Merchants of Drought

A journal called Scientific American (or ScAm for short) hosts the latest blog from Kate Marvel, claiming that the “Hot Planet” is Creeping toward permanent drought.” The subtitle is “Both trees and climate models are telling us the same frightening story”.  Most of the text is her usual substance-free emotional wittering: “The smell—a peppery sweetness, pine without Christmas—is what I remember when I think of home”, so I won’t bother to quote much of it, but here is the final paragraph:

From my office in New York, I can look at these future projections and see California dancing from dry to wet and back again, until there is no again and it settles in to permanent drought. If the trees survive us, they may live to tell of a time where the grass turned brown, the map turned brown, and it was a long time before it was ever green again.

The “future projections” link here goes to a story from a few years ago when the “permanent drought” scare was at its peak, being promoted by the media and climate fraudster Peter Gleick.  Since then, California’s reservoirs have filled up and the “permanent drought” is now a subject for ridicule at sceptical blogs. So it is surprising that anyone would try to resurrect this fake news again.

Here’s a graph from a paper in Nature showing the fraction of the earth suffering from drought over the last 30 years. The different colours show different drought intensities on a 5-point scale from “abnormally dry” (D0, yellow) to “exceptional drought” (D4, dark red). It shows little change; if anything, a slight decrease in drought:

For the USA, there is a graph of the amount of drought on the EPA website, showing that there’s no trend and the worst period of drought was in the “dust bowl” era of the 1930s:

A recent post by Roger Pielke shows a graph of the area of the US suffering from drought since 2000, from the DroughtMonitor website:

The trend line shows that drought appears to be decreasing, and the area not under drought seems to be at a record high.

Finally, there is the latest IPCC report, SR15, published last autumn, which has this to say:

Is it possible that Marvel is unaware of all this evidence, and has never thought to look for it? Or is she well aware of it, and simply lying to the public about the approaching “permanent drought”? Either way, it’s an astonishing illustration of the dishonesty of the climate movement and the media organisations such as ScAm that publish this drivel.

Other climate scientists, of course, are quite aware of the falsehood of Marvel’s claims. In any normal, honest field of science, this pseudoscience would be exposed by others in the field. But in the institutionally dishonest field of climate science, the opposite happens. Bogus claims are promoted and described as “wonderful”:

The stream of falsehoods from a relatively small number of high-profile climate scientists, aided by explicit promotion or complicit silence by the rest of the field, and given publicity by the media, has several consequences.

Firstly, it creates and fuels climate scepticism. If you look at this blog or others, or the twitter accounts of prominent sceptics, you’ll see that the main focus is on exposing the false claims of climate scientists, activists and politicians. If they stopped doing this, we’d have nothing to write about and the CliScep blog would soon close down. A related consequence is that is that climate activists have failed (as illustrated by the victory of Donald Trump and the recent election result in Australia) to win public support for their preferred policies, as discussed in this recent blog post by Fabius Maximus.

Secondly, it creates polarisation, since while some scoff, other more gullible, less well-informed, and usually younger people believe these falsehoods and become terrified and depressed as a result.

Here is one of the victims of the propaganda, from a post at reddit the other day:

I’m too depressed to do anything but lie in my bed and cry.

I just realized I’ve planned out my entire life, what college I’m going to, what I’ll study, what state I’ll live in, what city I’ll live in, what apartment I’ll live in, when I want kids, everything, but now I realize I’m not even going to get to finish my whole collage before global warming kills us. And there’s nothing I can do.

How do climate scientists sleep at night?



22 thoughts on “Merchants of Drought

  1. The victory of narrative attribution over data.
    Or, to paraphrase what certain Germans practiced to great effect,
    “Repeat a lie big enough often enough and it will eventually be believed”.
    Or simply imagine Orwell’s surprise at finding out how well MiniTruth has done in finding good workers in the field of science.


  2. It is hard to know which came first: the political polarization or the corruption of earth sciences. I suspect that the trend toward corrupt science came first since its roots go back to the 1950’s and 1960’s. The problem here for science is that when judgment comes it is likely to be harsh. Much like eugenics and social Darwinism in the 19th Century which also spawned political action like the founding of Planned Parenthood. Unfortunately, while social Darwinism lost credibility from the 1930’s to the 1960’s and was excoriated by most liberals and conservatives alike, Planned Parenthood has remained untouched by its roots in racism and eugenics (these facts are hidden or actively censored). History is being rewritten before our eyes by a new generation of Marxist or Marxist sympathetic “historians.” Those who worry about the future have more cause for concern in the deteriorating commitment to truth and diversity of thought.


  3. ScAm. Love it! The perfect rag to host Marvel’s climate flights of fancy. I think male feminist Doug McNeall has a crush on Marvel, so anything the climate crusader for women’s rights in science says is good with him.


  4. What’s wiv yoof today? We lived through the Cuban crisis, when there was a good proportion of informed thought that the world would end in a nuclear holocaust. I recall taking off the day (not attending lectures) and playing Solo all day (Misère was a common bid that day). There seemed no point, a possibility of no future. But when the Russian ships turned back, we went back to our usual life with sheepish grins. What would current yuff have done?


  5. One key aspect of the global warming theory (Arrhenius 1896) is that, as a response to co2 forcing, the water vapour in the atmosphere should increase. How is this ‘permanent drought’ extrapolation in agreement with the increasing water vapour hypothesis?


  6. Scientific American used to be much better. Scientific American used to be truthful. Here’s a SciAm article from before their sad decline.

    Scientific American ‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍ ‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍ ‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍ Nov. 27, 1920

    Carbonic Acid Gas to Fertilize the Air
    By Dr. Alfred Gradenwitz

    Fertilizing the air with carbon dioxide to promote plant growth

    1. Yield of potatoes in fields over which the air was fertilized with carbonic acid gas and left unfertilized.

    2. A similar comparison for cauliflower plants.

    3. An open-air carbonic-acid fertilizing plant.

    ONE of the principal constituents making up the body of a plant is carbon, representing about one-half of its organic substance. The opinion that this carbon is derived from the soil has long been abandoned, modern investigation having shown atmospheric carbonic acid to be absorbed by means of the chlorophyl or green matter of the leaves and decomposed into its elements, the carbon, in conjunction with the root sap and atmospheric moisture, being worked into organic compounds.

    Whereas atmospheric air at present is relatively poor in carbonic acid, of which it contains only about .03 per cent, at an early period in the development of our planet, when this was covered with the luxuriant forests our coal deposits are derived from, it comprised incomparably greater quantities of this gas. This fact suggested the idea of heightening the fertility of the soil by increasing its carbonic acid content and thus producing conditions resembling those of antediluvian ages. In order to enable such a process to be carried out on anything like a commercial line, a cheap source of carbonic acid had, of course, to be provided.

    This was found by Dr. Fr. Riedel of Essen-on-Ruhr in the combustion gases escaping from all factories, but most abundantly from blast-furnaces, and which so far had been allowed to flow out into the atmosphere without serving any useful purpose. He accordingly set to work designing a process for which patents were obtained and which was put to practical tests on a large scale. Three greenhouses were at first erected, one of which served as testing room, while the two others were used for checking purposes. The testing room was supplied with purified and burnt blast-furnace exhaust gases through a line of punctured piping traversing the whole greenhouse in a forward and backward direction. The gas supply was started on June 12th, that is to say, at a time when plant growth was at its height.

    On account of the careful cleansing and complete elimination of constituents such as sulfur, the gas was found to exert no harmful effects. On the contrary, even a few days after starting the test, there could be observed In the testing room a more luxuriant vegetation than in the checking houses. The leaves of the castor-oil plant in the greenhouse supplied with gas were found to reach more than one meter in span, whereas the largest leaf in the checking houses was only about 58 centimeters in width. Plants submitted to the influence of carbonic acid gas also showed a marked advance with regard to their height. With the tomatoes planted in another part of the greenhouse a crop of 29.5 kilograms was obtained for a given number of fruits, the weight of the same number of fruits in the testing room being 81.3 kilograms, that is, 175 per cent more. With the cucumbers planted at the same time a somewhat slighter difference was noted, the yield in the checking houses being 138 kilograms, in the testing house, however, 235 kilograms, corresponding to an increase in yield of 70 per cent. An interesting phenomenon noted in this connection was that, while the cucumbers in the checking houses would exhibit bright spots, those in the testing house, on account of the more plentiful formation of chlorophyl were of a dark green color throughout.

    Experiments in the open air were made simultaneously with these greenhouse tests, a square plot of ground being encircled by punctured cement pipes from which a continuous supply of exhaust gases was escaping. The wind, mostly striking the ground at an angle, would drive the carbonic acid in a variable direction toward the plants, thus allowing extensive areas to be supplied with the fertilizing gas. On the opposite side of the greenhouse plant there was provided for checking purposes a plot of the same size submitted to no carbonic acid gas, the soil in the two plots being of the same quality. Samples were derived from the best portions of the checking field, but from the center of the field submitted to the action of carbonic acid gas, the increase in yield in the case of spinach being found to be 150 per cent, with potatoes 180 per cent, with lupines (a legume) 174 per cent, and with barley 100 per cent. The potatoes in the field submitted to the action of carbonic acid gas were found to ripen much more quickly than in the checking plot.

    The testing plant in view of these surprisingly favorable results was eventually extended, three greenhouses of the same size as those existing being added, while the small open-ground plant was increased considerably and more extensive grounds—30,000 square meters—were provided with an underground central pipe and branch pipes encircling lengthy plots. Especially favorable results were obtained on this field with potatoes, a 300 per cent increase being recorded in connection with tests on a large scale.

    All experiments so far made go to show that fertilizing the air by means of carbonic acid gas is a much more efficient process than even an increased fertilization of the ground with stable manure and cow dung. If, on the other hand, a plot fertilized from the air. at the same time be submitted to soil fertilization, the latter, on account of the increased need for other elements (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, etc.) entailed by the increased absorption of carbonic acid, can be driven much farther than otherwise.

    According to Dr. Riedel’s calculations an iron works dealing in its blast-furnaces with about 4,000 tons of coke per day will daily produce as much as 35 million cubic meters of combustion gases, containing 20 per cent carbonic acid gas. This is such an enormous amount that even in the case of a partial utilization most extensive plots of ground can he supplied with the precious air fertilizer. Dr. Riedel therefore believes that carbonic acid works for supplying agriculture will before long be quite as common a feature as electricity and gas works, the large industrial centers at the same time becoming centers of increasing agricultural production.

    Careful analysis has shown the increase in the percentage of carbonic acid in the air to remain far below the limit where the gas becomes liable to endanger the health of man.

    # # #

    For a better-formatted version, with footnotes, see:


  7. The name Marvel is ironic on so many levels.
    I too dropped ScAm when the magazine abandoned science for post normal journalism.
    Another catastrophist who has monetized fear mongering, Hayhoe, is coming to spread her unique mixture of climate fear mongering and Christianity at a town hall near me.
    I am strongly considering attending.
    Due to my work, any comments or questions by me could be personally costly. But if reasonable people don’t start standing up to this pernicious nonsense now, we will find the new iron curtain lowered over all public discourse very soon.


  8. There seems to be memo from Climate Crisis Central for immediate emphasis on hothouse earth. This despite (or maybe because of) the cold wet summer so far in many places. And also it signifies a return to extreme heat after a period of propaganda emphasizing storms and flooding.
    Two additional studies trumpeted in the press proclaimed massive death tolls by end of century with heat waves breaking records summer after summer. Truly, the climate models are burning up. Cliff Mass decried the sloppy analysis of both estimates of future temperatures and calculations of projected deaths from heat waves.


  9. “Carbon dioxide heats the planet, and warmer air is thirstier air. Even if there are no changes to rainfall, some areas will sink into drought under the atmosphere’s relentless demand for moisture.”

    Hellooo! Lincolnshire air seems to have lost its thirst. It’s dumping all the water it drank in the last few months right back on us here and Wainfleet residents are blaming badgers for their river wall bursting.


  10. Of course, I think it is accepted even by the alarmed that higher CO2 concentrations improve drought tolerance in plants. Another one of those flipsides that it is forbidden to say in today’s climate.


  11. @ Jaime – “and Wainfleet residents are blaming badgers for their river wall bursting”

    not according to the main news channels – the locals say this flooding is unprecedented (no badgers mentioned)


  12. We need a Hollywood movie Beth, one will which will capture the full essence and sheer horror of this emerging peril: “Honey, Global Warming Shrunk The Fish!”.


  13. Badgers and moles probably seek out driest soil conditions which, in low-lying parts of Lincolnshire and Norfolk subject to flooding, are coastal defences and artificial river banks.


  14. I have a history involving building river banks to prevent flooding. In 1974 we citizens of Regina, Saskatchewan responded to pleas of help from inhabitants of Lumsdan a small town (now an artists centre) to the north within the Qu’Appelle valley which carries water from the South Saskatchewan River. That year there was a sudden thaw, and a prediction of very high river levels that would drown Lumsdan. We filled endless sandbags, or lay them on the top of the river banks. For long hours that night, under flood lights brought in from outdoor ice hockey rinks of nearby towns, hundreds of people toiled. The river level climbed slowly and remorselessly, surpassing the old river banks, till it flowed between walls of sandbags. There was fear that these walls might collapse as the water level rose ever higher and lateral pressures on the submerged parts of the walls increased. It was proposed to line the river sides of the walls with flattened car bodies from a iron smelter in Regina. Fortunately, some of us were able to prevent this, arguing that if the river were to prize off a car body it could use it as a battering ram to destroy the precarious sandbag walls. I was able to show how the flowing water flows in a spiral pattern making such downstream collisions inevitable. Perhaps the first time I was able to use my academic knowledge to good effect.
    We stayed well into the morning, until the river level began slowly to fall. We saw that the walls we had built were as high as the original river banks. In other words half the river flow was in the sandbag canyon we had built. That night was the highest river level EVAR.

    Not really relevant to the present discussion but I hope this interests.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. My apologies Paul, but due to my inattention, my last two comments (8.23am and 9.50am have wrongly been submitted to your thread, rather than to “UK Climate Crisis Flip – June Now Expected To Be Wettest On Record” where they properly belong.


  16. I am late to this thread as usual, but was interested in the ‘hot air thirsty for moisture’ aspect. I have always thought that water vapour feedback alarm would be mitigated by the propensity for water to condense over night leaving things in much the same state to start all over again the following morning. However my thinking on this has been challenged following reading an internet document titled ‘water for the Recovery of Climate- A New Water Paradigm’ by Kravcik et al. This introduced me to the concept of the Small Water Cycle which I had not previously heard of, although I knew of the components which comprise it. Worth a read if you have time on your hands.
    Then this was reinforced by attending a farming conference, where much was made of the possibility that our own land management is responsible for much of the effect of drought on individual holdings- i.e. that there are many ways of increasing infiltration when it is raining which will buffer drought. I have to say that the dead trees and pasture in the photo above look a bit like some of the photos I saw there where comparisons were made of adjoining properties with different management.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. For what it’s worth, the NYT has gone full Guardian, abusing what remains of its credibility in an extraordinarily deceptive article on infrastructure. Nothing about subsidence. Nothing about land use changes. Nothing about infrastructure wearing out. Nothing about huge population increases. Nothing about failed predictions of climate doom for perspective.
    The only thing more dismal and ignorant than the article are the comments.


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