Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Ferret Pwnd

In his interview with Matt McGrath about the IPCC WGII report, Richard Tol said

"You have a very silly statement in the draft summary that says that people who live in war-torn countries are more vulnerable to climate change, which is undoubtedly true," said Prof Tol.

"But if you ask people in Syria whether they are more concerned with chemical weapons or climate change, I think they would pick chemical weapons - that is just silliness."
and in Torald Staud's description of Richard's promotional tour in Yokohoma
"It is only about the consequences of climate change and the four horsemen of the apocolypse." Tol refers to a -in his words- "very stupid" IPCC statement:  People in war zones are especially vulnerable to climate risks.  Tol contrasts this with a reference to the currently most gruesome war on the planet:  "I believe that people in Syria fear chemical weapons more than global warming."  Which is of course true, but no climatologist would disagree.
Eli, old Rabett that he is, has an old saying, maybe if everyone else is panicking and you are calm, just maybe there is something you don't know.  Surprisingly in this case, the Friedman unit has seen the answer in the Wikileaks dump, and it was not six months ago but more than six weeks.
I’ve been reporting on the connection between the Syrian drought and the uprising there for a Showtime documentary that will air in April, but recently our researchers came across a WikiLeaks cable that brilliantly foreshadowed how environmental stresses would fuel the uprising. Sent on Nov. 8, 2008, from the U.S. Embassy in Damascus to the State Department, the cable details how, in light of what was a devastating Syrian drought — it lasted from 2006-10 — Syria’s U.N. food and agriculture representative, Abdullah bin Yehia, was seeking drought assistance from the U.N. and wanted the U.S. to contribute. Here are some key lines:

■ “The U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs launched an appeal on September 29 requesting roughly $20.23 million to assist an estimated one million people impacted by what the U.N. describes as the country’s worst drought in four decades.”
■ “Yehia proposes to use money from the appeal to provide seed and technical assistance to 15,000 small-holding farmers in northeast Syria in an effort to preserve the social and economic fabric of this rural, agricultural community. If UNFAO efforts fail, Yehia predicts mass migration from the northeast, which could act as a multiplier on social and economic pressures already at play and undermine stability.”
■ “Yehia does not believe that the [government of Bashar al-Assad] will allow any Syrian citizen to starve. ... However, Yehia told us that the Syrian minister of agriculture ... stated publicly that economic and social fallout from the drought was ‘beyond our capacity as a country to deal with.’ What the U.N. is trying to combat through this appeal, Yehia says, is the potential for ‘social destruction’ that would accompany erosion of the agricultural industry in rural Syria. This social destruction would lead to political instability.”
■ “Without direct assistance, Yehia predicts that most of these 15,000 small-holding farmers would be forced to depart Al Hasakah Province to seek work in larger cities in western Syria. Approximately 100,000 dependents — women, children and the elderly or infirm — would be left behind to live in poverty, he said. Children would be likely to be pulled from school, he warned, in order to seek a source of income for families left behind. In addition, the migration of 15,000 unskilled laborers would add to the social and economic pressures presently at play in major Syrian cities. A system already burdened by a large Iraqi refugee population may not be able to absorb another influx of displaced persons, Yehia explained, particularly at this time of rising costs, growing dissatisfaction of the middle class, and a perceived weakening of the social fabric and security structures that Syrians have come to expect and — in some cases — rely on.”
Eli was aware of this, and reminded yet again by a comment from a passer by
Florifulgurator said...

Tol has no idea of Syria, it looks.

Syrians are, of course, no longer that much concerned with catastrophic climate change. But at the beginning of the Syrian mess was a combination of overpopulation, global warming type super drought (with almost a million ruined and hungry farmers fleeing to the cities), and bad resource management by an incompetent/corrupted government.


William Connolley said...

I've no particular objection to linking the Syrian (or indeed the Egyptian) uprising to GW. But does that support "GW causes bad things?" No. The current state of the Syrian uprising is bad, but that's a different matter.

If you want to argue that no GW = nice harvests = happy peasants not rising up against evil dictators = a good thing, then I'd disagree.

Steve Bloom said...

"But if you ask people in Syria whether they are more concerned with chemical weapons or climate change, I think they would pick chemical weapons - that is just silliness."

Hmm, and if you'd polled Londoners in 1941 about whether the blitz or the submarine blockade was the greater threat, I'm confident they'd have said the former. They'd also have been quite wrong.

More disingenuous Toling, it seems.

Florifulgurator said...

William: Such oversimplified causal logics is a mental disease.

EliRabett said...

Fat peasants do not take up sickles, it is lesson taught by the French.

Starvation and revolt are an identity

Semisovereign People at Large said...

false, chemical weapons don't have the dispersal power of this last two winters very hard winters abnormal winters with more than 20 or 30 thousand premature deaths

thypoide and tuberculosis in the winter of 2012/2013
as probably claim more lifes... (deaths between 12 thousand some say) than all the chemical weapons or conventional ones in the same year

Typhoid breaks out in rebel-held eastern Syria: WHO | Reuters‎Traduzir esta página
19/02/2013 - GENEVA (Reuters) - Typhoid has broken out in an opposition-held region of Syria due to people drinking contaminated water from the .

and in the hot summer the hepatitis A spread like fire

People without shelter die at thousands

in the dry times of 1985.88 in the sahel you have more than 10 milllion deaths some say 12 millions

6 million (or 7) in ethiopia alone

in the mali area near Ras el Mas 500 people die in one summer day

28th of august i s'pose
the smell are, something i never forget that day
and the worst simun ever is the saharian wind...dry hot can kill in minutes if you are weak or .....

yes the climate makes more deaths than war
the french revolution is a climatic event, the irish famine another
diseases of plants or animals are weather dependent n'est pas

Tenney Naumer said...

"I've no particular objection to linking the Syrian (or indeed the Egyptian) uprising to GW. But does that support 'GW causes bad things?' No."

I don't pretend to be a mental giant, so perhaps someone could explain that statement to me.

Semisovereign People at Large said...

somalia civil war of 1991-1993

the displacement of civilians and the dry weather kill more people than the remaining men of Siad Barre

Angola 1979 in the south a bad year for the cassava and perhaps more than 30 thousand deaths

nobody cares for civil wars in climatic hard times

the civilian's die of starvation or of disease not with bullets

the thypoid kill more people in the ghwetto's and soweto's than bullets

and cholera that is spread in climatic extreme events

the fire's in the russian steppe in 2012 burn more than 12 million's of bushels of grain

abnormal fires with abnormal temperatures

like in 2010

but in august 3third day more than 6000 acres of wheat are in flames like a little house in the prairie drama....

and in the heartland of russia not in the south

Semisovereign People at Large said...

if the prices of wheat barley oats rise due to local scarcity

like in 2006 2007 2008 in the bread riots of egypt

the things can yes they can go iranian like in 79

because is very hard to kill entire populations and is bad for the troops moral

is a quote from the SS chief...

RobH said...

William said... "If you want to argue that no GW = nice harvests = happy peasants not rising up against evil dictators = a good thing, then I'd disagree."

I don't believe anyone is claiming this.

I believe the claim is that GW will exacerbate conditions that lead to more unrest and war.

Semisovereign People at Large said...

if they all die like in 1985-1988

they don't overtrow nobody

and in Lybia you don't have a rise over price of foodstuffs

global warming is not a problem when the green sahara is on...

now is off from the last 8 or 12 thousand years c'est vrai

Dano said...

The Arab Spring has decent evidence of human-caused origin - bread riots. Same with Syria. And my maternal descendants came over from Ireland when the rich/government exacerbated the potato blight (giving them assistance means they won't work!! [sounds familiar]).

Plenty of easily called-up historical incidences that can inform us today. Not hard at all.

Given our current sadness for immy-grints in many parts of Europe and N America, we're in for some strife and violence unless we admit to ourselves that people are going to move to our neighborhood and we have to play nice.



Florifulgurator said...

I never cared about this guy (yet another economist) but now I've read an article and have to say: Tol is obscene.

-- Tol said farmers, for instance, could grow new crops if the climate in their region became hotter, wetter or drier. "They will adapt. Farmers are not stupid," he said.

Ha! Reminds me of the logic I scolded above. Sometimes reality doesn't follow the tertium non datur. You can have both wetness and drought (often in catastrophic succession: Burn, rinse, repeat - soil gone. Ask Pakistan.). Adaption requires a stable environment. I find it amazing how such a tautology can evade the professor.

-- "Of the 19 studies he surveyed only one shows net positive benefits from warming. And it's the one he wrote,"

So, please, can we forget about Tol? RPJr is more than enough.

has a decent? as said...

they already are in your country boy

and their votes are changing slowly the wasp's society

they are 6,000,000,000 and the anglo-axons axon's free

are only lets see 300 millions or less canadian shield have 20 million or less US of A 160 or 170 and italians and poles and irish are aculturated to the anglo-sax culture and the germans in america too
australians ....

is a lost demographic battle

the blight only thrive in very very moist years with high temperatures
the germination of the oospores as a optimum point at

Oospore Germination and Formation by the Late Blight Pathogen ... › ... › Vol 149 Issue 11-12 - Traduzir esta página
de A Strömberg - ‎2001 - ‎Citado por 22 - ‎Artigos relacionados
04/10/2013 - The ability of the late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans to form oospores in leaves of seven potato cultivars was examined at different ...
What trigger Phytophthora infestans oospore production and ...‎Traduzir esta página
During the last decades earlier outbreaks of potato late blight epidemics have been ... survival, germination and infection potential of P. infestans oospores.
Late blight of potato and tomato - American Phytopathological Society › ... › Oomycetes‎
Late blight is the disease that triggered the Irish potato famine of the 1840s. It also was .... Oospores usually germinate by producing a sporangium (Figure 22).
Formation, production and viability of oospores of Phytophthora ...
de WG FLIER - ‎2001 - ‎
relative importance of oospores in late blight epidemics in areas where A1 and ..... Germination of oospores was assessed using a plating technique described

what kind of college you people have there
the eco-comic kind

gee,,,,your reasoning seems the no ha no hay opinion

Para a Posteridade e mais Além said...

stability in the surface waters in lakes or in oceanic basins going to affect the nutrient input

in land some cultures and cultivars

are going north
we already see barley where in 25 years ago the permafrost are aeternal

eternity are low this days

well is not a good barley but

the velocity of this kind of adaptation to a new and diferential human cultivated space

the corn belt is water dependent

the wheat belt is vernalization dependent

the bible belt is moronic deep
or tavares deep like we use to say in the old continent

and the cratonic age are higher in greenland and in the canadian shield
ergo you are the old continental shields
tectonic is a bitch

Força Força Camarada Vasco said...

spambot's are alive

Victor Venema said...

Another fallacy is that because locally some other problems are worse, global warming is no problem. Typical climate dissenter thinking, picking a small part out of the full picture.

The problem of GW is that it puts stress on many systems. Every individual problem is solvable (if we did not have destructive climate dissenters), but all the problems together are much harder to solve.

Would be nice if the greenhouse effect would only warm Syria. That is solvable.

William Connolley said...

Sigh. I really didn't think this would be so difficult. You want, I think, evidence that "GW causes bad things". Evidence demonstrating that "GW causes good things", or evidence that "GW causes things", isn't very useful to the argument you're putting forward.

So "GW causes wars" might be useful to want you want. "GW causes the Arab Spring" - no, that's not useful for you.

Anonymous said...

Still struggling with Stoat's objections. Surely RT is the only one here who seems to "want" evidence of a certain kind? There is no evidence or argument presented that the IPCC is either incorrect or anything other than neutral. Reading back RT's opening statement, removing only the subjective pejorative, gives "You have a ... statement in the draft summary that says that people who live in war-torn countries are more vulnerable to climate change, which is undoubtedly true". The others are similar evidence-free opinions in areas in which he is much less qualified than the authors. They may be wrong, but he hasn't done anything to establish as such. Mind, he has attracted a certain amount of attention to Richard Tol, so I am sure it has been a good day.

Susan Anderson said...

This is very mean-spirited of me, but I do wish someone would send Tol to Syria.

Agree that this is all about him (so the kerfuffle is a feather in his cap, or an egg in that hair-nest); but why are people so gullible that they give him standing in these things?

Anonymous said...

William Connolley says
"If you want to argue that no GW = nice harvests = happy peasants not rising up against evil dictators = a good thing, then I'd disagree."

I do believe that William is actually proposing that starvation begets democracy.

Willy is being a very silly billy.

Steve Bloom said...

Considering he's now walking back his comments to the Beeb, I suspect some people with influence over his career trajectory became less gullible all of a sudden.

Steve Bloom said...

William, it is quite possible for disrupted harvests to eventually have some degree of positive outcome. But on net, on a large scale? No.

Adam said...

Sigh, I didn't think it would be that difficult. The WGII apparently says that GW will help cause conflict and will make life worse for those people who are experiencing it.

Why is that so controversial?

Why the straw man about the Arab Spring?

Anonymous said...

Tol's pronouncement verges on the Rumsfeldian. The Syrians I met while doing archaeological survey in the mid-2000s were already concerned about the declining rainfall. I suspect their reaction today would be along the lines of 'the war will end one day, but if we cannot grow crops, what future is there for us?'

An excellent article on the background to the Syrian rebellion can be found at
. The author, William Polk clearly identifies the impact of worsening drought on Syria's social fabric.

Anonymous said...

@Adam "why so controversial ?"

because this is the new period of the Climate game. The meme being "it will be not bad", any fact going in that field shall be pushed back in a melee.
Britain style of play. Engulf the other team in a melee, take the ball, score several small cheap points with the foot
Yes, I'm French rugby fan.

Bernard J. said...

Anonymous's Polk link at 28/3/14 4:44 AM was:

Adam said...

@Anonymous - Ah well, I find rugby tedious to watch, so I'll just wait for WGII to come out. ;)

Florifulgurator said...

To flog this dead horse a bit more: Severe drought all around the Mediterranean is in the models.
See this map: (from A. Dai, Drought under global warming: a review, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 2 (1) (2011), 45–65) Follow up:

The map is for 2060-2069. I almost dare bet the major flaw of the model is that Arctic sea ice melts too slow. Forcing it in the model, I bet, would give some ugly hints for the more immediate future/present. Just like this other ice-forced model of a few years back which predicted the current Californian drought (plus the "ridiculously resilient ridge" of this winter).

Anonymous said...

Sorry, previous anonymous was me.
Forgot to sign my post.


Aaron said...

This has been going on for a while. Read what T. E. Lawrence said about the region circa WWI.

Florifulgurator said...

-- The major lesson Lawrence drew from the history of foreign interventions in Syria, starting from the Ottomans to the British and French, is that they have been marked by failure and defeat, not so much in the military struggle -- both the British and French prevailed in that sphere -- but in the political settlements and the transition to peace once the fighting ceased. Or as T.E. Lawrence alliterated: "Any wide attempt after unity would make a patched and parceled thing."
(Source: )

The difference to then is: Syrian population has exploded (yes, a veritable population bomb), plus, there's been some migration: first due to the drought, then due to the war. Add to that refugees from Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon. The Syrian farmers will almost certainly not return to their lands, which is gone with the wind (er, dust storms).

So, nothing left to patch and parcel a la Lawrence of Arabia.

Seems we should get used to the fact that Syria is irreversibly f*&%d up.

(BTW, another factor next to climate and overpopulation was peak oil, as noted in the excellent Polk article mentioned above.)

Mungo said...

Perhaps WMC is pushing the detection vs. attribution thing? I.e., you can't prove anything so why bother? All part of rigorous intellectual honesty doncha know.

a bald kraut or a baldur? said...

Syrians are, of course, no longer that much concerned with catastrophic climate change. But at the beginning of the Syrian mess was a combination of overpopulation,,,,,,the density in Israel is higher and is the same type of land and climatic zonation
and the north of syria have a surplus of water

global warming type super drought (with almost a million ruined and hungry farmers fleeing to the cities), and bad resource management an incompetent/corrupted government.

Ed Darrell said...

That economic stress caused by stress to the agriculture sector caused by global-warming aggravated drought prompted the Syrian uprising is of no matter?

Four years ago, had Syrians had crops to tend instead of growling stomachs, how anxious would they have been to rise up against their nation's government?

There are still people who claim oil was not a proximate nor even significant cause of the attack on Pearl Harbor. There may be a word for such a belief in the face of contrary facts, but "wise" and "considered" are not among them.