The extreme weather flavour of the moment is without doubt heavy rain and flooding. As I write, severe flooding has caused 132 deaths in southern China and 19 in Burma. The Var region in southern France is recovering from spectacular flash flooding that killed 25 people (watch the BBC video), Tennessee’s recovering from a 1000 year flood in May, and NZ hasn’t escaped. The Metservice blog reports that the flooding in Whakatane a few weeks ago was caused by rainfall of 89.8mm in one hour (with more heavy rain either side of that hour). As the blog notes, that’s tropical rain happening well outside the tropics. But what struck me at the time was a comment from a Whakatane resident included in the TV3 News coverage of that flooding. I can’t remember his precise words, but it was something along the lines of “should be a wake-up call for anyone who doesn’t think global warming’s an issue, because this is what global warming delivers…” Perceptive, I thought, because one of the more robust predictions of climate science is sometimes described as an intensification of the hydrological cycle.
It pays to beware of leaving hostages to fortune: saying or doing something that might cause you some embarrassment in the future. There’s a very fine example in this recent blog post by Ian Wishart, titled “Top 10 global warming myths exposed“. It takes the form of a piece Wishart has submitted to the Coromandel Chronicle, taking exception to a column by Thomas Everth [PDF]. He begins:
In a blatant effort to mislead and scare your readers, Green blogger Thomas Everth makes more errors in the first 200 words of his recent global warming diatribe than I have made in my last three books totalling around 400,000 words.
As hostages go, that’s pretty impressive. Wishart proceeds to find fault with ten of Everth’s opening points, but does he make a few mistakes of his own in the process? I’m going to take a long, hard look: is that hostage feeling lucky?