Over at the New York Times, as we all know, they have a quota of at least one big front-page article per week designed to play on your emotions to get you on board with the climate scare. Today's entry, occupying three of six columns on page 1 (plus a big color picture that covers four columns) has the headline "Fastest Drying in 2,000 Years Imperils Millions." The sub-headline is "Many of World's Poorest Face Warming Crisis in Horn of Africa."
You get the basic theme from the headlines: "Climate change" and "warming" are causing a great drought in a wide swath of eastern Africa. It's not just any old drought, but the "fastest drying in 2,000 years." Millions are "imperiled"!
Unfortunately, as is often the case over at Pravda, somebody forgot that in the age of the internet, the actual data are out there and easily available for all to check. As you will see, this is beyond embarrassing.
But first, here's their picture:
Now, let's play on your heartstrings for a while. From the article:
Northern Kenya . . . has become measurably drier and hotter, and scientists are finding the fingerprints of global warming. . . . Four severe droughts have walloped the area in the last two decades, a rapid succession that has pushed millions of the world’s poorest to the edge of survival. Amid this new normal, a people long hounded by poverty and strife has found itself on the frontline of a new crisis: climate change.
Can we please have some data as to how much rainfall is normal in this region, and how that has changed in recent years? Not in this article. Instead, we get interviews with one person after another pushing the global warming/drought/suffering narrative. For example, our reporter talks with one Gideon Galu, "a Kenyan meteorologist with the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, or FewsNet."
Rainfall is already erratic. Now, he says, it’s getting significantly drier and hotter. The forecast for the next rains aren’t good. “These people live on the edge,” he said. “Any tilt to the poor rains, and they’re done.”
Or we can go with a man-on-the-street (man-on-the-dusty-path?) interview. Here's one with a herder by the name of Mohammed Loshani:
“If we get rain I can build back my herd,” he said. “If not, even the few I have will die.” He knew no one who had rebuilt their herds to pre-2011 drought levels. “If these droughts continue,” Mr. Loshoni said, “there’s nothing for us to do. . . . "
OK, is it possible to get any real data to check whether this is real, or alternatively, all a big lie? Yes! None other than the World Bank has something called the "Climate Change Knowledge Portal." They have all the data you can eat! And it's broken down by regions and even cities. For example, can we get both rainfall and temperature data for Kaguma -- the city in Northwest Kenya that is the dateline for this New York Times piece? Yes, we can! (Go to the link and click on Kaguma in the upper left corner to get the data specific to that location.)
So, what do the real data show? For rainfall, of course, the real data show it to be increasing, not decreasing. You can get an average annual rainfall for the entire period 1901 to 2015 -- 462.76 mm per year (about 18.5 inches)(you need to add up the monthly averages to get this sum). And you can get the figure for the most recent 25 years, 1991 to 2015 -- that's 467.71 mm. It's not much more, but it is more. How about if we look to the earliest period available here, which is 1901 - 1930. That period was before human CO2 emissions got going much. And for that period the annual average rainfall at Kaguma was 314 mm (about 12.5 inches) -- it's not just less, but a lot less. And for 1931 - 1960? The annual average was 368 mm (about 14.5 inches). You can see the trend. Could this possibly be more embarrassing for Pravda?
Now, might they have had some droughts, even severe ones in the recent years? Sure. But given these data, it can't possibly be that the drought situation is far worse now than it was 50 and 100 years ago. By the way, in looking at these numbers, keep in mind that super-wealthy Los Angeles averages about 15 inches of rain per year together with frequent droughts. There is nothing about 15 inches of annual rainfall and periodic severe droughts that is inconsistent with extreme wealth.
And how about some temperature data for Kaguma? Is it experiencing severe warming and "climate change"? Certainly nothing that you can find in the data reported by the World Bank. Averaging the monthly average temperatures given for Kaguma for the period 1901 - 1930, I get 27.3 deg C. For the period 1991 - 2015, I get 27.47 deg C. It's an increase of about 0.17 deg C in the course of 90 years. And about half of those 90 years preceded the era of large-scale human CO2 emissions. By the way, for most of the measuring period, it is highly unlikely that they had thermometers that had a measuring accuracy of greater than 0.5 deg C. And we are supposed to believe that this barely (if at all) measurable change is "imperiling millions"?
It could not be more insulting to our intelligence.