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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Never miss that grey lining round the silver cloud

The Sahel, a transition zone between Saharan desert and tropical Africa, is getting rainier and greener rather than drier as predicted by some climate models. This should be cause for at least some positivity, more rain in areas prone to aridity means more farming and productivity, a better buffer against famine. However, never let a good thing get in the way of a bad spin
"This could lead to an increase in food production and population, but this will be bad if it suddenly goes into another cycle of drought which cannot support all of the additional people and livestock," he said.
So you see, it is bad after all. This unexpected bonus is in fact bad. It will mean more people and when the drought comes they will all die. How do we know a drought is coming? Well droughts are cyclical, which means rainy periods are cyclical as well... ooops I guess we were expecting more rain after all. Who created the stupid model that left that out?
"It has cycles of boom and bust."

Lovett said the Sahel was relatively green during the 1940s through to the 1960s but since then it has gone into a dry phase that seems to be ending.
Yes, the cycle is known about, the Sahel was green before and is becoming greener again. Who'd have thought it eh? But wait, there's more
Intriguingly, he said research done more than a decade ago linked a wetter Sahel to increased hurricane activity in the Gulf of Mexico -- and this appeared to be occurring in the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
This hurricane season is comparable to that of 1933 (I think that is the year, 1930-something anyway) and the last greening of the Sahel began about then... does anyone see any dots being connected by any lines here?
"This shows that what is happening in Africa can have an affect on the Gulf of Mexico," he said.
Well there is no citation of this decade old research that no one has been bothering with, but this seems a possible conflation of causation and correlation. Someone buy Reuters a dictionary. But if it is causation, then hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico being in response to a normal cycle in Africa mean that... I'll let you join the dots on this simple exercise for the reader.

Whatever the actual cause of this unexpected greening this sort of article demonstrates admirably the contortions reporters are willing to perform in order to get a negative story. Myself I'd say that it seems that this is part of some regular decadal cycle of rain and drought through a transition region between desert and tropics. You know, the sort of place that you'd expect to experience that sort of swing as the desert advances and recedes due to varying rainfall. Of course it'll be a problem if it greens and people flock in without recognising that the cycle will reverse in 20 years or so, but maybe now they can be informed?

(Via Greenie Watch)
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Posted by Chefen | 10/25/2005 04:05:00 AM