Climate change – the clash of theories, by Professor Will Alexander April 3, 2009Posted by honestclimate in Discussions.
Tags: climate change, global warming, Professor Will Alexander
Climate change – the clash of theories
Received via email, 26 March 2009
The following attachments relate to this memo:
Part 2. Process theory
By Professor Will Alexander
Wednesday 25 March 2009
Empty Beervlei Dam during a drought. Photo by the author.
An extremely serious situation has developed. This is a brief background.
It started with a genuine concern by senior scientists in Europe and the USA that if uncontrolled, increasing emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, mainly coal, could have serious consequences. These were principally increases in global temperatures with consequent adverse changes in rainfall and river flow regimes. The tertiary effect would be undesirable changes in the natural environment and all life and activities that depend on it.
Studies began in earnest with the establishment of the IPCC in 1988 – twenty years ago. There has been a tremendous amount of research since then. The scientific disciplines involved were climatology and the environmental sciences. The principal analytical method was the application of process theory. Predictions of the consequences were carried out using computer-based global climate models.
It is very important to note that there is an alternative scientific route that could be followed to achieve the same objective of identifying the consequences of the increasing emissions. The postulated adverse consequences are all within the realm of the engineering and other applied sciences. Change detection and quantification has always been a prime objective in these disciplines. The alternative route therefore involves the engineering and applied sciences. The principal analytical method is observation theory. Predictions of the future conditions can be achieved by time series analysis computer models.
It is also very important to note that global climate models are unable to produce an output that is verifiable. In other words the output can neither be proved nor disproved. What grounds do those who use these models have to refute observations made by others to the effect that there is no believable evidence of the postulated dramatic adverse changes produced by the models?
Because of the extreme importance of the whole climate change issue, the ideal situation would be for authorities to encourage a combination of both approaches. Process theory could be used to identify possible outcomes. Observation theory could be used to determine whether or not the predicted outcomes are actually occurring, and if so, their geographical locations and magnitudes. If there was strong evidence of undesirable changes, then the whole climate change issue would have been resolved long ago.
The tragedy is that there is a world-wide policy in the opposite direction. Not only has the observation theory route been avoided, but climate change scientists and their organisations have adopted a policy of deliberately denigrating all those who practise it. Why are they following this thoroughly unethical and unscientific procedure?
This has been my deep personal concern for many years. I have followed the observation theory route. After a prolonged and diligent study of one of the largest and most comprehensive hydrometeorological databases in the world, I have been unable to detect the postulated changes in the hydrometeorological processes against the background of natural variability. If I found them I had a professional responsibility to report them. I had an equal responsibility to report it if they were not present.
I also have an extensive knowledge of natural environmental conditions in southern Africa in all its moods. I have been unable to detect any of the alarmist claims of desertification or damage to the indigenous plant or animal species claimed by climate change scientists.
Over the years I have demonstrated a predictable periodicity in hydrological processes and its synchronous linkage with sunspot activity. Together with four co-authors we have gone even further and related these linkages to the sun’s wobble as it moves along its trajectory through galactic space.
This movement results in changes in the earth to the sun distance and corresponding variations in received solar energy. We were able to demonstrate that these variations in received solar energy were considerably larger than the variations due to greenhouse gas emissions.
Not only do our studies completely negate the claims made by climate change scientists, but we can demonstrate with a high degree of assurance that all the proposed measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions will be an exercise in futility. There is no way whatsoever that the costly mitigation measures will have a meaningful effect on the world’s climate.
Where do we go from here?
The South African authorities have initiated economically and socially costly measures to control undesirable greenhouse gas emissions. The South African public have been encouraged by irresponsible scientists in the natural sciences to believe that if we adopt these measures this will reduce the risk of increasing floods, droughts and environmental damage here in South Africa. Our scientific community know very well that this is impossible. By their silence they become parties to the deception. The basic principles of scientific enquiry are set out in the 1999 UNESCO/ICSU Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge. These requirements are totally ignored by climate change scientists. But our scientific community remains silent.
As I see it, there is only one face-saving route that the South African authorities can take to extricate themselves from the looming crisis. My strong recommendation is that the government should appoint a high level, multi-disciplinary commission of enquiry to receive evidence and report on this whole climate change issue and its consequences on the welfare of this country and its people. As a minimum, the commission should include representative members of the climatological, environmental, civil engineering, agricultural, applied mathematical, physical, and astronomical sciences. The target completion date should be the end of September so that South Africa can prepare its case ahead of the United Nations Congress of the Parties in Copenhagen.
This is a tight programme and will require a dedicated effort. Are there any experienced and concerned scientists who are prepared to do this?
In this memo I provide examples of the unbridgeable gap between the application of the two theories to solve a fundamentally important problem. The problem is the development of a drought prediction model. Following the observation theory route I have developed and verified a prediction model. As you will see, climate change scientists have vigorously maintained that there is no usable predictable periodicity in the data. In doing so they ignored, either deliberately or in ignorance, decades of studies on this subject by many applied hydrologists. Details are provided in my previous memos.
With all this in mind please read on.
Climate, however defined, is highly complex and is never constant in either time or space. All that is needed to confirm this is to note the daily weather forecasts of local temperatures and rainfall and how they differ from city to city and day to day. Notice also the multi-year information in Figure 2 in the previous memo. Because of the complexity of the atmospheric and oceanic processes, the accuracy of the predictions produced by the application of process theory decreases rapidly with time.
The point of departure in climate change analyses is that natural climatic processes are in some undefined constant condition. This is fundamentally false. There are many clearly evident anomalies in the hydrometeorological records. These are erroneously ignored in climate change models. This is why after 20 years of massive international effort (the overwhelming consensus), climate change scientists have still to produce solid, verifiable evidence of the consequences of human activities. They have been unable to proceed beyond claims that climate change will result in the ‘intensification of the hydrological cycle’ for which there is no scientifically believable evidence. This nonsensical statement demonstrates the claimants’ complete lack of knowledge of basic hydrological processes.
The time and space resolutions of process model outputs are such that they are fundamentally incapable of providing information on time and space scales required by practitioners for flood and water resource analyses. For example, flood applications start with catchment areas as small as urban parking lots and durations measured in minutes. Climate models are fundamentally incapable of producing outputs on these scales. I will expand on this in the next memo.
The IPCC and South African climatalogical literature are replete with claims that droughts caused by climate change will adversely affect millions of people on the African continent. But if you ask them when, where, and what the severity and duration of the droughts will be, you will be met with silence. This is because it is impossible for climate models to produce this information.
With all the above in mind, imagine the consequences if a global drought should occur before the global economies recover. This possibility has been the source of my deepening concern. I can understand the difficulty in communicating this to the authorities without raising alarmist fears.
I cannot understand the deliberate attempts by a small, unrepresentative group of climatologists and environmentalists in the National Biodiversity Institute in particular, to vilify me and discredit my studies. What are they attempting to achieve? All that they needed to do was to produce scientifically believable evidence to the contrary.
I must stress that the following is not a personal issue. I bear no grudges and have no chip on my shoulders. As far as I know this is the only example anywhere in the world where it is possible to study the application of two fundamentally different theories to a single, very important climate related problem. Please read it in that context.
The Water Research Commission publishes a two-monthly magazine WaterWheel and a journal of refereed papers WaterSA. The South African Institution of Civil Engineering publishes a monthly magazine Civil Engineering, and the refereed Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering. Over the years the Department of Water Affairs and other state departments published technical reports on a number of climate related subjects.
In January 2004 my innocent note ‘Climate change – there is no need for concern‘ was published in WaterWheel. I was not aware at the time that the WRC had already committed itself to this whole climate change issue.
In May 2004 WaterWheel published vigorous responses in two letters to the editor endorsed by 13 scientists, and two articles endorsed by four scientists. I had obviously raised a sensitive issue. Our views were miles apart. The responses were all dignified rebuttals of my views and further discussions were recommended. But the Water Research Commission would have none of it. The editor stated that these letters and articles concluded the debate (??) on climate change. This was despite the convention that the originator has the last word. My dignified response was rejected.
A year later, in April 2005 my refereed paper ‘Development of a multi-year prediction model’ was published in WaterSA Vol 31 No 2. There were no comments on the paper at the time. This is the abstract.
The available water resources in southern Africa are rapidly approaching the limits of economic exploitation. The situation is compounded by claims that global warming will have a serious adverse effect on future water supplies. There was therefore an urgent need to characterise the numerical properties of the hydrometeorological processes in such a way that the effects of global warming, if any, could be evaluated and accommodated. Other than increases in both areal rainfall and open water surface evaporation, no other changes were detected that could be attributed to climate change arising from human activities. Nor is there evidence to support the view that such changes are likely to occur within the normal planning horizon of the next 30 years. A climate prediction model was developed based on the statistically significant 21-year periodicity in the hydrometeorological processes, and its direct association with corresponding periodicity in solar activity.
My tours through southern Africa
For nearly 20 years from 1950 through to 1970, we lived, worked and raised our family while building dams, tunnels and water supply projects in arid regions of South Africa. Subsequently, we spent our summer holidays caravanning through the countryside from Plettenburg Bay in the south through to the stretch of the Zambezi River valley from Victoria Falls through to Mana Pools near the Mozambique border in the north, and many areas in between.
In the 1990s I was involved as an expert adviser in an international boundary dispute along the Chobe River in the Caprivi. I presented evidence to the 16 judges of the International Court of Justice in The Hague. There were many inspections of the region by land, canoe and helicopter. I am thoroughly familiar with the environment of southern Africa in all its moods.
In 2006, armed with my camera and my GPS, together with three elderly family members (our combined age was more than 300 years) we toured through the region once more. We travelled along the side roads searching for evidence of the claimed damage to the unique flora and fauna of the region. We started at the Aughrabies Falls and travelled northwards along the edge of the Namib Desert through to Henties Bay on the Skeleton Coast. We returned via Windhoek, and the famous Kokerboom (Quiver Tree) forest at Keetmanshoop. This tree is Namibia’s national emblem. Climate alarmists claim that its extinction is imminent due to climate change. We carried on to the Kgalagadi National Park searching for evidence of desertification and threats to our indigenous animal species.
If there was any evidence at all of environmental damage that could be attributed to climate change, I had a professional responsibility to report it. But there was none.
I have a unique collection of digital photographs and their geographical coordinates to support my conclusions. I offered to make them available to anybody with an interest in the subject, including our National Biodiversity Institute. There were no responses. The reasons were obvious.
After my travels, I submitted an article to WaterWheel. It was published in the January 2007 issue under the title ‘Locally-developed climate model verified’. I have attached a copy (Alexander verification.pdf). I urge you to read it together with the following response.
This article drew an immediate vitriolic response by Midgley and Underhill of the National Biodiversity Institute published in WaterWheel of March 2007 under the title ‘Is Climate Prediction Model Flawed?’. In essence the authors denied the presence of predictable periodicity in the data and my observations of the lack of environmental damage. Their position on climate change issue is diametrically the opposite of mine. I have attached a copy. (Midgley response.pdf). I urge you to read it. The following are extracts from the conclusions.
Furthermore, the data and statements presented in Alexander (2007) can in no way be interpreted as verification of his “multi-year model”, nor as criticism of climate change projections. While we are strong proponents of scientific debate and scepticism, bias and self-delusion are not a good basis for progress…
We are perplexed and concerned that the premier mouthpiece of the Water Research Commission has published these and other apparently scientifically indefensible articles on this topic by the same author, apparently without the due review process…
We note that the results presented in Alexander (2004) have been the basis for a sustained level of criticism by this author against climate change response policy in South Africa, and indeed more widely, and therefore that this and related work deserves a careful re-analysis using appropriate statistical methods and retraction if it is confirmed to be incorrect.
The editor was aware that my paper had indeed passed the review process but did not correct this statement in the article or subsequently at my insistence. I headed my short response in a subsequent letter to the editor published in the July issue with the title ‘Co-operation or confrontation in water resource development?’ I concluded:
By publishing the vitriolic article of Midgley and Underhill, the Commission has unintentionally discouraged all future research in this field. No researchers are likely to undertake this research in the knowledge that they may expose themselves to personal attacks such as those published in WaterWheel.
The next publication that demonstrates the fundamental differences was our five-authored, refereed paper ‘Linkages between solar activity, climate predictability and water resource development’. It was published in the Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering, Volume 49, Number 2, June 2007. I distributed a copy with a previous memo. The evidence presented in the paper is overwhelming. This is the abstract.
This study is based on the numerical analysis of the properties of routinely observed hydrometeorological data which in South Africa alone is collected at a rate of more than half a million station-days per year, with some records approaching 100 continuous years in length. The analysis of the data demonstrates an unequivocal synchronous linkage between these processes in South Africa and elsewhere, and solar activity. This confirms observations reported by others in many countries during the past 150 years. It is also shown with a high degree of assurance that there is a synchronous linkage between the statistically significant, 21-year periodicity in these processes and the acceleration and deceleration of the sun as it moves through galactic space. Despite a diligent search, no evidence could be found of trends in the data that could be attributed to human activities.
This time there were no responses to our paper.
A year later my article ‘The likelihood of a global drought in 2009 – 2016’, was published in Civil Engineering, June 2008. My prediction was based entirely on observed, predictable periodicity in the data and the application of observation theory. Again, there were no comments on the paper but climate change scientists have rejected the very basis of observation theory for drought prediction. How is this possible?
The summit on climate change was held in Midrand earlier this month. I discussed it in an earlier memo. Once again the climate change scientists ignored the wealth of observation data and relied on process theory and mathematical models. In particular they ignored the wealth of data and century-old reports that demonstrated the existence of the periodicity and its synchronous solar connection. They were unable to produce any scientifically believable, numerical evidence to support their theories. The periodicity in the data and the unequivocal solar linkage were not even addressed. This is not science.
We now go into the future with two fundamentally different approaches to the climate change issue. In this situation the normal procedure is for governments to appoint multi-disciplinary commissions of enquiry. Not only have the South African authorities including the Water Research Commission failed to do this, they have completely ignored and even denigrated all research conducted by those of us in the engineering and other applied sciences. This approach is antagonising those in the applied sciences whose co-operation is essential to solve both the real and imaginary problems that face the peoples of South Africa, and even more importantly, the scientifically defenceless countries to the north of us.
In my next memo I will address the climate change – water resources linkage. I will demonstrate that it does not exist.
The whole climate change issue is about to fall apart. Heads will roll.
Sequence of events relating to drought prediction
The following is the sequence of events relating to the development of my drought prediction model and the responses of the climate change community. This is for the record as well as for historical reports on the rise and fall of climate alarmism.
1810. British astronomers reported the linkage between famines in India and sunspot activity.
1893. D.E. Hutchins, conservators of forests, Knysna published a book. ‘Cycles of drought and good seasons in South Africa.’ Hutchins previously served in the Colonial Office in India during the drought in 1876 when 1.5 million people out of a population of 5 million in the state starved to death during a severe drought. In his book he showed that there was a close correspondence between sunspots and temperatures recorded at the Royal Observatory in Cape Town since 1842. He produced a prediction model based on extensive studies of available data in South Africa and sunspot activity. Note the use of the word ’cycles’ in the title of his book.
1925. Department of Agriculture. The Great Drought Problem of South Africa. Government Printer. Refers to periodic droughts in South Africa.
1948. D.F. Kokot. An investigation into the evidence bearing on the recent climatic changes over southern Africa. Irrigation Department Memoir. Discounts carbon dioxide theory. No evidence of changes in rainfall.
1970. Report of the Commission of Enquiry into Water Matters. Recommends development of a prediction model for water resources and an investigation into the possible linkage with sunspot activity.
1978. Alexander. Long-range prediction of river flow: a preliminary assessment. Department of Water Affairs Technical Report TR80. Demonstrates periodicity in river flow and synchronous linkage with solar activity. Relationships not sufficient for predictions at that stage.
1983, January. Alexander. Are we entering a drought cycle? Department of Water Affairs internal report. ‘There is no doubt that the rainfall over the past 12 years has followed the general periodic pattern. The present period of abnormally low runoff is also in agreement with the periodic runoff pattern that I found in the runoff data for the Vaal River prior to 1978, although the onset of the period is earlier than expected. There is therefore increasing evidence of rainfall periodicity and a link with sunspot activity.’
1983, September. Alexander. The current drought – a challenge to hydrologists. Publication of the South African National Hydrological Symposium. ‘From a water resources point of view the current drought is the most severe drought in the Vaal River system since records commenced in 1906. During the hydrological year that will end in three weeks time, the river flow in the Vaal Dam and Grootdraai Dam catchments will be less than 200 million cubic metres which is less than half the minimum recorded prior to 1978, and only 10% of the average annual flow of the river at Vaal Dam.’
1987. P.D. Tyson the doyen of South African climatologists devoted a chapter in his book Climatic change and variability in Southern Africa (1987) to the period of meteorological record in which he dealt with the occurrence of wet and dry sequences in some detail. Tyson noted that notwithstanding possible doubts that may attach to the statistical significance of a quasi-18 year oscillation, evidence to support its physical reality is considerable, (my emphasis). He provided details. [Sadly, his well-documented findings are completely ignored by climate change climatologists.]
1990 October. Alexander. Computer models for the detection of environmental changes. The Civil Engineer in South Africa, October 1990. ‘Computer models are indispensable for the detection of environmental changes because of the large datasets and the complexity of the environmental processes. Unfortunately many of the processes related to the water environment cannot be modelled successfully but computer-generated graphical presentations can provide a valuable insight.’
1992. Alexander and van Heerden. An assessment of the severity of the current drought. Technical report. Comparison with historical droughts.
1999. The world’s two highest international scientific bodies, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the International Council for Science (ICSU), held a world conference in Budapest on science for the twenty-first century. The conference produced a Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge. The following are passages from the declaration that are directly relevant to the climate change issue. The emphases are mine.
We seek active collaboration across all the fields of scientific endeavour, i.e. the natural sciences such as the physical, earth and biological sciences, the biomedical and engineering sciences, and the social and human sciences.
Today, there is need for a vigorous and informed democratic debate on the production and use of scientific knowledge…Greater interdisciplinary efforts, involving both natural and social sciences, are a prerequisite for dealing with ethical, social, cultural, environmental, gender, economic and health issues.
Scientists have a special responsibility for seeking to avert applications of science, which are ethically wrong or have adverse impact.
The practice of scientific research and the use of knowledge from that research should always aim at the welfare of humankind.
The social responsibility of scientists requires that they maintain high standards of scientific integrity and quality control, share their knowledge, communicate with the public and educate the younger generation.
Climate change scientists and their institutions have deliberately flouted these requirements.
1995 Alexander. Floods, droughts and climate change. Refereed paper in the South African Journal of Science Vol 91, August 1995. ‘Observations of apparent cyclicity of climate extremes – droughts and floods – are as old as civilisation itself. As all climatological processes are driven by the redistribution of solar energy, it is natural to search for explanations of the observed anomalies in solar radiation. In this presentation it is shown that there is an uncanny correspondence between cumulative deviations from the mean annual river flow for most river systems in South Africa and the cumulative deviations from the mean annual sunspot numbers.’
1997. Alexander. Predictability of widespread, severe droughts, and their effect on water resource development and management. Technical report. April 1997. ‘The periodicity of these sudden changes in South African river flow and the consequent frequent imposition of water restrictions, have been known for the past 25 years. The difficulty was the lack of conclusive proof of the cyclicity due to the shortness of the available records of river flow. An analysis of the inflow records for Vaal Dam has at last provided conclusive proof of statistically significant 21-year periodicity which is no longer in doubt.’
By 1997 the 21-year periodicity in river flow and its synchronous linkage with sunspot activity was no longer in doubt.
In 2003, the IPCC’s third assessment report was brought to my attention. Claims were made in the report that conflicted with my studies of the South African hydrological data. I then started writing my reports again.
2004, January. Alexander. Climate change, there is no need for concern. Short note published in WaterWheel. There was a vigorous co-ordinated response. I was not aware at the time that the WRC had already committed itself to this whole climate change issue.
2004, May. WaterWheel published two letters to the editor endorsed by 13 scientists, and two articles endorsed by four scientists. I had obviously raised a sensitive issue. Our views were miles apart. The responses were reasoned rebuttals of my views and further discussions were recommended. But the Water Research Commission would have none of it. The editor stated that these letters and articles concluded the debate on climate change. My reasoned response was rejected.
2004, June. Alexander. Floods, droughts, sunspots and wheat prices – the development of a drought prediction model. Civil Engineering June 2004. ‘In 1970, the Commission of Enquiry into Water Matters reported that long-range weather forecasts, even though approximate, would be of tremendous benefit in the management of water resources. A method that meets these requirements is reported here for the first time, but why has it taken so long to achieve it?’ I described the development of the model.
2005, April. Alexander. Development of a multi-year climate prediction model. Refereed paper published in WaterSA Vol 31 No 2, April 2005. There were no comments on the paper at the time.
2005, June. Midgley et al. A status quo, vulnerability and adaptation assessment of the physical and socio-economic effects of climate change in the Western Cape. Report published by CSIR Environmentek, Stellenbosch. This report was by fifteen scientists from seven institutions. The alarmist predictions were all based on the output of computer models that predicted that the climate in the region would become warmer and drier. Regrettably, the report contains a number of demonstrably false statements. For example, it is stated that the world is now warmer than at any time during the past 1000 years. There is no evidence in the literature to support this alarmist statement. It was further predicted that in the Western Cape there is a drying trend from west to east. Analyses of the district rainfall data demonstrate the opposite.
It is further stated that the impacts of climate change manifested by a warmer and drier climate are likely to be a progressive impoverishment its secies richness in the internationally recognized biodiversity hotspots, the famous Fynbos (Protea species) and the Succulent Karoo Biomes (including the famous Kokerbooms). These are national emblems which is why they were emphasised.
Another alarmist conclusion was that economic sectors such as insurance, banks, transport and communication infrastructure and construction may be affected to some degree by climate change. This is nonsensical.
Most objectionable of all was the dismissal of the linkage between climate variability and solar activity. The report completely ignored the wealth of reports and data on the subject summarised in the publications listed above. They then carried on to quote an overseas author. He called this hypothesis into question, citing the small variation of solar output that can be attributed to the sunspot cycle. No attempts were made to explain the well-documented linkage.
All in all, this is a thoroughly unscientific document.
2005, September. Alexander. Linkages between solar activity and climatic responses. Refereed paper published in the UK Journal Energy and Environment Vol 16 No 2, 2005. I confirmed the presence of statistically significant 21-year periodicity that is present concurrently in South African annual rainfall, river flow, flood peak maxima, groundwater levels, lake levels and the Southern Oscillation Index. This is directly related to the double sunspot cycle.
2006, February. Alexander. Climate change in the Southern and Western Cape. A critical assessment. Technical report. I demonstrated that the claims in the Midgley et al report were without substance. An analysis of the rainfall records in the region showed that the rainfall had increased, not decreased. I questioned their rejection of the influence of solar activity on climate for which there is evidence going back to Hutchins’ 1893 publication.
I was approached by landowners in the Oudtshoorn area who were concerned about the predicted damage to the valuable Protea species. I was invited to address a meeting on the subject at 0udtshoorn. It was cancelled as a result of pressures from the South African National Biodiversity Institute. This was the first of many unpleasant occurrences from this source that I was to encounter in the years that followed.
2006, June. Alexander. Climate change and its consequences – an African perspective. This technical report is the most comprehensive study on the climate change issue undertaken in South Africa. It detailed the results of a four-year study of the largest and most comprehensive hydrometeorological database assembled for this purpose anywhere in the world. The study was based on career-long professional experiences and research in these fields. It was driven by a deep concern for the welfare of the disadvantaged communities of South Africa and the slowly developing nations of the African continent. The report had 474 pages, 11 chapters, 51 tables, 38 figures, and 218 references. The conclusions were unequivocal. I found no substantiation for any of the many alarmist claims. It also became clear during my studies that science in this important field was being manipulated for political and research funding purposes. I reported that the reputation of science as an independent, honourable profession was at risk.
2007, January. Alexander. ‘Locally-Developed Climate Model Verified’. WaterWheel. I demonstrated the verification of my model described in my Water SA 2004 paper ’Development of a multi-year climate prediction model’. I also demonstrated the absence of evidence of environmental damage. Please see attached PDF copy (Alexander verification.pdf)
2007, February. Anonymous article published in Noseweek.’ What, me worry? There is a cartoon of me holding a placard reading ‘The end is NOT nigh’ These are some amusing extracts. ’Even so, it’s a rectum-tightening courageous, or pitifully stupid, person who steps up onto the debating podium, looks directly into the unidirectional storm of thousands of scientists and peer-reviewed journal papers to tell the world that climate change isn’t worth worrying about.’
This is the final paragraph.
‘The importance of the issue demands that he be exposed for what he is – inadequate to the task he has set himself, and dangerously irresponsible. What matters today is that we take responsible, sensible – and, dare we say it, moral – steps to prevent our planet becoming unliveable. That means listening to the warnings of thousands of scientists from the world’s major academies of science, not legacy-seeking has-beens with a disregard for basic facts.’
It was not difficult to trace the source of this anonymous and, dare I say it – cowardly – article. There was a time in my life when cowardice in the face of the enemy could end up by the perpetrator facing a firing squad! [As a matter of interest a firing squad consisted of six soldiers. One of the rifles had a blank cartridge while the other five were live.]
2007, March. Midgley and Underhill of the National Biodiversity Institute. ‘Is climate prediction model flawed?’ I described this vitriolic reaction earlier in this memo. A PDF copy of the article is attached (Midgley response.pdf).
2007, June. Alexander et al.’ Linkages between solar activity, climate predictability and water resource development.’ Refereed paper published in the Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering Volume 49 Number 2 June 2007. Details described above. This time there were no responses to our paper.
2007, October. Alexander. ’Climate change – the failure of science.’ UK journal Energy and Environment Volume 18 Number 7, October 2007. Early in August 2007 I distributed an e-mail to 71 senior South African scientists and editors of scientific publications requesting advice on the way ahead on the rapidly degenerating climate change issue. I attached the printer’s proof of my short article which summarised our studies. It was about to be published in the overseas journal Energy and Environment. A well known person not on my distribution list obtained a copy of my e-mail, ignored my request for confidentiality, and sent an e-mail to the editor of the journal demanding that my article not be published. The editor ignored the request. This is the level to which science has sunk. The reason for the totally unethical behaviour is obvious. There could be no stronger proof of the fact that these people realise that the whole IPCC edifice is about to collapse for scientific, economic and international political reasons.
I described this unpleasant episode in more detail in my ‘Memo 34/07 Unprofessional conduct’. This extract from the memo is a suitable conclusion to this whole issue.
I understand that word is going around that a UCT professor has disagreed with my statistical analyses in my Water SA paper on the development of my climate prediction model. The ethical procedure would have been to submit comment to the journal after publication so that I could respond to it. This was not followed. Instead we have these malicious rumours.
Had this person followed the normal, civilised procedure he could have contacted me for clarification. I would have advised him to visit the university library and search for statistical methods that can be applied in the case of multi-site, multi-process data in the search for concurrent signals, where the data are neither independent, nor identically distributed, and the series are not stationary in time. I doubt whether he would have succeeded. I overcame the difficulty by using a combination of computer-graphical and advanced time series analysis methods. These are clearly beyond the comprehension of the writer.
2008, June. Alexander. ‘The likelihood of a global drought in 2009 – 2016’, published in Civil Engineering, June 2008. My prediction was based entirely on observed, predictable periodicity in the data and the statistical analysis method described in the two paragraphs immediately above. Again, there were no comments on the paper.
2009. Alexander. Two publications already in the pipeline. More to follow.
I will not be silenced!
Click on the more button below for Professor Alexander’s introduction to this memo
Thursday 26 March 2009
By Professor Will Alexander
Throughout my professional career I have maintained and still maintain, that science and politics are like oil and water. They do not mix. However the reality is changing and we have to live with it. I am an alumnus of the University of the Witwatersrand. I received this circular yesterday in connection with the government’s refusal to provide the Dalai Lama with a visa. The government succumbed to pressures from China which has become one of our major trading partners. That is a political decision.
My reason for repeating the circular here is to draw your attention to the university’s commitment to the principle that rigorous intellectual debate and reflection is central to the defence of democracy. As part of its commitment to being a publicly engaged institution, Wits hosts numerous public engagement activities and provides an intellectual platform for robust debate. Wits believes that making differing perspectives and views accessible to our community is a vital part of sustaining and defending the constitutional values that we express as a country.
As I show in the attached memo, these principles are flouted by the South African authorities involved in the climate change issue acting on the advice of climate change scientists and their institutions. Please read the attached memo with this in mind.
Dear Wits alumnus/alumna
His Holiness the Dalai Lama was scheduled to deliver a public lecture at Wits University on Saturday, 28 March 2009. This event has been cancelled due to the South African government not granting a visa to the Dalai Lama. The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Loyiso Nongxa, has issued the following statement on behalf of the University.
STATEMENT FROM WITS UNIVERSITY PERTAINING TO THE GOVERNMENT’S REJECTION OF A VISIT BY HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA TO SOUTH AFRICA
Wits University expresses its profound dismay at the decision taken by the South African government not to grant a visa to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to attend a Peace Conference in South Africa along with other Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.
The University does not accept the rationale offered by the South African government to bar this stalwart of peace from entering the country. The decision of the government ridicules the values enshrined in our Constitution, and the freedoms for which so many South African have lived, and indeed died.
The Dalai Lama was scheduled to deliver a public address at Wits University on Saturday, 28 March 2009, following on a similar lecture that he delivered to a full capacity audience at Wits during his last visit to the country. To have the voice of the Dalai Lama silenced at both the Peace Conference and the Wits Public Lecture is a setback to the principle that rigorous intellectual debate and reflection is central to the defence of democracy. As part of its commitment to being a publicly engaged institution, Wits hosts numerous public engagement activities and provides an intellectual platform for robust debate. We believe that making differing perspectives and views accessible to our community is a vital part of sustaining and defending the constitutional values that we express as a country.
No country in the world has produced as many Peace Prize Laureates as South Africa, a testament both to the struggles that we have waged in this country for the principles of human rights, as well as to the great stature of the South Africans who have found transcendent ways of expressing the struggle for freedom. It is with this tradition in mind that we view the exclusion of the Dalai Lama from our shores with grave misgivings. This betrayal of a key constitutional value provides a clear window into the fragility of the democracy we are trying to sustain.
It is our responsibility as a University to express our concern at this development. Wits University takes this opportunity to strongly condemn the action of the South African government in denying His Holiness the Dalai Lama access to South Africa. We add our voice to that of other leaders, calling on the South African government to apologise to the nation for this oversight. It is a betrayal of everything that we, as South Africans, fought against during the apartheid regime and a gross violation of the values we espouse as a nation.
Prof. Loyiso Nongxa
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
25 March 2009