Sunday, 26 December 2010

Drinking in the last chance teahouse

A classic climate change headline here: "Climate change leaves Assam tea growers in hot water".

To the casual browser, the story writes itself. Obviously our wicked industrial ways has roused Gaia to punish some more poor peasant farmers in the third world, by turning their fertile fields to desert. I must remember to send a cheque to the charming Dr Pachauri...

Instead I read the article. Apparently there has been a 20% drop in rainfall and a rise of one whole degree in minimum temperature, all in the space of a mere 60 years. I also note the experts are concerned in a change in tea flavour but admit it cannot be attributed to climate change alone.

I look further to the Tocklai Tea Research Association where I find a page devoted to climate change, which has a few charts that Chris Snowdon may want to take a look at, and scares readers with facts such as:
"Using the records of coastal tide gauges in the North Indian Ocean for more than 40 years, it has been estimated that sea level rise was between 1.06 -1.75 mm per year. These rates are consistent with 1-2 mm per year global sea level rise estimates of IPCC."
Hmm. So about 1 cm every 5 to 10 years? Or about 10 cm every 50 to 100 years? You know, I think we can cope. It's not exactly like trying to get out of the way of a pyroclastic flow, is it? It strikes me that most of so-called climate science should really be named climate history, seeing as it involves pouring over data from the past. Due to the randomness and chaotic nature of those figures, the patterns that emerge cannot be relied upon to predict the future. Not that they shouldn't stop trying, of course. But I wonder how much of it is any more worthwhile than applying the same methodology to the past lottery numbers and attempting to predict next week's winning combination?

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