Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t James Sternhell, JoNova; How does a climate scientist “misspeak” an entire answer to a question about important climate claims?
On Wednesday 19 June, 2019, Sydney Environment Institute (SEI) at an event at the University of Sydney, Professor Andy Pitman of University of NSW (home of ship of fools professor Chris Turney) said the following:
“…this may not be what you expect to hear. but as far as the climate scientists know there is no link between climate change and drought.
That may not be what you read in the newspapers and sometimes hear commented, but there is no reason a priori why climate change should made the landscape more arid.
If you look at the Bureau of Meteorology data over the whole of the last one hundred years there’s no trend in data. There is no drying trend. There’s been a trend in the last twenty years, but there’s been no trend in the last hundred years, and that’s an expression on how variable Australian rainfall climate is.
There are in some regions but not in other regions.
So the fundamental problem we have is that we don’t understand what causes droughts.
Much more interesting, We don’t know what stops a drought. We know it’s rain, but we don’t know what lines up to create drought breaking rains.”Source (starts at around 1:10): https://soundcloud.com/sydneyenvironmentinstitute/adapting-climate-science-for-business
Excerpt recording of Professor Pitman speaking these words: link
Since then, Professor Pitman has apparently walked back his original answer with the following statement
Climate scientist says Sky News commentators misrepresented his views on drought
Fri 25 Oct 2019 04.00 AEDT
Last modified on Fri 25 Oct 2019 04.02 AEDT
Exclusive: Andy Pitman says ‘misspoken’ statement has been used by Alan Jones, Chris Kenny and Andrew Bolt to dismiss links between climate change and drought
A leading Australian climate scientist has said his views have been misrepresented by conservative media commentators, who have used a “misspoken” statement to dismiss the links between climate change and drought.
Prof Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes at the University of New South Wales, has told Guardian Australia there are clear links between human-caused climate change and drought, but these links are indirect.
He told Guardian Australia: “I misspoke – I missed a word in my statement and that’s my fault. I should have said no ‘direct’ link.
“I’m confident in the statement that there is no direct link between climate change and drought. I’m equally certain that for some regions there’s an indirect effect of human-induced climate change on drought because of the change in rainfall patterns.”
He said increases in temperatures caused by human activity would also make the impacts of drought worse.
He said: “Background warming does mean that when you get a drought, the system is more stressed than it otherwise would be.”
…Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/oct/25/climate-scientist-says-sky-news-commentators-misrepresented-his-views-on-drought
What a mess. What are these “indirect” links between climate change and drought which don’t show up in long term drought trends?
Was Professor Pitman coerced into recanting his climate heresy? Maybe. Naomi Oreskes tells us there is pressure on climate scientists to conform with the public positions of their colleagues.
We have all seen what happens to tenured professors in Australia whose public statements deviate from the climate change narrative promoted by their university; they get fired, and either go quietly, or risk their retirement savings fighting university lawyers backed by apparently unlimited taxpayer funds.
But what if there really is a link between climate change and droughts? Professor Pitman’s original answer included the statement “we don’t understand what causes droughts”. Perhaps there really is evidence of an elusive link between climate change and drought, which somehow does not show up in long term drought trends.
Given the seriousness of droughts, especially in a dry country like Australia, I think we would all like a more detailed explanation from Professor Pitman about exactly what he thinks is the link between anthropogenic CO2 and drought, and why the alleged influence of CO2 on droughts does not show up in long term drought trends – unless he now wants to walk back that part of his original statement as well.
Update (EW): kentlfc hilighted a slide shown by Professor Pitman in his original presentation.