Wednesday, July 23, 2008


An email from Hermann Burchard [] of Oklahoma State University:

In Dr. Bienenstock's response to Lord Monckton he refers to the APS OFFICIAL POSITION ("on the contribution of human activities to global warming") surprisingly, twice. Activities of the APS, a scientific organization, should promote research and its publication, not adopt or sanction official positions on any facts of science. One hardly envisions laughable bulletins "protons and neutrons are composed of three quarks."

As a member of several mathematical organizations I don't recall the AMS (SIAM, MAA) ever having declared which theorems, algorithms, or teaching subjects they support or oppose "officially."


Heh! Scottish blogger Neil Craig sent the following letter to British regulator Ofcom as a comment on their waffling about "balance" in response to the "Swindle" film. I doubt that Neil will get a reply

Dear Sir,

Following your judgement that the Global Warming Swindle failed to adhere to your rules about impartiality & particularly in line with section 5.12 "an appropriately wide range of significant views must be included and given due weight in each programme or in clearly linked and timely programmes" I wish to follow up my complaint of Sunday, to which astonishingly you have made no response, with the following from the last 17 hours.

Complaint 1 - Channel 4 news 7.30 - Though the programme accused Mugabe's followers of violence & torture & a commentator from the opposing side was interviewed nobody from the government side was.

Complaint 2 - BBC 10 O'CLOCK NEWS - Reporting the Warming Swindle programme the BBC started by mentioning that the programme had not interviewed the IPCC or Sir David King & only near the end mentioned that Ofcom had found the scientific parts of the programme (1-4 of 5) accurate. They interviewed one alarmist spokesman (from the Royal Society) but not anybody on the other side. In particular Professor Singer who was criticised for saying King said something which Hansard also says he said should have been allowed to reply. This is particularly outrageous since this is the very activity that they are reporting that has been censured by you.

Complaint 3 - BBC 10 O'CLOCK NEWS - - Reported on Zimbabwe, accusing Mugabe of murder & interviewing an MDC spokesman but not a ZANU one.

Complaint 4 - SCOTTISH NEWS BBC 1 10.30 - Reporting on a proposed new windfarm they interviewed Alex Salmond who said, untruthfully, that this windfarm "could light up the city of Glasgow". In fact with perfect conditions & 100% capacity, instead of the 27% average capacity it could light up all the houses, so long as none of them had 2 bar electric fires or equivalent which only leaves the 2/3rds of energy used outside the home. No questioning of this claim was allowed. BBC then interviewed an Airtricity spokesman. Again no attempt to produce a "wide range" of views or even 1 sceptic was allowed.

Complaint 4 - NEWSNIGHT BBC 2 10.30 - Reporting on Zimbabwe a US state Dept spokesperson alone was interviewed. The US, of course, voted for sanctions against Zimbabwe on the ground that it was a threat to regional peace. No spokesman from either Russia or China, who voted down that resolution were interviewed. It is difficult to claim that the views of 2 of the 5 Security Council leaders are not "significant".

Complaint 5 - Newsnight BB" 2 10.30 - Reported on the capture of Radovan Karadzic claiming him as responsible for the "7,500 people who died at Srebrenica". This was both unbalanced & a misrepresentation of the facts since the only undisputed massacre there is of at least 3,800 Serb men, women & children (but mainly women & children since the men were in the army) in surrounding villages by Moslem forces.

Complaint 6 - Tuesday 22nd BBC Radio Scotland 7.30 on - Reporting on the capture of Karadzic the BBC put out nearly a dozen soundbites/interviews all with people claiming him guilty of crimes. Obviously if this was ever intended to be a real trial the BBC would not have considered acting in such a prejudicial manner but even though it is merely to be a propaganda show trial they are still in breach of their duty that "wide range of significant views must be included" which obviously included innocence.

Complaint 7 - CLASSIC FM 10 AM - Interviewed Paddy Ashdown, a well known supporter of the openly genocidal Bosnian Moslem leader & former SS auxiliary whose coup prevented Karadzic performing his job as President, under the rotating presidency of Bosnia & Hercegovina. No attempt at balance by interviewing anybody from the other side.

I note that in a 16 hour period, watching/listening to only 1 channel at a time I have found 7 instances which clearly & indubitably breach the guidelines as you have interpreted them. It must be assumed that over a full day & all channels it must be at least double that & over a year you are thus going to have to issue 5,000 critical reports. You have my felicitations in that process since it is clear this will be an arduous task.

Of course if Ofcom's job was not the one it claims but merely to ensure that the broadcast media continue to be a fascist propaganda arm of government willing to tell absolutely any lie & distort any news in a racist &/or unscientific way your job would be much easier.

I look forward to your response & action this day.

Ofcom Decision: A Humiliating Defeat for Bob Ward and the Myles Allen 37

By Steve McIntyre

Ofcom, the U.K. television regulator, has rendered a remarkable decision. People interested in what was actually decided will, unfortunately, have to consult the original judgment at Ofcom, rather than the BBC accounts (here, here) of the judgment. BBC stated:
The Great Global Warming Swindle, a controversial Channel 4 film, broke Ofcom rules, the media regulator says. In a long-awaited judgement, Ofcom says Channel 4 did not fulfil obligations to be impartial and to reflect a range of views on controversial issues. The film also treated interviewees unfairly, but did not mislead audiences "so as to cause harm or offence". Plaintiffs say the Ofcom judgement is "inconsistent" and "lets Channel 4 off the hook on a technicality."

Ofcom rendered 4 decisions in relation to the program itself (page 6) and about alleged unfairness to David King (page 36), IPCC (page 43) and Carl Wunsch (page 70) separately. Today I'll post on the program decision and will discuss the 3 ancillary decisions tomorrow.... Ofcom stated that it had received 265 complaints about the Program, the bulk of them alleging misrepresentations (in breach of section 2.2) or a failure of due impartiality (section 5).


Among the complainants claiming misrepresentations were Bob Ward and the 37 professors (Myles Allen, Phil Jones et al) who alleged a wide variety of error here and David Rado of the 175-page complaint profiled by BBC here. Ofcom did not uphold any of the misrepresentation complaints against Swindle. Not one. Ofcom summarized their judgement as follows:
In summary, in relation to the manner in which facts in the programme were presented, Ofcom is of the view that the audience of this programme was not materially misled in a manner that would have led to actual or potential harm. The audience would have been in no doubt that the programme's focus was on scientific and other arguments which challenged the orthodox theory of man-made global warming. Regardless of whether viewers were in fact persuaded by the arguments contained in the programme, Ofcom does not believe that they could have been materially misled as to the existence and substance of these alternative theories and opinions, or misled as to the weight which is given to these opinions in the scientific

Ofcom considers that, although the programme may have caused viewers to challenge the consensus view that human activity is the main cause of global warming, there is no evidence that the programme in itself did, or would, cause appreciable potential harm to members of the public .

Channel 4, however, had the right to show this programme provided it remained within the Code and - despite certain reservations - Ofcom has determined that it did not breach Rule 2.2. On balance it did not materially mislead the audience so as to cause harm or offence.

Not in breach of Rule 2.2.

That's not to say that Ofcom said that Durkin's point of view had been vindicated, merely that the complainants were seeking comfort in the wrong bed. Even though complainant Rado said that his complaint had been "peer reviewed" by William Connolley, Ofcom resisted the temptation to opine on scientific truth; instead they did the job assigned to them legislation - to determine whether there had been a violation of Rule 2.2, a possibility that none of the complainants seemed to have considered and for which their preparations were abysmal.

In addition to the general finding, Ofcom selected four major alleged misrepresentations (from the dozens of incoherently presented issues in Rado's 175 page "peer reviewed" complaint) for individual consideration. Here's a bit of advice from me to the complainants - you'd have been better off to pick your 4 best issues and stick to them, no matter how interesting the other ones seemed; write a blog on the other ones if you want, but the risk of presenting too many issues to a tribunal is that they'll end up picking 4 issues to consider anyway and, by throwing too many spitballs against the wall, you end up being stuck with the choices that they make. Were I crafting the complaint, I would not have picked the 4 issues that Ofcom focused on as my priority issues. But the complainants failed to prioritize and got stuck with the issues that Ofcom selected.

The first specific issue related to the use of graphics. And indeed, Swindle contained an error in the temperature graphic in the first program, which was said to have been inadvertently introduced in the production of the graphic. Unlike (say) Inconvenient Truth, where errors have remained uncorrected even when one of their Scientific Advisers supposedly brought the error to the attention of the Inconvenient Truth producers, in this case, the producers promptly replaced the graphic, with changes being made even before the second showing. In the hearing, the GGWS producers candidly acknowledged the error and reported the correction. This undoubtedly helped them with the complaint; Ofcom noted the error but found that this error was "not of such significance as to have been materially misleading so as to cause harm and offence in breach of Rule 2.2?.

The second specific allegation considered was the alleged "`distortion' of the science of climate modelling." Ofcom drolly noted:
Ofcom noted that, although the complainants disagreed with the points made by the contributors in the programme, they did not suggest that the overall statements about climate models were factually inaccurate.

Ouch. Ofcom went on to say (again finding for the defendant):
Ofcom notes that the creation of such models necessarily involved assumptions. The disagreement among scientists about the nature of those assumptions (as described by the contributors to the programme) is not an issue on which Ofcom can adjudicate. Overall however Ofcom's view was that the passages complained of were not materially misleading so as to cause harm and offence.

Much more here

Australia: Rudd's nutty climate scheme knocked on the head

The conservatives seem to have taken seriously the advice given to them the day before by the widely-read Andrew Bolt -- See immediately following the article below. Prime Minister Rudd's problem now is that the Greenies think his scheme is too little so they won't back it and the conservatives think it is too much so they won't back it -- in which case the scheme cannot get through the Senate

Kevin Rudd faces a delay in the introduction of his carbon emissions trading system until after the next election, with Brendan Nelson vowing last night that the Coalition will not accept a start-up date before "2011 at the earliest". The Opposition Leader told The Australian that the Prime Minister's plan to begin emissions trading in July 2010 was a threat to the economy and the Coalition would reject legislation allowing trading until it was clear whether China and the US would join a global pact to reduce their emissions. International talks aimed at creating a pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol on emissions reduction will not be completed until late next year following a meeting in Copenhagen.

Dr Nelson's warning came ahead of a meeting in Sydney today of a coalition of Australia's biggest exporters and the powerful Australian Workers Union aimed at considering alternatives to the Government's plans to address climate change, detailed in a green paper released last week. Today's AWU Climate Change Roundtable was convened by the union's national secretary, Paul Howes, and will include representatives of the LNG, cement and aluminium industries.

A growing chorus of exposed industries - including airlines, petrol refiners, LNG exporters, cement manufacturers and aluminium smelters - has voiced concerns in recent days that billions of dollars of investment risk being lost overseas. Their concerns tally with AWU fears that thousands of jobs would be lost on the tide of outgoing investment.

In a letter obtained by The Australian inviting employers to today's roundtable, Mr Howes says participation would serve to inform the commonwealth's final policy on the ETS. Opposition resources spokesman David Johnston also widened the gap between the major parties yesterday by insisting the LNG industry be offered free permits under the ETS.

Dr Nelson's comments on the timing of the introduction of emissions trading mean Mr Rudd faces the choice of agreeing to a delay or negotiating with the Greens for Senate approval for his plan. Government sources have made it clear Mr Rudd sees little chance of compromise with the Greens, who want his $500 million taxpayer-funded investment to research clean coal technologies scrapped.

Last night, Dr Nelson said there was no room for "extreme positions on either side" of the climate debate. "If Mr Rudd wishes to be saved from himself, I am here to help," he said. "He is proposing to bring legislation into the parliament before the Copenhagen meeting even occurs, which will determine what sort of shape the global response will take from 2012."

Dr Nelson said it was possible the Opposition would back emissions trading legislation with "responsible amendments". But his starting point was the absolute conviction that Australia should not embrace action that could damage its economy without knowing whether big emitters like China, the US and India would join a new global emissions reduction pact. "(Mr Rudd is) determined to do this from 2010 from my view without having due regard for the economic consequences of what he is about to do," Dr Nelson said.

"Mr Rudd is proposing to impose on Australia in about two years' time an emissions trading scheme which is still poorly developed. The economic assumptions underwriting it are yet to be developed, let alone tested, in an Australia in a deteriorating economic climate." Insisting the actions of the US, China and India were "the main game", he also said the Coalition wanted a guarantee that Mr Rudd's promised reductions in fuel excise to make up for increases in fuel prices continue indefinitely, not be reviewed after three years, as was the Government's proposal.

Mr Howes, who yesterday declined to comment on the AWU-convened meeting, has previously warned the Government's goal of having an ETS in place by 2010 would destroy local jobs. "The roundtable will bring together senior executives from a range of industries and peak industry organisations in the trade-exposed emissions intensive sector of the Australian economy that have a stake in the sector's future under an emissions trading scheme," Mr Howes wrote in his letter.

The Australian Aluminium Council, the Cement Industry Federation and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association confirmed yesterday they and some of their member organisations would attend the meeting. AAC chief Ron Knapp said he would be raising the "significant impact of the ETS on the economy and employment in this country". "The ETS doesn't change future global aluminium production expectations; it just changes the address of smelters and that's to the detriment of Australia."

CIF chief executive Robyn Bain said she would attend with representatives from member companies Cement Australia and Adelaide Brighton. "We're all in agreeance that the emissions trading scheme needs to deal with carbon reduction but ensure that industry - particularly manufacturing in Australia - is kept and has the ability to grow."

APPEA chief executive Belinda Robinson said the ETS meant Australia's LNG industry and its "capacity for assisting the world move to a lower greenhouse future will be seriously compromised and that means thousands and thousands of jobs - existing and new - will also be at risk".

Senator Johnston yesterday said the Opposition front bench would agree on Tuesday that LNG was a clean transitional fossil fuel and deserved free permits, despite falling outside the threshold for compensation set down by the Rudd Government in its emissions trading green paper. The front bench is "not going to take very much persuading", he said. "The alternative is to do what the Government is doing, which is to effectively say to the LNG industry, 'You should go and develop somewhere else where you don't have a carbon price ripping at your profitability'."

The evolving Coalition position widens the differences between the Coalition and the Rudd Government as Labor seeks Coalition support for its emissions trading regime in the Senate. But some in the Coalition believe it should differentiate itself from the Government even further.

Labor has said it understands the LNG industry's concerns and will talk to LNG producers before it reaches a final position on its scheme. But the Government is adamant that it cannot compensate all trade-exposed industries, or deliver full compensation to those it does help, because this would impose an intolerable burden on other sectors of the economy.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said government assistance to industry would have to be gradually reduced over time. "To do otherwise would be economically irresponsible - it would compromise Australia's efforts to reduce carbon pollution and place more of the burden on other parts of the economy," Senator Wong said after attending a meeting in Sydney to discuss the Government's white paper.

Also yesterday, Wayne Swan declared his pledge to use "every cent" in revenue raised through the ETS to help assist households and business would continue for the life of the Rudd Government.


If Michael Short can doubt, so can the Liberal Party

By Andrew Bolt

Michael Short, business editor of The Age, continues his assault on the warming evangelicals running the rest of his paper by publishing yet another article (this one by Professor Geoffrey Kearsley) finally telling Age readers the truth about global warming - that it stopped a decade ago:
There is much more yet to learn. My point is this: It may well be that human activity is indeed changing the climate, at least in part, but there is an increasing body of science that says that the sun may have a greater role. If it does have, then global warming is likely to stop, as it appears to have done since 1998, and if the current sunspot cycle fails to ignite, then cooling, possibly rapid and severe cooling, may eventuate. The next five years will tell us a great deal. In these circumstances, we should wait and see.

Short's campaign could prove critical to Kevin Rudd's future. Age readers are unlikely to have ever heard this heresy before, and will now be told it's OK to doubt. What's more, Short is clearly showing the Fairfax bosses what a real editor committed to restoring The Age's long-dead reputation for open debate would look like. He has put himself in the running to take over from editor Andrew Jaspan, a global warming fanatic who has tried instead to suppress debate and has just fired the only conservative columnist (contributer Jon Roskam) on the grounds that he's too well exposed. If Short replaces Jaspan and takes The Age off the global warming bandwagon, already being quietly deserted by The Australian, Rudd's hopes of marginalising sceptical scientists and inconvenient truths will be destroyed. The ABC can't sell Rudd's religion by itself.

But you see, of course, one last hurdle. The Liberals still do not have the courage of their lack of conviction in man-made global warming. Too scared by the media, they are going along with Rudd's insane emissions trading scheme and the global warming bandwagon. They are refusing to attack Rudd on his weakest spot. They will thus share with him the dishonor of having being conned by bad science and salvation-seekers. They will never be able to say: We warned you. We were right, and Labor once more wrong.

In short, they lack the courage of Michael Short. And they fail to heed this warning in Kearsley's article, which I repeat: The next five years will tell us a great deal. In these circumstances, we should wait and see.

Liberal MPs: There has been no warming for a decade. Dare to doubt the theory. Dare to wait and weigh the fresh science. Do not let Rudd drag you off the cliff with him.


Even the ABC is starting to give air to the sceptics it tried so hard to ignore or ridicule. Here is ABC Adelaide 891 interviewing Dr David Evans, who once helped the Australian Greenhouse Office build models predicting terrible warming:
The case that carbon emissions cause global warming is now entirely theoretical and it's all driven by computer models and computer models and theory aren't evidence. But it's worse than that - something else happened. By 2006 we had a new result. The signature of increased greenhouse warming is missing, and therefore, we know that carbon emissions aren't the main cause of the recent global warming.

(The satellites are) telling us the temperatures have been flat or slightly down since 2001.

I think we should do a lot further research on climate, on alternate energies, on clean coal; and we should probably plan an emissions trading scheme, but not implement it. I think instead we should wait to see what the big countries do. Wait to see what climate research produces and wait to see whether temperatures resume going up.

I would like the press and the Opposition to ... simply ask Penny Wong, as the relevant Minister - to ask - to show the evidence that carbon emissions cause global warming. We're about to change our economy radically so as to de-carbonise it. So, obviously, the onus is on the people who wish to do that, to say, well, why? Show us the evidence. But I think you'll find there is none; there'd be a bit of an embarrassed silence.


Roy Spencer’s testimony before Congress backs up Monckton’s assertions on climate sensitivity

Excerpt below from the Wattmaster

Dr. Roy Spencer went to Washington to give testimony today to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Here is his presentation. While not as technical as Lord Moncktons paper at APS (since it had to be simplified for a congressional hearing), it nonetheless says the same thing - climate sensitivity is overstated by models and not supported by observational data.

Testimony of Roy W. Spencer before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on 22 July 2008 (A printable PDF of this testimony can be found here)

I would like to thank Senator Boxer and members of the Committee for allowing me to discuss my experiences as a NASA employee engaged in global warming research, as well as to provide my current views on the state of the science of global warming and climate change.

I have a PhD in Meteorology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and have been involved in global warming research for close to twenty years. I have numerous peer reviewed scientific articles dealing with the measurement and interpretation of climate variability and climate change. I am also the U.S. Science Team Leader for the AMSR-E instrument flying on NASA's Aqua satellite.

1. White House Involvement in the Reporting of Agency Employees' Work

On the subject of the Administration's involvement in policy-relevant scientific work performed by government employees in the EPA, NASA, and other agencies, I can provide some perspective based upon my previous experiences as a NASA employee. For example, during the Clinton-Gore Administration I was told what I could and could not say during congressional testimony. Since it was well known that I am skeptical of the view that mankind's greenhouse gas emissions are mostly responsible for global warming, I assumed that this advice was to help protect Vice President Gore's agenda on the subject.

This did not particularly bother me, though, since I knew that as an employee of an Executive Branch agency my ultimate boss resided in the White House. To the extent that my work had policy relevance, it seemed entirely appropriate to me that the privilege of working for NASA included a responsibility to abide by direction given by my superiors.

But I eventually tired of the restrictions I had to abide by as a government employee, and in the fall of 2001 I resigned from NASA and accepted my current position as a Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Despite my resignation from NASA, I continue to serve as Team Leader on the AMSR-E instrument flying on the NASA Aqua satellite, and maintain a good working relationship with other government researchers.

2. Global Warming Science: The Latest Research

Regarding the currently popular theory that mankind is responsible for global warming, I am very pleased to deliver good news from the front lines of climate change research. Our latest research results, which I am about to describe, could have an enormous impact on policy decisions regarding greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite decades of persistent uncertainty over how sensitive the climate system is to increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, we now have new satellite evidence which strongly suggests that the climate system is much less sensitive than is claimed by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Another way of saying this is that the real climate system appears to be dominated by "negative feedbacks" — instead of the "positive feedbacks" which are displayed by all twenty computerized climate models utilized by the IPCC. (Feedback parameters larger than 3.3 Watts per square meter per degree Kelvin (Wm-2K-1) indicate negative feedback, while feedback parameters smaller than 3.3 indicate positive feedback.)

If true, an insensitive climate system would mean that we have little to worry about in the way of manmade global warming and associated climate change. And, as we will see, it would also mean that the warming we have experienced in the last 100 years is mostly natural. Of course, if climate change is mostly natural then it is largely out of our control, and is likely to end — if it has not ended already, since satellite-measured global temperatures have not warmed for at least seven years now.

2.1 Theoretical evidence that climate sensitivity has been overestimated

The support for my claim of low climate sensitivity (net negative feedback) for our climate system is two-fold. First, we have a new research article1 in-press in the Journal of Climate which uses a simple climate model to show that previous estimates of the sensitivity of the climate system from satellite data were biased toward the high side by the neglect of natural cloud variability. It turns out that the failure to account for natural, chaotic cloud variability generated internal to the climate system will always lead to the illusion of a climate system which appears more sensitive than it really is.

Significantly, prior to its acceptance for publication, this paper was reviewed by two leading IPCC climate model experts - Piers Forster and Isaac Held– both of whom agreed that we have raised a legitimate issue. Piers Forster, an IPCC report lead author and a leading expert on the estimation of climate sensitivity, even admitted in his review of our paper that other climate modelers need to be made aware of this important issue.

To be fair, in a follow-up communication Piers Forster stated to me his belief that the net effect of the new understanding on climate sensitivity estimates would likely be small. But as we shall see, the latest evidence now suggests otherwise.

2.2 Observational evidence that climate sensitivity has been overestimated

The second line of evidence in support of an insensitive climate system comes from the satellite data themselves. While our work in-press established the existence of an observational bias in estimates of climate sensitivity, it did not address just how large that bias might be.

But in the last several weeks, we have stumbled upon clear and convincing observational evidence of particularly strong negative feedback (low climate sensitivity) from our latest and best satellite instruments. That evidence includes our development of two new methods for extracting the feedback signal from either observational or climate model data, a goal which has been called the "holy grail" of climate research.

The first method separates the true signature of feedback, wherein radiative flux variations are highly correlated to the temperature changes which cause them, from internally-generated radiative forcings, which are uncorrelated to the temperature variations which result from them. It is the latter signal which has been ignored in all previous studies, the neglect of which biases feedback diagnoses in the direction of positive feedback (high climate sensitivity).

Based upon global oceanic climate variations measured by a variety of NASA and NOAA satellites during the period 2000 through 2005 we have found a signature of climate sensitivity so low that it would reduce future global warming projections to below 1 deg. C by the year 2100. As can be seen in Fig. 1, that estimate from satellite data is much less sensitive (a larger diagnosed feedback) than even the least sensitive of the 20 climate models which the IPCC summarizes in its report. It is also consistent with our previously published analysis of feedbacks associated with tropical intraseasonal oscillations

Much more here

Some news from South Africa

A reader in South Africa sends an example of Greenie absurdity from his area: Article below. An algal bloom in a dam is being blamed on global warming. Other explanations are not canvassed. One possibility that occurs to me is that the steady breakdown in law and order over there might be causing a once very clean dam to become more polluted. That would NEVER be mentioned, however. The reader writes:

"I think you may be interested in the following from my local newspaper, The Witness, in Pietermaritzburg. My recordings of temperature and rainfall over many years using instruments in my own garden, which is in a rural area, have indicated absolutely no upward trend at all! This tells me that claims of climate change are nothing other than absolute rubbish"

Algae growing in Midmar Dam - venue of South Africa's biggest open water swimming event - and flowering in winter for the first time in living memory this year, is probably an indication that the climate in this part of KZN has already changed. So says CSIR researcher Dr Paul Oberholster in an article titled "Toxic blooms in Midmar Dam", which has just appeared in the African Journal of Biotechnology.

Oberholster says climate change in this part of KZN has probably raised the water temperature to such a degree that the algae can now bloom in winter. In certain conditions, these flowers [Calling algae "flowers" shows how little the writer knows about her subject] release toxins into the water and continued exposure to them can have serious consequences for human health. Research done in Europe and North America has shown that between 25% and 75% of flowers like those found in Midmar Dam produce toxins that are bad for people's health.

Dr Anthony Turton, leading researcher of water resources at the CSIR, says that if researchers in South Africa were able to determine with certainty if this phenomenon was linked to climate change, scientists would have to be on the alert for the proliferation of a family of primitive unicellular organisms that together release a "toxic brew" into the water, so that these can be kept out of the country's drinking water.

Turton said the "toxic brew" is probably "invisible" to some water resource managers, which means it can easily infect drinking water. The toxins released by the algae blooms in the water can cause abdominal and intestinal inflammation, allergic reactions and even liver disease. In extreme cases it can also cause cancer of the liver. Turton said South Africans don't really need to be worried about the algae in Midmar Dam, as scientists are aware of the problem and are looking for solutions.


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