Desperate Efforts to Drag the Climate Change Drought Narrative Back on Track

Link between climate change and drought
h/t JoNova – a slide from Professor Pitman’s presentation in June 2019

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Aussie Climate Scientists are rushing to fill the breach caused by Professor Andy Pitman’s stunning admission there is no long term drying trend in drought prone Australia.

The science of drought is complex but the message on climate change is clear
October 31, 2019 2.40pm AEDT

Ben Henley Research Fellow in Climate and Water Resources, University of Melbourne

Andrew King
ARC DECRA fellow, University of Melbourne

Anna Ukkola
Research Fellow, Australian National University

Murray Peel
Senior lecturer, University of Melbourne

Q J Wang
Professor, University of Melbourne

Rory Nathan
Associate Professor Hydrology and Water Resources, University of Melbourne

The issue of whether Australia’s current drought is caused by climate change has been seized on by some media commentators, with debate raging over a remark from eminent scientist Andy Pitman that “there is no link between climate change and drought”. Professor Pitman has since qualified, he meant to say “there is no direct link between climate change and drought”.

highly politicised debate that tries to corner scientists will not do much to help rural communities struggling with the ongoing dry. But it is still worthwhile understanding the complexity of how climate change relates to drought.

Is climate change affecting Australian droughts?

Climate change may affect drought metrics and types of drought differently, so it can be hard to make general statements about the links between human-induced climate change and all types of drought, in all locations, on all timescales.

But the role of climate change in extended drought periods is difficult to discern from normal variations in weather and climate. This is particularly true in Australia, which has a much more variable climate than many other parts of the world.

What does the future hold?
Climate models project increasing temperature across Australia and a continuing decline in cool-season rainfall over southern Australia over the next century. This will lead to more pressure on water supplies for agriculture, the environment, and cities such as Melbourne at the Paris Agreement’s target of 2℃, relative to the more ambitious target of 1.5℃ of global warming.

Rainfall is projected to become more extreme, with more intense rain events and fewer light rain days. Declining overall rainfall is predicted to reduce river flows in southeastern Australia. While we can expect the largest floods to increase with climate change, smaller floods are decreasing due to drier soils, and it is these smaller floods that top up our water supply systems.

Read more:

In other words, they’ve got nothing.

Did Andy Pitman also misspeak, when he admitted climate science cannot tell us whether global warming will make droughts worse, or improve rainfall? (see the image at the top of the page).

The only “links” between climate change and drought are an attempt to link short term drying trends, which scientists admit could be natural variation, and a model based belief that climate change might be making droughts worse, based on their defective climate models – a belief not rooted in observational evidence.

But why not cut back on fossil fuel anyway, just in case?

The only reason farmers in the worst drought afflicted regions of Australia have any water and feed is because of fossil fuel. Fossil fuel gives us the economic capacity to respond to droughts – it powers vast trucking operations happening right now in Australia, transporting feed and water to farmers and towns stricken by drought.

Fossil fuel prosperity means we can afford major water schemes to redistribute water to where it is needed.

To abandon all that would mean going back to the 1800s, leaving farmers at the mercy of whatever nature throws at them; and in arid Australia, nature does not deliver a lot of mercy.

The current drought disaster did not occur because Australia has a shortage of water, it happened because our politicians are idiots. For example, a few months ago they tried to limit truck access to rural roads, right in the middle of the ongoing drought relief operation, a measure which would have eliminated the ability of said trucks to carry meaningful amounts of feed and water to large numbers of desperate farmers.

Aussie Politicians have left major water projects on the shelf for decades, frittering away taxpayers money on pointless obstruction, useless solar projects and other vanity boondoggles, instead of delivering infrastructure people actually need.

h/t Neville: Australian rainfall anomaly 1900-2008.

Australian annual rainfall anomaly 1900-2018
Australian annual rainfall anomaly 1900-2018, source Bureau of Meteorology

66 thoughts on “Desperate Efforts to Drag the Climate Change Drought Narrative Back on Track

  1. In other words, they’ve got nothing.

    They manage to mask that using their excellent command of the English language.

  2. Keep after them. In the end and it will be awhile, the poor results of their mindless policies will sink em.

  3. Huh, was the world a perfect sunny paradise, Before we started using fossil fuels? Were the rains always on time, and the winds mello and sweet?

  4. “The current drought disaster did not occur because Australia has a shortage of water, it happened because our politicians are idiots.”

    Those who can’t even teach teachers become politicians.

    • Those who can’t even teach teachers become politicians.

      I never imagined that sequence continuing like that.

      • commieBob
        Well, what are they going to do for a living if the can’t do, or even teach? They become social parasites with delusions of grandeur.

  5. i can remember the “Global Warming will cause more rainfall and more floods” meme, which didn’t track with the “more droughts, more forest fires” fundraising efforts, so became the “climate change” meme to catch media publication with pretty well any weather anomaly….now “climate crisis”….or am I just the usual revisionist historian denier angry old white guy type ?

    • Climate change, whatever the cause, is going to have different effects in different locations and sometimes complex effects. More rain in some places can mean less rain elsewhere. More rain can mean more forest growth but combined with changes in seasonality of rainfall, that might result in more forest fires. It’s not uncommon to have serious floods and fires simultaneously in one continent, as we saw in Queensland experienced in January this year. Massive floods in the north, extreme drought in the south.

      • But it would be more accurate to say that climate change is just a load of claptrap that was made up on the spur of the moment to bring in more grant money for research, more subsidies for “green” white elephants and generally just more power for the lefttards.

      • Weather events are described variously as 1 in 10 year events, 1 in 30 year events, 1 in 100 etc. We have only been keeping weather records in most places for around 100 years or less. Therefore, many places will not have records of many or even any 1 in 100 year events. Once we get through the 1 in 100 year events we can start in on the 1 in 1000 year events. Without any climate catastrophe at all, there are sufficient pending records to keep the doomsayers in a frenzy of fear for many decades to come.

    • Yup. You have to remember everything will always get worse and more extreme. More extreme wet days and more extreme dry days, despite no evidence to ever indicate that we are currently experiencing the Goldilocks optimum between the two.

      Indeed, if people like us weren’t here to poke fun at them they would already be insisting that more extreme in between-days would be equally bad, averages were getting more extreme, and Goldilocks would be being frogmarched off in handcuffs.

    • Well, Mac, you have to realize that you blokes are on the wrong side of the world – you’re upside down.

      So, naturally, things are reversed down under.

  6. “Climate change may affect drought metrics and types of drought differently, so it can be hard to make general statements about the links between human-induced climate change and all types of drought, in all locations, on all timescales.”
    There is no evidence of Human-induced climate change other than localized effects like irrigation or urban heat islands.
    See ( ) for strong evidence against atmospheric warming be fossil fuel CO2.

    • Interesting find John. I wonder how many other “officials” are involved in getting loans that are defaulted upon. Seems like a nice way to pay/kickback with the people’s money 🙁

  7. If you don’t believe it when scientists say humans are contributing to climate change, why would you believe it when one says climate change is not (directly) contributing to drought?

  8. “Aussie Politicians have left major water projects on the shelf for decades, frittering away taxpayers money on pointless obstruction, useless solar projects and other vanity boondoggles, instead of delivering infrastructure people actually need …”.
    That’s the crux; looking through the BoM web page: ‘Australian climate variability & change – Time series graphs – Rainfall’, the only inference that can be derived based on empirical data is that for the past century of observations rainfall over the entire country and regions, annually and seasonally, is highly variable and long-term trends are inconclusive.

    • 2012 the suburb in West Brisbane where I was living became an island, cut off by a raging torrent of floodwater.

    • from deneum white paper: The Deneum team is made up of unique people sharing a common philosophy, with
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      laboratory experience around the Deneum technology since 1989. Our team has
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      I think the time has come to make one stand-alone vehicle or electricity generator.

      This stuff is always fun to read — well, at least once per year it’s enjoyable.

  9. Both the BOM and the CSIRO have recorded an emerging trend of easing rain in the South East of Australia (along with a corresponding increase in rainfall across the North West of Australia).

    Have had discussions with climate catastrophians who insist that this drought is indicative of those emerging trends because both QLD and Northern NSW are geographically located in the South East of Australia.

    You cannot fix the stupid.

    • well as usual bom is up the creek
      we had 17+mm friday and they reckon?
      not the first time this yr we’re about 30mm or more UNrecorded back a month or so ago as well
      our avg temps are from .6 to 1.6 BELOW avg as well( but then believing anything they quote is also a hard thing to do) been damend cold for a long time though and more cold coming again nights down to 7c NOV?
      2016/7 we had heavy rains n flooding and it took a looong time for the refilled swamps to start to dry a bit
      18 was drier and this yrs not great but that can change with a week of rain too
      and the BEST NEWS!!!!!!
      western NSW and SW qld just got some really BIG dumps of rain up to 49mm in the far west nsw
      not its not drought breaking…yet
      but its just so damned hapymaking to know some people have respite and so do the animals
      Ive been grinning all night

  10. You want to ameliorate drought in Australia, you need to slow down storm run off when it arrives and make a much bigger percentage go to groundwater, wetlands or be retained in soil covered in lush vegetation.

    Historical sources say Australia had plenty of wetlands before the white man arrived.

    Hydrology has little to do with oil consumption, much more to do with land management.

    Focus on land management, free of climate dogma, and see how far it gets you. Plenty of examples of Australians having been successful at that, you know…

    • Northern Australia was one ginormous tropical wetland prior to mans arrival.
      There is no point, pointing the climate change bone at whitey!

  11. Love the irony here:
    The ‘Climate Change Causes Droughts’ alarmists have drilled another dry hole!
    1st Alarmist: How do we get the narrative back on track?
    2nd Alarmist: Keep Drilling!

  12. Shamefully, Australian Politicians on all sides have ignored water storage projects for many decades now. They have frittered away the taxpayers’ money on useless Climate Change fantasies like useless solar projects, wave generators, hot rocks, water generators, pumped hydro, bird and bat choppers and other vapid inner-city electorate boondoggles instead of the infrastructure and services that people really need.

    • agree half whats been wasted utterly on the green scams could have given new cleancoal plants AND the other half made a couple of massive reservoirs/series of smaller ones , as backups

  13. According to Wikipedia, Dorothea Mackellar’s poem “My Country” is widely known in Australia, especially its second stanza, which begins: “I love a sunburnt country/A land of sweeping plains,/Of ragged mountain ranges,/Of droughts and flooding rains.” It was published 1n 1908.

    • Yes and:

      Core of my heart, my country!
      Her pitiless blue sky,
      When sick at heart, around us,
      We see the cattle die –
      But then the grey clouds gather,
      And we can bless again
      The drumming of an army,
      The steady, soaking rain.

      “Core of my heart, my country!
      Land of the Rainbow Gold,
      For flood and fire and famine,
      She pays us back threefold-
      Over the thirsty paddocks,
      Watch, after many days,
      The filmy veil of greenness
      That thickens as we gaze. – Dorothea Mackellar”

      Published 1908 begun in 1904, just three years after federation.

      To give a personal example of the variability of the Australian climate. I once painted a picture of a River Red Gum partly submerged in a swamp that had flooded three years in a row, it had been bone dry for 17 Years prior!

      • Where I grew up there were swamps that during my childhood had fairly regular water. Many of these swamps have now been dry for 20 years and trees are growing in the middle of them.

        Interestingly, when the swamps did have water, there were trunks and stumps of quite sizeable trees (that would have been easily 50 to 70 years old) in the middle of the swamp. This would indicate that it got dry enough for the trees not too be drowned for many decades at a time.

        Not sure what we’ll be in for in the next 20-30 years, not a lot of info on the Australian climate during grand solar minima.

        • Given that many River Red gums are hundreds of years old they obviously stand up to prolonged drought and flood. The one I saw was also burn’t black on parts of the lower limbs. It was old*, bent, broken and half drowned, yet blooming!** I saw it later in the dry season and the pond had evaporated to dust.

          *Hollows start to form at around 120–180 years of age. “Any with a girth of more than three metres would have been present for longer than European settlement. A thicker girth indicates an older tree. Roughly, a girth of two metres indicates an approximate age of 150-200 years, while a four-metre girth indicates 300-400. A six-metre girth could indicate a tree 450-600 years old.”

          • those measurements are skew
            redgum on my block is over 9ft around and its not that old might be 100ish?
            but we’re on crap sand with a deep clay base and they love clay and grow very well and fast here
            a couple of really wet yrs soaks the clay and they thrive

          • I could show you an absolutely massive specimen of that species which is just over sixty years old. Many large eucalypt ages are guesses at best. A few will be older than estimated, but most are probably younger. Some are far, far younger.

            I could easily find an ‘expert’ or twenty to date the above tree at over two hundred years of age and a few more that would be gullible enough to go for over 300.

  14. This will be on every news channel tonight and tomorrow. I can assure all of you without fear of contraception.

  15. The Australian BOM and Queensland government keep pushing he climate change meme and the current drought conditions in the state are a convenient target. Last week the government said that the main dams supplying water to the capital Brisbane were very low at 61% and the lowest in 17 years. They neglected to point out that 6 years ago the dams were so over capacity they had to release water into the Brisbane river very quickly causing major flooding in the city. Hottest on record, least rain, most rain etc announcements are nearly all manipulated figures trying to boost the climate change scam.

  16. A comment from the early 1900’s

    “Said Hanrahan” is a poem written by the Australian bush poet John O’Brien, the pen name of Roman Catholic priest Patrick Joseph Hartigan.[1] The poem’s earliest known publication was in July 1919 in The Catholic Press,[2] appearing in 1921 in the anthology Around the Boree Log and Other Verses.[1]

    The poem describes the recurrent natural cycle of droughts, floods and bushfires in rural Australia as seen by “Hanrahan”, a pessimistic man of Irish descent. “‘We’ll all be rooned’, said Hanrahan”—an adage extracted from the poem—has entered the Australian English lexicon.

    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    In accents most forlorn,
    Outside the church, ere Mass began,
    One frosty Sunday morn.
    The congregation stood about,
    Coat-collars to the ears,
    And talked of stock, and crops, and drought,
    As it had done for years.
    “It’s lookin’ crook,” said Daniel Croke;
    “Bedad, it’s cruke, me lad,
    For never since the banks went broke
    Has seasons been so bad.”
    “It’s dry, all right,” said young O’Neil,
    With which astute remark
    He squatted down upon his heel
    And chewed a piece of bark.
    And so around the chorus ran
    “It’s keepin’ dry, no doubt.”
    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “Before the year is out.
    “The crops are done; ye’ll have your work
    To save one bag of grain;
    From here way out to Back-o’-Bourke
    They’re singin’ out for rain.
    “They’re singin’ out for rain,” he said,
    “And all the tanks are dry.”
    The congregation scratched its head,
    And gazed around the sky.
    “There won’t be grass, in any case,
    Enough to feed an ass;
    There’s not a blade on Casey’s place
    As I came down to Mass.”
    “If rain don’t come this month,” said Dan,
    And cleared his throat to speak–
    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “If rain don’t come this week.”
    A heavy silence seemed to steal
    On all at this remark;
    And each man squatted on his heel,
    And chewed a piece of bark.
    “We want a inch of rain, we do,”
    O’Neil observed at last;
    But Croke “maintained” we wanted two
    To put the danger past.
    “If we don’t get three inches, man,
    Or four to break this drought,
    We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “Before the year is out.”
    In God’s good time down came the rain;
    And all the afternoon
    On iron roof and window-pane
    It drummed a homely tune.
    And through the night it pattered still,
    And lightsome, gladsome elves
    On dripping spout and window-sill
    Kept talking to themselves.
    It pelted, pelted all day long,
    A-singing at its work,
    Till every heart took up the song
    Way out to Back-o’Bourke.
    And every creek a banker ran,
    And dams filled overtop;
    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “If this rain doesn’t stop.”
    And stop it did, in God’s good time;
    And spring came in to fold
    A mantle o’er the hills sublime
    Of green and pink and gold.
    And days went by on dancing feet,
    With harvest-hopes immense,
    And laughing eyes beheld the wheat
    Nid-nodding o’er the fence.
    And, oh, the smiles on every face,
    As happy lad and lass
    Through grass knee-deep on Casey’s place
    Went riding down to Mass.
    While round the church in clothes genteel
    Discoursed the men of mark,
    And each man squatted on his heel,
    And chewed his piece of bark.
    “There’ll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
    There will, without a doubt;
    We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “Before the year is out.”

    So nothing is new about droughts in Australia. Nor floods nor Bushfires. Indeed at the moment Eastern Australia is in severe drought and there are many bushfires as well. This is early in the season for bushfires which unsurprisingly are in part the result of poor fire management.

    • Hi Tony Cooke, – This seems to indicate that contemporary climate scientists’ models might ideally be tested by how long they can squat upon their heels while chewing bark at different times of the year. Then they can assemble around the Boree log to acknowledge who is that cycle’s fair dinkum weather predictor.

  17. I don’t understand the phrase “climate change causes drought”. As if climate change was some defined entity sitting in the sky, pouring disaster down on us. There is no such thing as climate change per se, only effects that in sum are called climate change. Drought IS climate change, so is flood and rising temperatures. Next thing, they’ll be building temples to the demi-god Climate Change and offer sacrifices. Well they sacrifice already, though only other peoples’ comfort and wealth, I would be more impressed if they sacrificed their own.

  18. Having seen what the Israelis have done in the Negev desert with berms around plants to capture the erratic rains, I have always wondered why no-one else in a dry climate has picked up those tricks. After all, the Israelis learned from the Nabateans, who lived in the desert about 2000 years ago – so it’s nothing new!

  19. As I grew up in SE England in the 1980s I remember the stories, every summer, of the long-term drought that the UK was suffering, how we were having to pull more water from the aquifers than was going back in, how in the long run there would not be enough rain and SE England would dry out. How this was going to be a serious problem in the future.

    In 2015 I owned a Mazda MX-5, so I knew when it rained and did not. The car did not leak, but was far from ideal for rainy conditions. And that autumn, just north of London, it literally rained for 3 months. Every day. Not all day every day, but all day on many days and at some point on every day.

    Now I have a garden and a dog (hence no MX-5; the dog, not the garden). I know that in the autumn and winter the ground never dries out completely, because I have to wash the dog’s paws every day over those seasons. We are not on a flood plain, insurance costs mean I avoid that when buying a house, it just rains enough that the ground soaks and does not have time to dry. Even in the summer it rains enough for the garden on many days.

    Most notably, I have not seen a hosepipe ban in years. I re-laid the lawn last year, and my wife insisted on doing it in August. I was wary of a ban preventing me watering it, as one was predicted for that year. But there was no ban, and several days when I had no need to water due to rain. That was the hot, dry summer we were forecast by the UK Met Office from their models. The months of hot weather forecast for this year were, once again, a myth.

    So much prediction by extrapolating short-term trends. So little predictive success.

  20. We can relate to that experience as every year in OZ about October we get solemnly warned that the forthcoming summer will be very hot ( some are some aren’t ) resulting in bad bushfires -again some are some are not
    If there has been a wet Winter plus Spring we get told that means lots of undergrowth which when it dries out in Summer will provide a lot of fuel for the fires, but if it has been a dry Winter and Spring then the bush will have become tinder dry which again will fuel big fires

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