Good news: the Sahara desert is getting greener because of “climate change.”
Climate change has achieved what Bob Geldof and Live Aid failed to do by ending the drought in the Sahel region of Africa that killed more than 100,000 people in the 1980s, a study has found. Rising greenhouse gases caused rains to return to the region south of the Sahara, from Senegal to Sudan, boosting crop yields since the 1990s and helping the population to feed itself without relying on foreign donations. The study, in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that Sahel summer rainfall was about 10 per cent, or 0.3mm, higher per day in 1996-2011 than in the drought period of 1964-93.
Well, I say “good news”, which obviously it is for the starving Africans scraping a marginal and precarious living on the edge of the desert, and, indeed, for those of us who prefer to see Africa as an economic success story waiting to happen rather than a looming demographic threat.
But I predict that there will some people who are going to take this news very amiss. The sphincter-poppingly furious crew of greenie activists at the George-Soros-funded website DeSmog blog, for example. As Bishop Hill notes, when, a few years back, the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s Phillip Mueller produced a paper predicting this very thing, the red-faced greenies of DeSmog rushed angrily to poo-poo it:
It is wild speculation to assert that any recovery in the Sahel is a result of global warming and to dangle the prospect of a future green Sahara is the exact opposite of the message provided by Mueller’s reference on the matter. However welcome the re-greening of parts of the Sahel, it cannot be relied on.
This is how the left rolls, as a very astute Times article once noted in a different but parallel context, when describing how apologists for the European Union enable it to enlarge its powers first by ridiculing their opponents, then by slily – but not apologetically – conceding that they were right all along.
It is at first denied that any radical new plan exists; it is then conceded that it exists but ministers swear blind that it is not even on the political agenda; it is then noted that it might well be on the agenda but is not a serious proposition; it is later conceded that it is a serious proposition but that it will never be implemented; after that it is acknowledged that it will be implemented but in such diluted form that it will make no difference to the lives of ordinary people; at some point it is finally recognised that it has made such a difference, but it was always known that it would and voters were told so from the outset.
I’m very much looking forward to the bit where the greenies get to the final stage of historical revisionism. “But, of course, we knew that global cooling was the real problem and that we were heading towards a new ice age,” all the usual suspects – from the once-distinguished heights of NASA and the Royal Society to the stygian depths of DeSmog – will all chorus. “Why we were all predicting as much as long ago as the 1970s…”