Veteran Meteorologist Says John Kerry’s Claim Climate-Change Drought Is Causing Refugees Is Completely False

Veteran meteorologist Joe Bastardi at his latest Weatherbell Analytics Saturday Summary explains why US Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim that the refugee crisis is caused by climate-change-driven drought is total nonsense and is easily disproved.

Secretary Kerry would like to have the public believe that the refugee crisis from Syria and Africa is due to man-made climate drought in the region – and not his abject foreign policy debacle.

Nigeria rainfall

 Chart shows Nigeria has been too wet. Source Weatherbell.

At the 2:34 mark Joe shows a precipitation chart for western Africa which clearly depicts how rainfall has in fact been above average over the past 15 years, and thus drought cannot be cited as a reason for the Boko Haram terror group. Bastardi says:

There’s no drought here. And so you cannot blame drought in Nigeria for the rise of Boko Haram.”

The above chart’s blue shows that it’s been too wet in Nigeria, and not too dry. Indeed there are number of scientific papers showing that the Sahara region has been getting greener over the past 30 years.

In the Middle East Bastardi shows that the drought has hit part of Turkey, but that most of Syria has had normal precipitation, and explains that “drought” is the normal climate condition there. At the 4:20 mark the Weatherbell meteorologist puts up a precipitation chart for the Middle East for the last five years:

Syria last 5 years

The chart above shows more wet (blue) than dry (yellow/green) with Syria being completely normal. Joe shakes his head at how anyone could even make the claim that Kerry does:

What’s really interesting about all this is, this is just so easy to disprove. […] So I don’t understand why that was said.”

Most readers here do understand why. The falsehood was said because US foreign policy has been a total catastrophe in that region, and now Kerry is desperate for any excuse. And he couldn’t have picked a lamer one. In real life any company or employee blaming poor performance on climate change would be immediately shown the door. This is a blatant unwillingness to accept any responsibility.

The nonsense of climate change leading to terrorism excuse is so clear on so many fronts that it’s a wonder than anyone with even a few points of IQ would take it seriously.

32 responses to “Veteran Meteorologist Says John Kerry’s Claim Climate-Change Drought Is Causing Refugees Is Completely False”

  1. eric

    Simply ask the refugees why they are fleeing their native
    countries and you’ll find that “climate change” has nothing
    to do with it. Comments to the contrary by Kerry, Obama,
    and many EU politicians are merely an excuse not to deal
    with the real problem–global civic and cultural chaos–
    because they don’t know what to do about that problem. This
    is a classical example of Parkinson’s Laws, the Peter
    Principle, and other observations of incompetents trying to
    deal with situations whose solutions far exceed their abilities to recognize and implement them.

    1. sod

      “Simply ask the refugees why they are fleeing their native
      countries and you’ll find that “climate change” has nothing
      to do with it”

      You do not understand the chain of event in this causal chain. Drought is driving people from the country into towns. There is , where the unrest starts. Th people fleeing to europe will not be the poor farmers (they barely made it to the next town) but the rather “rich” people from the towns. And they are not fleeing from the drough, but from the war that followed it.

      1. DirkH

        20% of them are Syrians. As even the German Drecksmedia admit. The rest come from all over the islamic world.
        Because all over the islamic world, ads were placed in newspapers, “Want to increase your income tenfold without ever working again, get a free house and car? Phone us.”

        Your ridiculous ideas about weather in parts of Syria have no bearing at all on the facts.

        For some reason, warmunists think that because they have broken computer models, they can claim any weather event to be caused by CO2.

        You can’t think logically (or you don’t want to.)

  2. Denis

    “The nonsense of climate change leading to terrorism excuse is so clear on so many fronts that it’s a wonder than anyone with even a few points of IQ would take it seriously.”

    My IQ is 135, I’m a patent lawyer and hold a PhD in the medical sciences, so maybe I could enlighten you on how anyone with a “few points of IQ” could seriously doubt that what Joe Bastardi is saying is anything more than blathering BS.

    It is not possible to know from looking at his video what this Joe Bastardi guy is blathering on about. If you think you know, then he has successfully hoodwinked you. Those green and yellow splotches over Syria, fer instance. What do they represent? Probably the rainfall averaged over some period compared to rainfall averaged over some other period. That’s the scam most of these climate people play. OK, what period compared to what period? He doesn’t even pretend to say. A close look at the small print on the graphic suggests that the reference period is 1981-2010, but that is a guess. And what if the rainfall during this reference period — whatever it was — was itself below average for a longer or different reference period??

    What Bastardi does admit tho’ is that in an area when rainfall is sparse, even a small deviation downward from “normal” — whatever the hell that is — can be devastating. And the reason I say it is that the drought that is reputed to have driven so many Syrians out of the agricultural areas and into Damascus was in 2010-2011. That was the year the cities were supposed to have swelled with largely Sunni populations and the trouble started. I believe that’s the basis for Kerry’s claim that climate was on driving factor behind this mess.

    So, OK Joe Bastardi, how about showing us the data relevant to that year in that region. How about showing us data for agricultural output instead of some hairy-fairy rainfall data based on unspecified periods that may or may not be relevant? Like Bastardi implies, it doesn’t take a 10 year drought in Syria to crash the agricultural economy. It takes one year of being short just an inch or so in rainfall.

    I’m not saying Joe Bastardi is wrong or Kerry is right. What I’m saying is that it would be clear to anyone with a few points of IQ that from the scrambled BS that Bastardi presents here it is not possible to come to any rational conclusion one way or the other.


    1. John F. Hultquist

      While you make a couple of valid points you also show your unfamiliarity with the topic. That you combine this with a lack of humility and humor means most readers will ignore or scold you. Still, Welcome.

    2. oeman50

      Please engage that huge brain of yours to ponder these points:

      1. Without checking your statement about the reality of the drought, isn’t that area of Syria been subject to drought when when CO2 was much less that it is today?? None of the models can predict drought and how much of it is natural and how much is attributed to human emitted CO2?

      2. And is this weather or is it climate? Ask yourself that question.

      3. And with Bastardi’s maps on weather, the main point is that terrorism and drought are not causally connected. If that were true, then there would be no Boko Haram. Could it be there is a correlation between some bad weather (that happens everywhere) and terrorism that is conveniently seized upon by one is is not very well versed in logic, like Mr. Kerry?

    3. Scott Scarborough

      Bastardi showed anomaly charts for the last 15, 10, and 5 years. Very concise and accurate if you understand what an anomaly chart is. And you are right, the anomaly is referenced from an average climatology for 1981 to 2010. The statement about IQ is obviously hyperbole. You have to understand what an anomaly chart is to understand his argument. And any drought in a semi arid region is certainly no evidence of man caused climate change since they have droughts in such areas all the time. The only valid way you could make such an argument is to show a Palmer drought index graph of the area for the past, say, 100 years and demonstrate that droughts have been getting more frequent and more severe. Kerry didn’t do that because he couldn’t. Even if he could, that would only show that region was getting worse, just like it did in the mid-west United States in the 1930s. Some times climate does change regionally. That still isn’t proof of Global Climate Change.

    4. clipe
    5. Brodie

      “It is not possible to know from looking at his video what this Joe Bastardi guy is blathering on about. If you think you know, then he has successfully hoodwinked you. Those green and yellow splotches over Syria, fer instance. What do they represent? Probably the rainfall averaged over some period compared to rainfall averaged over some other period. ”
      Dennis – You obviously did not listen to the presentation. Bastardi said, and shows proof from NOAA, that rainfall in Syria over the last 5 years has been normal. “The trouble started” in 2010, you must be joking, what caused the invasion of Kuwait, the civil war in Lebanon, the Intifada, the 3 wars against Israel, the Iran-Iraq war, the invasion of Iraq, the 2006 surge, the 5,000 dead American soldiers.. climate change? In 2010 there were simultaneous uprisings in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Syria. Did climate change cause all of these things? OMG can anyone be so stupid as to believe that? People moved in towns, so you believe, and that caused them to want to overthrow their government and found an Islamic state? That is ridiculous. I like the “Youtube video” argument better. The fact that we take 40% of our corn production and turn it into ethanol has a bigger influence on how much food is available in Syria than a non-existent drought, which in any case, cannot be shown to have any connection to how much fossil fuel we burn… which by the way COMES FROM THE MIDDLE EAST. What do you think would happen to these people if we stopped burning fossil fuel? Their economies would disintegrate and they would starve. Look what is happening in Venezuela because of the collapse in oil prices.

      1. nightspore

        My estimate of Denis’ IQ is diminishing with each successive comment I read.

    6. schmidtyfi

      OMG, are you remotely aware of how much of a pompous jackass you sound like?

      Maybe you can use that big ole brain of yours to explain how global warming caused the drought of the past few years in Syria, when there hasn’t been any global warming for 19 years?

      Second, if we should lay blame for ISIS on drought conditions, why didn’t ISIS emerge in California, or any of the many other places that have experienced drought conditions over….well…forever?


  3. John F. Hultquist

    Nothing that comes from the USA executive branch seems to be true.
    Trust the opposite.

  4. sod

    “What’s really interesting about all this is, this is just so easy to disprove. […] So I don’t understand why that was said.””

    I can explain this. It is not so easy and it cannot be done in two minutes and three looks at rain maps over certain periods.

    Bastardi has two big errors in his video:

    1. The worst one is this. Bastardi shows us a picture, that shows lack of rain “only” in the north of Syria. Bastardi seems to think that a regional problem is an advantage, when in the real world it might massively increase the problem. Wars get started, because “my” region is hurting, while the region of your group is not.

    2. Rainfall must be compared to temperature data, to get any information about drought (same little amount of rain in hotter weather will cause a problem). We also need to look at long time effects. The huge lake of Chad has basically vanished. so a long term of little rain (or a “plateau” of temperature) is a bad thing, as resources vanish over time and then the problems start.

    1. DirkH

      “Wars get started, because “my” region is hurting, while the region of your group is not. ”

      So you not only believe that wind turbines are a good energy source but you also believe that islamic genocide is started by Global Warming. Well, then Global Warming must have been happening for 1400 years now.

      Are you warmunists determined to become record holders in idiocy?

      BTW, the CIA armed those people. They admitted it. Probably Global Warming made the CIA heads all wuzzy.

      1. nightspore

        Exactly. Why is sod arguing such a ridiculous point – other than for the sake of arguing? Which is as neat a demonstration as one could imagine that he never discusses any of these issues in good faith.

        1. sod

          ” Why is sod arguing such a ridiculous point ”

          I simply did point out a serious problem in the argument made by Bastardi. He has not understood that region at all, if he thinks that a regional crisis in the north of a country is a simple thing. It is the opposite.

  5. robk

    In many cases population and the politics of water use is a major factor for the economy of a region along with natural variations in rainfall. Kerry’s claim of “climate change”induced drought would seem to be exaggerated as the population in these areas has increased dramatically in the past few decades and clearly the politics has been unstable for some time. I think it’s a stretch that by implication some might like blame anthropogenic global warming due to CO2, although this is not what Kerry said, he certainly leaves the door open for others to do so.

  6. Veteran Meteorologist Says John Kerry’s Claim Climate-Change Drought Is Causing Refugees Is Completely False | TheFlippinTruth

    […] By P Gosselin | November 15, 2015 […]

  7. GP Alexander

    So, Denis, what you are saying is that the Science is NOT settled.


    Welcome to Skeptics Corner.

  8. NoFreeWind

    To, me a guy with an IQ of likely less than 135 it seems to me that you are the one with writing the “blathering BS” and Joe is the one that makes sense.
    Your IQ means nothing to me. We have Harvard, Yale and ALL the other going along with this “climate change” nonsense. It sounds like this subject is new to you. Let me enlighten you a little bit like you were trying to enlighten us.

    It is certainly possible that a one year drought drove some people out of Syria in 2010/11. But it is more likely that the reduced rainfall was just an anomaly that the population has learned to deal with over the centuries.

    The problem with Kerry’s statement, although it may be in a small part true, is that Kerry is trying to say that this climate change that drove the people out was unusual, when it very likely was not. As Joe clearly states – 5 yr rainfall is dead on average. So do you really think that a population can’t accommodate to a one year drought? If you would like at the world map – one year droughts and excesses are just very expected statistical anomalies. No understanding statistics is what builds the beautiful buildings and bright lights in Vegas.

    Thanks for the lecture. That’s what we need, another lecture by some high IQ person who doesn’t have “common sense”. The world is full of them.

  9. cementafriend

    Denis 15, I sure do not believe your qualifications or IQ. I suggest you are a troll with less than average IQ. Anyone with intelligence would be able to look up an atlas and discover where Syria actually is located not only on a map but in relation to other areas (eg seas and oceans). Then, some with intelligence who maybe sceptical of some information could look at various source material such as the information at KNMI Climate Explorer (
    It is a low act to abuse the work of anyone without checking and presenting evidence for a contrary opinion. In calling you a troll I point to the fact that you can not read a map and your verbal abuse in your post.

  10. GP Alexander

    Joe Bastardi makes sense to me. Weather is not Climate. A few years of drought can motivate people to seek a place elsewhere.

    Nothing we have not already seen before. Unfortunately, the education system (right up through to university and professional schools) have shifted old priorities from reasoned thinking to force-feeding propaganda and fostering cognitive dissonance in order to promulgate myths and dogma such as Man Made Global Warming.

    If they continued to make classic philosophy and literature as part of the curriculum, then perhaps those people not blessed with 135 IQs and Phds would have a better frame of reference and grasp of what is happening today.

    John Steinbeck’s ‘Grapes of Wrath’ would be a good place to start. An engaging tale of tenant farmers during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s who had to migrate from Oklahoma to California. Was required reading for me in Grade 9.

    Can’t have today’s youngsters reading this book though. Too descriptive of the Dirty Thirties and Dust Bowl. They might ask questions.

  11. gofigure560

    Not difficult to refute ANYTHING emanating from Kerry’s mouth!

  12. Veteran Meteorologist Says John Kerry’s Claim Climate-Change Drought Is Causing Refugees Is Completely False | wchildblog

    […] From NoTricksZone, by P Gosselin […]

  13. Mervyn

    John Kerry is simply a liar. There is no other way to explain it.

  14. Denis

    There have been a number of interesting, ultracrepidiarian responses to my comment of Nov15, and I thank the commentators for those; the ad hominem responses, not so much. Instead of responding to individual opinions, I’ll try to hit the high points by expanding my position.

    First, let’s get straight on what my position actually is. I was responding to Gosselin’s attitude that anyone who doesn’t agree with Bastardi’s vid is lacking IQ. Here’s the actual point I was challenging: “The nonsense of climate change leading to terrorism excuse is so clear on so many fronts that it’s a wonder than [sic] anyone with even a few points of IQ would take it seriously.”

    Gosselin threw out the IQ card and I saw him and raised by pointing out that someone with a “few points of IQ” could certainly take seriously the proposition that climate change can contribute to political turmoil and terrorism, which is the point Kerry was making and Bastardi was refuting. I did not say I agreed with Kerry’s specific points, rather I argued that the issue is far from settled. The assertion that if you don’t see Kerry’s comments as “nonsense,” then you got no IQ is both presumptuous and wrong IMO.

    So, this is all about Kerry’s comments viz a viz Bastardi’s video, which video I called out as BS, but I’ll come back to that. It appears that maybe no one here actually read Kerry’s comments. They were made in a speech at Old Dominion on Nov10|15. Here’s the State Dept. link:

    As to Gosselin’s “few points of IQ” diss, for those of you who expressed doubts that I m’self have any IQ and that I am not qualified to express an opinion, I would refer you to an article in PNAS in March of this year by Colin P. Kelley and four other climate researchers at UC Santa Barbara and Columbia, all of whom surely have “a few points of IQ.” (For those of you who don’t know PNAS – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – it is a premier scientific journal and papers appearing in it have been vetted by members of the National Academy of Sciences, all of whom also have “a few points of IQ.”) You can find the Kelley paper at the following link:

    The paper is titled “Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought.” In contradiction to Bastardi, the authors refer to the Syrian-area drought of 2007-2010 as being of “unusual severity.” Here is an excerpt from their summary:

    “There is evidence that the 2007-2010 drought contributed to the conflict in Syria. It was the worst drought in the instrumental record, causing widespread crop failure and a mass migration of farming families to urban centers.”

    Please note the timeline. The drought was 2007-2010, the migration from northern Syria agricultural areas was 2010-2011, the uprising was in March-June 2011. This is what Kerry was talking about. The timeline is vital to understanding why Bastardi is a knot-head.

    Temporal correlation does not prove causation, but it is a necessary element in proving causation and it is present in this case. Furthermore, asserting that climate change was a contributing factor is not an assertion that it was the entire cause – obviously there were many complex contributing factors that summed to cause the rise of terrorism in Syria. But Bastardi is arguing that climate had nothing to do with the Syrian rebellion. He is obviously a simple man, probably from New Jersey. And the reason you can tell that is b/c he was looking at the rainfall data for the last 5 years and concluding that there was no drought, and, hence, Kerry’s statements were goofy. IOW, Bastardi is not just saying the drought did not cause or contribute to the Syrian problem; he is saying there WAS NO DROUGHT. His evidence comprises color maps apparently produced by NOAA showing rainfall data for the last 5 years. But the rainfall during the last 5 years has nothing to do with the drought of 2007-2010 or the Syrian uprising in the spring of 2011. A simple man wouldn’t understand that.

    But it gets worse. Bastardi is apparently (it’s impossible to say for certain from his blathering presentation) using a reference time-frame of 1981-2010, WHICH INCLUDES THE PERIOD DURING WHICH THE DROUGHT IN QUESTION OCCURRED. Get it? He includes the drought period (2007-2011) in the reference time-frame (1981-2010) and then he concludes there was no drought by taking the average of irrelevant years (2010-2015) outside the reference time-frame. I mean WTF???? The drought years in question are themselves driving down the mean rainfall of the reference period. This is Rush Limbaugh/Glenn Beck sort of goof-wad double-talk and it looks like a lot of folks here are happy to buy into it. But again, the issue is not whether the PNAS paper is correct or whether Bastardi is wrong and an idiot (he is both, IMO), the issue is whether there is any reason for a intelligent person to seriously consider whether or not climate change contributed to the Syrian revolution. CONTRIBUTED, not caused. My position is that you would have to be a 2-star moron to conclude that there is no such possibility and you would have to be a whole-hog 5-star moron to buy Bastardi’s BS. That doesn’t mean Kerry is right, it just means there is a case to be considered.

    But it gets even worse than the previous paragraph in which it got worse. Look at Bastardi’s BS about Boko Haram. Again, he looks at rainfall data for the last 5 years and concludes that Kerry’s comments were wrong. Rainfall data during the last five years have nothing to do with Kerry’s comments and absolutely nothing to do with the rise of Boko Haram. The relevant time period was the terrible sub-Saharan droughts of 1980’s when the entire area – including Niger, Chad, and Nigeria – was destabilized by crop failures. To get an idea of how bad these droughts were, check out Sharon Nicholson’s 1985 paper in Journal of Climate and Applied Meteorology.

    And here is an excerpt from a 1983 paper by the famous PJ Lamb – this was a serious freaking drought.

    “The 1982 value of a sub-Saharan rainfall index previously published for 1941-1981 is given. This establishes that the drought which commenced in 1968 and persisted very strongly throughout the 1970s and 1980-1981 continued into 1982. which was the third driest year of the period 1968-1982, and also appears to have received substantially less rainfall than the drought years of the 1940s.”

    But that was not the last of it. Even more serious drought oscillations struck the Sahel region during the 2000’s, particularly in 2002, 2011 and 2012, again driving people south into Nigeria and into the arms of Boko Haram. Bastardi focuses on rainfall over Nigeria when, in fact, it was the Muslim fundamentalists flooding into Nigeria from the north that represent much of Boko Haram’s terrorist armies. It is inane to look at average rainfall over Nigeria over the last 5 years and conclude, hey, no problemo.

    Although Boko Haram was formally established in 2002, the relevant point is that the predecessor of Boko Haram was the fundamentalist Muslim Maitatsine sect that operated in and around Kano, northern Nigeria during the 1980’s drought. The nascent Boko Haram movement was fueled by hundreds of thousands of displaced, starving farmers and nut-gatherers from Niger and Chad who migrated into Nigeria. IOW, the 2010-2015 rainfall data Bastardi uses are 30 freaking years outside of the relevant timeline; his vid is totally irrelevant.

    Yeah, so I stand on my original criticism, all of your insightful comments notwithstanding. There are plenty of reasons why one with “a few points of IQ” would – and should – give serious consideration to Kerry’s comments that climate change can – and has – contributed to the rise of terrorism. Those of you buying into Bastardi’s BS need to have another look at that idiot vid and ask yourselves: WTF is he really saying?? and What relevance do rainfall data averaged over the last 5 years have to do with either the Syrian rebellion’s origin in 2011 or the rise of Boko Haram from the 1980’s to 2002??”

    BTW, if you really want to dig into the details of why anthropogenic climate change is a hoax, read climatologist Alan Longhurst’s excellent (free online) book “Doubt and Certainty in Climate Science.” As Longhurst points out repeatedly, to say that anthro forcing of climate change is minimal or non-existent is not to say that there is no climate change.

  15. David Appell

    [-snip. Sorry David, but first you’ll have to grow up and learn some class. We want a normal discussion here, and not one dominated by a know-nothing know-it-all] (Go to Part 2).

    1. David Appell

      Afraid to post a link showing Joe Bastardi has been extremely wrong in the past?

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