NYT Pushes the Rising Tide of Climate Nonsense – This time in the Dominican Republic

Guest Post by Kip Hansen

clip_image002I could not let this bit of silliness in the New York Times pass without comment as I have recently spent seven years in the Dominican Republic, doing various charity projects and humanitarian work on everything from a national to neighborhood scale, and specifically worked on projects in the very area mentioned. I tried emailing the author of the piece, Randal C. Archibold, but as of this evening, have received no response.

The story concerns Lago Enriquillo, in the very southwest corner of the Dominican Republic, and Lac Azeui, in the very southeast corner of Haiti, both on the island of Hispaniola.

Of course, as usual, the people mentioned in the story lived on the local mud flats, probably 50 or 100 year flood plains, right up to the edge of the water. Until the advent of government and international NGO help with irrigation schemes, this part of the country was empty desert — with almost no population and no agriculture. The banana plantations and other agriculture there all depend on INDRHI (water resources department) irrigation water only recently available.

Here are excerpts from the NY Times story…the usual unprecedenteds, suicide of a loved one, ‘must be climate change’, quite silly really, except for the local misery.

Rising Tide Is a Mystery That Sinks Island Hopes


(Ezra Fieser contributed reporting from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.)

“LAGO ENRIQUILLO, Dominican Republic — Steadily, mysteriously, like in an especially slow science fiction movie, the largest lake in the Caribbean has been rising and rising, devouring tens of thousands of acres of farmland, ranches and whatever else stands in its way.

Lago Enriquillo swallowed Juan Malmolejos’s banana grove. It swamped Teodoro Peña’s yuccas and mango trees. In the low-lying city of Boca de Cachon, the lake so threatens to subsume the entire town that the government has sent the army to rebuild it from scratch on a dusty plain several miles away.

“Jose Joaquin Diaz believes that the lake took the life of his brother, Victor. Victor committed suicide, he said, shortly after returning from a life abroad to see the family cattle farm, the one begun by his grandfather, underwater.”

“He could not believe it was all gone, and the sadness was too much,” Mr. Diaz said, as a couple of men rowed a fishing boat over what had been a pasture.

“Theories abound, but a conclusive answer remains elusive as to why the lake — as well as its nearby sibling in Haiti, Lac Azuei, which now spills over the border between the two on the island of Hispaniola — has risen so much. Researchers say the surge may have few if any precedents worldwide.”

“The lakes, salty vestiges of an ancient oceanic channel known for their crocodiles and iguanas, have always had high and low periods, but researchers believe they have never before gotten this large. The waters began rising a decade ago, and now Enriquillo has nearly doubled in size to about 135 square miles, Mr. Gonzalez said, roughly the size of Atlanta, though relatively light rains in the past year have slowed its expansion. Azuei has grown nearly 40 percent in that time, to about 52 square miles, according to the consortium.”

“The scientists, partly financed by the National Science Foundation, are focusing on changing climate patterns as the main culprit, with a noted rise in rainfall in the area attributed to warming in the Caribbean Sea.”

“In reports, they have noted a series of particularly heavy storms in 2007 and 2008 that swamped the lakes and the watersheds that feed them, though other possible contributing factors are also being studied, including whether new underground springs have emerged.”

“People talk about climate change adaptation, well, this is what’s coming, if it’s coming,” said Yolanda Leon, a Dominican scientist working on the lake research.”

“Olgo Fernandez, the director of the country’s hydraulic resources institute **, waved off the criticism and said the government had carefully planned the new community and plots to ensure the area remains an agriculture hotbed. It will be completed this year, officials said, though on a recent afternoon there was much work left to be done.”

“These will be lands that will produce as well as, if not better than, the lands they previously had,” Mr. Fernandez said.”

** = This is the National Institute for the Development of Water Resources (Instituto Nacional de Desarrollo de los Recursos Hidraulicos – INDRHI) http://tinyurl.com/ltnmsm3

In all this drama, the journalist for the NY Times, apparently writing from the comfort of Mexico City, where he is bureau chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, failed to mention the most important facts about Lago Enriquillo. It is famous for its ups and downs, water levels rising and falling with the rains and droughts.

Oh, and it is 140 feet below sea level.

Oh, you didn’t get that from the story? That’s because they didn’t mention it. Maybe Mr. Archibold didn’t know, maybe he didn’t think it was important. What that means of course is that any water that comes in, stays in — until it evaporates or is pumped out. They don’t pump it, it is salty as all get out, like the Dead Sea.

I have worked with Mr. Fernandez’s INDRHI on fresh water-well projects in the area and with the Dominican NGO <i>Sur Futuro — Future of the South</i> on reforestation projects. They are quite aware of what the most probable cause there is — deforestation. [The southwest of the DR is known as ‘El Sur — The South’] The hills have been progressively denuded, both in the DR and across the border in Haiti, when it rains, when the hurricanes and tropical storms come, the hills send ALL the water hurling down into the streambeds and rivers, they lead downhill — at the bottom of <b>this</b> watershed is Lago Enriquillo. Once the water arrives down there, it can’t get out again. Milder (yes, check the records for this locality) milder temperatures the last few years have meant less evaporation, adding to the problem. (For local reporting, see http://tinyurl.com/l9co6dv — in Spanish.) There is the added factor, detailed in the Spanish language reporting, the sediments which are washed down in the raging waters from the denuded hills are filling up the lake from the bottom, raising the water level as well. There is not much science being done on this, as far as I can tell, despite the “consortium of scientists”, none is reported in the NY Times piece.

On the social side, you see a whole little town of concrete block homes built on the sand to relocate the citizens of some threatened village on the lake shore. They are horrific — both the original and the replacement — but typical of government solutions in the DR. It is, however, better than the housing the people currently have. Those houses in the photo probably have bathrooms, for instance.

There is, really, no mystery. When you keep adding water to a bathtub, and take less out than comes in, it keeps filling up.

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Doug Proctor
January 14, 2014 8:18 am

Global warming has lead to local cooling, in other words, so that evaporation is less.
The amount the lake has risen, aside from its areal increase, was not mentioned. That would give us an idea of whether filling in from the bottom was significant, which I suspect it is not.

General P. Malaise
January 14, 2014 8:20 am

Anthony …do you get the feeling that fixing “climate change” isn’t the goal?
these are what I would call fellow travelers. the stalinist kind. remember the battle isn’t climate change ..the battle is socialism/communism.

January 14, 2014 8:25 am

Looks like they are looking hard to find global warming stories.

January 14, 2014 8:26 am

Since the only outlet is evaporation, it seems there has been less of that. And the necessary ingredient for evaporation? heat.
Now I know why they hate the pause/haitus/stoppage.

January 14, 2014 8:29 am

You also mentioned new, and increased irrigation in the area. It seems pretty obvious that any runoff from those operations is bound to end up in the lakes, and that will be water being added to the system that wasn’t there before.
Here’s an idea – let the area go back to desert and move all the people out! I’ll bet everything will be back in balance before they know it. Although that’s not so good a solution for the people of the DR, is it?

January 14, 2014 8:29 am

Go to Youtube and watch the video “Matt Ridley on How Fossil Fuels are Greening the Planet.” At the 15-minute mark he talks about DR/Haiti and how renewables have led to almost total deforestation in Haiti.

Leon Brozyna
January 14, 2014 9:08 am

This climate change is so powerful it obviates rational thought. Something terrible is happening; it must be climate change. End of discussion.
Even the obvious isn’t when filtered through the lens of climate change.

John Ledger
January 14, 2014 9:08 am

Thank you for this excellent post. There is nothing better than a factual account from knowledgeable people who have worked on the ground to counter the fiction of journalists who think that truth should never get in the way of a good story. The shrinkage of Lake Chad in Africa has also been portrayed as an example of the effects of CAGW, but a closer look reveals the role of an expanding human population extracting the water for agriculture and animal husbandry to feed all the extra mouths.

David in Michigan
January 14, 2014 9:08 am

@wws: “You also mentioned new, and increased irrigation in the area. It seems pretty obvious that any runoff from those operations is bound to end up in the lakes, and that will be water being added to the system that wasn’t there before.”
This could be a story about the Imperial Valley of California and the fate of the below sea level Salton Sea. First it was growing and growing. Then better water management of irrigation slowed the inflows. Now everyone is opining on why it is shrinking!
On the other hand, deforestation in (especially) Haiti and the Dominican Republic is horrific and no doubt part of the problem. Most of the wood goes for cooking fires. But it is “carbon neutral” at least.

January 14, 2014 9:10 am

Reply to the [couple] of comments so far ==> There was a study done by a couple of CVornell Masters students back in 2011, mostly using satellite images, that made a stab at this issue, which I didn’t find every [satisfying]. See http://tinyurl.com/mwkwrgv They tried to verify their Forestation guess-itmates by satellite — “ground-truthing” — but their map shows they just drove two major hiways (some of [which] I am positive are not in the watershed, those near Barahona, are on the coast).
wws ==> In the middle of the night, I woke up with the thought that maybe INDRHI was accidentally filling up the lake by bringing irrigation water from the next watershed to the east in ditches, to grow those bananas one sees in the truck in the NY Times story. I have sent out a query to associates who work [in] the field there to see if this could possibly be the case, and to get their on the ground opinions. Like the Imperial Valley of California, these lands are terrifically fruitful if one can get reliable water to them, which is what INDRHI does. Even Dominicans have a right to be productive, work hard to feed themselves and their families, and have enough to export to the rest of the world in exchange for other goods.
Doug ==> There is some data in the report mentioned in the [first] part of this comment. Since the purpose of the NY Times article was propagandistic, they did not supply any real data.

January 14, 2014 9:12 am

Kip, write the NYT Public Editor, and cc the author if you like; that might get his attention.
Maybe the NYT should dump an editor or two in the DR or Costa Rica for a week to see the effect of deforestration and greed.
I stood above the banks of a river in Costa Rica watching the walls and refrigerators of the workers who lived in houses (shacks) by the river race by me as the result of a real downpour. Culprit? American loggers had illegally clearcut about 1.5 acres one or two miles upstream, destroying the fragile ecosystem that prevented these floods. My companion’s parents owned one of those shacks. She watched her mother’s refrigerator tumble by like an empty milk carton as we reached the edge of the cliff. We’d been there only three days before to pick up the tamales her mother made each Sunday.
I was stunned to know that 1.5 acres of deforestation could have such a devastating effect. It was like something out of a movie for me.

Bill Jamison
January 14, 2014 9:12 am

“Milder (yes, check the records for this locality) milder temperatures the last few years have meant less evaporation, adding to the problem.”
Ah ha! So it is due to climate change!!!

January 14, 2014 9:13 am

Gads! Sorry all, I promise to use a text editor to tame my jittery fingers today before posting comments…they seem to be living as life of their own today. Forgive me. (This seems better already.)

Les Johnson
January 14, 2014 9:20 am

Apparently there are multiple possible causes. My favorite is less evaporation, due to cooler winters.
What is going on?
There are multiple theories about the flooding of the Lake Enriquillo. Sometimes complemented, at times even contradict each other. Some accuse natural reasons, while others accuse the man’s hand. By themselves or together, these are the elements that scientists are:
Rains: global warming would be causing a greater evaporation from the oceans, resulting in more rains that would feed the main aquifers supplying Lake.
Changes in coverage and use of soil: deforestation caused by human settlement would be causing a greater drag lake sediments, with its consequent flood.
Reduction on the evaporation from the surface of the Lake: the long winters would be interfering in the evaporation of water from the Enriquillo.
Geological faults: the waters of Lake Sumatre would be filtering to the Lake Enriquillo through failures caused by earthquakes.
Natural flood: Lake would grow naturally, as I would have done in the past.
Deviation of the flow rate of the Yaque River to Lake Enriquillo: the demolition of the dam Trujillo would have meant a greater flow of water from the River to the Lake


chris y
January 14, 2014 9:24 am

Thank you for the fascinating look at the details. Superb!
Your post needs to get some eyeball space over at the New York Times. I recommend that you contact Andrew Revkin at Dot Earth to see if he would publish your piece as a “Your Dot” contribution on his Opinion blog.

January 14, 2014 9:37 am

All the author really had to do was go as far as the Wikipedia article…
“Reasons for the flooding are being debated, but may be a combination of several, including increases in rainfall in the region in recent years, increase of sediments going into the lake from run-off due to deforestation that are contributing to raising the lakebed, and milder temperatures, which are reducing the surface evaporation rate.”

Joel McDade
January 14, 2014 9:40 am

The post’s author mentions irrigation and water supply. Nothing new but in several coastal areas around the world “sea level rise” is occurring instead because of ground water withdrawals. In ‘confined’ aquifers land subsidence occurs (due to compaction of sand material as water is withdrawn — much of the San Joaquin Valley has subsided 50 feet or so). I wonder if this isn’t happening here, too, in addition to the aforementioned runoff and sedimentation.

January 14, 2014 9:47 am

Willis had an article last year about the DR and eco-loons, seems like it’s still going on:
The contrast between Haiti and the DR is telling…NYT is not letting the facts get in the
way of a good story again.
Great post Kip, and good on you for all the charity work you’re doing!

January 14, 2014 9:50 am

Reply to Policycritic ==> The type of deforestation in the DR is somewhat greed (the valuable Dominican mahogany is nearly gone, but that is mostly a local crime, harvested and turned into tourist trinkets) but mostly it is the heating fuel issue – those who live in the countryside mostly burn wood and brush for cooking. They have burned almost all of it close to their homes, and they range far and wide for it. They burn off a hillside to plant yucca and corn, all on a critical slope, and the trees cannot get reestablished.
Reply to Les Johnson ==> Yes, that’s the English translation of the Spanish-language report from the Diario Libre, a free newspaper from Santo Domingo. Lake Sumatre = Lac Azeui. Both are below sea level. The water comes in from somewhere. In the next watershed over to the east, we worked to reforest the hills to prevent the annual flooding in the valleys which would wash away towns and crops. Those same deforestation caused floods in the Lago Enriquillo watershed fill the lake with water (and sand and rock) I am puzzled by the assertion that the Rio Yaque del Sur could possibly have been diverted to run into Lago Enriquillo. It runs into the sea just north of Barahona.

January 14, 2014 9:55 am

Thanks Kip, a good article.
It seems to me like the NYT is running out of convenient stories (and of customers).

Bill Hunter
January 14, 2014 10:02 am

Precipitation variability is well documented to far back in the historical record. In fact a few folks even think it might be associated with temperature changes; much to the chagrin of the “Sect of the Sacred Trees”!.

January 14, 2014 10:03 am

Reply to Jeff ==> The hills in Haiti are stripped to burn into charcoal to sell in the cities there. The charcoal burners dare not cross the line into the DR. The poor in the DR also burn wood for cooking fuel, but do not go close to the border, because it is too dangerous, thus the visible contrast. Conditions on either side of the border are no different for the people or their children. Neither you nor anyone you know would live there willingly, on either side.

January 14, 2014 10:14 am

Reply to Joel McDade ==> The Lago Enriquillo is about 140 feet below sea level, like Dead Sea. These master’s students at Cornell did a study in 2011 with a lot of satellite data, including altitudes, at http://tinyurl.com/mwkwrgv , which might answer the subsidence question. More interesting is whether the federal water resources institute, INDRHI, is accidentally filling the lake by bringing irrigation water in from another watershed.

January 14, 2014 10:17 am

“Kip, write the NYT Public Editor, and cc the author if you like; that might get his attention.”
I’ve written to the NYT Public Editor half a dozen times. I might as well have written to a pile of rocks for all the response i’ve gotten. They’re all in the same, all enveloping warmist fog over there..
Still, perhaps Kip will have better luck.

Tom O
January 14, 2014 10:26 am

Doug Proctor says:
January 14, 2014 at 8:18 am
Global warming has lead to local cooling, in other words, so that evaporation is less.
The amount the lake has risen, aside from its areal increase, was not mentioned. That would give us an idea of whether filling in from the bottom was significant, which I suspect it is not.
Strange statements. I would had assumed the first was sarcasm until I read the entire post. Doug, whether the bottom filling is significant would depend on the original shape of the lake and the flateness surrounding it, wouldn’t you think? So unless you know these things, which I suspect you don’t, your opinon of the significance might be suspect as best.

Mike Tremblay
January 14, 2014 10:29 am

Interesting story.
The fact that it is below sea level, and the accompanying fact that the lake(s) lie along a major fault-line – the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enriquillo%E2%80%93Plantain_Garden_fault_zone) which was the fault-line affected by the 7.0 magnitude Port-au-Prince earthquake on January 12, 2010, leads me to form the basic conclusion that seawater is permeating through the fault-line and filling the natural depression where the lake(s) is/are – probably increased since the earthquake, much like how the Haida-Gwai hot-springs stopped after the 7.7 magnitude earthquake in November 2012 (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/haida-gwaii-hot-springs-shut-off-by-earthquake-1.1210851).

Another Geologist's Take
January 14, 2014 10:33 am

David in Michigan says:
January 14, 2014 at 9:08 am
The Salrton Sea is probably a bit different. The Salton Sea didn’t even exist until the All American Canal broke in 1905, and for 2 years the entire flow of the Colorado River re-filled the Salton Sink. The last natural lake to occupy the sink was the late Pleistocene Lake Cahuilla…one of several large end-of-Pleistocene lakes that filled the valleys of the Great Basin of which th eGreat Salt Lake is a remnant. The Salton Sea is drying (dying?), as it should to get back to the conditions typical of this nice little interglacial period that the planet is enjoying.

January 14, 2014 10:37 am

Leon Brozyna says:
January 14, 2014 at 9:08 am
This climate change is so powerful it obviates rational thought. Something terrible is happening; it must be climate change. End of discussion.
Even the obvious isn’t when filtered through the lens of climate change.

It is rather ironic in a way. Classically, as in all the way back to the Greeks, climate was conceived of as a composite of terrain, weather and vegetation. It was the environment experienced while living in a place. It was regarded as a regional geographic property. If the lakes are filling because of deforestation, then the change really IS anthropogenic, and it is a regional change in the climate too. It just has nothing to do with “global climate change.” Just as cities create urban heat islands, converting desert to irrigated agricultural land, and forest to grass land or desert changes climate on local to regional scales. So, yeah, something terrible is happening, it is climate change, and it is caused by human actions, but it is not caused by SUVs and CO2 and has nothing to do with it.

Lars P.
January 14, 2014 11:21 am

Thank you for showing in a concise and straight post the emptiness, callousness and vileness of this NYT article hidden behind an oh so compassionate tone.
Happy to know that this post will remain here for any NYT reader to re-read and get a better understanding of the reality.
No, it is not deforestation according to NYT, not soil eroding and the resulted sediments washed down by the raging waters.
It is that climate change – that did not really changed in the last 17 years – but the heat hidden in the depth of the oceans since then must have done it.
If the problems are not correctly named the solutions are not addressing the problem.
Would the introduction of high CO2 taxes in the Western World do any help and reduce the water level of Enriquillo lake? No of course not.
Would reforestation help? Probably yes.
But that is not on the “progressives” agenda obviously.

January 14, 2014 12:08 pm

This area is not a particularly safe place to live in under any circumstances. The valley where Lake Enriquillo lies is the local equivalent of the San Andreas fault. It is the border between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates, and the northern and southern parts of Hispaniola are sliding past each other along the fault .

January 14, 2014 12:15 pm

Reply to Tom O ==> The question of the lake “filling in from the bottom” is one of the major scientific questions, and if you look up a few responses from me you’ll find a link to the master’s thesis from a couple of students from Cornell. They found it difficult to answer this from satellite images (not surprisingly). This area is dry rocky sandy desert hills and steep mountains. Click the link to the NY Times story and see the images….when the tropical storms dump a almost a foot of rain in a day the flash floods drive boulders down the rivers, I’ve watched them take out houses. The boulders probably don’t make it as far as Lago Enriquillo but the sand, soil and smaller stones do.
Reply to Mike Tremblay ==> Yes, the fault line and issues surrounding it are being considered, but not the 210 earthquake, as the problem began to be noticeable back as far as at least 2003 and possibly began before that. Fresh water springs, however, are the suspected culprits, not sea water. Due, I believe, to the distance from the ocean. However, deforestation causing direct additional inflow is still the leading contender.

January 14, 2014 12:18 pm

“Local weather is not climate” but any local changes in water level HAS to be climate change.
Nothing like cherry picking…

Dave Snope
January 14, 2014 12:21 pm

Google Earth shows Boca de Cachon at an elevation of -90 feet. One of the lowest places in North America after Death Valley and the Salton Sea. You can see some of the outlying farms on the lake bed to the east at -110 feet being flooded.
A good question is “when was Boca de Cachon founded?”

January 14, 2014 12:35 pm

What kind of moron subscribes to this rot and advertises in glorified campus rag sheets? There are so many news outlets on the internet to check and crosscheck information these days you really have to be lazy to put up this agenda messaging as news. Oh I forgot, lazy and under-informed are still marketing factors involved there.

January 14, 2014 12:36 pm

Reply to TimO ==> If we were having this conversation on Dot Earth, you might have something like “TimO, Phoenix, Az” at the top of your comment, and I could say that this area is a lot like Arizona. Rain the El Sur (the region of the DR we are discussing) depends on the tropical storms of the hurricane season for the most part. Usually they come, sometimes they don’t, and the crops whither and die and the people starve. Far too often they come, boy do they come, and it’s a different kind of disaster, too much all at once. The problem here seems to be that with the deforestation, whatever rain that falls fails to get retained by the soil but instead runs off, taking with it valuable soil, hurrying downhill, and in this case, into Lago Enriquillo. If you use Google Maps you see it doesn’t have far to go, not much distance for the soil and sand to settle out.
FUN NOTE: Lago Enriquillo has salt water crocodiles!

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 14, 2014 12:47 pm

@Kip Hansen – “FUN NOTE: Lago Enriquillo has salt water crocodiles!”
So how did they get there? Crocnados? 😉

January 14, 2014 12:51 pm

Reply to philjourdan ==> I have no flippin’ idea how they got there! (Good question!) Class?
Cry for help! ==> Alright you starry-eyed biologists of the world….how did salt-water crocodiles end up in Lago Enriquillo on Hispaniola? Prize for the first seemingly correct answer == a free copy the the first edition of any book I ever publish (if any).

Kate C
January 14, 2014 1:32 pm

@Kip, re Salties, from the story, this may be a clue :
“The lakes, salty vestiges of an ancient oceanic channel”.
Remember Salties are an ancient species.

L Hampton
January 14, 2014 1:37 pm

They probably walked there. Crocodylus acutus is the american crocodile. It is native to the Carribean, and so tolerant of salinity it can live completely without fresh water. Lago Enriquillo reportedly has the world’s largest population.

January 14, 2014 1:56 pm

Another gem from the New Scientist! Apparently now urban heat islands also prove climate change.

January 14, 2014 2:40 pm

I am NOT a climate scientist – but recall being amazed when the water level in Lake Victoria (the size of Wales I seem to recall) rose by two metres over only two years in the 1960s when I was resident in Kenya. It then took about forty years to recede to the levels which had existed over the period of 1900 to 1960. Proceedings of the ICE, May 2010, Paper 09-00041 noted a relationship between sunspot activity and lake levels, with a strange disruption over the period 1930 – 1970. It might be worth comparing that experience with events in Hispaniola.

January 14, 2014 2:42 pm

… but the skeptics are winning the debate. (or so I keep hearing)

January 14, 2014 2:44 pm

These days the Warmistas are looking under every rock to discover or fabricate a new crisis or story, as it is their life blood. It’s good to see yet another myth laden misrepresentation being blown out of the water with truthful scientific, on-the-spot reporting.

January 14, 2014 2:50 pm

At January 14, 2014 at 2:42 pm you write

… but the skeptics are winning the debate. (or so I keep hearing)

Your tense is wrong.
The skpetics won the debate and their victory was achieved at Copenhagen in December 2009.
It was then decided there would be no successor Treaty to the Kyoto Protocol.
The debate is over but people who benefit from the AGW-scare are trying to keep the zombie AGW-scare moving because it suites their interests. So, skeptics persist in pounding the zombie into the ground because its movements are causing harm (i.e. windfarms, carbon taxes, distorted energy policies, etc.).

Gail Combs
January 14, 2014 3:13 pm

Kate C says: @ January 14, 2014 at 1:32 pm
@Kip, re Salties, from the story, this may be a clue :
“The lakes, salty vestiges of an ancient oceanic channel”.
Remember Salties are an ancient species.
It would be interesting to see if the DNA of these Salties is different than others. They can sort of date when a population was closed of by the number of mutations from common stock.
Kip, great article. This is why I read WUWT. There is usually someone around who can give the real story instead of the dreck we get in the news.

January 14, 2014 3:44 pm

Reply to the Salt Water Crocs Issue ==> From the venerable Wiki. “Populations occur from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of southern Mexico to South America as far as Peru and Venezuela. It also lives within many of the Caribbean islands such as Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Grand Cayman, Greater Antilles and the West Indies.” “Within the United States, the American crocodile’s distribution is limited to the southern half of Florida .” (where the co-exist with the American alligator) “The habitat of the American crocodile consists largely of coastal areas. It is also found in river systems but has a tendency to prefer some level of salinity, not just tolerance, resulting in the species congregating in brackish lakes, coastal swamps, lagoons, even cays and small islands. Other crocodiles also have tolerance to salt water due to salt glands underneath the tongue, but the American crocodile is the only species other than the saltwater crocodile to commonly live and thrive in saltwater. They can be found on beaches and island formations without any freshwater source, such as some of the many cays and islets across the Bahamas and the Caribbean. They are also found in hypersaline lakes, such as the Lago Enriquillo; one of the largest populations known to exist.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 15, 2014 6:59 am

@kip Hansen, Kate C, and Gail Combs – First I want to thank you for your responses. Although I did not really expect any as the question was both tongue in cheek (reference to the Sharknado movies) and off topic. But you have given a lot of information on the subject, which is one reason I do enjoy this site so much.
I am especially intrigued by Gail’s answer and wonder if there has been a study on the DNA divergence to answer the question of the arrival of the crocodiles in the land locked area. If not, one day I am sure it will be done.
I hope I did not cause any wasted effort due to an apparently failed attempt at a joke.

bit chilly
January 14, 2014 4:52 pm

some days i really love the internet,for every piece of B/S published in the MSM,there are usually hundreds of real experts/eye witnesses on the ground to refute the B/S in spades.
Kip,thank you for an excellent piece,and a big well done for the work you do to improve the lives of others less fortunate than your good self.

January 14, 2014 5:14 pm

Policycritic says:
January 14, 2014 at 9:12 am
Uh. Greed = Demand for bananas.

F. Ross
January 14, 2014 6:00 pm

Oh, and it is 140 feet below sea level.

Billy Ruff'n
January 14, 2014 6:14 pm

If you have Google Earth you can see what’s happening at the lake — the photomosaic is composed of photography from different years and the changes in the shoreline are very apparent.

January 14, 2014 6:48 pm

Reply to Billy Ruff’n ==> Yes, quite right — and it is clear the the settlements were on mud flats — historic mud flats….but what we can’t see is if the bottom of the lake is coming up due to sedimentation…which I’d like to know….

Louis Hooffstetter
January 14, 2014 7:55 pm

Thanks Kip!
So, to summarize we have a broad, shallow, tropical, hypersaline lake/swamp, located 140′ below sea level, along a major, active, tectonic fault separating the North American and Caribbean plates. And fluctuations in the lake/swamp are due to humans driving SUVs in developed parts of the world.
I’m convinced.

Reply to  Louis Hooffstetter
January 15, 2014 9:30 am

@Louis Hooffstetter – Take it one step further. If you STOP driving your SUV, you will be depriving salt water crocs of their habitat!

Rob aka flatlander
January 14, 2014 9:23 pm

Martin says:
January 14, 2014 at 9:37 am
All the author really had to do was go as far as the Wikipedia article…
Wait till the alarmists find out the article will be adjusted to fit climate change and then locked down

Jeff Alberts
January 14, 2014 10:09 pm

pokerguy says:
January 14, 2014 at 10:17 am
“Kip, write the NYT Public Editor, and cc the author if you like; that might get his attention.”
I’ve written to the NYT Public Editor half a dozen times. I might as well have written to a pile of rocks for all the response i’ve gotten.

Sirrah, you have insulted piles of rocks the world over!

January 14, 2014 11:17 pm

Hi Anthony
Id be very interested in your comments, or perhaps even better a post on what the following link has to say about the deniers
Basically it claims that deniers dont publish peer reviewed papers and their assault on the climate change debacle has resorted to nothing more than unfounded blogs and right wing TV presenters.
Would really appreciate, as Im sure the other followers would, your take on this.

January 14, 2014 11:30 pm

Here’s a NASA source for a satellite photo showing Haiti deforestation, Haiti/DR border. The site is a NASA site, Scientific Visualization Studio. There’s other info at the site. This photo may be from 2002.

January 15, 2014 1:08 am

At January 14, 2014 at 11:17 pm you say to our host

Id be very interested in your comments, or perhaps even better a post on what the following link has to say about the den1ers
Basically it claims that den1ers dont publish peer reviewed papers and their assault on the climate change debacle has resorted to nothing more than unfounded blogs and right wing TV presenters.
Would really appreciate, as Im sure the other followers would, your take on this.

His “take on this” is demonstrated by his choosing to publish the excellent article on the matter by David M Hoffer which can be read at
And my explanation of why if it were true then it would be ridiculous nonsense is in the associated thread at

January 15, 2014 3:27 am

Lake Chad and don’t forget the Aral sea, also disappearing due to irrigation of the new cotton crops, a crop not indigenous to that area.

January 15, 2014 6:42 am

I think we’ve had this discussion before. I’m just not as optimistic as you, it appears. I see too much buy-in with the media. The general public may not consider AGW to be a major issue, but the vast majority accept what they’re told, and simply accept that it’s true. They’re too conditioned to believe what they’re told & not think for themselves that they won’t even consider an alternative position.
Perhaps we define “win” differently – I’ll accept that skeptics are winning when I start to see that change.

January 15, 2014 6:45 am

Reply to johnmarshall ==> Yes, you are right. The issue there is of course quite different….they are pumping fresh water out of the lakes and diverting the water that was running in. At Lago Enriquillo, there is the increased inflow due to deforestation and the possibility that they are running water in from another watershed to irrigate crops in the area, the excess ending up filling the lake. I have emails out to check with my local sources, on the ground people, on that side of it..

January 15, 2014 6:47 am

ATTN: Mods
I’m having a lot of trouble loading the site today. I’ve profiled the page load and determined that it’s hanging up on the doubleclick ad load:
http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads (I’ll leave off the entire URL – email back if you want it)

January 15, 2014 8:02 am

Reply to philjourdan ==> I’m overwhelmed by your civility. A rare quality on the blogs. Never fear, most are here because we want to be (some others are here out of a misguided sense of duty to a greater cause, believing they have received marching orders from some guru at the very bleeding edges of one of the greater socio-political movements of our times, bless their souls). Truthfully, I suspect Kate and Gail are perfectly happy to satisfy your curiosity (real or feigned) from their vast store of knowledge (or through research) out of the goodness of their basic natures and because almost anything is more interesting than climate science.
To the point raised, as the crocs are endemic to the area (Central America and the Northern Caribbean), my suspicion would be they are a population that was more general on Hispaniola and have been reduce to living only in this lake — in other words, the Haitians have eaten all the rest and they have survived only on the islands of this forbidding lake. If I turn up any other data, I’ll post it back here.

January 15, 2014 10:01 am

I’ve had to switch browsers due to that page load problem – Safari won’t load at all and chrome is really slow.
Am I the only one having that problem?

January 15, 2014 12:34 pm

For a little context, it seems the lake was more than 10m higher in 1965 as per the chart on p.27:

Gail Combs
January 15, 2014 12:38 pm

Anthony’s The long awaited surfacestations paper
The link: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/05/11/the-long-awaited-surfacestations-paper/

January 15, 2014 12:41 pm

The Great Salt Lake hit a historic low in 1964, in concert with other terminal lakes of temperate latitude. So the comment on Lake Victoria is interesting: rain shifted southward. –AGF

January 15, 2014 2:33 pm

Jason says:
January 14, 2014 at 11:17 pm
Like DNFreedman discovering the Ebla archeologists, someone recently discovered Michael Kelly’s brilliant and devastating exhibition of the CRU emails. He has made it more difficult than ever for any informed and intelligent bystander to take GW science seriously, especially any defense appealing to peer review. See: http://michaelkelly.artofeurope.com/cru.htm

January 15, 2014 7:19 pm

Reply to agfosterjr ==> There is something decidedly odd about that chart in the Luna 2011 paper, which shows the lake level 10 meters higher 1963-1966 than present days, as it also shows post 2000 levels dropping, while the text claims they were rising. If I get time (I’m onto another project already, I’ll take another run at the paper). Ten meters in real absolute water level would have resulted in far more increase in lake size than we see — refer to a good topo map of the area — the lake would have been huge….someone would be saying things like, “We haven’t seen the lake this large since the 1960’s..”

J. Gonzalez
January 21, 2014 1:29 pm

“They are quite aware of what the most probable cause there is — deforestation.”
That’s just incorrect. The deforestation in the area existed well before the lake’s rise.
I don’t think you’ve ever worked with INDRHI under Mr. Fernandez’s INDRHI.
INDRHI believes the problem was the broken dyke at the Yaqui del Sur, which allowed fresh water to rush into the lake, causing the levels to rise and also the salinity to drop. Later you write, “I am puzzled by the assertion that the Rio Yaque del Sur could possibly have been diverted to run into Lago Enriquillo. It runs into the sea just north of Barahona.” I’m not sure how closely you paid attention when you were here, but your understanding of the watershed is incomplete. There are many, many connections between the Yaque del Sur and the lake.
it is true that the lake’s rise and fall in previous years was normal, especially in the 1990s when seasonal evapotranspiration — much more severe than previously recorded — caused the lake to retreat and the salinity to rise. But then canals from the Yaque del Sur were constructed to keep water levels steady and the salinity at such a rate that marine life could continue to survive. But the lake surface area never expanded at the rate it did after one of the Yaque del Sur dykes broke following the storms in 2003 — Claudette, Odette, etc.
The Army Corps of Engineers and a group of scientists from NY came here to study the lake and said the cause was inconclusive, but likely due to increased rainfall and the broken dyke. Whether the increased rainfall is due to climate change is up for dispute. In my opinion, it seems unlikely, especially in that time span.
It may be misleading for the New York Times to say that it was climate change, but responding with an uninformed post, suggesting you have some special knowledge because you lived here for a few years, is equally unhelpful.

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