Mubarak Resigns: Is there a climate change connection?

The Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, has resigned, finally relenting to weeks of massive protests. Is he the latest casualty of climate change?

This is a provacative question, but I believe one worth discussing. Obviously, there are always many factors in a people’s uprising, the precise balance of which will always be subjective and varied from protestor to protestor. But that doesn’t mean said factors can not be isolated and examined each on their own.

Like any extreme hot weather event, it is not possible to attribute this directly to a change in global climate, but like said weather event it is possible to identify contributing global factors, increases in probabilities, consistency with expectations. Political unrest is in fact an expectation of a rapidly changing climate, at least according to the US pentagon, and the chain of circumstances is not implausible or hard to follow. Erratic local climates lead to difficulties in food production, global or otherwise, which drive up the cost of living, which causes unrest in populations. When these populations are already restless due to poor economic conditions and inadequate human rights, this can trigger violent and non-violent popular uprisings.

Joe Romm brought this connection up in relation to Egypt, and though Serious People dismissively scoff at the very idea, I think he has a legitimate point. This is not a laughable notion in the least, it is a very legitimate topic for conversation. The thread at Collide-a-scape is revealing in the lack of serious rebuttal, there is little aside from argument by ridicule.

Where is the flaw in this chain of connections: climate change -> crop failures -> rising food prices -> political upheaval?

181 thoughts on “Mubarak Resigns: Is there a climate change connection?

  1. Anon, I am quite aware of the tightly constrained use to which “null hypotheses” are used in tests of statistical significance. I also know that the null hypothesis is never, absolutely never, the default hypothesis. Failure to reject the null hypothesis is never finding support for the null hypothesis. A test can produce results with a much higher probability given hypothesis being tested than the probability given the null hypothesis and still fail the test of statistical significance. Further, use of tests of statistical significance using the null hypothesis are not the only weapon in the arsenal of statistical analysis, and only the appropriate one in fairly rare circumstances in which a simple laboratory experiment can be set up with a limited number of possible results.

    As used by internet blow hards, deniers, and creationists, however, the “null hypothesis” is always set up as being the hypothesis which is to be accepted by default if the alternative hypothesis. It is also waver around by said blow hards on the assumption that every statistical analysis must make use of null hypotheses.

    In other words, it is used as a rhetorical device to baffle and confuse – in fact as you have used it. In particular, when you said, “If you can’t give us a reason to reject the null hypothesis, I’ll stand on my claims”, you clearly set up the null hypothesis as a default hypothesis. And the complexities in Egypt are clearly not amenable to simple experimental testing and hence the technically correct use of null hypotheses.

    Further, if your were serious about discussion, you would be responding to my comments about contrary hypotheses:

    “If you want to make an honest appeal, ask for a reason to reject the contrary claim. In this context, the claim is that food price rises brought about by GW (A or otherwise) had a significant impact on events in Egypt. The contrary hypothesis is that food price rises had no significant impact. Well, the fact that food price rises in Egypt has led even middle classes to being periodically hungry; that it has led to protests about food prices three years ago, and again as recently as four months ago; and that these protests where put down by repressive means, thus bringing a larger proportion of the Egyptian populace into personal contact with the brutal means of the Egyptian police; these facts pretty much lay the contrary hypothesis to rest.”
    (From 66)

    Note, it is a contrary hypothesis, not the contradictory because it is in fact impossible to test a theory against all possible contraries (ie, the contradictory) except in very simple cases. Further, it is “the” contrary in that the test is made only against reasonably cogent alternatives actually up for discussion (again out of practical necessity). (You could also read with advantage my comments about necessary and sufficient conditions.)

    You may wish to fool yourself that just because I spent my time studying the philosophy of science, epistemology and logic rather than (for example) physics, that therefore I am somehow incompetent on the subject of scientific reasoning. However, in assuming that, you only make a fool of yourself.

    Finally, as to Mandas’ technical errors on significance testing, they are irrelevant to the thrust of his comment 94. In fact, had he got the technical details right, his point would have been made even more forcefully. Every time you dodge the substantive issues (which is far as I can see is every post), you make clearer and clearer that you are not interested in rational discussion even if (which is as yet unproven) you are capable of it.


  2. anon

    “….Mandas, this is just very quick, but you don’t even understand what significance levels mean, do you?…”

    I am pretty confident that I have good handle on it. But, whilst I freely admit that I am not a statistician (and have done so on many occasions), if you think I am wrong in what I wrote before why don’t you enlighten us all? Don’t just say – you’re wrong. I am only too willing to learn from an expert – which I assume you must be. If I am wrong about something I will admit as such and learn from the experience.

    And since you are such an expert, why don’t you choose to enlighten everyone here with your extensive knowledge? It is painfully obvious that there are a number of people with even less statistical expertise than me, and who are trying to do far more. Or would you prefer not to be critical of a denier?

    And you are correct in what you said at #97 – I admit I poorly stated the correct relationship over the statistical probabilities of chance vs the role of climate change. Thank you for pointing that out.

    In the process, thank you for further strengthening the case I was making that you CANNOT categorically rule out climate change as a potential factor. Or do you disagree? If so, why?

    How about instead of playing semantic games, you actually come right out and say what YOU think. Because none of what you have claimed in your games demonstrates in anyway that the position I have adopted is incorrect. In fact, all you have done is strengthen it.

    So don’t feel bad for thinking you have embarassed me. I feel no embarassment whatsoever. As I have said repeatedly, I am always willing to admit to mistakes and to learn. So go ahead – educate me (us). In the process, tell us all what you think about the question coby posed, and why you think the way you do.


  3. Tom

    I should be thanking YOU for pointing out that information. I should have realised that anon is exactly what he is accusing me of being.


  4. crakar

    WTF was your comment in #100 about?

    Tom corrected an error I made (thanks Tom). I would have thought you would have been all over that like a cheap suit. The great mandas makes an error! But instead, you criticise the one correcting me. How about – instead of making idiotic comments – you learn from someone who knows what they are talking about it for a change? I certainly did.

    And its probably obvious in my post #102 that I incorrectly attributed Tom’s post #97 to anon – sorry about that Tom. But I will say one thing – at least even when I THOUGHT it was anon’s post, I was willing to concede that someone on the ‘opposite’ side may be right and I may be wrong.

    A characteristic that only appears to be inherent in ‘blowhards’ and not in deniers. What do you think that says about us?


  5. Crakar @98, I’ll see your 4 million tonnes of maize (corn) lost in February, 2011 due to cold, and raise you 18 million tonnes of wheat lost in Russia (alone) in July/August 2010 due to the Russian heat wave. (This does not include 10% plus of the Ukraine’s wheat which was also lost. Nor the heat related crop losses across North Africa including Egypt and Tunisia, which was especially hard hit.)

    Now I wonder which had the biggest impact on the cost the wheat imported by Egypt in the lead up to the start of protests in January 2011?

    I also note in passing that the high maize prices in 1997 led to food riots in Mexico.

    But I forgot, “I think [Coby is] scraping the bottom of the barrell on this one in an effort to keep the faith alive, in fact i would say it is desperation on the cusp of madness to suggest the Mubarak resignation is linked to AGW.” (Crakar @20)

    Let me review:

    High food prices consistently lead to riots in demonstrations in poor nations, including in Egypt;

    Egypt’s domestic food production has been sharply curtailed because of excessive heat;

    World wheat prices have soared because of large crop losses in Russia and the CIS due to severe heat and related drought; but

    “… it is desperation on the cusp of madness to suggest the Mubarak resignation is linked to AGW.”

    Sure, that’s a rational opininion.


  6. Crakar @99, the cause of Darwin’s rainfall is without doubt the nearby tropical low which may develop into a category 1 cyclone later today.

    Now, would you care to explain why Darwin Airport has received more rain in 24 hours than it received in the entire month of December 75 when the category 3 cyclone Tracy ran over the top of it? Or why it has now received 640.4 mm of rain for February to date, where as it received 370.1 mm and 514.5 mm for the entire month of February in 1974 and 1975 respectively (both very strong La Nina years, in fact probably stronger than 2010/11). Or why it shattered its previous highest daily total by 49.2 mm?

    Perhaps it may have something to do with the record high sea surface temperatures around Darwin this year?

    Hang on! Wait just a second! Record high temperatures? Global warming? Naah! There couldn’t be a connection there, surely?


  7. Lets stick to facts rather than insults shall we, is it your position that GW/CC/CD caused or played some part in the 388mm record rainfall?

    Yes or No


  8. Yes, to state the blindingly obvious.

    More specifically, global warming was one factor amongst several that contributed to the high rainfall, and without global warming the peak rainfall would have been probably be around 50 mm less, ie, more in line with the 1974/1975 peak daily rainfall of 277 mm on December 25th 1974 (which to correct my previous post, was the actual date of Cyclone Tracey).

    All this with the caveat that due to the chaotic nature of weather, we cannot know that absent global warming that a tropical low would form of Darwin in February 2011, or that 2010/11 would be a La Nina year. But absent global warming, some tropical lows would still form of Darwin, and some years still be La Nina years, and in those years, peak rainfall would be likely to be less than the current record.


  9. crakar (at post #56)

    “…..Fuck off Mandas dont respond to any of my posts again…..”

    Make up your – for want of a better word – mind. Do you want me to respond or not? If so, what changed?


  10. Mandas,

    You would respond to my posts when you see fit no matter what i say. In any event i thought you could at least tell me what all 12 la nina years have in common or you could ignore my posts i dont really care… decide.


  11. Tom,

    So it is your position that gw has enhanced the amount of rainfall in Darwin. I will assume this is because CO2 increases the amount of WV in the atmosphere and due to the hydrologic cycle we therefore get more rain.

    I have one question for you Tom in what decade would you say CO2 levels began to have a discernable affect on the weather. Now i want to be crystal clear here lets say in 1750 CO2 was 275ppm, so did the weather begin to change via CO2 at 300ppm, 310ppm etc.


  12. crakar

    WTF is this at post #108?

    “….Lets stick to facts rather than insults shall we…”

    Is this an indication of how you plan to operate in future? If so, I will be only to happy to go along. Please let us all know.

    And perhaps you could give me a hint about what you are asking re what the La Nina years have in common. After all, they all had 12 months – but that is being facetious and I am sure that isn’t your real question.


  13. 114,


    In response to speculation from Tom i gave him some of my own speculation and that is that we get strong La ninas during a -ve PDO now depending on the strength of the PDO and the strength of the La Nina we can get the types of weatehr we are seeing now (in Australia for example).

    You replied by gibbering on about the 12 strongest La Ninas and how they have not all produced the same type of weather (BOM link).

    What all 12 have in common is that they occured during a -ve PDO. Now if we look at the strength of the PDO and the strength of the La Nina the current one has a SOI of 28 or so and we have had heavy rain and of course floods in conjunction with a cyclone.

    I then prompted Tom to respond with thoughts about the heavy rain in Darwin which he feels was helped by AGW.

    I then asked him to tell me when he thinks agw began to rear its ugly head, the reason for this was that the last La Nina with a similarly large soi occured in 1974.

    In 1974 Brisbane flooded due to heavy rain and a cyclone and as Tom has revealed Darwin also recieved heavy rain and as we all know a cyclone.

    So we have two dates seperated by 36 years that have two things in common, in both years we had a very -ve PDO value and we had a very strong La Nina.

    I speculate that the cycles of the PDO and ESNO are the sole reasons for this weather and increasing CO2 levels have played no part.

    If you wish you can attempt to show my speculation wrong and of course produce an alternative, an alternative that does either of the following:

    1) Show how AGW is the cause or is an addition to these weather events in 2011 but not 1974. This is a tricky one because you will need to show a natural cause to 1974 and a CO2 cause to 2011 which produced almost identical result.

    2) Show how AGW is the cause or is an addition to these weather events in 2011 and 1974 but be careful with (2) because you will also need to explain why these events occured 36 years apart and why these events have not been increasing in tempo and magnitude for the past 36 years.

    Take you time…………..


  14. crakar

    I would like to read more on the link you are suggesting between a correlation between PDO, SOI and extreme rainfall events.

    Could you please let me know where you got this information from so I can do some background reading please.


  15. Crakar, I know your trying to set up some kind of “gotcha” moment here, but out of morbid curiosity …

    Anthropogenic CO2 variations have been influencing climate for millenia. Specifically, CO2 levels 8000 years before present were at around 260 ppm. Temperatures are widely believed to have fallen since then, by as much as a degree globally, which would lead us to expect a fall in CO2 levels due to ocean absorption of around 12 ppm. Instead they rose by around 15 ppm to 1750. The difference comes from loss of biomass and the introduction of methane to the atmosphere be the expansion of rice cultivation. Some of that increase is due to natural events such as the desertification of the Sahara, but most is due to human land management (will still accounts for 20% of total emissions even in the industrial era). Allowing 2/3rds of the difference being due to anthropogenic causes, then at the height of the LIA, CO2 levels would have been 16 ppm lower; amounting to a reduction in global mean temperatures of 0.3 degrees C. That difference might have been enough to stop us sliding into a new ice age at that time. It is close to the threshold for such a slide, but the threshold is insufficiently well defined to be certain.

    In other words, your question is based on a false premise, ie, that anthropogenic co2 emissions can only have influenced climate since the onset of industrialization.

    However, to show willing, by 1910 CO2 levels had risen to 300 ppm, leading to an equilibrium temperature increase forcing of 0.46 degrees, of which 60%, or 2.8 degrees C would have been realized 1940 (the delay being due to thermal lag). That would certainly be enough to influence climate, but not enough to generate a statistically detectable signal distinguishable from decadal variation.

    Based on IPCC attribution studies, a statistically significant AGW signal is detectable by about 1980. So at any time post 1980, the AGW signal is strong enough to be distinguished from background variation. However, this does not mean the signal did not exist before 1980. It existed before then, and increased gradually through out so that there is not sharp demarcation between 1960 and 1980 other than that caused by limitations in the emissions of aerosols.

    Turning to Darwin Airport, it shows a strong increase in the linear trend for annual rainfall since 1900*, with an average increase of about 20% over the period 1900 to 2010. Annual mean temperatures show a similarly strong increase, with an average (approx) 1.2 degree C increase over the same period. The diurnal temperature range has narrowed sharply over the same period, with a decrease of about 2 degrees C, or about 20%, very strong primary evidence that the cause of the temperature increase is an increase in greenhouse gasses. Over the period of 1955 to the present, daily cloud cover, 9:00 am cloud cover, and 3:00 pm cloud cover show very slight increases. That refutes the notion the temperature increase is due to variations in cloud cover (which would cause an opposite trended change) and strongly rebuts the notion that changes in diurnal temperature range is due to changes in cloud cover.

    In other words, the evidence from Darwin paints a very clear, very consistent picture of increasing temperatures being driven by increased greenhouse gasses, and in turn drive increased precipitation.


  16. Amendment to my preceding post:

    1) I misplaced a decimal point – 2.8 degrees should obviously be 0.28 degrees;

    2) (more importantly) Darwin Airport is listed by BOM as being active since about 1942, but their long record shows data back to 1900. Presumably the long record is a composite of local stations, about which I do not know the details. As the majority of the trends indicated comes after 1950, this is probably not significant.


  17. Mandas,

    I do believe there is a paper or two that talks about this but i cannot recall the title/s there are however many articles written on this subject that can be found via google which can give the reader a general understanding of the concept.

    In short i am sure there are a few factors which influence the strength and even timing of an El Nino or a La Nina but one thing is for certain (well speculation on my part here) the phasing of the PDO plays a role. How big i dont know.

    I will try and remember the paper i read it in.


  18. Crakar @116 “Once Chris digests the links to Mexican crop failure due to climate disruption which also played a part in Egyptian revolts …”

    Can I recommend that you read comment 106. You are currently arguing that a very recent crop failure whose impact on prices is yet to be felt has played a part in the Egyptian revolt; but at the same time you maintain that it is “… scraping the bottom of the barrel …” and ” …desperation on the cusp of madness …” to “… suggest the Mubarak resignation is linked to AGW.” You do this even though heat related impacts on crop yields were more than four times larger (much more than four times larger across all nations) than those due to cold, and significantly preceded the events in Egypt so that their effects had time to feed into those events. Put starkly, your current position is that the loss of 4 million tonnes of maize “played a part in the Egyptian revolts”, but that it is “desperation” to suggest the loss of 18 million plus tonnes of wheat (not to mention the loss of 70% of Egyptian crops) due to AGW could play any part in those revolts.

    Seriously, you need a reality check.

    While taking it, you may also want to check out the heatwave related drought in Tunisia in 2010 and consider any possible connection to later revolts.


  19. No real gotcha moment here Tom, just trying to get a start point out of you.

    By looking at your post it would seem you have read Tim Flannery’s book and swallowed it hook line and sinker so no point looking to history for debating the effects of CO2. According to Tim we changed the climate after we chopped down the first tree using his logic the herbivore dinosaurs CO2 foot print must have been huge.

    Turning to Darwin, i would like to leave my rebuttal until tomorrow if i may?

    But you do raise one of those nagging questions (you know the type) so if CO2 increase causes a temp increase and this temp increase causes an increase in atmospheric WV which in turn causes global warming then i am confused…

    You see if we accept all this as fact and we also accept that the floods in Aust, PAkistan etc and the increase in snow and ice throughout the NH is caused by AGW as we have been told as fact.

    Then would it be fair to say that these are in fact negative feed backs? Bear with me here you claim Darwin has got hotter by AGW you also claim it has got more rain by AGW, so if it gets hotter the surface gets hotter and we get more evaporation which cools the planet or in this case DArwin, if we get more rain then the rain will also cool the planet and dont forget rain comes from low lying cloud whic is also a negative feed back.

    Now we come to snow and ice, the more snow and ice we get the more albedo we get, the surface cools the planet cools and so on.

    Any thoughts Tom?

    Until tomorrow.


  20. Crakar you want to make much of the PDO/La Nina connection. Fair enough, the La Nina certainly exists and effects Australia’s weather far more strongly than the influence of global warming. The PDO may well also exist, and may also influence Australia’s climate. So granted that the primary explanation of Australia’s wet year in 2010, and early 2011 is the conjunction of La Nina with a negative PDO.

    That still does not explain why 2010 was wetter than 1974, even though each has similar strengths of La Nina and PDO. It does not explain why both 1974 and 2010 are wetter than 1955, which had a stronger La Nina, and more strongly negative PDO. It does not explain why 1950 (strong La Nina and negative PDO) has less rainfall again.

    You evidently only have a partial explanation, and the factor you are very studiously ignoring is the rise in sea temperatures over that period. In fact, that connection is obvious. Both La Nina and negative PDO result in cold water displacing warm water in the Eastern Pacific, resulting in warmer waters around Australia. There is only one driver of moist climate in northern Australia, warm sea waters. And there are three drivers of warm sea water around northern Australia, La Nina, PDO and global warming. Of these, La Nina has by far the largest short term (decadal) effect, but global warming is not an oscillation, so it drives the long term trends.

    So, why was 2010 wetter than 1974? Because the coral sea was 0.2 degrees warmer than in 1974 – and that 0.2 degrees is directly attributable to global warming.


  21. Crakar, as it happens I have read Flannery’s “The Weather Makers” but that has nothing to do with hooks, lines or sinkers. My thoughts regarding past climate change come from reading primary literature, and in particular Indermuhle et al, 1999.

    As regards your thoughts, evaporation does not, and cannot “cool the planet”. It merely shifts heat from the surface to the atmosphere. For it to “cool the planet”, the evaporated water vapour would need to escape the atmosphere to space, which obviously does not happen. Rain also does not cool the planet. It again simply moves heat, this time from atmosphere to surface. The combined net effect is to act as a heat pump whereby solar energy absorbed by the surface is transferred to the atmosphere. There is no negative feedback involved.

    Low cloud is a negative feedback in daytime (and a positive feedback at night). However, in Darwin’s case total cloud cover has only increased by 1.4% over 55 years, and maximum temperatures have increased by 0.2 degrees over the same period, with mean and night time temperatures increasing much more. Clearly, the net feed backs are positive for Darwin, and primarily driven by the greenhouse effect. The primary source of that greenhouse effect is the water vapour feedback, but the water vapour feedback depends on an initial driver of temperature increases, ie, CO2.

    Finally, we have not been told that the increased snow and very cold early winters in the NH are the result of AGW as “fact”. One climate scientist has suggested a mechanism whereby open arctic waters in late fall could drive such a temperature variation, and provided some empirical support; but most climate scientists are sceptical, and have stated so in public. That has certainly been the position at Real Climate.

    You need to stop swallowing WUWT’s propaganda and start actually reading climate scientists with an open mind.


  22. “Fair enough, the La Nina certainly exists and effects Australia’s weather far more strongly than the influence of global warming.”

    On a year to year (or decade to decade) basis, but on a century-to-century basis, La Nina has nothing to do with the 33C warming that GHG give the earth.


  23. “Now i want to be crystal clear here lets say in 1750 CO2 was 275ppm, so did the weather begin to change via CO2 at 300ppm, 310ppm etc.”

    Oh dear. You really don’t understand physical processes.

    Weather begins to change when the things that affect the weather begins the change. When CO2 was 275ppm, weather was different than when it was 190ppm. It was different again when CO2 was 280ppm.

    The affect on the weather is different between those two cases, but then again you merely said “changed”.

    If you don’t think the weather has changed, then you have stopped thinking that weather is chaotic. 5ppm CO2 is very much bigger than any butterfly’s wings in the tropics.


  24. 122,

    Once again Tom you are confused, the purpose of the mexican crop failure due to cold is to point out the stupidity of your claims. Nothing to do with Egypt.


  25. Crakar

    In regard to your query regarding the intensity of precipitation etc and flooding in Queensland, and the role played by the SOI and PDO, might I suggest a couple of things.

    Firstly, what you say sounds reasonable. There may well be a correlation between the intensity of precipitation in SE Queensland (and other parts of the country), and strongly positive SOI and negative PDO events. How about you do the research and let us know the results? Most of the information is available on the BOM website link I previously provided. It has the years, the SOI indices, and information on summer rainfall over the entire continent. All it needs is for you to add the PDO data, and you can make an assessment and let us know what you discover. But as I said, it sounds like a reasonable hypothesis.

    However, just because there is a correlation there – and you are still to demonstrate there is – does not mean that there is no climate change signal in the most recent or even previous events such as the 1974 floods. Certainly, the most recent event was the most severe ever experienced, so one would have to ask why that is the case. We ‘believers’ have never said that the current level of climate change will necessarily produce weather events such as the ones experienced recently – rather that it will intensify and cause more extreme weather events.

    You might also wish to have a read of this paper, which was fortuitously published in Nature today. I have only had a very quick look, but it does suggest there is a detectable climate change signal in the intensity of rainfall events over the second half of the twentieth century. It is northern hemisphere – and whether you can extrapolate to Australia is an issue in itself – but it does make interesting reading on the very subject we are discussing.

    I look forward to hearing the results of your analysis of the SOI/PDO information.


  26. 124,

    Tom this is a gotcha moment and it is all of your own doing.

    Firstly lets get a few things straight.

    The pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) is a change in ocean currents which in the end change the SST. There are two states +ve or warm phase and -ve or cool phase.

    A warm phase warms the majority of the pacific but cools the waters between Darwin and Tahiti, the opposite is true for the -ve cool phase (counter intuitive i know).

    The El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a measurement of the SST between Darwin and Tahiti and is expressed as the Southern OScillation Index (SOI), for example if we get a SOI of 8 or above for 3 months running it is considered to be La Nina conditions.

    We are currently in a -ve phase of the PDO since early 2000’s so this condition will continue for another 20 odd years and the SOI is very high at around 28.

    You then state “That still does not explain why 2010 was wetter than 1974, even though each has similar strengths of La Nina and PDO. It does not explain why both 1974 and 2010 are wetter than 1955, which had a stronger La Nina, and more strongly negative PDO. It does not explain why 1950 (strong La Nina and negative PDO) has less rainfall again.”

    From the BOM link Mandas produced we find the SOI for 1955 was 15.8 and 1956 it was 9.4 looking a bit deeper we find that 1973 the SOI was 14.3 and in 1975 it was 18.6 so you are incorrect to state they were of similar strength as we are currently above 28.

    I think i have just explained why both 1974 and 2010 are wetter than 1955. You may wish to check the rainfall in 1917 as the SOI that year in conjunction with a -ve PDO was 25.0.

    You then state (and this is the gotcha moment) “You evidently only have a partial explanation, and the factor you are very studiously ignoring is the rise in sea temperatures over that period. In fact, that connection is obvious. Both La Nina and negative PDO result in cold water displacing warm water in the Eastern Pacific, resulting in warmer waters around Australia. There is only one driver of moist climate in northern Australia, warm sea waters. And there are three drivers of warm sea water around northern Australia, La Nina, PDO and global warming. Of these, La Nina has by far the largest short term (decadal) effect, but global warming is not an oscillation, so it drives the long term trends.”

    If you wish to parrot the squealing of stupid politicians from now on i suggest you stop and think before you do.

    -ve PDO’s give us frequent and strong La Nina’s and infequent and weak El Nino’s for obvious reasons +ve PDO’s give us the opposite. So if AGW is now raising the SST by 0.2C as you proclaim (without evidence i might add) then we MUST i repeat MUST get weaker El Nino’s and Stronger La Nina’s in future. This will mean we will get an increase in rainfall but how can this be? All the climate models predict we will suffer longer and more severe droughts but as you claim this cannot happen.

    So which is it Tom, will we get stronger El Ninos causing drought or will we get stronger La Nina’s giving us good rains for many years to come?

    This is very good advice “You need to stop swallowing WUWT’s propaganda and start actually reading climate scientists with an open mind.” I suggest you follow it.


  27. 125,

    Tom the heat removed from the surface via evaporation and expiration is transported up into the atmosphere via the hydrologic cycle and has nothing to do with CO2, the heat travels up until it hits the cold air beyond the reaches of CO2 the heat is removed and the water droplets form as clouds and the subsequent rain falls back to the surface.

    In your humble opinion this heat stays there? WTF!!!!!!!!! If that were the case the Earth would have reach 1 gazillion degrees 500 million years ago.

    Have a think about this and come back with a revised version of events.


  28. Mandas,

    I have looked at this in the past and compared it to the PDO phase changes and as i said all 12 strongest La Nina years occured during a -ve PDO. If you like i could dig up a few links for you?

    We both know correlation does not mean causation but it is a hell of a start. The difficulty for you would be to show how CO2 has made things worse.


  29. Mandas,

    Here are a couple of BOM links

    Just to whet your appetite, scroll down the page until you get to the bit called “Flooding and La Niña/El Niño”, look at the dates:

    1916/17: SOI 11.9, 25.0 PDO -1
    1950 & 54 thruogh 56: SOI 16.1, 15.8, 9.4 PDO -1, -2 & -1
    1973 & 75 SOI: 14.3, 18.6 PDO -2, -1

    This link is from the BOM where they talk about the correlation from this link you may be able to find a BOM study looking at this


  30. Crakar ” In your humble opinion this heat stays there? WTF!!!!!!!!! If that were the case the Earth would have reach 1 gazillion degrees 500 million years ago. ”

    Of course not. What you’re overlooking here is the tremendous heat capacity of the oceans and the ice – *and* the function of greenhouse gases in radiating some, but not all, of the heat in the atmosphere out to space.

    When climate conditions are pretty stable, as they’ve been during the Holocene until now, the sun warms the oceans and the land. Convection and conduction shunts that warmth around with freezing, thawing, evaporating, raining, ocean currents and all those other activities in a warm system. That system has an atmosphere which conveniently radiates out the amount of radiation required to keep things in fairly good balance.

    Note that the balance involved is not like the artificial day-to-day balance of ‘This Perfect Day’. Being in balance on this global scale allows for extended droughts in certain areas under the influence of repeated events like El Ninos. If ocean currents happen to work that way by having several ocean heat releases in a row instead of neatly spacing them out the way a human person might like, well, too bad. The climate works on timescales and laws of physics unrelated to human preferences or lifetimes.

    Temporary perturbations like large volcanic eruptions near the equator or variations in the sun’s output can affect things for a year or several years, but things can settle down once that perturbation is over. The problem with increasing GHGs from human activities is that the perturbation is not just continuing but accumulating _and_ increasing.

    What’s so hard about that?


  31. crakar

    Thanks for that information. As I suggested, the idea that -ve PDO may intensify rainfall associated with +ve SOI appears to be reasonable. Perhaps you could produce a table or similar which shows the correlation for all the +ve SOI periods from the BOM link. It would be interesting to see whether the rule is a ‘hard and fast’ one (ie there is definite causation and it ALWAYS results in flooding), or whether it does not always occur and there may be other factors (IOD?)which need to be considered.

    But also as I said – none of this precludes the possibility that there is a climate change signal in the intensity of the precipitation events. Have a read of the paper released today that I linked to and tell me what you think.


  32. Here is a quick and dirty graph showing SOI v PDO

    Coby’s spam filter is working well so whilst i am here (hope this post makes it)

    To adelaidy and to Tom aswell,

    The only role CO2 plays in setting the temp is via IR absorption, it has nothing to do with the hydrologic cycle, the H cycle transports massive amounts of heat from the surface (cools it) up to the TOA and out into space. If you honestly believe CO2 traps this heat (hydrologic heat) then you need to read more.


  33. Crakar @129, your explicitly stated, and I quoted you as stating that the cold spell in Egypt “… played a part in Egyptian revolts …”. You cannot not pretend that you made no such claim. The lie of such a claim is revealed by simply perusing again comment 116.

    @Feb 16, 2:28 pm, first, the SOI is not the only index of the ENSO. The following are the monthly values for the ENSO Multivariate Index. You will notice that while the 2010/11 La Nina is considerably weaker over the last two months (December/January) than over the corresponding period in 1973/4, and that the peak monthly value (to date) is higher in 1974/5 than in 2010/11. You will also note that the 1955 La Nina was stronger than both.


    “1953 0.025 0.366 0.261 0.711 0.855 0.27 0.431 0.25 0.544 0.091 0.054 0.311
    1954 -0.043 -0.031 0.143 -0.598 -1.423 -1.603 -1.389 -1.454 -1.142 -1.369 -1.145 -1.108
    1955 -0.762 -0.702 -1.151 -1.607 -1.637 -2.286 -1.911 -2.03 -1.815 -1.743 -1.824 -1.867
    1956 -1.441 -1.307 -1.399 -1.142 -1.319 -1.517 -1.214 -1.133 -1.356 -1.457 -1.044 -1.027
    1957 -0.951 -0.381 0.114 0.359 0.913 0.752 0.948 1.139 1.172 1.11 1.133 1.239”

    “1973 1.723 1.506 0.878 0.5 -0.145 -0.801 -1.07 -1.363 -1.75 -1.698 -1.515 -1.864
    1974 -1.94
    -1.767 -1.753 -1.658 -1.089 -0.656 -0.74 -0.634 -0.61 -1.05 -1.253 -0.927
    1975 -0.55 -0.587 -0.85 -0.93 -0.879 -1.17 -1.504 -1.731 -1.867 -2.001 -1.783 -1.756
    1976 -1.617 -1.382 -1.235 -1.162 -0.491 0.303 0.595 0.666 1.048 0.956 0.473 0.553″

    “2010 1.125 1.502 1.383 0.875 0.539 -0.412 -1.166 -1.81 -1.99 -1.911 -1.606 -1.519
    2011 -1.624

    The SOI shows a different picture. Below are the SOI values for Nov 1973 to March ’74; and those for Sept 2010 to January ’11. Clearly again the peak strength of the 74/5 La Nina is stronger than that of the 2010/11. Further, the La Nina was stronger in January 1974 than January 2011. The big difference is in December, with 2011 being much stronger than 1973. The peak for the SOI in 1955 was 19.2.

    However, the SOI is just an index of the pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin. During much of December, a large low sat over the Arafura sea. This was part of a bizzare weather pattern in which large lows in the Timor Sea, Arafura Sea and Coral Sea and where connected by an extended trough, with the low in the Arafura sea being connected by a trough in the Great Australian Bight (and later Bass Straight). Therefore it is reasonable to believe that the SOI has been distorted in December by an unusual local weather pattern and reflects that rather than the relative strength of the trade winds.

    That being the case, the MEI is the preferable index, and we can conclude that the current La Nina is weaker than that of 1974/5.

    “31.6 16.9
    1974 20.8 16.2 20.3”

    “25.0 18.3 16.4 27.1
    2011 19.9”

    With regard to the PDO, December 1973 was less negative than December 2010, but not as strong as November 1973. The peak to date of the current negative phase of the PDO is -1.61, compared to -2.08 in 1975, and -3.08 in 1955

    “1954 -1.32 -1.61 -0.52 -1.33 0.01 0.97 0.43 0.08 -0.94 0.52 0.72 -0.50
    1955 0.20 -1.52 -1.26 -1.97 -1.21 -2.44 -2.35 -2.25 -1.95 -2.80 -3.08 -2.75
    1956 -2.48 -2.74 -2.56 -2.17 -1.41 -1.70 -1.03 -1.16 -0.71 -2.30 -2.11 -1.28″

    “1973 -0.46 -0.61 -0.50 -0.69 -0.76 -0.97 -0.57 -1.14 -0.51 -0.87 -1.81 -0.76
    1974 -1.22
    -1.65 -0.90 -0.52 -0.28 -0.31 -0.08 0.27 0.44 -0.10 0.43 -0.12
    1975 -0.84 -0.71 -0.51 -1.30 -1.02 -1.16 -0.40 -1.07 -1.23 -1.29 -2.08 -1.61″

    “2010** 0.83 0.82 0.44 0.78 0.62 -0.22 -1.05 -1.27 -1.61 -1.06 -0.82 -1.21”

    In summary, the claim that the current La Nina is stronger than that of 74/75 is debatable at best, and based on just one months record in just one index, and index and month for which there are known and very strong confounding factors. The claim that the PDO was weaker in 74 and 55 than in 2010/11 is just false. So you still need to explain the temperature difference.

    The stated temperature difference in December in the Coral Sea is taken directly from the BOM’s website; as is the fact (not yet alluded to) that average SSTs around Australia set a new record in 2010. (I had assumed, evidently falsely that somebody that wanted to pontificate about PDO’s and La Nina’s would actually check readily available data on the internet.)

    Finally, your “gotcha” is based on a lie currently very popular in Australian denialist circles, ie, that climate scientists have not predicted increased rainfall in Australia as a result of global warming. In fact they have been predicting just that since at least 1990 (specifically in relation to Brisbane in my most readily available source) and as recently as October (from memory) of last year in a Queensland Government report. The standard prediction is that:

    1) Overall rainfall across northern Australia including Qld and NSW will increase due to warmer seas;

    2) Overall rainfall in parts of Southern Australia, particularly around Perth will decrease because strengthening of the Hadley Cell pushes the prevailing Westerlies further south;

    3) More frequent droughts in Eastern Australia, particularly in Queensland and NSW due to longer lasting and stronger El Nino episodes; and

    4) More intense rainfall when it occurs, leading to larger floods.

    Predictions 1, 2, and 4 are fairly certain, being supported by nearly all (all SFAIK) models, and by geological evidence of weather patterns in warmer periods of Earth’s history. Prediction 3 is less certain, being supported by only about half of the models, and also by geological evidence.

    No “gotcha’s”. No Politicians. Just science, which you have evidently failed to read, relying on propaganda sites like WUWT instead.


  34. crakar

    At #131 you said this:

    “….-ve PDO’s give us frequent and strong La Nina’s and infequent and weak El Nino’s for obvious reasons +ve PDO’s give us the opposite. ….”

    Maybe it was just a mistype, or I have misunderstood what you are saying, but you appear to be confusing SOI and PDO. These two events are not the same thing, nor do they occur in the same locations or on the same cyclical frequency.

    However, their phases may overlap and reinforce or cancel each other out with regard to their influence on weather. As you appeared to be suggesting initially, a strongly -ve PDO occuring at the same time as a strongly +ve SOI may result in much higher than average rainfall over parts of Australia – particularly SE Queensland. You provided a couple of examples at post #134, but we would need to see more and you would also need to show what the weather was at the time of these occurences so you could determine the validity or otherwise of any hypothesised correlations.

    But there is also the important point that I keep making about there being nothing in any of that which disproves any climate change signal in the extreme weather events. If you think it does, you would need to say why (and just suggesting it has happened in the past is not an explanation). I provided a link to a paper published in Nature today on that very issue, and there is also the information provided by Tom on the predictions of increased rainfall and I have previously linked to a Trenberth paper from 1999 which said exactly the same thing when we had the discussion about snowfalls in the UK and US.

    So lets see your analysis of all the +ve SOI events and what the influence of PDO was at the time and what the resulting precipitation over Queensland was at the time. And have a look at the Nature paper.


  35. Tom if you want to take me on thats fine but please dont make shit up.

    Post 116 in its entirety (minus link)

    “Once Chris digests the links to Mexican crop failure due to climate disruption which also played a part in Egyptian revolts maybe he can tell me if CD was the cause of the biggest snowfall in 100 years in Korea?”

    Tom, in regards to measuring the strength or weakness of a La Nina it is measured by the southern oscillation index (SOI) now you can dispute this but i suggest you take the issue up with the BOM and not me. Ths link will get you started

    This has been the strongest La Nina since possibly 1917 measured as a SOI so all that you wrote in an effort to prove me wrong was a waste of time.


    YOU ARE A COMPLETE IDIOT this from your post:

    You first state

    1) Overall rainfall across northern Australia including Qld and NSW will increase due to warmer seas;

    3) More frequent droughts in Eastern Australia, particularly in Queensland and NSW due to longer lasting and stronger El Nino episodes; and

    So we have computer models that predict the opposite, ok so which ones are wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are certain point 1 is correct so therefore point 3 is wrong….idiot.

    If as you claim the sst will rise then we will not get droughts and El Nino’s will be weaker so we dont need a bloody computer model to tell us that.

    So Tom all you have to do now is show me how much increase of sst is caused by C02 and no not via a computer model but by experiment.


  36. Crakar @138, your linked graph is clearly mislabeled. It does not show the SOI which has negative values for El Nino’s, but some other index of the southern oscillation (not the MEI either as far as I can tell). Nor does the green line map the standard index of the PDO, which shows a much stronger negative phase in 1955 than in 1974/5. It does, however, illustrate the point that both 1974 and 1975 had coupled both a strong La Nina’s and a -ve PDO; which leaves you struggling to explain why 2010/11 is so much wetter.

    Your struggle is particularly stark if you try to explain the then record floods in Queensland of March of 2010. Those floods involved a then record extent with an area the size of Victoria being flood effected. That record was shattered in December/January with an area greater than that of NSW being flood effected (excluding the floods in NSW, Victoria, SA, and Tasmania). Your problem is that in March of 2010, the PDO was positive, and we were experiencing a strong El Nino. But sea temperatures around Australia were very high.

    This is your fundamental problem. You wish to argue that the PDO and La Nina cause rainfall in Australia by bringing warm water to Australian seas; but deny that the warming of those seas by global warming could cause increased rainfall. Your position is internally inconsistent. At the same time, you wish to deny the emperical evidence that peak rainfall events have in fact been increasing. Inconsistent and non- empirical, ie, classic deinialism, but not the product of rational thought.

    Finally, you are both misinterpreting what I said about evaporation, and showing clear conceptual confusion (what a shock). First, I said that evaporation does not cool the earth because it only removes heat to the atmosphere. I said nothing about how the atmosphere itself is cooled, and your attempt to imply that I deny it is cooled is a blatant attempt to construct a straw man.

    As it happens, except for a negligibly small amount of heat carried into space by the escape of light molecules, rare meteor debris, and now some space craft, all heat escaping from Earth does so as radiation. Evaporation has no connection to this except as a mechanism to carry heat to radiating molecules in the atmosphere, and of placing an absorbing and radiating gas (water vapour) into the atmosphere.

    With regard to your conceptual confusion, water never gets “beyond the reaches of CO2”. CO2 is a well mixed gas, so its mixing ratio at the top of the stratosphere is almost identical to that at the base of the atmosphere. In contrast, because water vapour precipitates out, it is largely confined to the bottom half of the troposphere. In the upper half of the troposphere, and above, CO2 is by far a more important greenhouse gas than H2O, even though H2O dominates in the lower troposphere.

    Further, no gas simply absorbs radiation. Any gas that absorbs also emits at a rate determined by its temperature. In the troposphere, greater altitude equals lower temperature, so the higher the layer of the gas, the lower its emissions. As it happens, the typical altitude from which H2O emissions escape to space is several kilometers above the surface, and the typical altitude from which CO2 emissions is several kilometers higher again. That means thermal radiation from the surface is trapped by H2O and CO2 and then emitted at a lower rate. In other words, the energy escape to space would have been more efficient if the H2O and CO2 were not there. And if you reduce the efficiency of energy escape, you need a higher base temperature to retain equilibrium with incoming energy.

    So the long term effect of evaporation is to place water vapour in the atmosphere, which heats the Earth. The short term effect is to carry that heat up to the atmosphere.

    In that part of the spectrum where CO2 and H2O overlap, emissions from H2O lower in the atmosphere are absorbed by CO2 higher in the atmosphere, then reradiated at a lower rate, thus reducing the efficiency with which heat escapes to space still further.

    So on every point of your described mechanism, you are simply wrong. So wrong in fact that it becomes clear that you do not even understand the theory you criticize. (Again, very typical of deniers.)


  37. Crakar @142

    First, I did not make anything up, and you clearly stated that the crop failures in Mexico had an effect in Egypt. It is irrelevant that you were trying to make some other empty rhetorical point.

    Second, the SOI is an index of ENSO. Other indices include MEI and ENSO1, ENSO2, ENSO3, ENSO3.4, ENSO4 and the MEI. In fact, even the BOM gives prominence to ENSOs 3, 3.4 and 4; even though it is the BOM that tracks the SOI. Further, what sort of bizzare view of science to you have that you think the institutional choices of one Australian organization should automatically constrain the research methods of all scientists everywhere?

    Third, consider the following two number series:

    A) 1,0,3,11,0,2,4,1,18,2; and

    B) 3,4,3,3,4,4,5,4,6,2.

    (A) has a mean of 4.2, while that of (B) is 3.8, so (A) has the higher mean. However, (A) also has more low values (<3) and longer sequences of them. According to you, I am an idiot to believe both those claims about (A) and (B).

    I believe that reveals you to be a complete and utter fool who does not even understand simple arithmatic.

    I believe this is an appropriate time for me to exit this debate. I have absolutely trounced you and anon on every point. You have revealed yourself to be ignorant of the theory you criticize, to play fast and loose with facts, to be ignorant of even basic information about complex matters you rely on as evidence, to be unable to keep consistent, let alone cogent opinions, and now to be incapable of simple mathematical reasoning. In short, you have displayed all the stirling intellectual qualities we have come to expect from deniers everywhere.

    You have revealed yourself so completely a fool that I no longer find any interest in debating you. Nor is there much profit, for transparently anyone seeking a rebuttal of your claims need only reread whichever post you are responding to.


  38. But back on the original question:

    Last August, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev spoke to a meeting of the country’s Security Council:

    “….our country has not experienced such a heat wave in the last 50 or even 100 years….I want to say that this is, of course, a severe trial for our country, a great trial indeed……Everyone is talking about climate change now. Unfortunately, what is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change, because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past. This means that we need to change the way we work, change the methods that we used in the past….”

    Last week, the Economist magazine – hardly a bastion of leftie thinking, had this to say:

    “….The high cost of food is one reason that protesters took to the streets in Tunisia and Egypt. The price of bread has shot up since last summer when a drought in Russia, one of the world’s largest wheat suppliers, hit harvests and prompted an export ban….Analysts at Goldman Sachs point out that countries in the region may feel the need to head off political instability by spending to stockpile grain….”

    So it would appear that coby’s original question – far from being the ridiculous proposition that the usual suspects have decried, is actually a very pertinent and sober analysis which is well supported by politicians and economists alike.


  39. Mandas in 140,

    Just to clear your confusion.

    I am not sure how connected the PDO and ENSO is but i think it is fair to say that the PDO influences the SST where the SOI is measured. The PDO switches phase about every 30 years this causes the sst to change.

    ENSO obviously has an effect on this and the warmer the SST is the stronger the La Nina, cooler it is the stronger the El Nino. Therefore we see stronger El Ninos in +ve phase and stronger La Nina’s in -ve phase.

    If we look back through history we see weather events like now in 1974/5 and 1916/17 these dates correlate well with -ve PDO and strong La Nina.

    The graph i link to in post 138, the graph that Tom has constructed his own reality around in an effort to debunk shows the correlation between PDO and SOI quite well.

    Look at this way Mandas, if you have a mixer in an audio circuit you have two inputs and two outputs. The outputs are the sum and the difference between the two inputs. As the inputs change so do the outputs, perhaps this is how SOI and PDO interact? In otherwords it is possible to see a correlation between pdo and soi but to say “if pdo is this and soi is that in 1974 then we should get this and that in 2010/11 but we did not so you are wrong” would be a gross over simplification of these events.

    Dont forget we also have the Indian di pole, Arctic oscillation, atlantic oscillation and so on to consider all these oceans and more seem to march to the beat of their own drums so we have many cycles all interacting with each other. To simply try and compare one event to another that happens 36 years apart in isolation to try and solve a problem is ludicrous.

    In regards to any AGW influence i am not sure how you could seperate it even if it was there, dear old Tom has found a link which claims the sst was 0.2C higher now than in 1974 and due to his extremely limited world view he is now proclaiming it must be from AGW. Of course this is not acceptable as evidence of any kind. In fact i think we have reached the heart of the problem how would one show an AGW impact here even if it did exist?


  40. Tom,

    I have lost interest with reading your posts, they are long winded and are simply boring to read. Your condescending tone is also irritating.

    To simply observe one event and state CO2 has risen as a cause is not sufficient to prove your case.

    Here is how i see you,

    Firstly you begin by telling me CO2 is causing heat waves and droughts across the world which triggered the Egyptian riots one can only assume this is because as time goes on more and more Wv will be suspended above our heads.

    Then you tell me the droughts in Australia were caused by CO2 and now the floods and cyclones where caused by CO2.

    You then launch into a tirade of how gases absorb radiation but we are not talking about radiation here we are talking about heat.

    I think we have discussed this issue to the point of absurdity, please pick a new thread if you wish to continue airing your knowledge.


  41. Mandas in 140,

    All you have to do now is show how CO2 caused the russian heat wave, whilst at the same time caused freezing winters in the NH whilst at the same time causing floods here and no dont insult my intelligence with a model prediction and if that is all you have then i suggest you keep your speculation to yourself.


  42. crakar

    I think post #147 highlights perfectly one of the issues that you are failing to grasp about this whole debate.

    You want me to point to a single event and demonstrate conclusively what the influence of climate change was. Tom tried to do that by stating that climate change has caused a rise in SST, but you scoffed at him. So it would appear that you will not accept that sort of evidence. Therefore one would have to ask what evidence you will accept?

    In any case, I will not take the same approach as Tom – and I know that you will not accept my answer, because you have failed to do so in the past when exactly the same argument has been presented to you. Nonetheless, I will present it once again.

    You need to start thinking in terms of statistical probabilities, rather than demanding that a particular event be attributed to climate change. A hotter, wetter atmosphere and a hotter ocean will most likely cause an increase the number and severity of extreme climate events. More intensive rainfall events, even in areas where the overall level of precipitation falls (Trenberth predicted that in his 1999 paper). Different storm patterns. 1 in 100 year events happening more frequently (say 1 in 20 years).

    You are asking us to do something akin to pointing at something that is exactly on the mean of a sample and saying that it perfectly represents the population. It doesn’t. A single storm or a single weather event is the result of a lot of complex factors – and climate change is but one of those factors. What climate change is doing is changing the mean of the sample. As an example, before climate change, the mean number of storms per year in a given region may have been 4.5. After climate change it might now be 4.7. (those are made up numbers by the way – feel free to scoff as much as you like)

    That might sound like a bunch of intellectual wank – but it is the only correct way of viewing it. I keep urging you to read the paper published in Nature today, and I will urge you once again to do so. It says pretty much exactly what I have just said to you.

    You may also tell me to ‘keep my speculation to myself’ because you don’t accept model predictions. However, that is a ridiculous statement to make. YOU make model predictions all the time. EVERY time you make a prediction you use an internal or external model to extrapolate known information to potential future events. Who do you think will win the AFL flag this year? I bet you wouldn’t put any money on the Tigers, because your model tells you that they are going to be a crap side with no chance. So please – get off your high horse about models. We always have and always will use them – and so will you.


  43. ” To adelady and to Tom as well,

    The only role CO2 plays in setting the temp is via IR absorption, it has nothing to do with the hydrologic cycle, the H cycle transports massive amounts of heat from the surface (cools it) up to the TOA and out into space. If you honestly believe CO2 traps this heat (hydrologic heat) then you need to read more. ” Whaaaaa ??!!?

    I’m sorry you misunderstood what I was getting at. I’ll have a think and see if I can come up with a way to express those ideas more clearly. (I thought I was fairly clear, but apparently not.)


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