More fake science in the German press, coming from UNICEF
By Dr. Sebastian Lüning and Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt
(German text translated/edited by P Gosselin)
PNP donation drive: “Climate change bis going to hit Malawi really hard”
WEDENIG: I came to the country in the middle of the crisis in June. To get a first impression, I looked at the food situation and visited some villages. It quickly became clear to me: This crisis is built on earlier crises, on the devastating flood of 2015 and past droughts. With each one, the capacity of the people shrinks and their vulnerability increases.
PNP: Would Malawi be prepared at all for a new flood?
WEDENIG: The government has learned and is logistically better prepared. Also UNICEF is prepared. Our stocks are filled with supplies. But there’s one thing you cannot prepare for: the vulnerability of man is constantly increasing. That’s why the focus is on enhancing their resilience and our structural processes. Climate change is going to hit Malawi hard. It may appear as a contradiction when one looks at the map and sees that half of the country is covered by Lake Malawi. But that does not mean there’s enough water available. The lake is retreating and the forests are being chopped down increasingly. If the water from the rivers and lakes are exploited without sustainable planning, then it will backfire on the people.”
First it is right that there is an emergency in Malawi, and readers here are encouraged to donate.
However, linking the situation in Malawi to climate change and indirectly blaming donators in Germany is ethically questionable. Lakes and rivers in Malawi have always undergone natural variation (for example read here).
A team of scientists led by Thomas Johnson researched and reconstructed the lake level history over the past 700 years and found something astonishing: Between 1570 and 1850 the lake level was in fact 120 m lower than it is today, and during the 14th and 15th centuries. Read the paper’s abstract in 2001 in Geology:
Decadal record of climate variability spanning the past 700 yr in the Southern Tropics of East Africa
Biogenic silica profiles in varved sediments from northern Lake Malawi (Nyasa), East Africa, span the past 700 yr and reflect past primary productivity in the overlying waters. On a centennial scale this has been influenced by lake level and a consequent shift in the location of high diatom productivity within the lake basin. Primary production was higher during the Little Ice Age, an arid period from about A.D. 1570 to 1850, when lake level was about 120 m lower than during the previous three centuries or the past 150 yr.”
So what could be behind the natural rainfall dynamic, which is unknown to UNICEF? What follows is some recommended reading: