Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Great Climate Change Propaganda Machine

I opened my paper, and there was a half-page spread trumpeting "MORE CLIMATE CHANGE MEANS LESS WATER," with the sub-text "Unless we play our part, this will have serious consequences on our water systems."

Normally I would not have worried, but in this case the advertisement had been placed by none other than our own Department of Environment Affairs. Your and my tax moneys were being used to spread lies - outright, downright lies, propaganda of the worst kind.

I think I must be getting more intemperate as I get older. Without further ado, I went to the web page of the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa. It was great - within minutes I was lodging a formal objection.

Section 11 of the Preface to the Advertising Code says “Advertising is a service to the public and, as such, should be informative, factual, honest, decent and its content should not violate any of the laws of the country,”while Section 2 of the General Principles of the Code says “2. Honesty Advertisements should not be so framed as to abuse the trust of the consumer or exploit his lack of experience or knowledge or his credulity.”

Right!! The advertisement is neither factual nor honest, and is not therefore informative.
It says that the earth’s temperature is increasing. That much is true.There is general agreement that the earth’s temperature has been increasing since at least 1880. But then it goes on to say "this will have serious consequences on our water system," and that is just false. I have studied South Africa’s rainfall over the past century, and failed to find any relationship between temperature and the supply of water. The same is true globally, as the following figure indicates:

Globally averaged annual precipitation over land areas from GHCN (green bars)
with respect to the 1981–2000 base period

However, the propaganda didn't speak just of rainfall, but of water systems. So let's look at rivers. Dai and others (Dai, A., T. T. Qian, K. E. Trenberth, and J. D. Milliman, 2009: Changes in Continental Freshwater Discharge from 1948 to 2004. Journal of Climate, 22, 2773-2792.) considered 925 downstream stations on the largest rivers monitoring 80 % of the global ocean draining land areas and capturing 73 % of the continental runoff. They found that only about one-third of the top 200 rivers (including the Congo, Mississippi, Yenisey, ParanĂ¡, Ganges, Columbia, Uruguay, and Niger) show statistically significant trends during 1948–2004, with the rivers having downward trends (45) outnumbering those with upward trends (19). Given the increasing abstraction due to population increases, it is surprising that there were any upward trends.

So historically there has been no link between temperature and water systems. Is this likely to change? I have been unable to find any evidence that further warming may introduce a relationship that does not at present exist, i.e. that any further warming will have serious consequences for our water supply. I have found however predictions based on climate models: (IPCC 4th Assessment Report, WG2 Technical Summary page 33)

where DJF = December January February and JJA = June July August. Southern Africa = SAF.

The error bars are so large that no scientifically valid conclusions regarding future precipitation are possible. The claims by the Department are thus neither factual nor honest.

In a similar vein, Section 3.1 of the General Principles of the Code says “3.1 Fear Advertisements should not without justifiable reason play on fear.” What does this advertisement do? Why, it plays on fear. The picture is one of a dry surface, with the brown sky suggesting dust. The threat is “Unless we play our part, it will have serious consequences,” which is as overt a threat as could be wished.

It is worth considering that South Africa contributes ~1% to global carbon dioxide emissions, and that China’s emissions are presently growing each year by more than South Africa’s total emissions. So even if the thesis were valid, that carbon dioxide emissions were causing global warming, and they were behind ‘climate change’, no part we could play would have any impact. The advertisement is misleading.

And so it went. One after another, the Advertising Standards were broken. We taxpayers have paid to be fed pure propaganda by our Government - it is wrong, period.

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