jump to navigation

CROSSROADS by Professor Will Alexander November 14, 2008

Posted by honestclimate in Discussions.
Tags: , , , ,

CROSSROADS by Professor Will Alexander

Via Email, November 14, 2008

Professor William Alexander

Professor William Alexander

Dear all,

All those emails urging me to continue made me feel bad. However, there has been another major development. Our Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry has informed the public that climate change will be included in water resource development in South Africa. This is an impossible task for the reasons explained in the attached memo.

Who will inform the minister? Or will she continue to be misled by the Water Research Commission and the climate alarmist fraternity?

Floods are occurring in the western and southern Cape as I write this email. This is the region that FIFTEEN scientists predicted would become warmer and drier as a result of global warming, (Midgley et al 2005).

How will this affect my drought prediction? We will never know because climatologists have refused to evaluate it.

I must end on a friendly note to those on the other side of the climate change fence. I have worked closely and enthusiastically with the Water Research Commission, natural scientists and SAWS colleagues over the years. This climate change issue has soured our relationship to the extent that we are now in opposing camps.

The well-funded WWF has financed research projects at UCT and elsewhere. Now Greenpeace has opened an office in Cape Town. Have you not noticed the growing opposition by African countries to interference in our affairs by the old colonial powers? Examples are SADC’s rejection of EU pressures regarding the Zimbabwe problem, and South Africa’s rejection of EU pressures insisting that the EU be given favoured nation status in trade agreements.

The WWF and Greenpeace are not welcome in this country. Nor are the activities of their South African lackeys.

Environmental pressures are increasing at a time of rising political and economic instability driven by increasing unemployment and poverty. The division between the poor and the affluent communities is widening. Your vigorous pro-environmental, anti-social actions will soon be seen as pressures by a small, affluent white community who have no concern at all for South Africa’s large and growing, economically disadvantaged black communities.


Read the rest of Professor Alexander’s memo, click the more button below

Many thanks for all those emails urging me to continue exposing this whole climate alarmism issue for what it is. In this memo I make one last attempt for this year at least.

As I have shown on many occasions, my actions are driven by the lack of believable evidence and the severe consequences of the proposed mitigation measures on national economies and the welfare of peoples. Now for the first time the alarmists are faced with a situation that requires action and not words. They have painted themselves into a corner. They have refused to come to the table and discuss my earnest, very serious, and solidly based drought warning.

Their refusal to comment is a deliberate action for which they can be held responsible when the droughts occur and the public becomes aware that my warnings were deliberately suppressed. There is a wealth of information in the IPCC’s publications warning that climate change (they do not call it global warming any more), will result in widespread life-threatening droughts, particularly in Africa.

These documents urge decision makers to develop adaptation procedures. Even in the international scene, the affluent countries of the west have emphasised the need to assist the countries of Africa to develop adaptation procedures.

I was a member of the United Nations Scientific and Technical Committee on Natural Disasters for a number of years. The development and implementation of early warning systems featured prominently in the discussions, conferences and publications.

The climate alarmists and those who support them will be in deep trouble if they continue with their deliberate practice of avoiding multidisciplinary discussions, and their refusal to comply with international recommendations that emphasise the need to develop drought warning and adaptation procedures.

While individual scientists can avoid responsibility, the state-funded bodies that have shown the same tendency will be doubly responsible as their basic function is the welfare of the people of this country.

Now, for the first time since the establishment of the IPCC, their South African counterparts are faced with a position where they will be damned if they risk commenting on my drought prediction <click here for Global Drought Prediction paper>, and damned if they do not and it occurs. They have chosen to remain silent.

By their refusal to comment they have exposed themselves to a situation that must inevitably damage their reputations. Hopefully, it will also be the ‘tipping point’ that will eventually lead to the downfall of this whole climate change charade.

But first, allow me to start in a lighter vein in order to set the scene.

Thank you

A thousand ‘Thank you’ s for all those supporting responses to my Last Post memo. They came from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. They were not all complimentary. One correspondent reminded me that running away from the enemy was cowardice. I could end up having to face a firing squad. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this procedure, a firing squad consists of six soldiers. They are given six loaded rifles one of which contains a blank cartridge. The statistical possibility of the remaining five all missing their target is close to zero, although not exactly zero.

What my correspondent did not appreciate is that there is another bugle call – Retreat. The idea is that you retreat and draw the enemy onto your carefully camouflaged minefields. Dr Gerrie Stander the first chairman of the Water Research Commission (WRC) was aware of this. He often used the expression that the WRC would not play hopscotch in the minefields. Another expression was that the WRC would not finance research that involved counting the hairs on a fly’s wings.

Some time ago I had the honour of delivering the Stander Memorial Lecture. I titled it Dimensionality, uncertainty and scale in water resources research. Alas, all of this is beyond the understanding of the younger generation. The WRC is heading for a massive minefield. The Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry has just been appointed as the chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) water sector. She warned that the water resources in our region were under threat from various causes including climate change. She said that climate change will be accommodated in future water resource procedures.

How are the SADC countries going to incorporate climate change in water resource development and management at a time when the subcontinent’s water resources are approaching depletion? There will obviously be pressure on the WRC to conduct this research. The fundamental requirement is an understanding of the undisturbed conditions. You may recall that my analyses indicate the presence of a clear, predictable, 21-year periodicity in the hydroclimatic data, consisting of alternating wet and dry sequences. This was vehemently denied in a recent article published in the WRC’s magazine WaterWheel.

In this context I thought that the following incident would cheer us all up.


When I started teaching hydrology at the University of Pretoria, I had a class of just over 50 final year civil engineering students. They would traipse into the lecture room at the start of the lecture, listen patiently and then traipse out again. There was no eye contact and no enthusiasm.

I thought that I would start with a simple example. I gave them copies of the title page of my 1978 technical report Long-range prediction of river flow: a preliminary assessment, together with the data on which the graphs were based.

I started with a Figure 1A. It is the histogram of the annual data. “Do you notice that there are more than low values than high values?” They nodded their heads.

“Now look at the second Figure 1B. This is the histogram of the departures from the mean value. The difference between the numbers and magnitudes of values below the mean and above the mean is clear.” They nodded their heads again.

I explained that this was because the data are not Normally distributed. I started losing them. I continued by explaining that we could overcome this skewness by using the logarithms of the data. They were lost and I was cross. I asked them:

“Why are you having so much difficulty understanding logarithms? Archimedes invented them more than 2000 years ago and I applied them during my first year at university.”

There was an immediate reaction from a student at the back of the class.

“Yes, but that was much closer to Archimedes’ time.”

The ice was broken. We all relaxed. I continued with my explanation. I explained how Figure 1E was derived from the logarithms of the cumulative departures of the annual values from the mean value.

“Can you see the sawtooth pattern in the figure?” I asked. They nodded their heads again. I explained that this is caused by a regular anomaly in the mean value i.e. the mean is not constant as most of us assume when examining a set of data.

I then gave them their first task. They had to divide the data up into segments and determine the mean values of the individual segments in such a way that the cumulative departures from these values no longer displayed a discernible pattern. I would later describe the concepts of randomness, white noise and various probability distribution functions.

This figure was produced by one of the students. Notice the very clear alternating changes in the record mean values required to eliminate the pattern in the cumulative departure plot.

That was more than 20 years ago. Final year civil engineering students, after a single lecture, were able to identify and quantify periodic, alternating sequences in the data. Today, climate alarmists continue to deny that this periodicity exists in the hydroclimatic data. How on earth are these people going to incorporate the effects of climate change in water resource studies? The South African authorities have been seriously misled.

At the end of the year one of the students placed the following transparency on the overhead projector before I walked into the lecture room

Exercise for readers

Please go back to the exercise I gave my students 20 years ago. Have another look at the histogram. Do you see those high outliers? In future we will increasingly have to rely on the high outliers (floods) to fill our dams after the sequences of below average flows (droughts) that precede them. It is the understanding of the periodic sequences of low flows (droughts) followed by high outliers (floods) that have become critical for future water resource management. Do the climatologists understand this when they tell the world that increasing floods are dangerous?


I have more theoretical, practical and managerial experience in water resource development and operation than anybody in South Africa. After a thorough and dedicated study I was unable to find any evidence of the effects of climate change on our water resources.

The principal function of the WRC is to serve the peoples of this country and not the natural environment. Where there is a conflict of interest, the interests of the people, especially the poor and disadvantaged, must receive priority. This priority has been ignored by the WRC in recent years.

This in turn has led to a conflict situation. The public have just been informed that the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry intends accommodating the effects of climate change in water resource development and management. This is an impossible task for two reasons. Firstly there is no evidence to support the view that climate change has had, or in the future will have, any effect on our water resources.

Secondly, climatologists are clearly unable to provide the statistical properties of hydro-climatological data that will have to be adjusted to accommodate climate change. These statistical properties are essential for all water resource development procedures.

Also, I have seen no evidence at all that the WRC understands that our water supplies will become exhausted long before climate change destroys our planet. Nor do climatologists appreciate that we will soon have to install large scale seawater desalination plants to augment our water supplies. These will have high energy demands. Is anybody stupid enough to visualise large fields of wind turbines replacing Richards Bay’s coal terminals in order to generate enough electricity to desalinate seawater and pump it into the interior?

It is not for me to tell the WRC what it should do. All that I can say is that it is heading for serious public confidence problems if it continues with its present policy of disseminating climate alarmism, promoting environmental concerns over human welfare concerns, and discouraging contributions on water resource development procedures by civil engineers and others in the applied sciences.

On a more helpful note allow me to repeat the following words of wisdom produced many years ago.

1978 Water Knowledge Transfer. N.S. Grigg.

Water resources problems are at the heart of our efforts to improve human welfare and so the overall objective of all our work must be found in serving people.

1982 Water for Human Consumption. IWRA.

If present trends continue, the world in 2000 will be more crowded, more polluted, less stable ecologically and more vulnerable to disruption than the world we live in now. Serious stresses involving population, resources and environment are clearly visible ahead. Despite greater material output, the world’s people will be poorer in many ways than they are today.

The 1970s was a decade of disappointments. Adequate gains were not made against poverty and its life-crushing consequences.

How far have we progressed towards solving these problems that were so clearly identified more than 20 years ago? A coordinated effort is needed. Whose responsibility is it to ensure that this coordination takes place? Why has the WRC not arranged any multidisciplinary discussions on this nationally important subject?

Let us have some sanity from the WRC please.



No comments yet — be the first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: