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Climate change challenge by Professor Will Alexander February 5, 2009

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Climate change challenge by Professor Will Alexander

Professor Will Alexander

Professor Will Alexander

Via Email, February 4, 2009

Memo 08/09

Climate change challenge

Thursday 4 February 2009

I challenge the Water Research Commission and its adherents to determine the flood magnitude/frequency relationship for the Mgeni River near its mouth. My grandfather was involved in rescue operations during this flood.


I also challenge them to determine the storage capacity/yield relationship for the Vaal Dam.

vaalI write this memo in anger. You will recall my frequent references to the plight of the people living on the banks of the Jukskei River in Alexandra township, Johannesburg. I mentioned them again in a recent memo. Fifteen years ago I described their plight. Nothing has changed. On Wednesday evening there was a TV item showing yet another flood in the township. A number of shacks were destroyed. These people have lost all their possessions.

Yet within weeks, those idiots from the other side of Sir Lowry’s Pass will be informing businessmen and industrialists in closed sessions all about the recommendations of the IPCC’s Working Groups 1 and 2 predicting increases in damaging floods and droughts in Africa. The summit will be held almost within walking distance from Alexandra.

Have these people no shame?

Throwing down the gauntlet

Another source of my anger is the policy of our Water Research Commission related to climate change. I have had close, cordial relations with the commission ever since its establishment. In recent years the commission has elected to follow the climate alarmist route and is actively discouraging contrarian research.

The commission’s policy is a direct obstacle in the path towards solving this country’s water supply problems as our resources approach the limits of exploitation. So let me throw down the gauntlet. How would they solve the following two elementary problems using climatological computer models? This should not be difficult bearing in mind the consensus view that uncontrolled emissions will result in future increases in damaging floods and threats to Africa’s water supplies. The year 2050 is referenced frequently in alarmist predictions so plenty of climatological information should be readily available.

This involves two of our major rivers where we have a lot of historical data to check their calculations. In both cases, assume virgin conditions i.e. no development in their catchments.

Task #1. Assume that a storage dam has to be built in the Vaal River at the site of the present Vaal Dam. How would they go about determining the capacity/yield/assurance relationships (a) for 1950, and (b) for 2050 for then current climatic conditions, assuming that South Africa does not adopt any emissions control measures?

Task #2. This is similar to the previous task. A bridge is to be built across the Mgeni River near its mouth. What are the annual maximum flood frequency/magnitude relationships (a) for 1950, and (b) for 2050 climatic conditions as above?

All that I am requesting is details of the methodology and not the actual calculations. The details have to be such that practitioners can apply them.

If the Water Research Commission and its climate change adherents can provide this information, I will get down on my knees and apologise. Otherwise I expect them to get off our backs so that we can get on with solving the real water-related problems that we face in this country.

The Midrand Summit

My third cause of anger is the forthcoming Midrand Summit. What is its purpose? I simply cannot believe that our Minister is not aware that this whole climate change issue at international level is falling apart.

Does he really believe that the wealthy nations will provide substantial funds to developing countries including South Africa and all the other African countries, to reduce their emissions in the present economic crisis? Africa has heard these promises before.

To make matters worse, the chairman of the IPCC has just predicted that developing nations, including South Africa, will not be required to make binding commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. So why is it necessary for South Africa to impose these costly measures when our country has much more pressing problems? These include addressing the plight of the poor and disadvantaged communities in our informal settlements.

The science

My fourth cause of anger is that the underlying science of climate change is disintegrating. The alarmist refused to admit it. They will soon be forced to come out from their shelters under the table. Now we are told that the exceptionally cold spell that has paralysed the UK’s transport system, which is the worst in 20 years, is also the consequence of global warming. These people are charlatans.

The Minister’s shoes.

I would not like to be in the Minister’s shoes. If he continues with the Summit in the present format he will lead our country on a suicidal path assisted by his acolytes whose multidisciplinary knowledge is close to zero. He risks damaging his political career at a time when a general election is only months away.

In lighter vein

I had just finished compiling this memo when I received this wise comment from the USA.

It’s late fall and the Indians on a remote reservation in South Dakota asked their new chief if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild. Since he was a chief in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets. When he looked at the sky, he couldn’t tell what the winter was going to be like.

Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he told his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared. But, being a practical leader, after several days, he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked, ‘Is the coming winter going to be cold?’

‘It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold,’ the meteorologist at the weather service responded. So the chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared.

A week later, he called the National Weather Service again. ‘Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?’ ‘Yes,’ the man at National Weather Service again replied, ‘it’s going to be a very cold winter.’

The chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find. Two weeks later, the chief called the National Weather Service again. ‘Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?’ ‘Absolutely,’ the man replied. ‘It’s looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters we’ve ever seen.’

‘How can you be so sure?’ the chief asked. The weatherman replied, ‘The Indians are collecting firewood like crazy.’

Comments»

1. Fraz Qamar - January 29, 2010

Can I intrude by saying that carbon emissions are not causing Global warming instead it increases the extremes of both warm and cool seasons, the area between the line of two extremes is expanding and area of moderate season is decreasing, Co2 is actually contributed to produce extreme weather. not Global warming. It can be global freezing. In future, we will have two poles opposite to north & south pole these poles are called Co2-warm and C02-freeze pole, all the sea currents will travel between these poles, thus balancing the other ancient poles, but during these changes earth and mankind will suffer from a huge loss, geography of earth will change. Am I right?


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