Archive for the ‘Drought and Deserts’ category

Russia’s Fires Caused In Large Part By Forest Mismanagement

August 11, 2010

Der Spiegel reports here on Russia’s extreme heat that’s has contributed to higher death rates and wildfires, plunging Moscow into a thick, choking smog. Hat-tip to reader DirkH.

The following NASA photo shows where it’s hot, and where it’s cool.

So far 7600 km² have burned. NASA’s Terra satellite shows that the fires began in later July, when temperatures in the areas were 12°C and more above normal. One sees how the heat is concentrated in one spot, while the remainder of the continental area is near normal or even cool. Russian meteorologists say they are unable to find anything in the archives that compares to this, not in the last 1000 years.

While warmists are quick to pin the blame on climate change,  others point out that the fires have other primary causes. Der Spiegel writes that much of the blame for the catastrophe goes to the authorities and mismanagement of forests:

Forest fire experts say the authorities also get most of the blame for the catastrophe. Large fires like this one in Russia are caused primarily by man.

According to Johann Goldammer of the Max-Planck Institute for Chemistry at the University of Freiburg:

 There is no evidence that the fires ignited by themselves because of the drought.

Goldammer says that excessive deforestation of the landscape may be a factor in the fires because they leave barren steppe-like landscapes that tend to dry out quickly and become a tinderbox.

But then Goldammer’s makes the dubious claim that this was caused by the fact that the forests had been put into private hands, and then recommends Soviet-style land use!

It has something to do with sustainable land use, like land-use in the old Soviet Union, where it was much more efficient than today.

Now that’s the way to solve problems. I suggest Goldammer read up on how the Soviets managed to run the entire country into the ground.


Next Crisis: Water Consumption

July 28, 2010

Climate journalism is like being at a third-world bazar where the media behave like merchants all shouting, pitching their catastrophe stories.

Die Welt’s recent piece From Proud Jordan River, To A Smelly Trickle (roughly translated) features the crisis of water consumption and the injustice of water’s uneven distribution. Now water needs to be redistributed, along with wealth and misery.

Although the article is mainly a rant against Israeli water policy, its other objective is to admonish western societies for their profligate use of water.

This is a theme that’s steadily gaining traction on the environmental front here in Europe – along with biodiversity, ocean acidification, manmade microscopic aerosols and climate change. It’s the latest hot-seller catastrophe joining the enviro-bazar.

Die Welt doesn’t hold back citing environmental and activist groups for its reliable, “unbiased” and shocking information. At first the story focusses on Israeli water management and how it’s unfair to neighboring countries.

Die Welt writes:

According to Amnesty International, the average Israeli consumes 300 liters of water daily, while a Palestinian consumes only 70 liters. In poor regions a mere 20 liters is available daily for each person.

At the end of the story, Die Welt admonishes western lifestyles and its excessive use of water.

The story concludes with a photo gallery that informs readers how much water consumption is needed to manufacture some basic daily products we enjoy in our daily lives. Examples:

1 hamburger: 2400 litres
1 hardboiled egg for breakfast: 135 litres
1 slice of bread: 40 litres
10 grams of cheese: 50 litres
1 cup of coffee: 140 liters
1 German breakfast: 365 liters
200 grams of potato chips: 185 liters
2-gram computer chip: 32 liters
1 sheet of paper: 10 liters
1 cotton T-shirt: 4100 liters!
1 pair of cowhide shoes: 8000 liters
1 new car: 450,000 liters

The idea is to tell us consumers that we are simply consuming too much water and that it’s having catastrophic impacts on the environment and poor people. It’s unfair and it has to be regulated. We need to feel guilty about it.

Wikipedia lists the potential manifestations of excessive water consumption:

There are several principal manifestations of the water crisis.
– Inadequate access to water for sanitation and waste disposal for 2.5 billion people
– Groundwater over drafting (excessive use) leading to diminished agricultural yields
– Overuse and pollution of water resources harming biodiversity
– Regional conflicts over scarce water resources sometimes resulting in warfare.

Expect the water crisis to get worse (not in reality, but in the media and political world). Get ready to hear a lot more about this in the future. Water-saving devices will be joining energy-saving devices soon in the government’s force-the-people-to-buy-list.

FOCUS On Desertification – Misleading Its Readers

June 18, 2010

FOCUS says Sahara is expanding, but studies show the opposite!

In yet another “we’re all threatened by climate change” piece, the German online FOCUS magazine presents here a piece on the desertification of the earth, of course all worsened by climate change. FOCUS quotes a source: 

Almost 33.3% of the earth’s surface is threatened by so-called desertification. 

Right off the bat I have trouble with that statement because we know that only 29% of the earth is land. Does that mean 4% of the Earth’s water surface is about to dry up? 

FOCUS reports that poor nations of Africa are the most threatened by the spread of desertification. But looking at the Sahara, there’s scientific literature that shows the opposite is happening. For example a 2009 National Geographic report relies on scientific literature and says: 

Emerging evidence is painting a very different scenario, one in which rising temperatures could benefit millions of Africans in the driest parts of the continent. 

Scientists are now seeing signals that the Sahara desert and surrounding regions are greening due to increasing rainfall. 


Images taken between 1982 and 2002 revealed extensive regreening throughout the Sahel, according to a new study in the journal Biogeosciences. 

Sounds like good news to me. So why does FOCUS peddle something that’s so misleading? Well, just take a look at its source of information: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit, in English: German Society For Technical Cooperation. It’s a private company owned by the German government, that promotes sustainanble development and…well, you get the picture.  Perhaps FOCUS should rely more on scientific literature in the future.

Finally, and interestingly, National Geographic also attempts to project future trends for the Sahara, but finds it’s a very difficult and complicated task.  It quotes Martin Claussen of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, who says: 

Half the models follow a wetter trend, and half a drier trend. 

And so much for the climate models!