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Taking climate mountain by wet drought

10 Jul 2024 | OP ED Watch

China has bad weather and, well, you know. The Economist, which actually is having a climate-related meltdown, says “In just the past month China has suffered through the drought in the north and flooding in the south which killed dozens of people. Attributing either of these events to climate change is complicated. But scientists expect that China will increasingly experience periods of heavier rainfall, as well as longer periods of dryness.” So are you reporting what did happen, what will happen or what you imagine might? Because only the first one is news.

To call the article speculative is unkind to speculators. It contains the obligatory “Across the country, heatwaves have become 50 times more likely as a result of climate change, according to World Weather Attribution, a network of climate modellers.” What does that claim even mean? WWA has models that attribute all bad weather to climate instantly, which isn’t the achievement it might sound like. But if heatwaves are “50 times more likely” are there 50 times as many? Or just the same number, but boo hiss waaaah climate change?

And another thing. The story admits that “Northern China has long been parched” and even provides a map of “water stress” in China, whatever that is, from 1979-2019. But of course if it’s been happening since 1979, then unless the brutal climate breakdown we fear may soon happen actually arrived almost 50 years ago, it's not because of humans messing up the weather.

Now let’s look at this problem of it being wet and dry at the same time. If it happened in your vegetable garden you might be surprised as well as vexed. But China is a big place. In fact if you include Tibet it’s the third-largest country in the world by area and, remarkably, it actually edges out Canada for second-largest land area; we only beat them overall by virtue of having nearly a million square kilometres of lakes. (And surprisingly the United States, fourth overall, actually has very slightly more land area than Canada too; mind you without Tibet China shrinks considerably.)

Now the United States, like Canada, has some wet bits and some dry bits. Think Mississippi and Arizona. So why wouldn’t China? It has all five main climate zones (Tropical, Dry, Temperate, Continental and Wet) and indeed stretches from tropical to subarctic. And its history has been punctuated by flooding and droughts, often at the same time.

If journalists only had Google on their computers, we say again. Because we looked and the first thing that turned up, from Copernicus.org of all unexpected sources, was “Historical droughts in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) of China”. Naturally, given Copernicus’ relentless state-funded alarmism, the piece genuflects that “Global warming is expected to influence the earth’s hydrological cycle and put greater stress on water resources.” But then it gets down to business, namely:

“we demarcate the six severe drought periods in the Qing dynasty as follows: 1665–1691, 1720–1740, 1770–1790, 1830–1850, 1850–1870, and 1870–1890.”

Man. That’s a lot of droughts. For instance from 1770 to 1870, the latter part of the Little Ice Age, 60 years. Almost like it was the climate. Though only from the northern to southern tip of the country. And if you look up “China historical floods” you get something similar: a flood of floods. We’d like to see what World Weather Attribution’s models made of the horrendous summer 1931 Chinese flooding (which followed, wait for it, a brutal two-year drought). No really. They might well blame it on man-made climate change, since it’s what their models are built to do with anything bad.

And another thing. The Economist in its all-climate-news-is-bad-but-not-all-is-news vein, mutters that:

“another trend resulting from climate change is hitting western China. Glaciers high in the Himalayas, which feed the country’s great rivers (as well as those in South-East and South Asia), are retreating. One-fifth of their ice cover has melted since the 1950s.”

OK. We’ll call that “climate change” if you just mean the climate is changing the way it always has, something the people who go around sneering at “deniers” generally deny. But it’s surely not man-made, especially since that melting didn’t start in the 1950s. It’s been going on since the natural warming that ended the Little Ice Age.

If you look up the melting of Himalayan glaciers you get less because there wasn’t much careful observation until recently. But clearly they have been melting since the Little Ice Age like glaciers everywhere, and as a Cato Institute study said:

“In the 20th century, the average annual retreat was around five meters (16 feet) until the late 1950s, but then it accelerated fast until the late 1980s, reaching up to 30 meters (98 feet) in some years for the Gangotri Glacier, and even more for some smaller glaciers. But glacial retreat decelerated from the 1990s onward, the period when global temperatures have been rising.”

So guess what? Right. Wet is dry in Climatania. Thus:

“For the moment, that is making parts of China wetter. Oases in western deserts are blooming. But around mid-century, the meltwater runoff is expected to start decreasing. One area affected will be the Tarim basin, home to 12m people who get about 40% of their water from the glaciers.”

Unless it’s not. This is again the news of the future, not even very precisely specified. The Economist is reporting on a drought from roughly 2055. So send more decimal places. And they do:

“Disruptions caused by drought alone have cost the Chinese economy $7bn per year between 1984 and 2015, according to an estimate by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. They reckon that number could increase to $47bn annually if global temperatures rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels (a threshold that may be crossed by the 2030s, if emissions continue to rise at their current pace).”

That $7 billion number is rubbish since nobody knows what the Chinese economy would have done absent “drought” from 1984 to 2015, including due to huge Communist Party planning blunders. But since the world is already, we are told, 1.2°C above “pre-industrial levels” (a term here not meaning the average temperature before the Industrial Revolution but what people guess it was in 1850, three-quarters of a century after James Watt’s new improved steam engine launched the machine-manufacturing revolution in Britain), the notion here is that another third of a degree will increase drought damage six-fold. Bosh.

As we have noted in previous items, Western governments seem convinced that if they are having bad weather it’s because of their own national GHG emissions even if, like Ireland, theirs are far too small to matter in the global scheme of things and global warming were in fact national warming. But although China is now far and away the greatest GHG emitter and building coal plants one after another, nobody there seems to think any of this drought-flooding has anything to do with them. As The Economist carps:

“For now the government seems much more interested in building canals and fixing pipes than increasing the price for water. As the climate warms, that may look shortsighted.”

May. Or not. Instead the West’s elite institutions may seem at once hysterical and credulous, destroying our own economies and gutting our militaries while China gears up for world conquest and laughs at our climate obsession.

3 comments on “Taking climate mountain by wet drought”

  1. The catastrophic floods in China are caused by the Chinese Communist Party's penchant for building dams (over 1000 since the 1950s) then running the resulting reservoir at maximum pool to enhance power generation which forces them to open the flood gates (usually in the middle of the night} in order to protect the dam. Also, these know nothings have built cities and otherwise paved the flood plains and put up seawalls to protect the construction which forces all of the water downstream! Global climate warming change has nothing to do with the floods!

  2. More of the unchecked trope that a particular region depends on water from glaciers (much like the Amazon lungs of the earth trope).
    Option 1: they do depend on melting glaciers and have always done so (which makes the case that melting glaciers is nothing new)
    Option 2: They don’t in fact rely on melting glaciers at all, but rely on melting winter snowpack.

  3. You can make all the wild predictions you want about climate or weather decades from now,when you're not gonna be around to be held accountable for them.And not one western leader at present is taking the Chinese military build-up threat seriously.No wonder China is just laughing at us.Far as the Economist's remarks about "fixing pipes",look what NOT fixing pipes has done for the city of Calgary!

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