Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Aussie Climate Scientists are rushing to fill the breach caused by Professor Andy Pitman’s stunning admission there is no long term drying trend in drought prone Australia.
The science of drought is complex but the message on climate change is clear
October 31, 2019 2.40pm AEDT
Ben Henley Research Fellow in Climate and Water Resources, University of Melbourne
Andrew King ARC DECRA fellow, University of Melbourne
Anna Ukkola Research Fellow, Australian National University
Murray Peel Senior lecturer, University of Melbourne
Q J Wang Professor, University of Melbourne
Rory Nathan Associate Professor Hydrology and Water Resources, University of Melbourne
The issue of whether Australia’s current drought is caused by climate change has been seized on by some media commentators, with debate raging over a remark from eminent scientist Andy Pitman that “there is no link between climate change and drought”. Professor Pitman has since qualified, he meant to say “there is no direct link between climate change and drought”.
A highly politicised debate that tries to corner scientists will not do much to help rural communities struggling with the ongoing dry. But it is still worthwhile understanding the complexity of how climate change relates to drought.
Is climate change affecting Australian droughts?
Climate change may affect drought metrics and types of drought differently, so it can be hard to make general statements about the links between human-induced climate change and all types of drought, in all locations, on all timescales.
But the role of climate change in extended drought periods is difficult to discern from normal variations in weather and climate. This is particularly true in Australia, which has a much more variable climate than many other parts of the world.
What does the future hold?
Climate models project increasing temperature across Australia and a continuing decline in cool-season rainfall over southern Australia over the next century. This will lead to more pressure on water supplies for agriculture, the environment, and cities such as Melbourne at the Paris Agreement’s target of 2℃, relative to the more ambitious target of 1.5℃ of global warming.
Rainfall is projected to become more extreme, with more intense rain events and fewer light rain days. Declining overall rainfall is predicted to reduce river flows in southeastern Australia. While we can expect the largest floods to increase with climate change, smaller floods are decreasing due to drier soils, and it is these smaller floods that top up our water supply systems.
In other words, they’ve got nothing.
Did Andy Pitman also misspeak, when he admitted climate science cannot tell us whether global warming will make droughts worse, or improve rainfall? (see the image at the top of the page).
The only “links” between climate change and drought are an attempt to link short term drying trends, which scientists admit could be natural variation, and a model based belief that climate change might be making droughts worse, based on their defective climate models – a belief not rooted in observational evidence.
But why not cut back on fossil fuel anyway, just in case?
The only reason farmers in the worst drought afflicted regions of Australia have any water and feed is because of fossil fuel. Fossil fuel gives us the economic capacity to respond to droughts – it powers vast trucking operations happening right now in Australia, transporting feed and water to farmers and towns stricken by drought.
Fossil fuel prosperity means we can afford major water schemes to redistribute water to where it is needed.
To abandon all that would mean going back to the 1800s, leaving farmers at the mercy of whatever nature throws at them; and in arid Australia, nature does not deliver a lot of mercy.
The current drought disaster did not occur because Australia has a shortage of water, it happened because our politicians are idiots. For example, a few months ago they tried to limit truck access to rural roads, right in the middle of the ongoing drought relief operation, a measure which would have eliminated the ability of said trucks to carry meaningful amounts of feed and water to large numbers of desperate farmers.
Aussie Politicians have left major water projects on the shelf for decades, frittering away taxpayers money on pointless obstruction, useless solar projects and other vanity boondoggles, instead of delivering infrastructure people actually need.
via Watts Up With That?
November 2, 2019 at 12:17PM