Guest essay by Eric Worrall
15 years after former Aussie Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery claimed rainfall would not fill our dams, the Guardian asks whether ongoing severe New South Wales flooding is due to climate change.
Is NSW flooding a year after bushfires yet more evidence of climate change?
Experts say it’s unusual to see so many places with such high rainfall across such a wide area. But identifying the cause is complicated
- NSW flooding: disaster zones declared as 18,000 people evacuated
- How three weather systems are crashing together
Life-threatening floods have washed away homes and businesses with a deluge of rain inundating hundreds of kilometres of the New South Walescoast.
Falling on already soaked soils, the rains sparked dozens of flood warnings, with residents in parts of Sydney’s north and west also fearing for their homes and their lives.
So what about climate change?
Whenever Australia experiences extreme weather events, the inevitable question arises: was this caused by climate change?
Some climate scientists will argue all weather events are influenced by human activity because we’ve rapidly changed the composition of the atmosphere.
Burning fossil fuels and deforestation has increased the amount of climate-warming CO2 in the atmosphere by about 50% since the start of the industrial revolution.
And while the rainfall totals experienced over recent days are not yet confirmed as record-breaking, this does not mean that climate heating has had no effect at all.
Professor Steve Sherwood, of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, says that basic physics shows a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture – about 7% for each degree of warming.
“So we know that something like 5-10% of the rain we are getting now [in the current downpours] is from global warming and the rest would have happened anyway.
“It’s not a game changer, but it is making things worse and that gets worse still as emissions keep going up.”
Strangely the Guardian overlooked explaining the tie in to former climate commissioner Tim Flannery’s climate predictions. Flannery is still a regular in Guardian editorials. From the original ABC Tim Flannery interview transcript;
SALLY SARA: What will it mean for Australian farmers if the predictions of climate change are correct and little is done to stop it? What will that mean for a farmer?
PROFESSOR TIM FLANNERY: We’re already seeing the initial impacts and they include a decline in the winter rainfall zone across southern Australia, which is clearly an impact of climate change, but also a decrease in run-off. Although we’re getting say a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas of Australia, that’s translating to a 60 per cent decrease in the run-off into the dams and rivers. That’s because the soil is warmer because of global warming and the plants are under more stress and therefore using more moisture. So even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems, and that’s a real worry for the people in the bush. If that trend continues then I think we’re going to have serious problems, particularly for irrigation.
…Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/local/archives/landline/content/2006/s1844398.htm
I don’t recall many objections from the scientific community when Flannery made his absurd predictions. But despite this embarrassment, Tim Flannery, who now heads the non-governmental Climate Council, can still draw an impressive audience of mostly younger people with his apocalyptic rhetoric.
Below is one of my favourite climate videos – In Search of The Coming Ice Age. I remember watching it as a kid on Australian TV. All the adults were worrying and talking about plunging global temperatures the day after the documentary was aired. Everyone believed the documentary, because the presenter was actor Leonard Nimoy, who played Dr. Spock in the original Star Trek series. The ice age documentary featured an impressive lineup of scientists, including Chester Langway, James Hayes, Gifford Miller (who described how the descent into the next ice age started 3000 years ago), and Stephen Schneider, who speculated about using nuclear energy to melt the ice caps, to halt the big freeze.
Climate scientist Stephen Schneider later backflipped and started promoting global warming alarmism.
Settled science anyone? JoNova points out similar severe flooding occurred in New South Wales in 1857. Clearly the 1857 floods were natural, while the current floods are due to our sinful carbon emissions.
h/t William – as if the flooding wasn’t enough, NSW farmers report a plague of mice (link to a spectacular video) is affecting large areas of NSW. Perhaps they shouldn’t have made such an effort to eradicate feral cats.