Spiegel Demolishes Syria War-Climate Change Paper By Kelley et al. …”Hardly Tenable” … “Distraction From Real Problems”

Spiegel science journalist Axel Bojanowski here looks at the new paper Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought,” PNAS, March 2, 2015 by Kelley et al, which claims the 2007−2010 drought contributed to the war in the region.

A number of major news outlets, such as the New York Times and the AP were quick to uncritically dispense it as gospel truth.

Anthony Watts provides good background here.

Spiegel’s view is much more critical and skeptical of the paper’s findings and overall methodology when compared to the New York Times or AP. The online German magazine writes:

An alarming study has created a commotion worldwide. The authors claim that climate change contributed to the drought and civil war in Syria. However this claim is hardly tenable.”

Models in wide disagreement

Bojanowski writes that the decisive evidence in the paper is based on climate models, which show drier conditions for Syria as the greenhouse effect intensifies. However Bojanowski later points out that the climate system in Syria is highly complex and that even the IPCC questions the capability of models reliably simulating the climate system of Syria and that the models are in wide disagreement:

The region lies on the boundary of three climate regions where the weather patterns are hardly understood, the IPCC report says. Foremost the climate simulation models diverge widely from each other when it comes to precipitation. It thus appears unwarranted to use the results of models as a way of confirming the effect of greenhouse gases, believes [William]Briggs.”

Sparse data

Another problem with the study, Spiegel reports, is that the data used were way too sparse, and quoted climate scientist Tim Brücher of the Max Planck Institute for Meterology: “The data should have been handled more critically.”

“Renders a poor service on behalf of climate science”

Probably seeing the paper more as an embarrassment rather than a contribution to science, even warmist institutes were unable to refrain from critique. Bojanowski quotes Thomas Bernauer, a conflict researcher at ETH in Zürich: “The entire paper is problematic as it renders a poor service on behalf of climate science.”

“Study is problematic at a number of levels”

In total Bojanowski says scientists criticize the paper on five aspects, saying that after the criticism, nothing is really left of the paper. According to Spiegel, University of Hamburg expert Tobias Ide says, “The study is problematic at a number of levels.” Peace scientist Christiane Fröhlich of the same university says the civil war “had more to do with wealthy citizens provoking it“.

“A distraction” from the real causes

Francesca De Châtel, Syria expert at Radboud University in Nijmegen, called the paper “a distraction” from the real causes of the war, and pointed out that drought periods are more the norm for the region. The problems stem foremost from land mismanagement and shoddy agricultural practices. Bojanowski quotes De Châtel: “The role of climate change is not only irrelevant, emphasizing it is even damaging.”

No evidence linking drought to civil war

Also Norwegian doctoral candidate Ole Magnus Theisen states that there is no evidence of a relationship between drought and conflict, Spiegel writes.

Bojanowski adds that “the climate argument allows politicians to blame others outside of the country for the hunger.” The Spiegel journalist sums up the science of tying climate change to war in general:

The main causes of civil wars are political. The future security of Africa does not depend on climate, rather on political and economic development.”

In summary one would not be wrong in concluding that the PNAS was definitely asleep during the review of the paper. Hard to get any shoddier.

Spiegel report here.


10 responses to “Spiegel Demolishes Syria War-Climate Change Paper By Kelley et al. …”Hardly Tenable” … “Distraction From Real Problems””

  1. Jeff Wood

    Spiegel are a mixed bag, aren’t they?

    Something else has been dawning on me. Recently, climate realists have been using the IPCC reports as a resource for countering alarmists. I am not qualified to judge, but perhaps there is some good stuff behind the hysterical Executive Summaries?

    The summaries seem to be compiled by activist, political types; and I recall that the one for AR4 was released with the remark that the working papers would be released when the detailed reports had been “adjusted” to fit the claims of the Executive Summary.

    1. Bernd Felsche

      Bojanowski does his homework. He’s not one of the presstitutes.

      1. sod

        “Bojanowski does his homework. He’s not one of the presstitutes.”

        You are right. Bojanowski is rather unfamous for taking “sceptic” positions on climate change. “Spiegel” once was a great left wind paper and now is at least postioned in the center with a rather extreme anti global warming and climate science agenda (those advertisement customers do not like climate change).

        The blog you link to is a horrible biased source and i am deeply shocked that a “Spiegel” journalist would seek professional help from such a site on the topic of climate change!

        1. DirkH

          sod, your “extremist anti-climate science” Spiegel just had this print cover.

    2. DirkH

      Spiegel consists to 50% of the old ex-Leftist collectivists, who own 50.5% of the shop and therefore get dividends in addition to their wage. They all get blackmailed by the CIA via the knowledge the CIA gained from the Stasi Rosenholz file, so they will spout the same nonsense as the NYT.

      Bojanowski is younger, not from that generation, and cannot be blackmailed. Like all the younger Spiegel online workers he is probably not a shareholder and therefore a member of the Spiegel underclass workers.

      To add to the confusion: 25 % of the shares of Spiegel are owned by the foundation Bertelsmann, which is a German media gorilla, and has been founded with the explicit goal of evading taxes, and is 100% globalist (and consequently promotes unlimited mass immigration and destruction of national character and culture, replacement by identykit global consumer culture). Liz Mohn, the Borg queen of Bertelsmann, is notorious for inviting the top candidates of political parties into her lair in Gütersloh before elections to probe them.

      1. Colorado Wellington

        Your last sentence is exceptionally memorable.

  2. Edward.

    War causes famine because farmers are murdered, cannot tend, are unable to access the land.

    To link, ‘man made’ global warming to the appalling internecine ethnic and political bloodshed which is causing a humanitarian crisis in Syria is spurious, specious and scurrilous conflation. Furthermore, by resorting to media hyperbole, it exacerbates the original primary lie.
    But this sort of tactic, is just what you’d expect from a bunch of green one eyed bigots, actors promulgating a world wide scam which is now falling on deaf ears – so they consequently have to ramp up the rack of lies.

    Of course always unseen and unmentioned by the unspeakable Green Loonies/lobby.

    What has caused hardship and shortages, increased prices of foodstuff commodities, particularly wheat, corn and the knock on effects of rice costs.

    BIOFUELS, the humane obscenity.

    Biofuels, the madness of growing food crops to produce ethanol to burn in car engines as a substitute for fossil fuels ie petroleum. Ask the great green goon – Obama about the subsidies the US taxpayer provides for farmers to send their food crops to industrial sites to be distilled to make ethanol. It is a similar tale of stupidity in EUrope, where the Brussels Kommissars in their infinite wisdom proffer biofuel crop subsidies to European farmers to grow biofuel crops.

    Insanity but never spoken about: by the NYT.

  3. Colorado Wellington

    Now it all makes sense!

    East German Politburo member Günter Schabowski must have known about the global warming squabbles in the Bush administration in October 1989. The thought of existential arguments and convulsions around the American President clutching his nuclear football made Schabowski so jumpy that he answered “sofort, unverzüglich” to Tom Brokaw’s question about lifting East German travel regulations.

    Stasi man and border crossing commander Harald Jäger who was an expert on tiled stoves and knew what global warming would do to the kachelofen industry must have been even more worried. He heard Schabowski’s speech and nearly choked on his sandwich when he made the catastrophic global warming connection.

    He gave an order to lift the gate and the Berlin Wall was gone the same night.

    Schabowski’s fellow Politburo members speculated he must have been a Western spy but now it’s clear that climate change did it.

    I must look at other historical events tomorrow.

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