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The Australian Fires/Climate Change Link: Activists Spread BS Across The Media – Because They’ve Got Nothing To Go On

 

 

A series of Comments and Correspondence have recently been published in Nature Climate Change and the legacy alarmist media has gone into overdrive to spin the false narrative once again that climate change ’caused’ the devastating Australian bushfires. This is obviously very important to them; they simply must establish the link between the fires and man-made climate change in the public consciousness, totally regardless of whether that link can actually be robustly, scientifically demonstrated. It’s too good an opportunity to miss in order to spin the catastrophe narrative.

The BBC of course spins the alarmist narrative shamelessly:

‘Australia fires were far worse than any prediction’

The Australian bushfires were more catastrophic than any simulation of our changing climate predicted.

This is the conclusion of researchers who described the devastation as a “fiery wake-up call for climate science”.

Bushfires in south-east Australia have left 33 people dead and burned an area of land the size of South Korea.

“This [was] worse than anything our models simulated,” climate scientist Dr Benjamin Sanderson told BBC News.

Translation: ‘It was much worse than we thought, so the models were right, but they were not right enough.’ Here’s what the abstract of that ‘study’ says:

To improve climate resilience for extreme fire events, researchers need to translate modelling uncertainties into useful guidance and be wary of overconfidence. If Earth system models do not capture the severity of recent Australian wildfires, development is urgently needed to assess whether we are underestimating fire risk.

This is just so irritating. Instead of admitting that the climate models got it wrong and investigating why they might have got it wrong, the knee-jerk response by climate ‘scientists’ is to immediately assume that the models have underestimated catastrophic impacts. It doesn’t even cross their minds that the models might simply be wrong because other factors totally unrelated to climate change™ might be at play.

Dr Sanderson, who is part of the French government’s ‘Make our planet great again’ program, said climate science needed to “do a better job” to avoid being caught out in future by wildfires, or by other catastrophes fuelled by climate change.

From his office at the European centre for research and training in high performance computing (CERFACS) in Toulouse, he explained: “The faster [the planet] warms, the more likely we are to be taken by surprise.”

This is nonsense and just pure ideological preachy afactual prattle from a supposed ‘scientist’. He then goes full climate retard by claiming that models should be supercharged to churn out all possible nightmarish futures – no doubt using RCP8.5 or its SSP equivalent and the very highest climate sensitivity models that can be mustered from the CMIP6 arsenal.

Dr Sanderson agreed: “Rather than running one simulation that looks as close as possible to the real world, we need to start creating thousands of different versions of the future.

“Those thousands of versions should span the full space of how bad this could be.”

This is a fanatic, not a cautious academic. He is unhinged, he’s high as a kite on the intoxicating fumes of catastrophe weed plus the promise of ever more lavish funding from billionaire business executives and government grants.

The other Comment on the Nature Climate Change series on the Oz bushfires sounds even more loopy:

Catastrophic fires have generated intensified public responses in favour of transformative climate change action. Realizing the potential of this moment requires us to understand and puncture the cultural and emotional politics of our collective denial.

The BBC informs us of a Correspondence article in the same series:

Another paper, published in this same issue, confirms that the extent of the Australia fires vastly exceeds previous wildfires – both within Australia and elsewhere in the world.

Their direct link to climate change is still being investigated . . . . .

As I’ve pointed out, this eagerly awaited attribution study of the Australian wildfires, to be jointly authored by whinging Aussie climate scientist Sophie Lewis and colleagues at World Weather Attribution is due any time soon. Judging by the publicity being generated by the current ‘studies’ which are reinforcing the climate change narrative in the public consciousness ahead of the next round of BS, I expect very soon.

The Graun chooses to concentrate on the supposedly ‘unprecedented’ extent of forest destruction by the latest wildfires in order to convince its readers that it ‘must be climate change wot dunnit’:

More than 20% of Australia’s forests burned during the summer’s bushfire catastrophe, a proportion scientists believe is unprecedented globally, according to new research.

As we know, in terms of total land surface area burned, the Australian bushfires are nowhere near unprecedented, as Bjorn Lomborg demonstrated. A much higher percentage of land area burned in the 1970s. So forest area burned might be unprecedented (in the record) but that’s because of the geographical location of the drought which is the most direct cause of the wildfires (after the sources of ignition of course).

The author Lisa Cox appears to come over all faint after this though and she actually becomes a journalist again by relaying some sensible comments from a sensible scientist:

Andrew King, a lecturer in climate science at the University of Melbourne, co-authored another piece examining the role of climate variability and drought. He said the consequences of extreme drought, heat and bushfires had been well-documented, but the collection of articles in Nature Climate Change was intended to “provide informed commentary on this summer’s severe weather”.

There was a lot “we don’t fully understand yet”, King said. “While we can say with confidence that human-caused climate change has amplified the extreme heatwaves that have been observed this summer, the influence of human-caused climate change on drought and fires in Australia is much harder to disentangle and natural climate variability plays a very large role in both.”

He said the climate models used to make projections had “deficiencies in simulating both drought and fire such that we cannot yet provide robust guidance on how these extremes of Australian climate will change as the world continues to warm”.

But the Graun is not letting on about the details of this study. The Conversation, surprisingly, does. The article itself, authored by King, is cunningly not headlined as having anything to do with the Australian bushfires, but it is all about the Australian bushfires – and how they are most likely a result of natural variability in weather, not climate change.

There has been much discussion on whether human-caused climate change is to blame. Our new study explores Australian droughts through a different lens.

Rather than focusing on what’s causing the dry conditions, we investigated why it’s been such a long time since we had widespread drought-breaking rain. And it’s got a lot to do with how the temperature varies in the Pacific and Indian Ocean.

Our findings suggest that while climate change does contribute to drought, blame can predominately be pointed at the absence of the Pacific Ocean’s La Niña and the negative Indian Ocean Dipole – climate drivers responsible for bringing wetter weather.

Rather than blame El Nino and the very strong positive Indian Ocean Dipole for the drought and hot weather, the author does the complete opposite and suggests it is the lack of a negative Indian Ocean Dipole plus La Nina conditions that has created the dry conditions:

The problem is we haven’t had either a La Niña or a negative Indian Ocean Dipole event since winter 2016. Our study shows the lack of these events helps explain why eastern Australia is in drought.

For the southeast of Australia in particular, La Niña or negative Indian Ocean Dipole events provide the atmosphere with suitable conditions for persistent and widespread rainfall to occur. So while neither La Niña or a negative Indian Ocean Dipole guarantee heavy rainfall, they do increase the chances.

Whatever the actual case may be, it’s clear that climate change played only a bit-part in the events of Dec 2019 and Jan 2020 in Australia.

While climate drivers are predominately causing this drought, climate change also contributes, though more work is needed to understand what role it specifically plays.

Drought is more complicated and multidimensional than simply “not much rain for a long time”. It can be measured with a raft of metrics beyond rainfall patterns, including metrics that look at humidity levels and evaporation rates.

What we do know is that climate change can exacerbate some of these metrics, which, in turn, can affect drought.

The Conversation aside, to give you a brief taste of the BS being propagated in the media right now, here is Wired:

Today in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers are publishing a series of articles as a kind of postmortem of the Australian bushfires. The series is both a diagnosis of what happened as flames swept across the continent, and a call to action for researchers the world over: Climate change is a crisis for people, the natural world at large—and for science itself.

In particular, some of the research is making a staggering argument: This season’s bushfires were so catastrophic, they caught modelers off guard—way off guard. The models not only hadn’t predicted that bushfires of this magnitude could happen now, they hadn’t even predicted that bushfires of this magnitude could happen in the next 80 years.

The Fail, failing typically, shouts at its readers:

‘A fiery wake-up call for climate science’: Australian bushfires caused an ‘unprecedented’ amount of damage and destroyed a FIFTH of the continent’s forests.

    • Recent research looked at scale and cause of the devastating Australian fires 
    • Found that 21 per cent of the nation’s forested area was destroyed by fire 
    • Fresh analysis has called the amount of damage and loss of life ‘unprecedented’ 
    • Experts say the disaster ‘would be impossible without anthropogenic influence’ and say the climate change played a significant role in the bushfires

OMG, the end is nigh. Well, actually, it’s nigh on impossible apparently to say when the end is nigh (because it’s always ten or twelve, or twenty years in the future) and ‘experts’ just can’t seem to agree on how it’s going to be nigh – be it drought, flood, fire, storm, mass crop failures, catastrophic sea level rise, or whatever. But fire is a very popular theme at the moment and alarmists are determined to exploit a natural catastrophe in Australia to the fullest possible extent. Next up – the attribution study. My guess is it will be far from conclusive but will be hyped like mad across the mainstream climate alarmist media.

26 thoughts on “The Australian Fires/Climate Change Link: Activists Spread BS Across The Media – Because They’ve Got Nothing To Go On

  1. Pingback: The Australian Fires/Climate Change Link: Activists Spread BS Across The Media – Because They’ve Got Nothing To Go On — Climate Scepticism – NZ Conservative Coalition

  2. Had a visit from my son and grandson yesterday and conversation turned to the mildness of the last few winters and the severity of the Australian fires. My son is well educated, has an inquisitive mind and is widely travelled (he spent half a year in eastern Australia). I was astounded to discover that I couldn’t shake his conviction that this season’s fires were exceptional and this must be related to climate change. Even after showing him material from Paul Homewood’s site he remained resolute and his conviction was based upon the fire fighters losing control to “a greater extent than previously”.
    If people like my son have succumbed to the blandishments of climate activists I am now very worried.
    “She who must be listened to” is also showing signs of believing the BBC creed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s looking more like a contagion Alan, a madness which is infecting people’s minds and destroying their ability to rationally assess evidence. It’s like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. I had no idea a cultural spell could reach so easily into people’s minds and so thoroughly distort their perception of reality. Of course, it might be you and I who are labouring under the spell of ‘climate denialism’. In theory, we could never know, but I’m pretty certain that I can still think rationally and assess evidence logically. Also, observation of the increasingly bizarre behaviour of the climate crisis convinced leads me to believe that I haven’t ‘caught the bug’, which seems to be incurable.

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  4. I don’t want it to happen, but I believe that the effect of COVID19 on the oz economy is going to make the bushfires look like a summer picnic, except to those whose property was directly affected.

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  5. Geoff, I think you may be right. The world may have a more immediate problem on its hands very soon. If (when) Covid-19 becomes a pandemic, it is almost certainly going to have a knock-on effect upon the global economy in addition to claiming many lives. China is very likely concealing the fact that it escaped from the bio-laboratory in Wuhan.

    https://nypost.com/2020/02/22/dont-buy-chinas-story-the-coronavirus-may-have-leaked-from-a-lab/

    Covid-19 may take a year or more to run its course. If it’s a lot more serious than seasonal ‘flu, this will almost inevitably result in a global recession and place health services under massive pressure. The ‘climate crisis’ might soon be eclipsed by an actual crisis. I hope not. I prefer the make-believe catastrophe.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/02/25/coronavirus-threatens-global-economy-sudden-stop/

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  6. ‘Always look on the bright side of a global pandemic and global recession’:

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  7. “I had no idea a cultural spell could reach so easily into people’s minds and so thoroughly distort their perception of reality.”

    A cultural spell is a pretty good description. But it’s more like a bypass rather than a distortion, which a) means their rationality / perception is still perfectly good outside of the domain of the spell, in this case climate change, and b) in theory… which doesn’t mean it’s at all easy, the bypass can be unhooked and hence their undamaged rationality will work as normal again, because it’s never actually been harmed.

    In practice b) can nevertheless be very hard if the bypass has been in place a long time. And also if the culture has widened its domain from a narrow origin (obscure climate science or obscure prophet) into a global brand with its fingers in everything we do (Big Green or Big Religion), which hence starts to widen the bypass around lots more related ‘dangerous’ topics. And cultures constantly attempt a widening of their domain.

    “It’s like nothing I’ve ever witnessed.”

    This is the normal state of humanity in fact, and throughout humanity’s whole existence we have been saturated with multiple competing cultures, of which not only 100,000 religions (and everyone on the planet was still religious until about 150 years ago – a big majority still are), but latterly a bunch of secular religions too, e.g. the potent one arising from a mix of eugenics, anti-Semitism and national socialism in the mid-twentieth century. This long history (effectively from long *before* we were even homo-sapien-sapien) explains the ease with which it works. We evolved to do this; it’s a feature not a bug.

    As traditional religions have lost their grip in westernised nations, the secular cultures are competing to fill the gap. For a few decades after WW2 there seemed to be a decent phase where religion was not so dominating, allowing much more rationality into the management of society, while the many cultures still trying their hand seemed not to get too much purchase in the West, albeit Communism still scoring big in some other countries. I’ve grown up in this ‘rational pause’, so to speak, but religion still tried to claim me when I was young 0: Could be the pause is over. Whilst the big picture would suggest it’s just a ‘blip’ in our journey away from cultural dominance, on the timescales involved a ‘blip’ could last generations. The climate thing has already been running for decades, albeit not with the level of influence seen recently.

    “Of course, it might be you and I who are labouring under the spell of ‘climate denialism’.”

    No-one say what, or who, is ‘right’ in such conflicted circumstances, because only future history can tell. But we *can* sometimes say what and who is *wrong*, because if it’s strongly cultural, it’s wrong! The purpose of cultures (to unite everyone in-group in the face of the unknowable [practically everything used to be unknown and most still is]), *requires* that its narratives be false. And we can spot strong cultures by their effects, the most obvious of which is an *enforced consensus*. Generically speaking, climate skeptics do not have one of those. They’re all over the map, a great strength, as Judith Curry points out. If they start to have an enforced consensus, that’s the time to worry. And indeed, various other cultures are pulled in on *both* sides. The US Dem/Libs have allied with climate culture, pulling the Rep/Cons into the conflict upon the other side. Both these political cultures are unusually strong for a democratic nation. Regarding the US public (like all publics, no climate literacy to speak of), the Rep/Cons are skeptical because of their Rep/Con culture, and not due to rationality. Which is why I said ‘generally’ above; there are some enforced Rep/Con consensus narratives because it is a cultural group, albeit not as strong as the apocalyptic climate thing, and some of those narratives are pitted against the climate thing – hence some cultural components do exist (differently) regarding skepticism in some countries, facing a global common CAGW culture.

    Cultural membership has an opposite too, which is also not rational but opposes alien culture or local culture that goes too far, and many people are skeptical due to the surfacing of this too. This can lead *lead* to rational skepticism, but likely only for a small number. However, that’s all another story…

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  8. This “Corona” virus is being hyped up into some thing it is not I believe.
    Just like the Global warming or “Climate change” as it is called now we
    are not doomed. It used to be called Asian Flu & has been happening
    for decades. Political agendas require alarmism always.

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  9. TIGERZNTL, there is a certain amount of alarmism re. Covid-19, but I think we should be right to be concerned. It’s quite a different virus from other corona viruses: H5N1 (bird ‘flu), H1N1 (Swine flu), SARS, MERS, etc., hence the term ‘novel coronavirus’. Swine flu was deadly, killing 280,000 people worldwide after infecting 762 million people. It was extremely contagious but had a low mortality rate (0.02%). Covid-19 mortality rate is estimated to be 2%, 100 times greater than H1N1 and it may be just as contagious, so the maths look scary. Spanish flu killed 20 million people in 1918, a huge number compared to the world population then. You have to wonder why the British government is quoting a ‘reasonable’ worst case scenario as 80% of the population of the UK infected plus half a million deaths.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lubos Motl has a post tracking Covid-19 For example:
    Meanwhile, the main Covid-19 statistics page shows a dramatic reduction in the new cases and deaths. When we started to cover this story in early 2020, I mentioned that the “doubling time” was comparable to two days or so. Well, we’re surely not getting one doubling per day; the actual numbers suggest it is just one doubling after half a year assuming the current rates. Instead, the fresh data show:
    80,997 cases in total
    …=…48,090 active cases
    …-…=…39,251 mild
    …-…+…8,839 severe
    …+…32,907 closed cases
    …-…=…30,143 cured
    …-…+…2,764 dead
    https://motls.blogspot.com/2020/02/covid-19-probably-peaked-in-early.html

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  11. Geert has been double-checking the attribution study so it will definitely be released very soon, right on cue. Extreme weather event attribution is now apparently a ‘breakthrough technology’.

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  12. Isn’t there something wrong when Jaime writes a post ending with “a ‘reasonable’ worst case scenario as 80% of the population of the UK infected plus half a million deaths” has to be greeted with a “like” to show approval?

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  13. For some reason we got onto Covid19. The latest overview would be at least as infectious as seasonal influenza. R0 estimates between 2 and 6 (flu is 2-3), with mortality around 2 %, but that is probably an overestimate. Given China is home to a third of the word’s smokers and that male smoking rates are over 50 % in many provinces, this could account for higher than average severe cases and deaths. So perhaps 1 % or slightly less. Prognosis is that this will almost certainly become a world wide pandemic before any vaccine is developed.

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  14. I suppose if 20% of the forest has been “destroyed,” then we won’t have to worry about bushfires in those areas again, right?

    Re: coronavirus, it does have a suspiciously good fit as a bioweapon, not burning too hot like SARS. The long incubation with infectiveness is a very good trait for transmission. [Until smart cookies explain how this beastie was assembled, I’ll continue to assume it is merely our (bad) luck, not nefariousness coupled with carelessness. The hapless pangolin’s ultimate revenge on its captors?]

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  15. Getting back to the original subject: I could be persuaded that ‘climate change’ has some input into our warm dry summer, if someone had an explanation that showed a causal mechanism backed with data from the real world for these two things.
    1. How an increase in CO2 causes warm water to pile up near Africa and not near NW Australia more than previously- if indeed it is actually now more common for this to be the case.
    2. On the Southern Annular Mode, I recently saw an article which claimed that over the last 50 years or so it was becoming more generally positive. Now for good rainfall in south east Australia you want it to be positive in winter, but negative for spring and summer. Yet despite the ‘more generally positive’ finding, it is good winter rains that have been most lacking in recent years. So is this even an influence?And where is the explanation for how a rise in CO2 controls the SAM, which in any case is quite prone to flip from negative to positive and vice versa over quite short time periods.

    I probably shouldn’t even be a sceptic. I don’t necessarily think that it’s a terrific idea to burn huge amounts of fossil fuels, especially for unproductive uses. I’m fully persuaded that much of our current practice in food production is a disaster. I’m fairly keen on biodiversity and untamed landscapes. If I designed a society it would look more like an Amish town than inner Melbourne. But almost against my inclination, I just can’t help being sceptical when I encounter woolly worse than we thoughts, motivated reasonings (thanks Lew), teenage proto-dictators, and the Adjustment Bureau “speaking truth” to past weather. And other things too numerous to mention.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. JIT,

    Research by team from Nankai University shows new virus has mutated gene similar to those found in HIV and Ebola.

    The new coronavirus has an HIV-like mutation that means its ability to bind with human cells could be up to 1,000 times as strong as the Sars virus, according to new research by scientists in China and Europe.

    The mutation, which Ruan’s team described as an “unexpected insertion”, could come from many possible sources such as a coronavirus found in rats or even a species of avian flu.

    This explains why the UK government is stocking up on anti-HIV drugs. It doesn’t help of course when sociopathic climate cultists apparently celebrate the ‘opportunities’ presented by Covid-19 to significantly reduce global GHG emissions.

    https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3052495/coronavirus-far-more-likely-sars-bond-human-cells-scientists-say

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  17. JIT,

    “I suppose if 20% of the forest has been “destroyed,” then we won’t have to worry about bushfires in those areas again, right?”

    You touch here upon an interesting point that is sometimes overlooked when impact analyses are undertaken. Take, for example, the much vaunted death toll resulting from France’s canicule heatwave of 2003. Much is made of the fact that the heat-related deaths that summer exceeded the average by 14 800. Much less is mentioned of the fact that the following year the figure fell short of the average by 24 000, giving a biennial figure that was actually below average. Two reasons for the post-heatwave drop in mortality spring to mind:

    a) The elderly and sick were not neglected as much in the immediate wake of the bad experience of 2003.

    b) You can only die once.

    The point is that the heatwave had harvested lives, causing the elderly and sick to die prematurely, so the real statistic of interest is the effect on life-expectancy.

    As for forest fires, no study of fire risk is worth its salt if it doesn’t take into account both the projected climatic conditions and the availability of combustible material. And, of course, any lull caused by a lack of available material will provide the alarmists with an excellently low baseline upon which to calculate future percentage increases. Or am I just being cynical?

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  18. The attribution study has finally been released in the last hour or so. Doesn’t sound too hopeful to be honest.

    Here is the abstract:

    Abstract. Disastrous bushfires during the last months of 2019 and January 2020 affected Australia, raising the question to what extent the risk of these fires was exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change. To answer the question for southeastern Australia, where fires were particularly severe, affecting people and ecosystems, we use a physically-based index of fire weather, the Fire Weather Index, long-term observations of heat and drought, and eleven large ensembles of state-of-the-art climate models. In agreement with previous analyses we find that heat extremes have become more likely by at least a factor5 two due to the long-term warming trend. However, current climate models overestimate variability and tend to underestimate the long term trend in these extremes,so the true change in thelikelihood of extreme heat could be larger.We do not find an attributable trend in either extreme annual drought or the driest month of the fire season September–February. The observations, however, show a weak drying trend in the annual mean. Finally, we find large trends in the Fire Weather Index in the ERA5 reanalysis, and a smaller but significant increase by at least 30% in the models. The trend is mainly driven by the increase10 of temperature extremes and hence also likely underestimated. For the 2019/20 season more than half of the July–December drought was driven by record excursions of the Indian Ocean dipole and Southern Annular Mode.These factors are included in the analysis. The study reveals the complexity of the 2019/20 bushfire event, with some, but not all drivers showing an imprint of anthropogenic climate change.

    Doesn’t look like there’s a lot for alarmists to get excited about. It’s a long paper which will obviously take some time to go through carefully, but I doubt this will stop idiot journalists from hyping it as definitive proof that the Oz bushfires were caused by climate change.

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  19. Such as at the BBC, you mean?:

    “Climate change boosted Australia bushfire risk by at least 30%”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-51742646

    Actually, this is yet another case where the BBC headline is much more dramatic than the article, if you get beyond the headline and bother to read it. It’s one of my long-standing criticisms of the BBC website – that for those people who don’t read beyond the headline, the BBC headlines are often misleading and sensationalist.

    Alan K and I don’t agree on this, but that’s fine. At least it demonstrates that we sceptics aren’t monolithic.

    PS Alan good to see your contributions have re-appeared. I was getting a bit worried when I didn’t see any comments from you for a few days.

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  20. The Grauniad,

    The models found the probability of the index reaching levels seen during Australia’s bushfires had increased due to human-caused climate change by 30%.

    But the scientists said the influence of extra greenhouse gases was likely much higher because when they compared the climate models to the actual temperatures, they found the models underestimated the extreme heat seen during the bushfires.

    Prof Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, lead author of the study, of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, said: “We found that climate models struggle to reproduce these extreme events and their trends realistically.

    “However, they always underestimate the increase in chances for extreme fire risks such as Australia saw in the last few months. This means we know the effect is likely larger than 30% increase lower bound, which is already a significant influence of global warming.”

    LOL.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/mar/05/bushfire-crisis-conditions-eight-times-more-likely-under-2c-warming-analysis-shows

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  21. Mark I appreciate the concern, but there was no necessity. I self-isolated myself from commenting upon the ever more depressing news seemingly everywhere. Climate change hysteria gets me down sometimes but now combined with coranovirus….

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  22. When it comes to causal analysis, the storyline one creates depends largely upon the causal agents one conditions upon. The process is simple in principle:

    a) Start with a causal model, i.e. a causal network linking all suspected causes to their effects.

    b) To test a causal link, hold other variables constant (i.e. condition upon them) whilst waggling the value of the causal agent of interest.

    c) See how the risk of the effect increases.

    d) Repeat the exercise for all the posited causal agents and make comparisons.

    e) If you just want to promote concern over your initially chosen causal agent, don’t bother repeating the exercise, just say it is too difficult. Alternatively, bury the information in a 46 page report and let the press run with the storyline presented in your abstract.

    In psychology, this is known as the ‘focussing effect’. It is a well-known cognitive bias.

    I’m not yet saying that (e) is what the World Weather Attribution centre has done – so far I have only skim-read their report. Nevertheless, when scientists talk of a 30% risk increase due to a given factor, rather than the percentage extent to which a given factor applies, I’m already wary as to the conclusions one should really be drawing.

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  23. John,

    Liked by 1 person

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