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State of ‘climate change: ‘A Deluge of Bad Maths & Worse Reporting’

By Tony Thomas

Discussing climate stuff with your pals, it’s prudent to ask, “Is that true, or did you get it from the ABC?” Case in point: the Pakistan floods. Time and again since August, the ABC has told us that a third of the country is or was underwater. Horrific! But can that “third” be right? Isn’t a lot of the country desert and mountains anyway?

For the ABC’s ersatz tax-fed journalists, there’s no doubt about it. They show us satellite mapping with flooded parts (colored blue) clearly defined. Case closed…er, not actually. Blind Freddie can see on the ABC’s Pakistan map that the flooding is nothing like a third. Less than a tenth, more like it.

My intent is not to trivialise the terrible suffering of the subsistence villagers. But facts do matter. For example, Care organisation has been raising Pakistan relief funds from the public, claiming that more than a third of the country is flooded. Maybe they’re trusting the ABC?

Here’s the real deal. UN disaster agency OCHA reported,

Satellite-detected water extents mapped by the United Nations Satellite Center (UNOSAT) indicate preliminarily that of 793,000 km2 of lands in Pakistan analysed between 1 and 29 August, around 75,000 km2 [9.5%, or 8.5% for all Pakistan, TT] appear to be affected by floodwaters…

The ABC formula, as here, is

# a heart-rending cameo of suffering mums and kids

# such weather events are “unprecedented”

# global warming’s the cause (no evidence required), the West’s to blame and net-zero’s the solution.

Works every time, as our Teal electees would agree.

Exaggerating the floods also bolsters the ABC’s new campaigning narrative that Australia and the West should hand over squillions to Third World corruptocrats.[1] Those squillions are for alleged loss and damage from global warming allegedly caused by the wealthy West (although China’s emissions now dwarf those of all the West combined.)

Columbia (pop. 52m) at Cop27 demanded $US800 billion per year compensation, that’s $A22,000 per Columbian p.a. for life. About 130 other third-world basket-cases are queued for the West’s money. After the all-night Cop27 deliberations, NZ plunked down a laughable $NZ20m, with Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Scotland offering similar small-change amounts. This ABC campaign for taxpayers to fund third-world compensation is as crazed as its  CO2 net-zero fantasies and the urged destruction of our power grid by intermittent renewables aka ruinables. You can rely on the tax-fed ABC tribe to put the national interest last.

The BBC, even more woefully woke than the ABC, has nonetheless already corrected its “one third” flooding reports. It did this fix sneakily by interviewing a Dundee University academic, Dr Simon Cook, who set out the correct picture: “The scale of the disaster is huge, but is a third of Pakistan really under water?”

But the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency website still recycles the “one-third” nonsense, once again demonstrating the untrustworthiness of the world’s top climate “authorities”. [2]

For the ABC to properly correct its howlers, it’ll have to tack “We Were Wrong” notes to programs ranging from smarty-pants climate warrior Phillip Adams on Late Night Live, to TV and NewsRadio National, and RN Breakfast, which said, “It [fund-raising] comes as new satellite images confirm a third of the country is underwater.”

The ABC’s most shocking abuse of its charter for accuracy and impartiality was on BTN i.e. Behind the News. These are the same ABC educationists who deluge schoolkids with 19 episodes of would-be Aborigine Professor Bruce Pascoe’s blather about pre-colonial indigenous agronomists.[3] BTN is

an educational news program aimed at 10-13 year old kids. It unpacks and explains news and current affairs to young people in a dynamic and creative way. A range of opinions are presented [but none right-of-centre] so students gain a greater awareness of differing points of view [What? Like warming skepticism and border controls?]. Through watching BTN Classroom, students increase their understanding of complex political, economic, environmental and social issues.”  

I tuned into BTN’s Pakistan floods episode, produced by an Amelia Moseley. After referencing the “one third” meme, an unidentified female voice-over continued,

Hundreds of thousands of people are living in roadside camps, and now Australia’s being urged to increase its donations to Pakistan… Experts say this season (monsoon) is more intense because of climate change.

Oh really? They bring on an unidentified “expert”, a handsome young sciency-looking guy who tells kids, “The warmer climate means you have more intense rainfall and also warmer climate means glaciers are likely to melt and collapse quicker. Both of these things came together in this tragic event.”

Oh did they? Has someone been measuring the rate of glacier “collapse” up in the Himalayas, in real time and distinguishing alleged increased glacier flows from the worst monsoon downpours since 2010? Pakistan’s Flood Control Agency report of 2020 (p37) said merely that “the increasing temperatures in the northern mountains of the country are likely to result in glacier melting, thereby affecting the flows of Indus River System.” The ABC fails to mention the direct cause of the floods – a triple dose of powerful and natural el Nina events coupled with tropical cyclones.[4]

TALKING of melting glaciers, hands up who recalls the IPCC Report that insisted global warming that would melt all the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 (a mere dozen years’ from now) and leave a billion South Asians desperate [5] for water? Then-IPCC boss Mr Pachauri – before his disgrace as a female-staff-abusing pervert — described the first glaciologist to criticise the IPCC’s “2035” nonsense as a “voodoo scientist.”[6] In a case of doo-doo meets “voodoo”, Pachauri himself then suffered an official audit of the IPCC by the InterAcademy Council which urged him (in vain) to step down.[7] It turned out that there were, and are, 56,000 Himalayan glaciers but only a handful are being measured. (It’s chilly up there, especially for glacier scientists).[8]

I’m mystified who BTN’s sciency guy is. I thought it might be CSIRO’s Mike Grose but he isn’t handsome enough. Grose’s shtick three years ago was doleful forecasting of global warming amping up Australia’s bushfire weather.[9] As floods swamp our eastern States, the CSIRO, Tim Flannery’s Climate Council (especially that doom-mongering ex-fire chief Greg Mullins), weepy IPCC heroine Dr Joelle Gergis and other seers and saviours have gone quiet on Australia’s climate-caused bushfire peril, along with all that modelling of the BoM’s “drying trend” in Australia’s south-east.

Getting back to the Pakistan floods, where did that “one third” meme come from? Step forward Pakistan’s idiotic climate change minister Sherry Rehman: “Literally, one-third of Pakistan is underwater right now, which has exceeded every boundary, every norm we’ve seen in the past,” she told the credulous Agence France-Presse (AFP) newswire. “We’ve never seen anything like this,” she continued, at the same time also remarking that the floods were as bad as in 2010.[10] AFP reported all this with a straight face. After all, AFP has literally signed the pledge organised by the Covering Climate Now (CCN) lobby to hype global warming in the media, as have more than 460 global outlets including Bloomberg and America’s ABC. Don’t expect objectivity from the legacy media about climate.

An honest news account might have included that Pakistan post-war has had around 30 major floods including half a dozen deadlier than this year’s.  An observer who flew over the north-east reported in 1954, “At 2000 feet all I could see was a lake extending to the horizon. Only here and there a few treetops jutted out of the water. It looked just like a sea.” Unlike today, he didn’t blame CO2.

The World Bank says the non-arid regions of Pakistan in the past 80 years “have experienced a slight increase (in rainfall)” or a “slight increasing trend” since 1960. These mild comments haven’t stopped the UN’s socialist boss Antonio Guterres from drum-beating: “Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change. Today, it’s Pakistan. Tomorrow, it could be your country.”

Check Pakistan’s long-term rain variability and it shows nothing unusual other than this year’s big spike. It’s possible that Pakistan’s 0.6degC warming for the century[11] might have caused localised severe downpours but no amount of climate modelling so far can sort out the complexities of the monsoons, jetstreams and associated weather. Regional models are still in their infancy (and might never become fit for purpose anyway).[12]

It’s all about the money, of course. For example,

Pakistan is paying the price for the greed of the rich countries as it contributes less than 1% of greenhouse global emissions but is among the top 10 countries ‘severely’ affected by climate change.

And as our/their ABC puts it:

The destruction has intensified the debate over a question of climate justice: Whether rich countries, whose emissions have been the main driver of climate change, owe compensation to poorer countries, such as Pakistan, for the damage being inflicted.

In other words, as a commenter on Paul Homewood’s brilliant site says, why blame Pakistan’s bankrupt and corrupt but nuclear-armed government when Western fools offer themselves in hair shirts?

Truth be told, Pakistan has deforested massively since independence in 1947, destroying watersheds and bulwarks against flood pressures. In 2019, in Farooq vs Federation of Pakistan, the Lahore High Court observed that Pakistan had the highest deforestation rate in the world. At  independence, it had had 33% tree cover. Through population growth (with 70% relying on firewood) plus the timber-mafia and official ineptitude, tree cover has shrunk to 4% compared with India’s 24%. India indeed has added 1450 squ km of forest in the past three years with a target to reach 33% cover .

In Pakistan, by contrast, feudal landlords clear-fell for crops and from 2003-09 the Taliban (remember, Osama bin Laden was enconsed in Abbottabad) clear-felled countless forests to raise cash. As a peasant told the LA Times last month, “Everyone was angry when the trees were cut, but what can a poor man do?”

Other self-inflicted wounds:

1/ Failure to modernise and develop. Population has soared from 40m in 1950 to 237m today and there’s a projected 275m in 2050. Population in just the past dozen years has risen by 50m. Incidentally, the government in 2017 banned contraceptive ads. Around 40% of the population continues to eke subsistence from floodplains that, well, flood.

2/ Growth in GDP per head, thanks again to misgovernment, has averaged less than a sluggish 2 per cent p.a. compared with China’s 7% and India’s 4%. About 50m are still off-grid and relying on wood and dung for heat. For those on-grid, power often blacks out.

3/ Corruption and/or incompetence: After the 2010 floods killed 2,000, government mitigation measures were negligible or got diverted by corrupt officials. People re-built from mud brick in flood zones while agencies’ mega-projects aggravated river flooding by retarding drainage. Pakistan approved a national flood protection plan in 2017, but never put it in place. The World Bank withdrew $A300m worth of mitigation programs for Baluchistan because they weren’t getting built. The IMF suspended a $US1.2b rescue fund after Islamabad failed to meeting IMF targets. Last July (pre-floods) the IMF relented and is providing $US7b – but Pakistan (pre-floods) had $US41b debts at risk of default.

4/ On those CO2 emissions, Pakistan isn’t exactly practising what it preaches. The gas-reliant country after COP-Paris 2015 announced that after raising CO2 emissions 120% in the previous 20 years, it planned to raise them a further 300% to 2030, with peaking occurring “many decades” after year 2030 and plenty of coal coming into the mix. But if the West gave it $US40 billion from 2015-30, it would reduce the 300% increase down to a minimum 240% increase. Sure, makes sense.

Summing up, it’s absurd for the UN and Pakistan, not to mention the ABC,  to be focusing on global warming, emissions and so-called compensation money that’s never going to arrive while scores of millions of Pakistan flood victims beg for shelter, food and drinking water. Let’s give sanity and compassion a chance.

Tony Thomas’s latest book from Connor Court  is now available: Anthem of the Unwoke – Yep! The other lot’s gone bonkers.For a copy ($35 including postage), email [email protected].

[1] ABC News: “The destruction has intensified the debate over a question of climate justice: Whether rich countries, whose emissions have been the main driver of climate change, owe compensation to poorer countries, such as Pakistan, for the damage being inflicted.” The ABC then rustled up a Dutch sub-professor, Margaretha Wewerinke-Singh, claiming that “climate justice” payments would be on a par with payments by tobacco companies over cancer.

[2] On NOAA’s global map it has a label: “About one-third of Pakistan was under water in August due to record-breaking rainfall from an unusually strong monsoon season….”

[3] The ABC has now added this cringeworthy line: “We encourage you [kids] to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of all historical sources.”

[4] Actually, the Royal Geographic Society is even worse than the ABC, telling British schoolkids, “More than one-third of Pakistan is under water due to unprecedented levels of flooding.”

[5] The realistic estimate at that time was for 300 years ahead – and that was just a mad “projection” anyway.

[6] Pachauri: “With the greatest of respect this guy retired years ago and I find it totally baffling that he comes out and throws out everything that has been established years ago.”

[7] The IPCC said in a statement (pdf) that the glacier paragraph “refers to poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers. In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly. The IPCC regrets the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures in this instance.”

[8] Al Gore, 2007 in his Nobel Peace Prize speech: “In the last few months, it has been harder and harder to misinterpret the signs that our world is spinning out of kilter. Major cities in North and South America, Asia and Australia are nearly out of water due to massive droughts and melting glaciers.”

[9] Grose: “…fire seasons in southern and eastern Australia have been getting longer, mainly through an earlier spring start to the season. Last year showed that the southern fire season can in fact begin in winter.”

[10] People affected: 20 million in 2010; 33 million in 2022;

  • People displaced: 6 million in 2010; 3.1 million in 2022;
  • Fatalities: 1,985 in 2010; 1,136 in 2022;
  • Homes destroyed: 1.8 million in 2010; 300,000 in 2022;
  • Livestock killed: 200,000 in 2010; 700,000+ in 2022;
  • Damage (2022 USD): $12.9 billion in 2010; $10+ billion in 2022

[11] Pakistan FCC 2020 report p37

[12] As the latest (6th) IPCC report itself says, “ In summary there is low confidence in the human influence on the changes in high river flows on the global scale… because of a limited number of studies, differences in the results of these studies and large modelling uncertainties.” (Chapter 11, p1569)