Whither DeSmog?
Jun 2, 2015
Bishop Hill in Climate: WG2, GWPF, Greens

One of the very first briefing papers issued by GWPF was on the greening of the Sahel. The Foundation's then deputy director Phillip Mueller put forward the idea that rather than making droughts on the fringes of the Sahara more severe, climate change was, if anything, actually making things better. This observation was suitably couched in caveats that noted, quite correctly, that we really couldn't say one way or the other what would happen in the future.

I don't remember the paper garnering a lot of attention at the time, but there was a typically wild-eyed response from those mini-Ehrlichs at DeSmog, which included this shot from the hip:

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.

How amusing then to read in the Times that a team of mainstream scientists led by Rowan Sutton are now making just this claim:

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.

Now the study is a GCM-based attribution study, and as readers here are well aware GCMs don't do rainfall in any meaningful way, so I take the claims with a large pinch of salt. Nevertheless, it's going to be fun to see what DeSmog makes of them. Is a "debunking" of Rowan Sutton on the way or are they going to admit that GWPF might just have had a point?

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