New York Times Or The Onion? You Decide!

If you think it's getting harder and harder to tell the New York Times from The Onion, you have a point.  And it's not just the three front page stories every day trying to blame the big election loss on Russian hacking, as if the Russians haven't been trying to hack everything they can, ever since the very concept of hacking was invented.

For another example, consider this big headline today:  "As Donald Trump Denies Climate Change, These Kids Die of It."  Wait, that one must have been in The Onion.  Not at all!  It was a lead article on the front page of the Times's Review section, written by none other than Nicholas Kristof -- the very same guy who wrote the completely phony article on Thursday claiming that repeal of Obamacare will kill tens of thousands of people per year.  So who are we killing today, Nick?

She is just a frightened mom, worrying if her son will survive, and certainly not fretting about American politics — for she has never heard of either President Obama or Donald Trump.  What about America itself? Ranomasy, who lives in an isolated village on this island of Madagascar off southern Africa, shakes her head. It doesn’t ring any bells.  Yet we Americans may be inadvertently killing her infant son. Climate change, disproportionately caused by carbon emissions from America, seems to be behind a severe drought that has led crops to wilt across seven countries in southern Africa. The result is acute malnutrition for 1.3 million children in the region, the United Nations says.

So Nick, kindly tell us, how much have temperatures increased in Madagascar as a result of what you claim is human-caused climate change?  It goes without saying that you will not find that information in Kristof's article.  Real information is not what Pravda deals in these days.  And, by the way, the information on historical temperatures in Madagascar is not necessarily that easy to find, since Madagascar doesn't have particularly good weather stations.  However, with some looking, I find this from a World Bank report in 2011:

Recent Climate Trends: There is clear evidence that [since 1950] temperatures have increased by 0.2 deg C over northern Madagascar, and by 0.1 deg C over southern Madagascar.

It's an amount of temperature rise that you could never possibly feel, let alone measure without some sort of specialized thermometer.  Although that report is a few years old, we all know that world temperatures have been in a warming "pause" since about 1998, so it's hard to imagine that Madagascar temperatures have somehow gone wild in the last five years.  I guess you can see why Kristof has decided to suppress the actual amount of temperature rise that is supposedly causing these millions of deaths. 

But somehow we are to believe that a tenth or two of degrees of temperature rise is causing over a million deaths by inflicting a rare and unprecedented drought.  Can we find out anything about rainfall in Madagascar?  Not from Kristof, of course.  But in the same 2011 World Bank report we have this:

The character of rainfall across Madagascar has changed significantly, although no obvious trend in rainfall can be surmised from the available record. However, since 1950, the relationship between temperature and rainfall has varied greatly across Madagascar, with increased temperatures yielding decreased rainfall in the northern areas and the opposite in southern areas.

Don't you have to hate the way those crafty Americans can inflict decreased rains on northern Madagascar and increased rains on southern Madagascar just by driving SUVs? 

But wait a minute -- maybe it's the opposite!  The World Bank report is from 2011.  More current information on rainfall in southern Africa, including Madagascar, can be found in a February 2016 post from a NOAA website,, showing rainfall in the region from October 2015 to February 2016 (last year's rainy season):

Rainfall in Southern Africa

Now suddenly the northern part of Madagascar has rainfall way above normal, up to 200% of normal for a not small area at the northern tip of the island.  And in the southern part, it sure looks like rainfall in last year's rainy season varied mostly between about 80% and 120% of normal, depending on the exact location, with the exception of a small area along the west coast.

How about the precise spot that Kristof visited?  His report has a dateline from a town called Tsihombe, which is in the far southern part of the island, just about 19 miles north of the very southern tip.  Wait a minute!  There's a little blue dot at that very place on the map, indicating that that little area had above-normal rainfall in last year's rainy season.  And this year?  This year, we're just getting into the rainy season, but according to here, rain is predicted for Tsihombe for the next two days.

Back to Kristof:

Trump has repeatedly mocked climate change, once even calling it a hoax fabricated by China. But climate change here is as tangible as its victims. Trump should come and feel these children’s ribs and watch them struggle for life. It’s true that the links between our carbon emissions and any particular drought are convoluted, but over all, climate change is as palpable as a wizened, glassy-eyed child dying of starvation. Like Ranomasy’s 18-month-old son, Tsapasoa.

I by no means want to make light of the struggles of Ms. Ranomasy and her young son.  But the idea that "climate change" -- let alone use of fossil fuels by westerners -- has anything to do with those struggles is completely preposterous.  Kristof, you should be ashamed of yourself.

UPDATE, January 9:  Plenty of other sites are out today with more well-deserved takedowns of Kristof's risible article.  At his Deplorable Climate Science Blog, Tony Heller comes up with this great quote from the New York Times, December 29, 1974, complete with photo of the article in the print edition, blaming severe droughts in Africa at that time on global cooling:

A number of climatologists . . . point to signs . . . [of] a steady global cooling trend since World War II. . . .  Some recent warnings from reputable researchers . . . have so worried policy-makers that last January certain scientists at a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences proposed the evacuation of some six million people from their parched homelands in the Sahel region of Africa

At Climate Depot, Marc Morano has extensive quotes from Roger Pielke, Jr., including from Congressional testimony, as to the complete lack of any association between global warming and droughts, let alone floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, or any other sort of extreme weather events:

"It is misleading, and just plain incorrect, to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the United States or globally. . . ."  Drought has “for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the U. S. over the last century.” Globally, “there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.”

Just wondering if we can expect a correction on Kristof's article any time soon from the New York Times.