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Waxman Malarkey 4: Impact Zone Ireland

July 1, 2010 by Willis Eschenbach

In part 4 of this series, I take a look at the Waxman Markey claims about the Emerald Isle, Impact Zone Ireland. My previous analyses of the same site were Waxman Malarkey: Impact Zone US Northeast, Australia, and Alaska.

Having run short of other scares, the W/M folks want to convince us that Ireland is facing a simultaneous drought and flood … it’s the alarmist’s dream, the universal disaster:

Figure 1. Our future according to Waxman-Markey

How does that work?

Here’s their claim:

THE MISTY ISLAND DRIES OUT

Irish citizens have access to 5 times as much fresh water as the average European. High measures of annual rainfall and low evaporation rates have left a legacy of short coastal streams on peat covered hills and a maze of bogs and lakes along flood-prone inland rivers. However, this legacy may be broken as climate change could yield too much water in some places at some times and too little of it in other places at the same time. Scientists predict that by 2050 winter rainfall will increase by 12 percent and summer rainfall will decline by the same percentage.

Most of the current primary crops in Ireland are already showing evidence of decline. The potato in particular is highly dependant on adequate water supply so it may cease being a commercially viable crop. It is difficult to comprehend that the potato, a part of the landscape so intertwined in Ireland’s culture and history, may not feature strongly in its future.

With hotter, drier summers reducing the summer water supply in inland areas, water accessibility, which currently isn’t necessary for the majority of Irish farming, may necessitate the development of new irrigation systems, which will compete with industrial and residential water demands.

Let me take these claims one at a time. First:

Irish citizens have access to 5 times as much fresh water as the average European.

The citation to this is a site called “Irish Climate”. I do not find any support for the “5 times as much fresh water” claim there … or anywhere. But then “Irish Climate” is a strange site, chock full of unverified claims and alarmist scenarios. In addition, their advertising scheme is to drop ads for things like “Online Slots” into the text at random. I was particularly taken with this one:

So yeah, too bad that things could maybe kinda change in Ireland…it’s not like in Africa, where they had it sooooo good until global warming and then BAM! Online Slots! Suddenly people were poor and starving and sick and illiterate and slaving under corrupt and brutal gangs posing as governments and religions. All since, like, 2006 or so, when the media and corporate and political world started using hip words like ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ to prove that Things Were Being Done.

I never knew online slot machines could cause so much damage. (I disabled the link in that quotation from the site, to prevent further child deaths). But I digress …

I find no scientific support for the “5 times” claim. Actually, I was surprised when I looked into the famous Irish rain to find that the island only gets about about 1.1 metres (46″) of rain per year. So are they saying that Europeans are only getting a fifth of that (230 mm, or 9″) of rain per year? No way. So what do they mean? The world wonders.

In any case, my investigation of the Irish rain leads me to their second claim, that:

However, this legacy may be broken as climate change could yield too much water in some places at some times and too little of it in other places at the same time. Scientists predict that by 2050 winter rainfall will increase by 12 percent and summer rainfall will decline by the same percentage.

“Scientists predict”? I doubt it. Ireland is a postage stamp sized country, there’s no climate model in the world that claims accuracy at that small a scale. And climate models do very poorly at predicting rainfall in any case. So let’s look at some data. Figure 2 shows two different rainfall datasets, once again from the marvelous KNMI site.

Figure 2. Historical Irish rainfall for summer (March-August) and winter (September-February) for the area bounded by 50°-55°N, 5°-10°W.

As you can see, there is no trend in Irish rainfall, either in the summer or the winter. So once again their claims are nothing but alarmists crying wolf.

Next, let’s look at their claim that:

Most of the current primary crops in Ireland are already showing evidence of decline. The potato in particular is highly dependant on adequate water supply so it may cease being a commercially viable crop. It is difficult to comprehend that the potato, a part of the landscape so intertwined in Ireland’s culture and history, may not feature strongly in its future.

The site for investigating claims like this one is marvelous UN FAOSTAT site.  It contains every agricultural statistic imaginable. It shows that 90% of Ireland’s crop production (by tonnage) is in five crops – barley, oats, wheat, potatoes, and sugar beets. Here is the production of those crops since 1961, the start of the FAO database:

Figure 3. Production of the five main Irish crops. The sugar beet data ends in 2005, with the other datasets going to 2008.

So is potato production dropping as they claim? Most definitely … but not because of any change in the rainfall. It has been dropping since the start of the record. Why? Because farmers plant what they can make the most money on for the least effort and risk. Farmers aren’t fools.

Note also that the total production of the five main crops has not changed in half a century. This shows that, rather than Irish production decreasing because of any change in climate, all that is happening is the farmers are shifting from one crop to another.

There is another way to see if the changes in food production are climate related. This is to look at the yields of the crops. “Yield” is the amount of the foodstuff which is produced per hectare. Figure 4 shows the change in yields over a half century:

Figure 4. Crop yields for the main Irish crops

If changes in the climate were affecting the crops, we would see a reduction in the yields. Instead of seeing that, we see that the yield of every one of the crops has been increasing over the period. So whatever has been convincing the Irish farmers to change their mix of crops, it hasn’t been the climate.

Finally, further down on the page, the Waxman Markey site makes the following claim:

The Irish landscape faces many pressures from global warming that will result in visual changes to vegetation and land use. Losses of habitat vital to many species of flora and fauna and the stability of the landscape itself will change due to greater weather extremes.   Arable land in particular regions of the country will continue to grow fields of wheat, barley, and corn as climate changes. In other regions, however, with the emergence of warmer and dryer summers, brown fields of grass during the summer months will become much more common.

The curlew, a beloved Irish bird known for its distinct cry, is endangered by climate change.

But even a rabid AGW carbon control site like the Conservation Volunteers of Northern Ireland doesn’t believe that. They say (emphasis mine):

Threats to the Curlew

There has been a rapid decline in the population of breeding curlew in Northern Ireland over the last 25 years. The most recent survey in 1999 suggested that breeding pairs have declined by 58% since 1988. This rapid decline has been reflected in other parts of the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

The decline of the curlew is linked to the loss of their wetland habitat mainly through more intense agricultural practices, drainage of wetland areas and overgrazing by livestock. It is thought that curlews are now more vulnerable to predation and this is having a further impact on their population. As the birds nest on the ground, they are vulnerable to recent increases in predators such as foxes and crows. The poor survival rate of young birds is known to be a key factor in the decline of curlew.

In Northern Ireland, the curlew is a legitimate quarry species during the open season, although it is thought that the numbers shot are very small. It is fully protected elsewhere in the UK.

Summary: The claimed future changes in Irish rainfall have no scientific validity. The changes in potato production are unconnected to the climate. Agricultural production is not declining. The drop in numbers of the curlew is due to drainage of wetlands. And once again, the Waxman site contains nothing but malarkey.

July 3, 2010 - Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science

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