In 2007 Australia declared scientist and author Tim Flannery “Australian of the Year” for sounding the alarm about climate change. In an interview with the ABC he explained that the drought they were experiencing was definitely due to climate change, and more of the same was all they could expect: “We’re already seeing the initial impacts and they include a decline in the winter rainfall zone across southern Australia, which is clearly an impact of climate change, but also a decrease in run-off... the soil is warmer because of global warming and the plants are under more stress and therefore using more moisture.” Five years later, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Australia experienced its wettest interval since 1900. And as WattsUpWithThat notes, with extended La Niña conditions taking hold, Australia’s problems now are the seemingly endless rains. And you’ll never guess what’s to blame.
Climate scientist Steven Sherwood assured the Guardian last year (non paywalled version here) that “basic physics shows a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture – about 7% for each degree of warming.”
“So we know that something like 5-10% of the rain we are getting now [in the current downpours] is from global warming and the rest would have happened anyway. It’s not a game changer, but it is making things worse and that gets worse still as emissions keep going up”.
Got it? When a drought is on, the theory says greenhouse gases cause less rain, and the drought is proof the theory is correct. When the rains won’t stop, the theory changes and says greenhouse gases cause more rain, so the theory is still correct but now the rain proves it. (As would the appearance of Oobleck, presumably.) But, as we often say, a theory that predicts everything predicts nothing, and isn’t science. For our part we predict that next time a drought hits Australia, climate scientists will take credit for predicting it.