Wednesday, February 14, 2018

For global water crisis, climate may be the last straw

The usual rubbish about drought below.  It lists a whole lot of population factors that threaten the water supplies in many countries.  The recent big increase in the population of India, for instance, is putting big pressure on water supplies there.  So far, all very well and good.

But then comes an attempt to link the water shortage to global warming.  A link is just asserted, however, with no facts or reasoning to support it other than quotes from the ethically challenged Peter Gleick and his ilk.

The fact is of course that warming would produce more rain, which would ALLEVIATE the problem, not magnify it

A lot of Africa is certainly in drought at the moment but that is one consequence of El Nino. It shifts rain around from one place to another.  If a good La Nina gets going, that should bring back the rain.

The interesting thing is that in many countries in Africa and elsewhere, it is well known that water shortage is a recurrent fact of life.  So do you do anything about that?  You can't build any new dams because the Greenies will make such a fuss that the poliicians will cave in.  Greenies would rather have people die of thirst than build a dam.

But there is one country that HAS moved out of being water-deprived and into water riches.  That is Israel.  They have super-efficient desalination plants on the coast that get all the water Israel needs from the sea.  So the problem is solvable but it takes brains and effort.  Australia has very variable rainfall so it also has big desalination plants in most of its major cities -- but it hasn't had to turn them on yet, thanks mainly to El Nino.

Before man-made climate change kicked in – and well before “Day Zero” in Cape Town, where taps may run dry in early May – the global water crisis was upon us.

Freshwater resources were already badly stressed before heat-trapping carbon emissions from fossil fuels began to warm Earth’s surface and affect rainfall.

In some countries, major rivers – diverted, dammed or over-exploited – no longer reach the sea. Aquifers millennia in the making are being sucked dry. Pollution in many forms is tainting water above ground and below.

Cape Town, though, was not especially beset by any of these problems. Indeed, in 2014 the half-dozen reservoirs that served the South African city’s four million people brimmed with rainwater.

But that was before a record-breaking, three-year, once-every-three-centuries drought reduced them to a quarter capacity or less.

Today, Capetonians are restricted to 50 litres a day – less than runs down the drain when the average American takes a shower.

Climate scientists foretold trouble, but it arrived ahead of schedule, said Helen Zille, premier of the Western Cape province. “Climate change was to have hit us in 2025,” she told a local news outlet.

“The South Africa Weather Services have told me that their models don’t work any more.”

Worldwide, the water crises hydra has been quietly growing for decades.

Since 2015, the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risk Report has consistently ranked “water crises” as among the global threats with the greatest potential impact – above natural disasters, mass migration and cyberattacks.

Borrowed time

“Across the densely-populated Indo-Gangetic Plain” – home to more than 600-million people in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh – “groundwater is being pumped out at an unsustainable and terrifying rate,” said Graham Cogley, a professor emeritus at Trent University in Ontario Canada.

More than half the water in the same basin is undrinkable and unusable for irrigation due to elevated salt and arsenic levels, according to a recent study.

Groundwater provides drinking water to at least half of humanity, and accounts for more than 40% of water used for irrigation.

But underground aquifers do not fill up swiftly, as a reservoir does after a heavy rain. Their spongy rock can take centuries to fully recharge, which makes them a non-renewable resource on a human timescale.

As a result, many of the world’s regions have passed the threshold that Peter Gleick, president-emeritus of the Pacific Institute and author of “The World’s Water,” has called “peak water”.

“Today people live in places where we are effectively using all the available renewable water, or, even worse, living on borrowed time by overpumping non-renewable ground water,” he told AFP.

Exhausted groundwater supplies also cause land to subside, and allow – in coastal regions – saltwater to seep into the water table.

Dozens of mega-cities, rich and poor, are sinking: Jakarta, Mexico City, Tokyo and dozens of cities in China, including Tianjin, Beijing and Shanghai have all dropped by a couple of metres over the last century.

“Half a billion people in the world face severe scarcity all year round,” said Arjen Hoekstra, a water management expert at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.

More than one in three live in India, with another 73-million in Pakistan, 27-million in Egypt, 20-million in Mexico, 20-million in Saudi Arabia and 18-million in war-torn Yemen, he calculated in a recent study.

Enter climate change

“Global warming comes on top of all this,” said Hoekstra.

For each degree of global warming, about seven percent of the world’s population – half-a-billion people – will have 20% less freshwater, the UN’s climate science panel has concluded.

By 2030, the world will face a 40% water deficit if climate change continues unchecked.

Glaciers in the Himalayas and Andes upon which half-a-billion people depend are rapidly retreating.

At the same time, global water demand is projected to increase 55% by mid-century, mainly driven by the growth of cities in developing countries.

For Gleick, global warming is already a threat multiplier.

So far, Earth’s surface temperature has risen by one degree Celsius, and the odds of meeting the UN goal of capping the rise at “well under” 2 C lengthen each year. Global warming alters wind and humidity, in turn affecting rainfall patterns.

“Climate changes caused by humans are driving changes in our water resources and demands,” Gleick told AFP. “As climate change worsens, impacts on water resources will also worsen.”

The prospect of empty water pipes haunts other urban areas in climate hot spots.

California has just emerged from a five-year drought, the worst on record. In 2014-15, Sao Paulo’s 12-million souls came close to its own “Day Zero”. Beijing, New Delhi, Mexico City and Las Vegas are among other cities that have been facing “huge water supply risks for more than a decade”, noted Hoekstra.

When climate change really kicks in, large swathes of Africa – the Sahel, along with its southern and western regions – will be especially vulnerable.

Currently, only five% of the continent’s agriculture is irrigated, leaving its population highly vulnerable to shifting weather patterns.

Two-thirds of Africans could be living under water stress within a decade, according to the World Water Council.

For Cape Town, drought conditions may be a taste of things to come. 

“Our new normal, at least when it comes to rainfall, is that the chance of dry years increases as we go forward toward the end of the century, and the chance of wet years decreases,” said Piotr Wolski, a hydro-climatologist at the University of Cape Town who had compiled data going back more than a century.


A cautious retreat

The article below was headed "Expect more 'complete surprises' from climate change: NASA's Schmidt". And that is surprisingly honest.  The article starts out with a re-run of the old pine beetle scare -- which I have dealt with previously -- and from then on consists of a whole litany of things that Warmists don't know or don't understand.  Most refreshing!  They seem to be gradually getting around to admitting that they don't know whether the globe will warm up or not

A very amusing bit occurs at the end of the article below.  Schmidt is quoted to say that the ozone layer is also being surprising.  But the journalist "forgets" to say exactly what the surprise is.  It is that the "Ozone layer NOT recovering" the way the Greenies said it would.  Much fun!

The eruption of pine bark beetles that has devastated millions of hectares of forests in North America is an example of the surprises yet to come as the planet warms, says Gavin Schmidt, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The tiny beetles, which have infested forests from Colorado to Alaska, develop a type of anti-freeze as winter arrives. With fewer cold snaps before the insects are "cold hardened", more of them are making it through to spring.

“We just don’t understand ecosystems to the extent we understand the physical climate systems," Dr Schmidt told Fairfax Media during a visit to Sydney. “We will see over the next few decades more and more thresholds being crossed.”

However, that's not to say the physical climate is fully understood either.

Carbon dioxide levels are now the highest in about three and a million years when the Earth had a "very, very different climate", Dr Schmidt said, adding it was inevitable more "unknown unknowns" would emerge.

The southern hemisphere, especially Antarctica, is of particular interest to NASA and other global organisations trying to understand how the build-up of additional heat will affect planetary processes, he said.

“There’s a tonne of extra energy that’s going into the south - in fact there’s more energy going into the sourthern ocean than the north," Dr Schmidt said. "But that isn’t necessarily being seen at the surface."

Scientists' understanding of Antarctica continues to be limited by the short observational record, with much of the data compiled only since the late 1950s.

Satellites and argo floats are also not very helpful in gauging changes under the sea ice and ice shelves.

The region is already throwing up surprises. Dr Schmidt cited the Mertz Glacier Tongue, which used to protrude about 80 kilometres into the Southern Ocean until it was cut in two by an iceberg in 2010. “It seemed very, very stable...but the whole thing got taken out by an iceberg and now it’s totally disappeared," he said.

Research is focused on places such as the Totten ice sheet "where people think there is the greatest amount of potential change in the East Antarctic ice shelf", Dr Schmidt said.

A study out last year in Science Advances estimated Totten itself had the potential to lift global sea levels by 3.5 metres if it melted entirely.

The east Antarctic ice shelves, though thought to be mostly stable, "are big enough that should anything start to happen there, these will be noticeable increases to the rate of sea level rise," Dr Schmidt said. "So that makes them interesting.”

Sea ice cover around Antarctica is close to record low levels - set just a year earlier - as the region approaches its summer minimum extent.

Antarctica is also home to another scientific surprise: the ozone hole that was detected over the contenent in the mid-1980s.

While the class of chemicals - mostly chlorofluoro carbons - were relatively well known, their potential to destroy the crucial ozone layer that helps keep out cancer-causing ultraviolet light was not.

"It was a massive shock to the system - it hadn't been predicted by anyone," Dr Schmidt told a public talk last week.


The Epic Failure Of Glacier-Melt.  Sea Level Rise Alarmism Continues To Bespoil Climate Science

Injecting frightening scenarios into climate science reporting  has seemingly become a requisite for publication.

In a new Nature Geoscience editorial, a common scare tactic is utilized by the (unidentified) author so as to grab readers’ attention.

Nature Geoscience, 2018

"The East Antarctic ice sheet is currently the largest ice mass on Earth. If it melted in its entirety, global sea levels would rise by more than 50 metres"

Wow.  50 meters.  That would be catastrophic.

But then we read about real-world observations for East Antarctica.  And they don’t even come close to aligning with the catastrophic scenario casually tossed into the editorial.

First of all, East Antarctica is not losing mass and adding to sea levels.  The ice sheet is gaining mass and thus removing water from sea levels. The surface mass gains have been occurring not only since 1800 (Thomas et al., 2017), but for the recent decade (2003-2013) too (Martín-Español et al., 2017).  Even the author of the Nature Geoscience editorial acknowledges this.

Nature Geoscience, 2018

"The East Antarctic ice sheet may be gaining mass in the current, warming climate. The palaeoclimate record shows, however, that it has retreated during previous episodes of prolonged warmth"

Not only has East Antarctica been gaining mass, the author goes on to say that it would take 100s of thousands to millions of years for Antarctica to even exhibit partial retreat.  So much for the “if it melted in its entirety” warning we read earlier.

In terms of immediate sea-level rise, it is reassuring that it seems to require prolonged periods lasting hundreds of thousands to millions of years to induce even partial retreat.

So if the editorial department at Nature Geoscience realizes that it would take 100s of thousands to millions of years to even witness a partial retreat of the ice sheet, is there any scientific justification for the inclusion of the sea-levels-would-rise-50-meters-if-East-Antarctica-melted commentary?  Since when do imaginary scenarios pass as science?

A ‘Staggering’ 9 Trillion Tons Of Greenland’s Ice Has Been Lost Since 1900!

It’s frightening to learn that the Greenland Ice Sheet has lost a “staggering” 9 trillion tons of ice since 1900, which is what the Washington Post warned us about in 2015.

It’s not frightening to learn that 9 trillion tons of ice losses actually amounts to less than 1 inch of sea level rise contribution from Greenland meltwater in 115 years.

Since a total sea level rise contribution of 1 inch in 115 years from the Greenland ice sheet isn’t scary, the author of the Washington Post article (Chris Mooney) finds it necessary to offer his readers a macabre thought experiment: What if that additional 1 inch of water sitting atop the world ocean were to be collected somehow and then dumped onto all the United States interstate highways?   Now that would be scary.  It would mean that 1 inch of sea level rise turned into 98 feet of sea levels rise (63 times over) in very same imaginary world where additional sea water is dumped onto U.S. interstate highways.

This is how the modern version of climate science works.


Crooked polar bear scientists

Richard Tol has recently written a commentary on a paper by some polar bear scientists which is designed to discredit honest observer and Arctic expert, Susan Crockford. Crockford says the bears are flourishing.  Tol says that the paper has been stuck in the editorial office for a month now but he has put it up on the net anyway.  The Abstract is below.  What he writes is a total demolition of this dishonest attack on Crockford. If global warming was science, the reputation of the authors would be totally destroyed.  You can read the full paper at the link below.


Anand Rajan KDa and Richard S. J. Tol


Harvey et al. (2017) is an attempt on a colleague's reputation. They collected data by an unclear process, validated by data of unknown provenance. They artificially inflate the dimensionality of their data before reducing that dimensionality with a questionably applied PCA. They pretend their results are two dimensional where there is only one dimension. They suggest that there are many nuanced positions where there are only a few stark ones (in their data), using a jitter to conceal poor data quality, and obscure the underlying perspectival homogeneity due to self-selection. They show that there is disagreement on the vulnerability of polar bears to climate change, but offer no new evidence who is right or wrong, apart from a fallacious argument from authority, with a “majority view” taken from an unrepresentative sample.


Britain Needs To Embrace The Shale Revolution

Matt Ridley

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are the biggest energy breakthrough of the century.

Gas will start flowing from Cuadrilla’s two shale exploration wells in Lancashire this year. Preliminary analysis of the site is “very encouraging”, bearing out the British Geological Survey’s analysis that the Bowland Shale beneath northern England holds one of the richest gas resources known: a huge store of energy at a cost well below that of renewables and nuclear.

A glance across the Atlantic shows what could be in store for Britain, and what we have missed out on so far because of obstacles put in place by mendacious pressure groups and timid bureaucrats. Thanks to shale, America last week surpassed the oil production record it set in 1970, having doubled its output in seven years, while also turning gas import terminals into export terminals.

The effect of the shale revolution has been seismic. Cheap energy has brought industry back to America yet carbon dioxide emissions have been slashed far faster than in Europe as lower-carbon gas displaces high-carbon coal. Environmental problems have, contrary to the propaganda, been minimal.

All thoughts of imminent peak oil and peak gas have vanished. Opec’s cartel has been broken, after it failed to kill the shale industry by driving the oil price lower: American shale producers cut costs faster than anybody thought possible. A limit has been put on the economic and political power of both Russia and Saudi Arabia, no bad thing for the people of both countries and their neighbours. Shale drillers turn gas and oil production on and off in response to price fluctuations more flexibly than old-fashioned wells.

Seven years ago it was possible to argue that shale would prove a flash in the pan. No longer: horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are the biggest energy news of the century. For those who still think the falling price of wind and solar is more dramatic, consider this. Between them, those two energy sources provided just 0.8 per cent of the world’s energy in 2016, even after trillions of dollars in subsidy, and will reach only 3.6 per cent by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency. Gas will then be providing 25 per cent of the world’s energy, up from 22 per cent today.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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