as so many venomous snakes that Australian Geographic thinks it would be handy to have a list of the 10 most dangerous (it assures us that if you get bitten it’s probably your fault because snakes aren’t looking for trouble before introducing the boringly named top menace “Eastern brown snake” as “Fast-moving, aggressive and known for their bad temper”). But what about climate change?

On this topic Eric Worrall notes tartly with respect to the capital of Queensland, the Australian state just north of New South Wales, “In 2021 the ABC provided historical records showing a rapid series of floods is not unusual for Brisbane. In 2022, major flooding events in quick succession is proof the carbon demon walks among us.” Indeed. He quotes a story from “ABC Weather” in 2021 that “while there is no denying Queensland’s rainfall events of late 2010 and early 2011 were exceptional, Brisbane had flooded before — and it will flood again. It is a history we can ill afford to forget as we continue to live and build on the flood plain. The most astounding thing about floods in Brisbane is that they continue to take us by surprise.” Then in 2022 they were astonished.

Marohasy declares irritably that after 30 years of alarmist claims of perpetual drought, not backed up by numbers, “When the city of Brisbane last flooded back in January 2011, I thought that would be the end of it. Not the end of Brisbane, but the end of everyone obsessing over catastrophic human-caused global warming. We had been hearing for some years about how the reservoirs would never fill with water again.” But of course it doesn’t work like that.

In another piece Worrall sums it up by saying “I know this site has a lot of climate skeptics, but I think we all need to acknowledge that climate science finally got a prediction right for once, with their prediction that when Australia is dry it is dry, except when it is wet.”

3 comments on “Is it wet or dry down here?”

  1. If for each degree the atmosphere is warmed, it can hold 7% more water, then it follows logically that there is 7% less water on the planet's surface, where it might pool into floods. You would think that with more moisture in the air and ipso facto less on land, flooding would decrease due to global warming.
    I pointed out a similar contradiction 15 years ago with respect to tornadoes. Tornadoes are caused by clashes of hot and cold weather fronts. Global warming warms the poles at twice the rate as the equator. Therefore, global warming reduces the temperature gradient of the planet, reducing the prevalence of tornadoes. Not increasing them.
    Reasoning from first principles is not a climate science strong suit. None of this is conclusive, of course. But it needs to be explained where the reasoning goes wrong. So far, no climate scientist has stepped up to the challenge.

  2. Some years ago we had our Australian climate change commissioner, in the middle of a drought, say that "actually the rain that falls isn't going to fill the dams and rivers". He followed up by stating that Perth would be abandoned due to a lack of rain, that eastern Australia would become arid and that by the middle of this century seawater would be lapping at the eight story windows of buildings in Sydney. Largely on what this man said a number of states built desalination plants at a cost of billions of dollars and which have largely been unused and which cost hundreds of millions each year just to sit there. As the article states the wet weather which eastern Australia has just been through is due to "climate change", weather which on the previous version of "climate change' we would not get,

  3. I was forced out of the Choice Magazine Community Forum(a consumer advocacy organisation in Australia) for asking a simple question.....WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO GIVE UP TO SAVE THE PLANET FROM CLIMATE CHANGE? All the handwrinnging zealots never did answer the question. The moderator of the forum even went to the extent of changing the wording of my question to WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO DIFFERENTLY to make it easier for the bullies to answer whilst admitting they are going to sacrifice a damn thing. At this point I was permanently banned from the forum, which touted itself as being open to all ideas. I did prove my point, though.

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