Peruvian glacier melt challenges US security

The melting glaciers of Peru have figured in previous Hot Topic posts such as the review of Mark Carey’s book In the Shadow of Melting Glacier and the report from Guardian journalist John Vidal’s Oxfam-sponsored Andean tour. I was therefore interested to come across an article on what the loss of the Peruvian glaciers implies for US national security. Not that the national security of America normally figures on my list of concerns about what climate change is doing to Peru, but I’m happy to add it if it is required to awaken more widespread US awareness of the realities of climate change. The fact that a version of the article appeared in last weekend’s Washington Post was testimony to that potential. US national security concern might also represent Peru’s best chance of getting much-needed assistance in the enormous adaptation measures facing them.


Heather Somerville, the article’s author, is a member of a team of graduate journalist students from Medill School of Journalism who have been investigating the effects of climate change on US national security in various parts of the world.

Said a former CIA Director:

“Think what it would be like if the Andes glaciers were gone and we had millions and millions of hungry and thirsty Southern neighbours. It would not be an easy thing to deal with.”

Somerville summarises the effects already under way in Peru:

“…glacier melt has begun to deplete crops, displace communities, cause widespread drinking water shortages, destabilize hydroelectric power, diminish trade and affect transportation and tourism. The trend is expected to cause regional conflict, economic crises, increased crime, broken infrastructure and food insecurity.”

Without substantial foreign assistance within the next five years the climate change advisor at Peru’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sees the shrinking of the glaciers leading to a social and economic disaster.

If the US does offer assistance it is likely to be bound up with strategic questions.

“[The Obama administration] must decide whether to send money, development assistance and possibly even military help south to an important democratic ally on a continent where Chinese and Iranian influence is growing, and anti-U.S. sentiment permeates certain regimes.

“Other U.S. allies vulnerable to the impacts of climate change will be paying close attention to how the U.S. responds. Peru’s crisis could set a precedent for how the U.S. uses diplomacy, foreign aid and the military to address the climate change threats around the world.”

The State Department is taking an active interest in the impacts of climate change on the region, acknowledging it as a significant threat which the US must come to terms with in respect to the security challenges it poses. Some assistance has been forthcoming from Washington but the article reports frustration from Peruvian officials with what they see as poor coordination among US agencies, US disregard for the importance of global cooperation and an agenda that fails to address the urgent need in Peru.

Somerville makes it clear that the need is urgent. And it is by no means limited to the areas adjacent to the glaciers, serious though it is for them.

“Life on Peru’s coast depends on water from the Andes. Most of its agriculture production is on the arid coast, fed by water from the Andes. Glacier-fed rivers also support the nation’s largest hydroelectric plants, which provide 60 percent of the country’s electricity.

“Lima, the world’s second largest desert city, is almost totally dependent on Andean rivers fed by glacier melt. Water shortages are widespread there, and even worse in communities nearby that can’t compete with the capital for meagre water supplies.”

The Pentagon’s Southern Command (SouthCom), responsible for Latin America, has also been looking at the security aspects of climate change in Peru.  Their environmental security expert comments that there is some way to go to get a complete buy-in from the Department of Defense that this is a core military role, but Somerville comments that SouthCom probably won’t have a choice but to start planning for climate change. One of SouthCom’s primary missions is humanitarian aid and it has a history of being called on for disaster response in Latin America.

Not that Peru is sitting helplessly waiting for outside assistance. Somerville reports that it created a national strategy on climate change in 2003 and in 2008 set up a Ministry of Environment with oversight of climate change programmes. Work is being undertaken in conjunction with the US Agency for International Development and non-profit organisations to build water reservoirs in Andean communities and monitor water flow from the glaciers.

But resources are lacking, and the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is asking Washington and other allies for at least $350 million every year through 2030 for reservoirs to collect runoff, dams to regulate water flow from the Andes and irrigation techniques. Said a spokesperson:

“If we don’t solve our problems … this will become a problem for the United States. When you have a dysfunctional country, you have a problem for the entire region.”

Whether national security concerns will drive significant aid for countries like Peru remains to be seen. But the concerns are clearly making some think seriously about what climate change is doing to the world. I found myself wondering about how this is going down with the climate change deniers so prominent among Republicans in the House. Presumably if climate change is not happening it can’t be posing a security threat to the US.  But what if you’re a politician who professes great concern about national security?  And what if that question comes close to home as it does in some of the other articles in the series to which Somerville’s belongs?  There’s an article on the threat to Houston. Another on the what sea level rise will do to military bases on the US coast. Another on the threat of climate change-related disease in the US as well as other countries.

A day must eventually dawn when denial becomes impossible to maintain even when it is bolstered by wealthy vested interests. If perceived national security threats will help bring about that day, then the more they are pointed out the better.

121 thoughts on “Peruvian glacier melt challenges US security”

  1. I can’t say I’ve ever been much concerned about US security either Bryan. Administratively, a very paranoid country by all accounts. My daughter is currently attending Shakespeare & Co in MA – where its receiving record snow. She arrived in NY in the 6th worst Blizzard in recorded history followed by the greatest snowfall 2 weeks later – but that is another matter.
    But really the States should be looking to themselves as much as anyone else! The US west and mid-west rely just as much on glacier melt as do the citizens of Peru, and the US is not being spared the effects of Climate Change (vis record Blizzards on a yearly basis) and particularly rapidly declining glaciers any less than any one else.
    Drought (particularly in the grainery regions) and increasing sea levels are on the horizon, and will ultimately result in internal unrest in the USA as anywhere else.
    Thanks for another very informative post Bryan.

    1. “My daughter is currently attending Shakespeare & Co in MA – where its receiving record snow. She arrived in NY in the 6th worst Blizzard in recorded history followed by the greatest snowfall 2 weeks later”
      Surely that isn’t caused by CO2? – doesn’t sound like the global warming Al Gore and most other alarmists told us we would be receiving now. But hey it’s winter there – just happens to be the ‘greatest snowfall’ and 6th worst blizzard.
      Imagine how cold it could have been if CO2 levels were lower? Any figures for that Bryan?
      Maybe the snow has moved north from Peru?

  2. “…the climate change advisor at Peru’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sees the shrinking of the glaciers leading to a social and economic disaster.”
    Translation: Useless bureaucrat leeching on a poor contry’s meager resources sees the reasons for his job’s existence as massively important.

    1. I don’t know which appalls me more, Steve, your bad spelling and grammar (considering you work at a university) or your lack of concern for fellow humans.

      1. OK let me get this straight… It is warmists like you who are demanding policies that will vastly increase the cost of food,
        fuel and other energy (wouldn’t make any sense if they didn’t). Thereby locking billions of the world’s poorest in absolute poverty, and condemning them to early death through lack of food, safe drinking water, refrigerated medicines, etc. But it’s those who challenge this agenda that “…lack ..concern for fellow humans.” Is this what psychologists call transferrance?

        Human sacrifice in the deluded hope this will change the weather is an abomination (even if it is part of Peruvian cultural tradition).

        1. “It is warmists like you who are demanding policies that will vastly increase the cost of food, fuel and other energy …”

          No, I can’t answer for anyone else here, Steve, but I am all for a fairer world – one where people are not dependent on expensive fossil fuels for their food and fuel needs. You can’t make this into an either/or situation. There are plenty of innovative ways of living well without fossil fuels.

          1. Well said Carol. I wonder what Steve means by a “fairer world”.That is if he actually wants a fairer world. I am not so sure he does.

            What do you say Steve?

            1. Actually Keith, Steve didn’t mention a fairer world. Would he acknowledge that we live in a very unfair world?

          2. Carol
            The cheapest form of fuel is currently fossil fuel. If you deny people cheap fuel, then you force them into poverty.

            I really don’t see how this is fair.

            Perhaps you could name me one nation on the planet that isn’t primarily dependent on fossil fuel in some way.

            1. No, John, solar power is cheaper. I mean in the way it is used in many places directly – not via solar panels. Even my aunty up in Wairoa uses a solar oven in her backyard to cook.

            2. Please put your money where your mouth is and invest in those wonderful profitable Spanish Solar companies. I hear they need the dough:
              “Solar investors … were lured by a 2007 law… that guaranteed producers…as much as 44 cents per kilowatt-hour for their electricity for 25 years—more than 10 times the 2007 average wholesale price of about 4 cents per kilowatt-hour paid to mainstream energy suppliers….

              Now … more than 50,000 other Spanish solar entrepreneurs face financial disaster as the policy makers contemplate cutting the price guarantees that attracted their investment in the first place… “

            3. John how many times do you have to be told? Fossil fuel is NOT cheap! It is only “cheap” because it is stolen from the world’s poor. People are dying right now because of it, its filthy, and NO ONE cleans up the mess. These external costs are being passed on to the next generation. Furthermore burning it adds mega tons of CO2 into the atmosphere the ultimate cost of which may be the collapse of society as we know it today.

            4. Fossil fuel is “stolen”.

              Oh, better call the cops. We wouldn’t want those poor people in Norway/USA/Saudi etc to be out of pocket would we?

            5. Talk to the people of Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, – you name it – I don’t mean the ones who rake off the corruption money John. I mean the people who live on the land that is being raped by the oil companies. The people who live down wind of the methane flare offs. But you wouldn’t know about that because you are too concerned that your SUV has “cheap” gas.

            6. Furthermore, the price of fuel is relative to income. What is cheap to you will be prohibitively expensive to many others. The majority of people in the world do not own a motor vehicle (about 7% do, Even if they did, they could not afford petrol or diesel. So “denying” them fossil fuels is not relevant as the cost is already beyond their grasp. It’s not going to get any cheaper, is it?

            7. Your argument is as heartless as saying villages shouldn’t be wired to the grid (because they couldn’t afford the power) and we shouldn’t build hospitals (because they couldn’t afford the medicine). Arrogant 1st-world dismissiveness of the aspirations of billions of people.

            8. I have made no further progress on CO2 and E G Beck’s theories. Unfortunately, time is not an infinite resource.

              Perhaps you and your fellow academics could just issue a statement on EG Beck. I’ll just issue a statement stating that I agree with you.

              I presume that is how science is done these days.

              Have I ever been to Greenland? Interesting tangential question. The answer is no, although I would quite like to visit the Viking artefacts left over from the Medieval Warm Period.

              I hear these are fascinating.

            9. Yes it must have been quite an ordeal for them..
              They didn’t have the modern insulation materials we have today.
              Not surprising they didn’t establish a lasting community is it.

        2. Steve, do you agree that a world dependent on fossil fuels is not sustainable? – if you think it is sustainable than you must provide some theory that would allow us to supply these fuels for millenia to come and some theory as how we could deal with the consequences of rising CO2. You must have convincing arguments for BOTH these aspects of the same issue.
          Now in case you come to agree that fossil fuels are not sustainable then you will need to address the question of timing for a transition away from our current dependence on these fuels for our survival on a global scale.
          It is my opinion that there is absolutely no time to waste to make the right steps on the path to a sustainable world that does not depend on fossil fuels.
          The transition will be huge. Current investments into large scale pilot schemes for solar power generation and other such strategies are a required step.
          The current need to subsidize this work with tax dollars has much to with the fact that currently fossil fuels are still deceptively cheep and massively tax subsidized. The US tax subsidies for their fossil fuel industry are massive when compared to the US meager research budget for alternative energies.
          So whenever you dish up your disinformation here about the “economic failure” of alternative energies because they receive tax incentives, you fail to comprehend that we are globally only at the seed -phase for our coming transformation towards sustainable fuels, a phase where investment in new technologies is made by the people. While the unsustainable incumbent fossil fuel industry at the peak of their output and profits wallows in tax subsidies and is allowed to externalize the massive costs of its prime waste product: CO2.

          1. What a strange pleasure, Herr Thomas is back. he who spreads hate speech of fatwas against deniers:

            They want me to apologise of an off the cuff remark about some liberals being “like Nazis”, yet this hate speech is fully supported by this “science” blog.

            As for Herr Thomas’s questions. Ever heard of shale gas?

            1. Can you say what you consider “hate speech” in my above post?

              As regarding to shale gas: It comes with rather significant environmental issues due to its production which creates large ponds of toxic sludge. Also the overall GW impact of shale gas production will further aggravate the AGW issue. This of cause is of no concern to you JD as we know.
              On a horizon spreading into the next century, all shale gas will do is buy us perhaps some time to make the switch to alternative energy concepts. This time however only exists in the mind of those who are in denial about the climate effects of CO2 and Methane release from fossil fuels.

              On shale gas and AGW issues see this study below:

          2. No Steve, I am not heartless. I believe there are better, cheaper alternatives to fossil-fuel technologies..
            And yes, what is the point of connecting villagers to the grid if they can’t afford the electricity – or indeed, electric-powered items in the first place? Why don’t we work harder on alternative forms of power for them?

            Your jump from power to hospitals & medicines is illogical.

            How much time have you spent working in the third world?
            I’ve been there and I’ve seen what can be done. It’s us in the first world who lack the imagination and will to think beyond what we are used to.

          3. If you really believe that fossil fuels are “deceptively cheep and massively tax subsidized”, then please brush up your Spanish and Farsi and start protesting in the streets of Caracas and Tehran against regimes that actually subsidise fuel purchases at 5 pistachios a litre.

            Meanwhile back in this real part of the world it’s over $2/L.

            “Current investments into large scale pilot schemes for solar power generation and other such strategies are a required step.”
            $300 million of extra debt per week isn’t enough is it? You want us to be as bankrupt as Spain?

            As for your straw-man that I am arguing that FF can supply us for millenia to come: I challenge you to specify where I have ever said that. However FFwill continue to be a major source of reliable energy for at least another century and for NZ to forswear its share will simply exacerbate out fall out of the first world, free up a marginal amount for China to gobble up and have zero measurable effect on the climate in a century.

            1. Steve
              I think these are all very valid points. However, I really think we are wasting our time expressing our views on this blog.

            2. Oh please don’t go away! We’ll miss you so much. Need for attention battles with congitivie dissonance of being caught out as a moron.

            3. Doug Mackie January 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm

              Oh please don’t go away! We’ll miss you so much. Need for attention battles with congitivie dissonance of being caught out as a moron.

              Doug, I won’t be going anywhere as long as [snip] like you infest the blogosphere.

              Did I hear EG Beck and Ken Ring squarking in the background? Must have been a passing albatross.

              [Last warning. Polite, please, or permanent moderation. GR]

            4. Ummm…?

              Gentle people; I know we have different points of view here, but a lot of us are here simply to gather information, and to find some meagre comfort that the world is like we think it is, and that the world is a-changin’ in different ways which we partially but imperfectly understand.

              I wonder if we can find it in our hearts to accept how other people are and that, just because they don’t think like us, that doesn’t make them ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ or ‘stupid’.

              If the final analysis finds one party is right and the other wrong, so be it. But on the journey can we please retain some dignity by not lowering ourselves to fight in the gutter with those with whom we disagree.

              We can respond to things we think are silly by simply – in the worst case – ignoring them, or in the best case treating them as if they are children who have never heard thunder, and offering our kind support to help them through. In most such cases the best thing to say, is nothing.
              Kind regards

            5. John, you are perfectly welcome to make constructive contributions to the debate about climate science and policy. If you find some science that you believe contradicts the current consensus view, please do share it.

              However, if all you do is sling around juvenile insults, you are not going to get a good reception.

            6. Steve, do you have some evidence to back your statement that “FF will continue to be a major source of reliable energy for at least another century”?

              That may be true for coal, but all the evidence I have seen on oil is that it is going to get very expensive real soon.

              If you think $2/L for petrol is expensive, how expensive does it have to get before it becomes worthwhile to look at other transportation options?

              And even if your prediction of “a century” is correct, what about after that? If we carry on using oil for transport right up until the last drop runs out, what happens to the world’s economy then? Or do you not care because that will be after you have avoided the tax man for the last time?

              The transition away from fossil fuels is going to take at least 30 years whenever we start it. All we are saying is that if we start that transition now, we have a chance to avoid the worst effects of changing climate that would happen if we delay the transition until we burn all the oil. Then at least future generations may be able to enjoy the same level of economy that we have.

              Quite how you interpret this plan as intent to destroy the world’s economy and institute world communist government is beyond me.

    2. Global warming leads to glacier retreat. Glacier retreat leads to water supply problems. Water supply problems lead to social and economic disasters. Public servant points this out as falls into his area of professional responsibility as delegated by its democratically elected representatives.

      Ideas not fit Troll’s world view. Troll attacks public servant for being a public servant. Troll implies view cannot be correct, but Troll presents no case to rebut any facts or logic.

      Translation: troll posts another vacuous post exposing his own stupidity and inability to think.

    3. Hey Steve when are you gonna post on You tube one of your idiotic comments about how Global Warming isn’t happening and the 5 worst floods in recorded history in the past 6 months didn’t really happen and its all a sick commie plot by so called climate scientists to get more money from the tax payer?
      Don’t forget to mention that Ken Ring predicted that it would all happen because the moon is in line with mars.

      1. Macro: “… the 5 worst floods in recorded history in the past 6 months …”

        Floods with 100 000+ death tolls: Netherlands 1228, China 1642, 1887, 1931, 1933, 1935,& 1939, Bangladesh 1970, Vietnam 1971, N Korea 1995-98.

        OK Macro, please post your evidence of these “5 worst floods in recorded history in the past 6 months “. You may use peer-reviewed literature, or if you prefer, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stoned.

          1. By the way, tell us Steve: What do you think of Ken Ring? Do you agree with his stunning analysis of the causes of climate change? And how about Beck? What do you reckon about his writings? Are they accurate? Should CO2 specialists like me be worried about his writings? Have I got it wrong after all these years? Has the whole system of science evaluation suddenly broken down, in your opinion? Who at Massey University supports that view? Does your VC support that view? What about your HOD?

            1. I believe Steve was talking about the lack of evidence for the “worst floods ever” in the last six months. Considering that the Australian BoM themselves have data that shows gauge levels in Brisbane considerably higher in the 1800’s than during the recent floods, it is reasonable to assume that the evidence is not there.

              I really don’t know what the hell Ken Ring has got to do with anything, unless this is an in-joke.

            2. Well just read the world news JD.And it wasn’t the worst floods EVER – it was the worst RECORDED floods. But simpletons like Steve (and yourself?) don’t appear to understand the difference.
              And if you are going to support the conclusions of Ken Ring and Beck, then you had better be able to justify them.

            3. Well Ken Ring predicted all this based on the phases of the moon. Didn’t you know, John D? You must be disconnected from the denialist network. What about my other questions? Are also a Massey University troll? If not, I can understand why you have passed over the other questions.

              But while we are here, what do you think of E.G. Beck and his analysisi of atmospheric CO2? is it accurate according to you?

            4. I notice that Roger P’s little gem didn’t mention anything about building an absolutely *massive* dam for the express purpose of holding back floodwaters. I also missed any reference to Brisbane city council investing millions upon millions of dollars on increasing the capacity and expanding the network of stormwater drainage in Brisbane – in order to avert flooding.

              And still, with no cyclone driving the rainfall, the floodwaters came within a metre of matching 74’s record. Note for those in the back playing with their iPods and not paying attention, all previous major floods in Brisbane were associated with cyclones.

            5. “Perspective”? Sure – the perspective of a liar or perhaps a deluded fool. What’s your excuse John D – mendacity or stupidity?

          2. Macro, answer the question: “… the 5 worst floods in recorded history in the past 6 months …”
            Were where? Places and dates please.

            “it wasn’t the worst floods EVER – it was the worst RECORDED floods”
            No the worst recorded floods were the 10 examples I gave over the last 800 years. They qualify as recorded under any definition in historical scholarship.

            1. I notice Steve and John that you have nothing to say about Beck and Ring. Is this too hard for you? Can we assume from your silence that you deny the truth of their evidence?

              What does this mean for your arguments?

            2. Macro has made claims of the 5 worst floods in recorded history in the last 6 months. On this Thread.
              I am requesting evidence.

              I have made no claims re. the tangents you want to go off on.

              worst floods … 6 months… details please.

            3. Indeed I was. But also Albania has had an unprecedented flood in the past 6 months as well. So that makes 6. and many other Regions have had 100 + year floods as well. I’m shift house so to otherwise distracted to list them all.

            4. adelady January 21, 2011 at 12:08 am

              I notice that Roger P’s little gem didn’t mention anything about building an absolutely *massive* dam for the express purpose of holding back floodwaters. I also missed any reference to Brisbane city council investing millions upon millions of dollars on increasing the capacity and expanding the network of stormwater drainage in Brisbane – in order to avert flooding.

              I missed your reference to the fact that the dam was full at the time of the floods, thereby making any mitigation useless. If the authorities had let water go before the big rain came, they might have reduced the effects of the flooding.

              I also missed your reference to the engineers report that showed large parts of Brisbane were unsuitable for building because of flood risk. This report was covered up.

              If the public, some of whom are uninsured against flood damage, decide to take a class action against the QLD government, then things will really start to get interesting.

            5. I missed your retraction of and apology for your offensive nazi comment.

              Until such time, you have Godwin’d yourself out of the debate.

            6. I agree – just LRB him by default until he retracts his repeat absurdities.

              And, as usual, he’s wrong – the dam may well have been at 100% drinking water capacity; he clearly didn’t notice the repeated references to the dam’s capacity being at 187% during the actual flooding (because it’s both a flood mitigation dam and stores water for the Gold Coast). Tip to all trolls – cutting-and-pasting from your fellow inumerates is not generally a useful exercise.

              I’m sure the inquiry into the flooding will specify the final numbers, but the odds are that the actual flooding in Brisbane + the additional water restrained or diverted by post ’74 infrastructure exceeded the total volume of the ’74 flood. This is why the BoM reported it as the greatest flood for Brisbane since the 1890s.

              However the numbers crunch out it doesn’t alter the fact that what happened in Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley is unprecedented. As is the current flooding in western Victoria. And try reading the bloody links you’re given – the Bom spelled out in detail just what an anomalous year it’s been on the east coast of Australia.

              ‘Clutching at straws’ is the appropriate term…

        1. Death tolls Steve do not necessarily indicate severity of flooding – but then you are too simplistic to understand that.
          I should have been more precise of course – the 5 floods I am referring to are the worst examples of flooding recorded in 5 separate nations.
          Sri Lanka

          1. No, what you said was “…and the 5 worst floods in recorded history in the past 6 months didn’t really happen and its all a sick commie plot …”

            Your feeble claims above are not “more precise”, they are a totatally different claim. The fact is that your original claim was typical of warmist modus operandi: Make false apocalyptic claims, attack the sceptic when the claim is challenged, and then claim you meant something totally different when your catastrophist concoction falls apart.

            1. ‘False claims’ from Captain ‘Not Unprecedented’!

              Have you noticed your own modus operandi is to run away and hide when cornered? We’re still waiting for your acknowledgment of your logical error regarding flood markers and the Brisbane flooding. And before you try to bluff with some cut’n’paste Denialati goodness note that we’ve already dealt with [snip]’s attempt to claim the Wivenhoe Dam made no difference…

              For that matter, show a precedent for any of the 5 major flooding events mentioned – oh, and 2010 was not only the equal warmest, it was the wettest year on record, too. Amaaaaaazing coincidence, ain’t it? Starting to feel a bit silly, Steve? Your own allies here strike you as the right stuff, brain-wise, do they?

              Then you might like to comment on the remarkable extent of the flooding in Australia, rather than nit-picking some tangential detail or other .

              Here’s a start for you –

              THE CURRENT flood crisis in Victoria has been officially upgraded to the worst on record with nearly 60 towns already experiencing severe flooding.

              ‘What we’ve never seen is so many towns, so many communities, so many regions all affected at once. It is a miserable and heart-breaking event’ – QLD Premier Anna Bligh

              3, 4 or 5 major floods in 5 months for towns in Victoria, Steve? 1/4 of the state flooded?

              No, you just nit-pick Macro, and then make a ridiculous sweeping generalisation like some puffed-up intellectual bantam. Cause intellectually you’re certainly a bantam-weight!

            2. Bill,

              This I think may reflect the future of climate change economics:


              Take one step forward selling and burning coal as fast as you can extract it out of the ground, then take 10 steps backwards as you pay off flood damages. At this rate one wonders how long it will take before Australia becomes a Third world country.

            3. Is that what you have got? Point scoring, tribalism and word games? Macro didn’t say globally or regionally, does that disqualify your word games? When are you going to address the science, or the empirical evidence?
              So far I’m not seeing any reason to not red button you each and every time I see your name.

            4. You should be LRBed out of existence here, you ignorant nit-picking twerp. Is there an IQ test for your job? Damned sure you couldn’t pass it if there were one.

        2. Five countries (that I know of) which have received their worst recorded floodings in the past 6 months are:
          Sri Lanka (1 years rain fell in less than a month)
          Australia, and
          Chad had its worst flooding in 50 years.

          1. So? 1% of the world’s land area (that’s the size of Mongolia) can be expected to have 1 in 100-year flooding every year. This claim proves nothing.

            “Sri Lanka (1 years rain fell in less than a month)”
            Yes, It’s called the Monsoon.

            “Chad had its worst flooding in 50 years”.
            That’ll top up Lake Chad nicely, whose shrinkage was one of Al Gore’s key evidences of AGW in An Inconcenient Truth.

            1. Are you for real Steve? Or are you really that stupid?
              Sorry I don’t have time to correct you on your schoolboy howlers – your teachers must have quite a laugh at times – but I’m otherwise more gainfully occupied.

            2. Being accused of howlers by someone who said “the 5 worst floods in recorded history in the past 6 months “. is kind of a compliment.

    1. Good point Mauri. That means the glacier retreated on average 20.7m per year between 1932-1987 and has slowed to almost half that rate (11.8mpy) between 1987-2004.
      This is excellent news as it clearly shows the glacier retreat is slowing -so why all the fuss?

    2. Of course also in 2004 …. “South America has been lashed with snow, heavy rain and intense cold since the final week of June 2004. In southern Peru, heavy snow has collapsed hundreds of homes and buildings, and killed over 75,000 farm animals. The country is struggling to provide emergency provisions to people in the poverty-stricken region, many of whom are being treated for cold-related illnesses such as pneumonia. In many mountain regions, the temperature has plummeted to -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit). The cold weather also caused deaths in Argentina and Chile. Unusually cold temperatures, down to -7 Celsius (19.4 Fahrenheit), chilled southern Brazil.”
      Seems to me the cold caused more damage than the retreating glaciers.
      I wonder also if CO2 was responsible for this cold snap and do you think the Artesonraju Glacier retreated after 2004 Mauri? or perhaps the montioring station was destroyed in the 2004 storm?

    3. Hansen: “…implying the possibility of multi-meter sea level rise this century.”

      A draft of a paper by Hansen et al just out today..

      Paleoclimate Implications for Human-Made Climate Change
      James E. Hansen and Makiko Sato, January 2011


      “… Deglaciation, disintegration of ice sheets, is nonlinear, spurred by amplifying feedbacks. If warming reaches a level that forces deglaciation, the rate of sea level rise will depend on the doubling time for ice sheet mass loss. Gravity satellite data, although too brief to be conclusive, are consistent with a doubling time of 10 years or less, implying the possibility of multi-meter sea level rise this century. ”

      and his conclusion includes:

      “…We have presented evidence in this paper that prior interglacial periods were less than 1°C warmer than the Holocene maximum. If we are correct in that conclusion, the [European Union’s 2°C] scenario implies a sea level rise of many meters. It is difficult to predict a time scale for the sea level rise, but it would be dangerous and foolish to take such a global warming scenario as a goal. ”

      There’s lots of good stuff in between. Read, and marvel at our folly!

      Kind regards

        1. Great!

          A useful place to start is with Hansen’s observation that:

          “…Hansen (2007) suggested that a 10-year doubling time was plausible pointing out that such a doubling time from a base of 1 mm per year ice sheet contribution to sea level in the decade 2005-2015 would lead to a cumulative 5 m sea level rise by 2095. ”

          While we know that in fact the 2005-2015 base to start the doubling from is probably somewhat higher than that.

          As with any compounding calculation the final result is very dependent on the starting conditions. Hansen notes in the paper that recent data suggests a 6 to 8 year doubling rather than the 10 year he uses in Figure 7. So his sea level rise in 2100 is very ‘conservative’.

          Problem is – does ‘conservative’ (i.e. in this case minimally-alarming) information help or hinder us?


          1. For instance:

            “Since the beginning of the 20th century, the seas have continued to rise at an average rate of 1.7 ± 0.5 mm per year, according to the IPCC (Bindoff et al., 2007). This increase, however, has not happened at a constant rate. The first noted increase was over the period of 1961 to 2003, when the average rate of sea level rise was 1.8 ± 0.5 mm per year (Church et al, 2001; Church and White, 2006; Bindoff et al., 2007). Global mean sea level measurements have become even larger since 1993. According to the IPCC, “For the period 1993 to 2003, the rate of sea level rise is estimated from observations with satellite altimetry as 3.1 ± 0.7 mm yr–1, significantly higher than the average rate.”


            So starting at 3.1mm/yr and using that rate doubling in say every 8 years gives over 75 metres rise before 2100, i.e. all grounded ice in the world melted. Most coastal cities (including most of Berlin and Beijing) gone.

            Not a good look!


            1. …alternatively, if we use Hansen’s 1.0 mm rise contribution from ice sheets C2010, then we find (as Hansen’s figure 7 shows) we get to 5 metres sea level rise by 2095 with 10-year doubling in the rate of ice sheet loss, by year 2080 with 8-year doubling, and by 2065 with 6-year doubling.


  3. I fear that should we reach a point were most accept AGW, by that point the politics of greed and envy will be even worse:

    “What’s mine is mine”.

    Our world may come to resemble “island cities” of technology, health, learning and food/water security amidst a great deal of suffering. Walls will be built, hearts may harden. The “poor huddled masses” will have to fend for themselves.

    “God’s will” or “market forces” will explain away the suffering of billions.

    “Denial” will be replaced by an overwhelming indifference.

    Accepting personal responsibility for stymieing a response to climate change would be too much for the average “sceptic” to live with.

    Better to shift the blame to impersonal forces such as nature, god or the market.

    “Who me?”

    1. WTD – Accepting personal responsibility for stymieing a response to climate change would be too much for the average “sceptic” to live with.
      Interesting idea, but one I don’t think will pan out. These “skeptics” have had years of denying reality. What’s a few more?.

        1. Steve you are almost certainly correct about that single point.

          Big whoop. It doesn’t change the fact that 2010 was characterized by extreme weather events which have been linked to increased temperatures.

          And what about your other arguments on this thread?

          Your argument about increasing the price of food and the third world seem to ignore the reality that food stability is threatened because of climate change anyway. So you’re not comparing apples with apples; you’re assuming that the current good times will continue unabated, and comparing them with the cost of mitigation. In fact you need to compare the long-term cost of inaction with the cost of mitigation. That’s the elephant in the room of your arguments.

          Yes, mitigation will be hard and there are some hard decisions to me made. It might be that developing areas can’t have that coal-fired power plant they wanted. But people are creative and inventive and will find ways around the limitations. Or ideally, they should get meaningful material support from developed nations in the form of sustainable power generation tech. But of course you’ll no doubt start railing against that, too …

          1. Let us not forget that the last oil crisis of the 70s brought on a huge price hike in the cost of food. Let me see, according to an industry research analyst, the price of oil could triple by 2017 as the easily extractable stuff starts to wane:


            What better strategy to handle this forthcoming crisis than to encourage greater dependence on oil! This is smart thinking only if we assume there is no tomorrow.

          2. No, food stability is threatened by lack of access to pesticides, fertilisers, transport, and refrigeration. Your global energy rationing agenda would cause mass starvation.

            And how do you explain that world food yields still continue to rise, despite all this weather that you claim is being affected by AGHGs?

            1. Sorry Steve, no fertilizer, fridges, pesticides or transport can bring back the cops lost to droughts, heatwaves and massive flooding. The current rise in commodity prices and the various export bans we have seen this year on commodities speak a rather different message than you obviously perceive.

            2. I wouldn’t bother, Thomas; this guy’s a real humanitarian, all right –

              The self-inflicted poverty of the Bolivia’s of this world will only ensure that for most of their population, every day is Earth day, or dirt day, or squalour and filth day.

              In some ways it’s a pity that catastrophic sea-level rise remains a figment of James Hansen’s fevered imagination, as the submerging of this theocratic hole [the Maldives] would almost be a positive outcome.

              The pious pontifications of this pathetic, small-minded, misanthropic zealot don’t amount to much.

              Oh, and John; this is hate speech.

            3. Yea, you got a good cross reference there of the mind bending logic of Wrathall. And yes, that indeed qualifies as hate speech all right!

            4. This is hate speech in my books, c/o Thomas:

              How about we hand his file to the courts in Islamabad (among others) so that the early victims of climate change may find some satisfaction in going after those knuckleheads who tread their prospects with so much disdain and bad will. A fatwa by an Ayatollah might look like a walk in the park compared to the understandable anger of the survivors of Pakistan’s floods, heatwaves and starvation in the coming decades.

              The time will come when the rants of these people will no longer be filed under crankery but under actionable malice.


              We of course are used to this. the “liberal” left taking sides with the Islamofascists.

              There is much in common between the two groups: united in hatred of America, and a general disdain for progress and modern humanity.

              One often finds a complete silence from the left when confronted with these uncomfortable truths.

            5. John, I truly think that those nations which will carry the early brunt of climate change will want to go after those who caused this by their exuberance just as the victims of the tobacco industry (governments included) went after the tobacco industry in court.
              I have no sympathy whatsoever for Islamofashists by the way but I do think that the current hatred of the religiously deluded against the liberal west will be surpassed by the hatred of the disposed and disenfranchised against our exuberance and inaction once the true effects of climate change are playing out.
              And I would happily give witness to a court of the future when it comes to recount the tactics and culpability of deniers in delaying or preventing sensible action to be taken.

            6. So this is where all the ‘fatwas’ nonsense came from? Your inability to actually comprehend what you are reading is showing again, John.

              Here’s a simple comprehension test for you –

              How about we hand his file to the courts in Islamabad (among others) so that the early victims of climate change may find some satisfaction in going after those knuckleheads who tread their prospects with so much disdain and bad will. A fatwa by an Ayatollah might look like a walk in the park compared to the understandable anger of the survivors of Pakistan’s floods, heatwaves and starvation in the coming decades.

              means –

              A: the writer is endorsing an ‘Islamofascist’ fatwa against all deniers?

              B: the writer is stating that if you think one of these legendary fatwas is a problem, it may pale into insignificance compared to the anger of the Pakistani people towards those who have contributed to their current and future misfortune, specifically as expressed through the courts?

              Whatever one might think about the wisdom of Thomas’ sentiments he is clearly ‘advocating’ – well, using a rhetorical device of ironically suggesting something self-evidently absurd, anyway – action via the courts, not an ‘Islamofascist’ fatwa. ‘Actionable malice ‘ is also a clear reference to the courts, and fits with the overall context of legal process generally if you read his comment.

              Your cherry-pick follows a paragraph of Thomas’ specifically referring to taking action on Western courts. In the context of a discussion regarding a systematic smear campaign against climate scientists designed to ensure inaction. I suggest people read the actual post in the link you provide. These very specific disinformers are clearly who Thomas is referring to.

              ( And if you think these guys – the guys that are running disinformation campaigns specifically designed to prevent any action – aren’t going to be taken to court in the event of ongoing [and very, very costly] catastrophic events tied to AGW in the coming decades you don’t understand the world around you at all! In your beloved United States most of all; the class action suits will go after the think tanks and the denialist industrialists and oil majors for $trillions! )

              Starting from a failure to comprehend you then build up your usual fine onanistic head of steam, moving from the particular to the general and declaring us all enemies of Americaâ„¢ and Progressâ„¢. Pure histrionics of the Joe McCarthy variety. Oh, and IslamoGodwinning us all, to boot!

              You also show not the slightest shame in repeatedly calling us all fascists, and are generally a disrespectful, insincere and obnoxious bore. All this in a forum where you have refused to behave with any decorum, or awareness of the fact that you are being surprisingly generously tolerated in someone else’s domain. So you’ll excuse me for thinking your righteous indignation is as contemptible as Wrathall’s.

              To my mind your outright banning is long overdue – not only repeated accusations of us all being Nazis, but even comparisons to paedophiles being the latest development – but clearly I am not as tolerant as Gareth.

              Incidentally, since, in a similar vein, you cut-and-pasted the pathetic meme regarding Monbiot – that integral part of the liberal/Marxist scientific establishment – and his ‘fascistic advocacy of violence’ only last 2006, and all you meat puppets have apparently been running with this one, here’s his reply to you all. Complete with yet more very real examples of hate speech from your side of the aisle.

            7. Speaking of hate speech –

              “Heads are going to roll for this, they’ll have to. But however many heads do roll it won’t be enough. Always remember this: the Warmist faith so fervently held and promulgated by the Met Office is exactly the same faith so passionately, unswervingly followed by David Cameron, Chris Huhne, Greg Barker, the Coalition’s energy spokesman in the Lords Lord Marland, and all but five members of the last parliament. And also by the BBC, the Prince of Wales, almost every national newspaper, the European Union, the Royal Society, the New York Times, CNBC, the Obama administration, the Australian and New Zealand governments, your children’s schools, our major universities, our minor universities, the University of East Anglia, your local council….

              Truly there just aren’t enough bullets!”

              From all of a month ago, from one of the most pathetic little dweebs on the planet. And the bloody Torygraph publishes it! Let’s see the Wrathall and [snip] defend this one!…

              If it’s not explicit enough for you or you want to claim it’s somehow ‘quoted out of context’ – the bit I’ve bolded is what the bloody piece is called!

              It’s barely possible to find the words to express what’s wrong with these people.

  4. New title….”Peruvian glacier melt has slowed down since 1987″
    – no cause for alarm folks as it is likely to start advancing in 20 years if Mauri’s figures are correct.

      1. What is with this E G Beck stuff?
        Do you have some kind of OCD Doug?

        I noticed that Keith Hunter is also on the same track. Did they put something in the water in Dunedin?

        If I were to go to the “Robbie Burns” pub (is it still there?) would all the punters be wittering on about E G Beck?

        Do they chant E G Beck songs at Carisbrook?

        Do the albatrosses at the colony squawk on about E G Beck?

        1. I told you fool. Consider it a litmus test. Anyone unable or unwilling to see the idiocy of EG Beck is equally an idiot.

          Contrast with the quick and public correction of a radiative forcing calculation discussed over at realclimate. Remind me of some denialist self corrections.

          1. I told you fool. Consider it a litmus test. Anyone unable or unwilling to see the idiocy of EG Beck is equally an idiot

            OK, that’s good to know. We can ask all new visitors to this site to explain why the work of E G Beck is incorrect. Any further engagement should be halted until they have passed this basic Litmus test

            By the way, please stop using the word “denier”

            I prefer to be called “[snip]”. Thanks..

            [Not here. GR]

            1. No, you can’t ask all new visitors here about Beck. You could simply answer the question that Doug has been asking. By continuing to avoid giving an answer you simply make Doug’s original point about sceptics/cranks/deniers being unable to criticise those who support them, however stupid the support might be.

            2. It’s official – at his own request from now on we call He-Who-Must-Be-Red-Buttoned ‘[snip]’!

  5. Don’t seem to be able to reply directly to the question above but 5 countries that have had their worst floodings in recorded memory in the past 6 months are:
    Sri Lanka
    Pakistan, and
    and Chad had its worst flood in 50 years.

  6. Ah John, at last we come to the root of the problem: You say: “I presume that is how science is done these days.” No, no it isn’t.

    I imagine that we agree that much of the ‘debate’ hinges on dodgy science. Well I am keen to get rid of the worst rubbish first and then focus on any substantive issues remaining.

    The reason I harp on about EG Beck is that it takes only 5th form science to see it is total rubbish. But I don’t want you to just take my word for it. Indeed, I urge you NOT to take my word for it. I want you to use your 5th form science and assess it for yourself. Or, if you don’t have the skills, then ask someone like Chris de Freitas.

    (I only say ask him because I think he still values his reputation too much to do so – but to be honest, de Freitas has so little academic credibility left I am not sure what he would lose by supporting EG Beck – apart from disagreeing with Bob Carter).

    1. Hey Doug – talking about dodgy science, why dont you tell us about your thoughts on Al Gore. The reason I ask about Al Gore is that it takes only 5th form science to see that he talks total rubbish. But I don’t want you to just take my word for it. Indeed, I urge you NOT to take my word for it. I want you to use your 5th form science and assess it for yourself. Or, if you don’t have the skills, then ask someone like Gareth.

      (I only say ask him because I think he still values his reputation too much to do so – but to be honest, Gareth has so little academic credibility left I am not sure what he would lose by supporting Al Gore)

      1. Perhaps you can show us where the IPCC uses Al Gore as a source?

        Al Gore is not and has never (as far as I know) pretended to be a scientist. Do you want me to comment on a specific utterance by Al Gore? I can do so, but as he is not a scientist his scientific opinions carry less weight. On the other hand, Al Gore’s opinions about the politics of international negotiations to constrain climate change are undoubtedly better informed than mine.

        Bob Carter was once a scientist but is now a fraud who pretends to believe EG Beck. Chris de Freitas is just a fraud. Though, to the dubious credit of both of them, they have at least put their reputations on the line as have I.

        The particular ‘paper’ by EG beck I have been asking you about is the E&E 180 years one linked to several times.

  7. SW – Why not deny flatout falsehood

    No need to involve me in your silly little games. If he’s wrong, he’s wrong. That’s never stopped you from posting here has it?.

    Interesting that this comes up though, I’m doing a fair amount of research on extreme floods. I’m curious to see how the current floods in the Murray-Darling catchment area relate to historic events.

    1. Current floods in NW Victoria. I saw someone on teev from one of those towns saying that the current flood had exceeded the 1956 marker at his property. Noone else though.

      The other important aspect is to look at levees, dams and weirs built *because of* the 1956 flood. Just as Wivenhoe was built because of the 74 flood in Brisbane. Knowing what engineers have done to alleviate the possibility of repeating a record-breaking flood is important for comparing one such year with another.

      1. OK it’s official. Now that the accumulated floodwaters are moving towards Swan Hill it’s being described as the worst flood in recorded history. So that puts it beyond 1956.

        Also heard an interesting point on radio – salinity accumulated in soils during 10 years of drought is now being freed. Expect to see areas of soils poisoned by salt which will move to the surface. Watch out for the (im) balance of salts, nutrients and pollutants as the floodwaters move towards the mouth of the river – and localised effects in the billabongs, wetlands and subsidiary channels remaining behind in the flood plain.

    2. Just returned from a tour of the Murray from the NSW/SA border to Mannum. Despite the record flooding in Victoria – due in SA in about 6 weeks, I believe – and the water that will move down the Darling from QLD ( due whenever it gets here if it’s not allocated first) we are a very long way from the ’56 record in SA now and are not likely to approach it.

      The river is currently in flood, though, and it’s fantastic to see the waters spreading across the floodplains of Chowilla, the Lyrup Flats, and Katarapko for the first time this century. It will be too late for tens of thousands of River Boxes (Eucalyptus largiflorens) in particular, having succumbed to the the combined impacts of drought, over-allocations, and increased salinity. One hopes the River Red Gums and Lignum swamps will revive!

      With so much more resource diversion / at the end of 10 years of drought / the large slump in the alpine snow pack it would take an almost unimaginable event to replicate ’56 in the lower Murray. Half way down this page you can see a shot of the Swan Reach flood markers on a stobie pole (it’s a South Australian thing) by the ferry; this gives some idea of how far the river would need to rise.

      1. Yes Bill, I was wondering when I read the item whether it would actually flood in SA. As far as when it gets here, the Qland water isn’t expected for 2 months, the Victorian water should have been and gone by then. Presumably the Vic water will be at the lakes and the mouth by the time the Qland water hits the border. Unless the weather goes insanely bonkers, there’ll be little to no rain along the SA path of the river to augment the flow or saturate the soil during Feb and March.

        At least the river red gums will have a nice big drink to get them through the next 10 years.

        1. Interestingly the road from Mannum back towards Mount Pleasant had a large tarmac section lift and float aside during the recent 100mm downpour, and there’s now a new, surprisingly large, canyon running alongside it near the township!

          And the Murtho Forest badlands (the Headings Cliffs area) are looking quite spectacular with their newly-eroded gullies, the Old Coach Road that runs below the Old Wentworth Road near the NSW border has been chewed to bits, and Lakes Littra and Limbra and the Coombool swamp are all chockers – all from local rainfall! And the river is back to being brown rather that grey-green, and moving at an impressive fast walking pace – barrelling out from some of the backwater channels, in fact.

  8. Tried several times to reply Steve but couldn’t for some unknown reason.
    So when are you going to go on you tube and tell the people of Pakistan, Brazil, Australia, Sri Lanka (who have just experienced 1years rainfall in less than a month), and Albania that the flooding they have just been experiencing is not the worse in their recorded history? They have been told many times that it is.

    [Sorry, the spam filter was being overactive… GR]

  9. Oh John, I know you can be shy but don’t hold back. Open up. Let your true feelings show. Is there something you want to tell me?

    I’m glad to hear you are sticking around because we all want to hear you tell us about EG Beck and Ken Ring.

  10. @bill re hate speech (can’t reply inline): Delingpole is a shrill, dimwitted xenophobe. Some of his rants – e.g. on Obama’s recent comments on friendship with France – are pathetically childish. Given the intellectual calibre of people like him, and the trolls who visit here, one can find some grounds for optimism.

    1. I notice he refers to the Guardian’s opinions section – Comment is Free – as ‘Komment Macht Frei’ just so his mouth-breathing readership will get to know that they’re all, nyuk nyuk, like the Nazis, you know! (the name actually comes from a quote of CP Scott’s, founder of the original Manchester Guardian ‘Comment is free, but facts are sacred,’ ironically enough.)

      We’re all Eco-Fascists, apparently, a word he bandies about with ‘John D’ level abandon, and his drab little cohort are so fired up by Green ‘bullying and initmidation’ – you know, like that Monbiot selective quote from late 2006 or even writing to your MP asking what they’re going to do about Climate Change (see link that follows) – that they have to go bully and intimidate the ‘perpetrators’ . Talk about being unable to see yourself!

      It’s like the rantings of some sad, angry, spotty bedroom kid who can’t cut it in the real world and despises his socially-competent peers, which is in all likelihood Delingpole’s heritage in a nutshell. It’s amazing the calibre of some of the people the Denialati have managed to elevate to public prominence.

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