When will they learn? Climate is NOT the same as weather

In my news feed today comes this pathetic excuse for a press release that tries to tell us that weather events, which span hours to days to sometimes weeks in length (such as a blocking high), are actually climate events. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, after all it has the mark of Schellnhuber on it. But really though, they ought to be ashamed about the press release, because as anyone knows, climate spans decades, and does not exist on a smaller temporal scale. Here, they are also trying to make the argument that climate change is enhancing “ethnical fractionalization”. It’s just another thinly veiled attempt to try to link climate to the war in Syria, as has been so popular with the left. Document and identity thief Peter Gleick for example, argues in a paper “As described here, water and climatic conditions have played a direct role in the deterioration of Syria’s economic conditions.”  Water, sure, climate not so much. For example, take the flag of Lebanon, note the cedar tree:

flag-of-lebanon

The Epic of Gilgamesh describes vast, unexplored cedar forests dominating the lands of the Mediterranean and Middle East. Now, deforestation makes scenes like this in Lebanon fairly common:

lebanon-deforestation

Remnants of a cedar forest in North Lebanon Image: http://www.reforest-lebanon.org

Now, with so many trees being cut for building, fuel, and export, there’s little remaining. A reforest Lebanon campaign hopes to reverse the problem.

In Syria’s case, the same thing is happening as this article from 2013 illustrates:

syria-deforestation

When armed political conflict occurs, the first causuality is stable supply lines. Any soldier, rebel, or general can tell you this. Yet climate crusading people like Gleick and Schellnhuber look for correlations, find what they are looking for, and discount the real human driven issue. Droughts start occurring when deforestation kills the local evapotranspiration robbing the atmosphere and clouds of much needed moisture, resulting in less rainfall. It’s a age-old human pattern of land use abuse, and a textbook climate case of correlation is not causation.

At least, with increased CO2, the remaining trees can use water more efficiently.


Climate disasters increase risk of armed conflict in multi-ethnic countries

Climate disasters like heat-waves or droughts enhance the risk of armed conflicts in countries with high ethnic diversity

POTSDAM INSTITUTE FOR CLIMATE IMPACT RESEARCH (PIK)

This finding, to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, can help in the design of security policies even more so since future global warming from human-made greenhouse-gas emissions will increase natural disasters and therefore likely also risks of conflicts and migration.

“Devastating climate-related natural disasters have a disruptive potential that seems to play out in ethnically fractionalized societies in a particularly tragic way,” says lead author Carl Schleussner from the Berlin think-tank Climate Analytics and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Almost one quarter of conflicts in ethnically divided countries coincide with climatic calamities, the scientists found; importantly, this is even without taking climate change into account. “Climate disasters are not directly triggering conflict outbreak, but may enhance the risk of a conflict breaking out which is rooted in context-specific circumstances. As intuitive as this might seem, we can now show this in a scientifically sound way,” says Schleussner, who has also been a research fellow at Humboldt University, Berlin, at the Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRITHESys).

“We’ve been surprised to which extent results stick out compared to e.g. inequality”

Previous research often either focused on climatic variables such as temperature increase that cannot be directly translated into societal impacts, or has been limited to case studies. The new study moves beyond that by focusing directly on natural disaster-related economic damage data, collected by the international reinsurance market leader Munich Re. Using the mathematical method of event coincidence analysis, this is combined with a conflict dataset established by security research, and a common index for ethnical fractionalization. The study looks at the period 1980-2010.

“We’ve been surprised by the extent that results for ethnic fractionalized countries stick out compared to other country features such as conflict history, poverty, or inequality,” says co-author Jonathan Donges, co-head of PIK’s flagship project on co-evolutionay pathways COPAN. “We think that ethnic divides may serve as a predetermined conflict line when additional stressors like natural disasters kick in, making multi-ethnic countries particularly vulnerable to the effect of such disasters”

“A very special co-benefit of climate stabilization: peace”

The study cannot provide a risk assessment for specific states. Since armed conflicts and natural disasters are fortunately rare events, data from single countries is necessarily limited and does not suffice for statistical analyses.

“Armed conflicts are among the biggest threats to people, killing some and forcing others to leave their home and maybe flee to far-away countries. Hence identifying ethnic divide and natural disasters as enhancing destabilization risks is potentially quite relevant,” says co-author Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Human-made climate change will clearly boost heatwaves and regional droughts. Our observations combined with what we know about increasing climate-change impacts can help security policy to focus on risk regions.” Several of the world’s most conflict-prone regions, including North and Central Africa as well as Central Asia, are both exceptionally vulnerable to human-made climate change and characterized by deep ethnic divides. “So our study adds evidence,” Schellnhuber concludes, “of a very special co-benefit of climate stabilization: peace.”

###

Article: Schleussner, C.-F., Donges, J.F., Donner, R.V., Schellnhuber, H.J. (2016): Armed-conflict risks enhanced by climate-related disasters in ethnically fractionalized countries. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Early Edition, EE) [DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1601611113]

Weblink to the article once it is published: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1601611113

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75 thoughts on “When will they learn? Climate is NOT the same as weather

  1. Funny the care2’s picture is not from Syria, but Colorado, and the trees are what some call softwood, i.e. this sight is pretty normal and common in places which produce pine pulp.The sight is devastating and usable for green populism, though it takes only 10 years to get a good growth in a boreal pine forest. If two percent of your pine forests look like that, there is not much to worry about. On the contrary, if you fail to log them, they’ll stop being a CO2 sink.

    • Same situation in southwest AR, if you fail to log out the mature trees they all die or burn at once. Clearcut areas are quick to return in pines and deciduous softwoods.

    • Not questioning your comment as that seems to be typical of environmental activists. After your comment, I looked for a source/reference/acknowledgment for the photo but didn’t find one. Did I miss it, or are your familiar with and recognize this area (I’m from Virginia, so forests are different here; some are covered in water).

      • The image is available on shutter stock as ID# 64140238. The image is titled as “Deforestation: logging pine trees in this Colorado forest. Clear cutting.” Copyright is to Brian Balster.

      • The dead and dying trees are the result of pine bark beetle, yes, these tress are now fuel. The America National Forests are very poorly managed.

      • @ Stan on the Brazos: And pine beetle are part of the life cycle of pine trees the older trees at the end of their 80-90 year life cycle are the ones being attacked and frankly it has been proven this cycle has existed for centuries if not thousands of years. At least with today’s forest practices we are rescuing part of the usable wood ( a nice blue color) and preventing even more fuel added to the forest floor. And seeing that the eco-terrorists in Canada have turned their attention to fighting pipe lines ( and succeeding with their interruptions pine beetle is not even in the news and hasn’t been for nearly ten years!) doesn’t take much to change pine to pipe!

    • That picture really confused me. I got a bit distracted thinking, “Since when does Syria have areas that look like THAT?” Colorado, I can believe.

  2. Has the rate of drought increased in the eastern mediterranean with global warming? It does seem that mediterranean climates are prone to drought, or at least rainfall variability.
    What they also do not get into is the effect of population growth in Syria/Lebanon over the last century as related to drought. The population has radically increased, while the carrying capacity of the land has, if anything, gone down.

    • Interesting question and while I can’t tell you real response I will give you the made up response that will suffice.

      Yes, droughts are increasing as models said they would which adds to our conciliation of evidence of the impacts of climate change on the environment and humanity.

      OR

      Droughts are increasing in this region as models show, which is consistent with the hypothesis.

      Note that the second does not include observations, only models so any drought confirms the model. Note as well that nothing out of the ordinary is happening, but the models are still confirmed.

      There is no “models are wrong” option. Which in the eyes of the believers is perfectly fine. They know the world is warming so all weather must be the result of the warming climate.

    • Tom – in 1910 the population of Syria was about 900,000. Current estimates are about 27 million or 30 times what it was 100 years ago. Not sustainable. And that explains why millions want out.

      It also explains war. Limited resources and too many people. If there were trees, they would be gone.

      I love the Google Earth image of the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Haiti side is denuded, the Dominican side looks verdant. The type of government clearly can make a difference. If you have no economy and no fuel source other than the forests, then the forests are done for. Then deforestation leads to other problems and things spiral out of control. In the absence of external aid, this would be self correcting like the relationship between hares and Lynx. Not sure what the solution is. But: “I has seen the problem and it is us!”

  3. very odd this makes a lot of news and research… Yes we in europe have seen two or three small articles about this meme that the conflict in Syria is caused by climate change.

    however the real cause is actually a lot more complex and i won’t go into details, but climate has nothing to do with it is all i can say.

    in very brief in europe they talk about the western, russian and saudi influences that makes this conflict, but that doesn’t sound as alarming as “climate related coflict”

    (it is actually more alarming then this but well like i said i’m not going to write pages about this)

  4. In the 1960’s Syria had some 4 million people. By the outbreak of the civil war there were some 20 million. The country would have needed a perfect climate never experienced before in order to support this number of people. Unfortunately lt suffered its usual periodic droughts and the farmers were not able to support the burgeoning population.

    Many other countries in the middle east and Africa are experiencing similar surges in population and we can not expct the climate to cooperate in always feeding them. Anyone interested can look at the population of ethiopia at he time of live aid and it’s population now.

    Helping countries to maintain a viable wealthier population and helping to install a suitable infrastructure that reflects the constantly changing climate seems the way to go.

    Tonyb

    • Yes, and what about, for instance, Nigeria: Going from 40 million in the 1960s to 170 million today. And it would have been even more catastrophic if they did not have the oil.

  5. “Droughts start occurring when deforestation kills the local evapotranspiration – robbing the atmosphere and clouds of much needed moisture, resulting in less rainfall. It’s a age-old human pattern of land use abuse,”

    This is why Israel has put so much emphasis on aforestation. Which is why the Arabs hate them.

  6. “A very special co-benefit of climate stabilization: peace”

    That is a categorically absurd assumption. This planet has never seen climate stabilization and will probably never see political stabilization as long as the elite are in charge.

    • Good to hear from you, Sr. Zaragoza Comendador. I always enjoy your essays and comments.

    • The problem isn’t “the elite”. Who the “elite” are change all the time. The problem is what drives Man to became one of the “elite”.
      Only one solution to that. But I digress.

  7. If it hadn’t already been obvious, it is becoming very clear that in the US, at least, the “Climate Change” movement has only one true goal: To provide a platform to support planted stories throughout the mass media which will scare low-info voters into voting for the Democrat Party.

    That’s it, that’s the only real game going on – different versions of the same game are being played in the other democracies. But there’s no “science” going on, and there hasn’t been for a very long time.

    The obvious answer to the rhetorical question, “When will they learn?” is “Never, because the Absolute and Primary Goal of the entire operation would be violated by these political charlatans “learning” anything at all about how weather and climate actually work.

    • Their claims of settled science and consensus make them exempt from further education of climate change in their view.

  8. “… coincide with climatic calamities, the scientists found; importantly, this is even without taking climate change into account.”

    Wait… WHAT? Taking climate change int account? What the hell is “climate change”? Isn’t it that there is a “normal” nice (or acceptable) “climate” (whatever it the f… that is), and it changes? When a “climatic” “calamity” happens, if that isn’t a change in climate, what is it?

    So there are saying: … coincide with some very bad climatic changes, the scientists found; importantly, this is even without taking climate change into account.

    Or simply: we will be discussing climate changes, not even climate change

    Or: “climate change” has nothing to do with changes in climate. Climate change is transcendantal!

  9. To answer the original question, they “learn” the difference between climate and weather every winter, but conveniently forget this fact every summer. It’s the annual environmental-psycho cycle.

    • Weather isn’t climate, 18 years is short term, but then weather calamities are climatic.

      And these “scientific” “elites” can’t discern why the laypeople don’t trust their “science”, must be because Fox News, or Republicans, or Rush Limbaugh…

    • environmental-psycho cycle

      I like that.

      A couple of days ago I remember The Storm Channel putting of a map with a bunch of (I think) pink dots where record highs might be broken. I didn’t notice them proclaiming any record highs for those areas actually were broken. They put up another map with pink dots.
      In the winter they gives names to snow events that are no more unusual than a rain event in the spring or summer.
      To leave the impression of unusual is what “the annual environmental-psycho cycle” demands.

    • This is so true – in the summer, the heat waves are “climate change” but in winter extreme cold becomes weather. They tell us not to use weather, then do it themselves.

      To top it all off, we have the President and EPA director screaming “Climate change is happening now!” – when what’s happening “now” is weather.

  10. There are some who are using the climate excuse as a cover for the dismal failure of the Obama administration’s policies concerning Syria. Since Obama can never be wrong, the fault must lie elsewhere.

    • When he was elected, Obama was described in France as having multicultural roots, with a good knowledge of the Muslim world, and the ability to build bridges between civilizations…

      See how well it worked out!

      • Also multi-racial (pushed here in US anyway), and so specially qualified to deal with racial tensions and such . . but it seems to me he has been a flat out “race-baiter”, who has fanned the embers of racism at every opportunity, to rekindle what was seen as a fading problem . . by me and virtually everyone at the time, I believe.

        It looks like classic divide and conquer BS to me, made to order . . (New World Order, that is ; )

  11. It turns out climate change is causing scientists to act in bazaar ways , making claims which an elementary science student would recognize as suspect. Studies have indicated that it’s not the actual climate change causing this behavior ,but the dollars resulting from these bazaar claims, that have been the driving force. Much like lab rats which learn a certain behavior yields a desirable result.

  12. Plutarch, in Life of King Numa, wrote:

    [Janus] also has a temple at Rome with double doors, which they call the gates of war; for the temple always stands open in time of war, but is closed when peace has come. The latter was a difficult matter, and it rarely happened.

    Climate must have been very unstable back then.

  13. natural disasters have a disruptive potential that seems to play out in ethnically fractionalized societies in a particularly tragic way

    OK, by the same reasoning, a culturally and ethnically homogeneous society will be more robust against disruption due to natural disasters.
    Such a clear scientific finding could be used to inform a country’s immigration policy. As we know, the debate over immigration is heated and contentious in many places. The debate is long in politics and ideology, and short on scientific facts. Such a well grounded scientific finding would be a breath of fresh air in the debate.

    I wonder if this is not quite how the authors expected their study to be used?

  14. Climate depends on 3 factors
    Distance from the equator=angle of sun’s rays
    Direction of prevailing winds.
    Topography (elevation, distance from coast, size of land mass)
    It has nothing to do with how many trees there are, as weather is generated in the oceans, and merely crosses land to reach other oceans.
    It is true that barren ground receives relatively less available rain due to the diminished trapping and cooling of winds, but the effect is very local.
    When you fly in a Boeing at 35000 feet, there are cirrus ice clouds above you at 50,000 feet which drift down to become rain clouds just below you. Look out the window. You can’t even see if you are flying over trees or not. So further imagine you are a rain cloud forming at that height and flying over a desert. You will hold your moisture because too much heat will be coming from the ground to allow condensation. Your load will be dropped when you are over the sea or mountains. The weather is still there, but the dry part of the ground surface won’t receive as much.

    • Trees have a huge impact on rainfall. ~50% of the moisture for rainfall comes from evapotranspiration from plants. The major anthropogenic contribution to changes in rainfall are land-use and land-cover changes.

      The science is pretty sound on this fact. If you clear cut forests, rainfall will drop.

      • Sorry, no. Most rain comes from the oceans, and most rain falls back into them again. Trees receive rainfall, they do not produce rainfall. Some evaporation comes from land-based sources, yes, but the land is only about 25% of the surface of the planet. Of that land only 6% is rainforest or a mere 1% of the earth’s surface. Yet there is water vapour in the whole atmosphere. If you clear the forests it will make absolutely no difference to world rainfall figures. Just as much rain will be produced as always before but it simply won’t be received in the same quantities at ground level by barren ground. You are making an argument for climate change, I say there is none except what evolves over hundreds of years of slow polar shift.

      • “If you clear the forests it will make absolutely no difference to world rainfall figures”.

        Sorry, no. For example, a significant percentage of the Amazon’s rainfall comes from the forest’s own transpiration.- probably more than half.
        There may be a minimum threshold (forested area) below which there is insufficient rainfall for the rest of the forest and it reverts to grassland.

        Of course, globally, most evaporation comes from the ocean surface.

    • Yes. I have started asking alarmists if they know what causes basic climate w/o using the terms “CO2” and “change”. There aren’t too many that know the answer. The thing is, if CO2 doesn’t determine basic climate, it can hardly drive climate change.

  15. Well, since there is far less war today than a century ago, it is obvious that AGW has caused peace. Right?

  16. Syria, like most nations in the fertile crescent has fertile areas and desert areas. The drought in Syria is widespread and unusual.

    The cause, most likely, is unsustainable agriculture, similar to the 1930s United States. The population in Syria has risen from five million in 1950 to 22.5 million in 2010. The government is a poorly managed dictatorship with planned agricultural system. They grossly over-farmed the region depleted much of the ground water and the result is predictable.

    “Government agricultural policy is prominent among the many factors that shaped Syria’s vulnerability to drought. Despite growing water scarcity and frequent droughts, the government of President Hafez al-Assad (1971−2000) initiated policies to further increase agricultural production, including land redistribution and irrigation projects, quota systems, and subsidies for diesel fuel to garner the support of rural constituents. These policies endangered Syria’s water security by exploiting limited land and water resources without regard for sustainability. … Overuse of groundwater has been blamed for the recent drying of the Khabur River in Syria’s northeast. The depletion of groundwater during the recent drought is clearly evident from remotely sensed data by the NASA Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) Tellus project.”

    (Ironically, this information comes from a paper trying to explain how climate change has made the drought worse — yet, it seems to do the opposite. Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought, Kelley, et al, PNAS, January 30, 2015)

    The link to climate change in the paper is pretty weak, but the link to man-made changes (such as the agricultural policy) and natural cycles (such as the NAO) are pretty strong.

  17. Anthony, there are current, good examples of reforestation in the Middle East. Go to northern Israel, which is infested with trees. Look north across the Lebanese border and observe a treeless landscape,

  18. “..a press release that tries to tell us that weather events, which span hours to days to sometimes weeks in length (such as a blocking high), are actually climate events.”

    From the perspective of variability in indirect solar forcings driving North Atlantic and Arctic Oscillation anomalies, it becomes apparent that that are essentially climate events, and also why the mean global surface temperature being higher makes little difference to them.

  19. It’s nice to see that PNAS is maintaining under Marcia McNutt, the dismal quality it achieved under Ralph Cicerone.

  20. Stopped reading this @ ” climate spans decades”. With respect, weather spans decades.

    Don’t you mean climate spans thousands, millions, hundreds of millions of years. Unfortunately “Climate” blogs are merely commentaries on weather.

    Given we define a single climate plot on a chart as thirty years of weather don’t you think there should be proper standards requiring climate charts and commentary about climate to span no less than ten thousand years! Sadly, virtually all “climate charts” and commentary presented these days are really weather charts and should be named as such.

    I don’t want to see Mr Watts and others out of a job, but some perspective in all articles would be nice.

    Cheers

    Latitude25south

  21. “Almost one quarter of conflicts in ethnically divided countries coincide with climatic calamities, the scientists found; importantly, this is even without taking climate change into account.”

    So CAGW has nothing to do with conflicts up to the present time. And there is no measureable CAGW now. So far, so good.

    If CAGW ever does show up, then maybe we can revisit this speculation about CAGW causing the climate to change to the point that it causes wars. Until then, nothing to see here.

  22. For humans, a climate disaster is any place on the long term stadial/interstadial oscillation that is not at the brief peak warm period (stadial). That is to say, in reality, humans spend most of their time on earth in a climate disaster riding up or down the interstadial). The lucky few spend time at the relatively stable peak. The rest of humanity suffers the vagaries of the slide down or the climb up.

  23. Whenever you compare one weather measurement to another that is climate. It has no temporal constraint. Taking many values of a weather measurement and producing distribution graphs to assign probability of event magnitude is climate, on any time scale.

  24. Re conflict and “climate garbage”

    These morons never ever heard of “campaign season” otherwise they will blame almost every roman war of conquest on climate change

  25. a press release that tries to tell us that weather events, which span hours to days to sometimes weeks in length (such as a blocking high), are actually climate events.

    Anthony, I have a question about this, say an area, gets weather events, say thunderstorms, regularly, and they get these year after years. Do they not become part of the expected climate in that area?

    I find this is different than places like say San Diego, where the weather is very regular, and storms, weather events are very rare.

    Just looking for your opinion, and to better understand the place regular weather affects climate.

    • “I have a question about this, say an area, gets weather events, say thunderstorms, regularly, and they get these year after years. Do they not become part of the expected climate in that area?”

      From my experience our weather does have a definite general overall pattern, that varies slightly, and continuously.

      As an example: I live in the central U.S. and can confidently predict that it will get very hot during the summer here. Roughly 70 percent of the time, during a normal summer, a persistent high-pressure system will setup over the central U.S. and cause high temperatures and dry weather, and can last for months (even longer during the decade of the 1930’s).

      Occasionally, the weather will do like it is doing this year, and the jetstream will push weather systems across the central U.S. the entire summer, which means that high-pressure systems don’t hang around long over one place, as they are pushed east by the jetstream, so it does not get as hot, and the circulation brings moisture into the central U.S. which also leads to milder temperatures.

      Here in Oklahoma, we consider it a blessing to get any rain in the month of July, or later in the summer, but we just got a real good rain yesterday, and it might rain again today. This is considered very mild weather for this time of year. We love it.

      But this kind of weather pattern is the exception rather than the rule. Usually, the jetstream will not push weather systems across the U.S. quickly but will allow high-pressure systems to build up over the U.S. and stay there for a while, which really heats things up.

      I suppose the “exception” to our normal summer weather pattern is caused by ENSO and its aftermath.

      You *can* predict the weather within certain parameters. You *cannot* correctly say, that one year will be exactly like another year.

  26. The areas of Lebanon denuded of trees are located at or near where the largest part of the population lives. The loss of the cedars far predated any notion of “climate change” or even of “climate”.
    BTW I have and order of the Cedar 3rd Class (Now called “Lebanon Medal of Merit” 3rd class. Kind of like the equivalent to the Commendation medals in are armed forces.). I and several members of the MTT (Mobile Training Team) I was on were awarded the medal by the LDF (Lebanese Defense Force) commander at the time for actions Jan to April, 1984.
    Wish I had dime for every time someone asked me “What the hell is that?” when they saw that cedar tree ribbon while looking at my salad bar when in Class A uniform.

  27. Jordan has also suffered the depredations of the Turks to their forests. There aren’t any since the trees were clear cut for railroad ties and railroad fuel. They have a long term program to reestablish vegetation on the hills, started under King Hussein, but will be many more decades coming. They have begun with acacia trees and many miles of drip irrigation, but it will be generations before the climate will once again be affected in the positive. It is interesting that the tour guides going from Amman to Petra will often stop to show the 4 or 5 oak trees along the road that were missed by the Turkish locusts in their short sighted greed.

    pbh

  28. Dec 8, 2015 Climate Change is Unfaslifiable Woo-Woo Pseudoscience

    Karl Popper famously said, “A theory that explains everything explains nothing.” So what do you make of the theory that catastrophic manmade CO2-driven “climate change” can account for harsher winters and lighter winters, more snow and less snow, droughts and floods, more hurricanes and less hurricanes, more rain and less rain, more malaria and less malaria, saltier seas and less salty seas, Antarctica ice melting and Antarctic ice gaining and dozens of other contradictions? Popper gave a name to “theories” like this: pseudoscience.

  29. A question, with the end of the last ice age, +/-20,000 years ago surely the area in the middle east and North Africa has warned some. Lived for about 8 years in North Africa, weather, or if you prefer climate, sucked. In the desert saw several days with local temps approachinf 140F. If my memory is correct when I lived there the record high temp, in the 130sF, was from a little crossroad town in Libya about 20 miles from the coast, which used to interest me, seemed like an unlikely spot for a record temp (it was an old British military location).

  30. And here was I digging my toes in to insist to the world that weather and climate are exactly the same thing, viewed in different time frames. At any given time it is weather. If you want to build a climate data base you start with 365 consecutive days’ weather data.

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