Opinion by Kip Hansen — 12 October 2022
I hope this will be a “bi-weekly summary” without a firm belief that I will be able to sustain the effort – I admit to being stretched rather thin by my ongoing commitments. I will debunk a few false climate crisis stories that don’t require an entire dedicated essay in each roundup.
An easy start, as I’ve already covered this in: “The Southwest Monsoon – More Erratic?”. It is not. It is as it has always been and has not changed substantially in the last 121 years that the governments of India (ever changing as well) have kept meticulous records.
If you needed to be told that fall allergies are real, you are not a fall allergy sufferer. You can tell that this is a Climate Change® story because it has the mandatory opening of a positive assertion that “Some Unwanted Thing or Condition” (whatever one wants, in this case fall allergies) is “Real” – as always, telling readers this unnecessarily — no one thinks fall allergies are a hoax.
And why are they getting worse? Climate Change! (of course….)
The Times quotes an expert: “What a lot of people don’t realize is that the allergy seasons have almost doubled in length and gotten more intense because of climate change,” said Kenneth Mendez, the president and chief executive of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Higher carbon dioxide emissions spur plants to release larger amounts of pollen, he said. “That’s why allergies are feeling a lot worse.”
“And as temperatures stay warmer for longer periods of time and the first frost happens later and later, plants like ragweed have more time to grow and release allergens, Mr. Mendez said.”
And don’t forget the heat island effect, that makes cities (where vast fields of ragweed and goldenrod don’t grow) warmer longer.
Really! There is a study! But what the study shows is that – get ready for it – “It depends” – on where you live and on the specific year. Some places are experiencing less pollen, some more. See study for details, full text is online at the link.
Allergy seasons–yes, there are more than one–in the United States occur all year long – each overlapping. Winter is a break from outdoor allergies but, because we spend so much more time in our homes, winter brings indoor allergies.
Bottom Line: It has thankfully warmed a bit since the end of the Little Ice Age, atmospheric CO2 has increased and plant life on Earth is doing better. Growing seasons in most regions have lengthened, allowing record yields of almost all agricultural crops. This benefit has also helped trees and weeds (“plants that we don’t like”)—the pollen of which cause pollen allergies— which are also having, in some areas, record yields.
[Disclosure: The author lives in a part of the United States that regularly makes the Top Ten list of Allergy Capitals of the US. I have not noticed any change in allergy season – it has always seemed ‘never-ending’.]
This story, with a subtitle of: “A disaster that wiped out a decades-long project to bring pipe-borne water to Nepal’s capital shows the mismatch between slow-moving donor-financed efforts and rapid global warming.”
If one needs an example of the execution of the mantra “every story a climate crisis story” this story will do. It is about a flood in the Melamchi River Valley of Nepal.
Geologically, the entire river valley is a flood plain, created by repeated floods that have gouged out the valley floor. Floods here are not unexpected and have obviously happened time after time over the ages.
Here are images of the location of and condition – post-flood – of the Melamchi Water Supply Headworks site:
The AGU Blogosphere’s The Landslide Blog, discusses the cause of the disaster and explains the extent of the damage pictured above: “The project’s headworks site at Ambathan remains buried in flood debris several metres deep. …. According to Rajendra Prasad Pant, spokesperson for the Melamchi Water Supply Development Board, it remains uncertain when the debris clearance and restoration works will begin…As per the initial assessment, the project has suffered more than Rs1 billion [about £6 million] worth of damage.” (the post-flood photo provided by https://flyinglabs.org/nepal/).
There has been a disaster, and it will adversely affect, possibly for years, the water project meant to supply clean drinking water to the city of Kathmandu.
Caused by climate change? No, the primary cause was weather, specifically heavy monsoon rains, which are experienced in Nepal almost every year, as are the subsequent floods in various river valleys in Nepal. The Kathmandu Post reports that many Nepalese have died in these flood over the last century, reporting “Flooding in Nepal remains an annual occurrence as this year.”
But this flood was caused not by just too much rain, which is weather-related, but by a special circumstance:
“Understanding this disaster, which we know was caused by the rupture of a landslide dam, is difficult during the monsoon, when cloud cover renders satellite image collection difficult. …. but it does appear that the interpretation that a landslide dam developed during the heavy rainfall, and then breached, is correct.” [ source ]
A landslide dam [.pdf for full discussion] is created when a landslide comes down and blocks the flow of a stream, creek or river. This is rather common. The paper linked explains that “Landslide dams occur in all mountain terrains” and “Due to the relative short life of most of these dams and often catastrophic failure, urgent [attention] has to be given including assessment of upriver inundation and catastrophic downstream flooding.” This is precisely what happened in the Melamchi River Valley.
I have personally seen these in the creeks that come down out of the Catskill Mountains of New York State. In the Catskills, clay-based mud full of rocks slips from the steep sides of a “clove” [a clove is a narrow valley with steep sides, the term is used in areas of North America first settled by the Dutch] and blocks the stream or creek at the bottom. Eventually, the water overcomes the blockage and rushes down the clove in a torrent, driving mud and rock before it, as it empties the water held back by the dam.
Landslide dams and their catastrophic failures are not caused by Climate Change. They are not caused by Global Warming. They are not even necessarily caused by heavy monsoon rains.
The Melamchi River Valley itself may have been carved out of the mountains by repeated landslide dam failures.
Bottom Line: The unfortunate Melamchi River Valley flood of June 2022 was caused by a disastrous landslide dam failure. The damages to the Melamchi Water Supply project are enormous and will take years and lots of internationally donated money to repair. This will delay the supply of dependable clean drinking water to Kathmandu.
However, climate change was not the cause.
There was disastrous flooding of the Sindh region of Pakistan in June and August. The press naturally blamed climate change. Through the magic of World Weather Attribution; we hear, from every mouthpiece of the climate crisis media, that the floods were probably caused by climate change.
For that to be true, flooding would have to be something new that is occurring now that the climate has changed from some previous state. Of course, Pakistan has suffered from devastating floods for time immemorial. Notable floods occurred in 1992, 1995, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2020, 2021 and this year as well. One of the worst was in 1950.
Flooding in Pakistan is not new, it is the unfortunate norm.
Countering the chattering nattering voices of the climate crisis press, are a series of opinion pieces in the New York Times. All, of course, claim that climate change must have played a major role in the disaster—such claims are obligatory if one hopes to get published. But now, months after the initial disaster, bits a pieces of the truth are coming out:
a) David Wallace-Wells, a Times opinion writer focusing on climate, admits (far down the piece) “The problem is that climate change is also turning into an excuse,” she [columnist Arifa Noor] went on, adding that “the rains and their intensity are beyond our control; the havoc they wreak is not.” And “bad governance exacerbated Pakistan’s flooding,” listing some long-term mistakes: failing water infrastructure, deforestation, poor drainage systems and dangerous, unregulated construction.”
b) Fatima Bhutto notes that “The worst-hit province, Sindh, in the south, suffers in extremis. It does not appear to have any disaster preparedness or any plans in place to reinforce water infrastructure or the barely functioning sewage system.”
c) Ibrahim Buriro, an organizer for the Awami Workers Party and a master’s student in development studies, points to the Pakistani governments mania for dam building and attempts to control the rivers on which the nation depends. “…feudal elites and bad government planning interfered with the natural courses of our waterways. They predicted the calamity. It came.”
To understand the water problems faced by Pakistan, it is only necessary to look at the map:
The Sindh region is circled in red. The most southern and eastern portion is marked on other maps as “seasonally inundated”. Outside of the great Indus River Valley, the country is dry. The map shows dams and barrages as red shapes. When the monsoon rains come in the north, which includes the slopes of the Tibetan Plateau, almost all of the water runs off the dry packed land and flows down to the Sindh. Fuller information is available in a YouTube on the Indus.
Bottom Line: Poor Pakistan is and has been at the mercy of the monsoon rains, which bring prosperity and floods when they come and drought when the monsoon fails. Run-away population growth has pushed burgeoning numbers of the poor to farm and build in harm’s way. Government policies and actions have probably made this ever present ongoing risk worse. Near total lack of emergency planning and preparation exacerbate the problems there. Climate Change is being used, as everywhere, as an excuse for locally created problems. Pakistan will ramp up its begging for international aid at the next UN COP.
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I am waiting for the world’s leaders to come to their senses and realize that their ongoing efforts to suppress fossil fuels “because climate change” are destructive and harmful.
Experts advise countries like Pakistan to build dams and attempt to control rivers in ways that have led to disaster elsewhere and then blame climate change for the disasters they have created. The world will pour more international aid into Pakistan, which will be misused in similar ways. That is the world we live in.
It is lucky for today’s world leaders that they have climate change to blame for their intentionally destructive policies. Hopefully, their citizens will wake up and see the truth—maybe in Europe this winter as they shiver in their unheated homes.
Thanks for reading.
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