Pakistan flood follow-up

by Judith Curry & Peter Webster

The flooding of the Indus River system in Pakistan during the summer and autumn of 2010 was a cataclysmic  humanitarian disaster.  The destruction wrought by the 2010 floods could set Pakistan back years or even decades, weaken its struggling civilian administration and add to the burdens on its military, distracting from their efforts to keep the Taliban in check.

The causes and humanitarian impacts were discussed on a previous thread .  This thread focuses on the longer term impacts of the floods and  how the floods have acted as a threat accelerant to an already unstable nation.  The question of how improved weather forecast and climate scenario information might be used to reduce some of the threat accelerant components of natural disasters in Pakistan.

Continuing impacts of the flood

The fate of flood refugees – or ‘internally displaced people’ (IDPs) – has varied throughout the country. Rural areas – those that depend on agriculture – were those that were hardest hit by the floods. In the parts of Pakistan where the flood first hit – Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab – 95% of victims were able to return home by early November. However, during that same time period, 85% of the affected population in Sindh province remained unable to return to what remained of their homes.(Dixon and Shaffer 2010).  Mines and artillery shells have been flushed downstream by the floods and scattered in low-lying areas, posing a future risk to returning inhabitants (cited by the Wikipedia).

With regards to infrastructure losses:

As of November 2010, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank have estimated that infrastructure losses amounted to $9.7 billion. That said, costs to infrastructure should not be isolated to that infrastructure that was directly damaged or destroyed by the floods. Instead, infrastructure costs should be two-fold: indirect costs for the overuse of remaining infrastructure must also be taken into account. For example, many IDPs have moved – whether temporarily or permanently – to urban areas. This is putting great strains on existing public infrastructure – like drinking and waste water infrastructure and power generation and transmission facilities – in these areas, as these systems become overburdened by having to service significantly more individuals than in the past. The figure of $9.7 billion is therefore a considerable underestimate. (Dixon and Shaffer 2010).

Energy security. Floods shut down some electricity, oil, and gas facilities. According to various media reports, floods closed approximately 3 gigawatts of power generation capacity. (Pakistan’s maximum power generation capacity before the flood was around 19 gigawatts.) Flooding damaged generation facilities and transmission infrastructure, and it cut off power plants from their supply of generation fuels such as oil and natural gas. Output at refining and natural gas facilities also was curtailed due to transportation disruptions. Most of this energy production and transportation capacity has been restored. However, the damage has highlighted and exacerbated Pakistan’s pre-existing energy problems. Prior to the floods, the country was already suffering from a shortage of electricity generation capacity and rolling blackouts. The cost of recovering from flood damage sets back efforts to improve electricity supply. Among the challenges for rebuilding the infrastructure are prioritizing reconstruction actions; the availability of materials, equipment, and expertise; and mechanisms for oversight of construction and use of funds. (Kronstadt et al. 2010)

Food Security: Prior to the recent flooding, poverty and hunger in Pakistan were widespread and especially prevalent in rural areas. Nearly two-thirds of the population and 80% of the country’s poor (about 35 million people) live in rural parts of the country. Even before the flooding, FAO had estimated that about 60 million people were food-insecure in Pakistan, which accounts for about half of the country’s population. The recent global food price and economic crises of 2008-2009 exacerbated poverty and food security issues in Pakistan. FAO estimated that an additional 17 million people became food-insecure as a result of food price inflation in Pakistan over the past few years, and that the poorest households are now spending more than 70% of their incomes on food. While the full extent of damage from the summer 2010 flooding has not yet been fully quantified, the direct and future losses are likely to impact national production of staple crops, such as wheat and rice, and affect the food security of millions of people. (Kronstadt et al. 2010)

Agriculture. The affected populations have suffered severe crop, livestock, and grain stock losses. While the floods are causing severe negative effects on agricultural production in the current season, the damage and impacts will likely have broader implications for future agricultural production and food security in Pakistan. Wheat is an example of this issue. Wheat is the main staple in Pakistan, providing about 35% of the average per capita calorie requirement in 2008. Wheat is mainly irrigated and contributes approximately two-thirds of the annual national cereal production. It is cultivated primarily during the Rabi season, when it is typically planted in October/November and harvested in April/May. Official final estimates of wheat production from the 2009/2010 Rabi season, which was successfully harvested prior to the flood, were close to 23.9 million tonnes, a near record amount. (Kronstadt et al. 2010). The harvest for winter 2010/2011 is questionable, owing non-availability of water owing to damage to the irrigation network, continued inundation of agricultural land, loss of seeds for planting and agricultural inputs such as fertilizer, and massive migration of farmers due to floods.

Livestock.  The floods have affected the most densely populated livestock areas in Pakistan, decimating the livestock in some regions. Many animals died because they had to be left behind when people were rescued by the Pakistani military and other rescue services. FAO stated that “millions of surviving animals are now facing severe feed shortages, threatening generations of Pakistan’s livestock,” and that one of its primary priorities is maintaining and keeping healthy the surviving population of livestock. Getting feed and veterinary services to those in need continues to be a major challenge as supplies of animal feed such as straw and forage is in limited supply, and transportation of goods and services is severely limited due to considerable damage to critical infrastructure. (Kronstadt et al. 2010).

U.S. Humanitarian Aid. The United States is the largest donor of funding for relief efforts related to the flooding in Pakistan. Some funds are being converted from a portion of the civilian economic development assistance authorized by the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009. To date, the United States is providing a total of $561.9 million for Pakistan relief and recovery, largely coming from International Disaster Assistance (IDA) and Food For Peace (FFP) funds. In-kind civilian and military support, such as the pre-fabricated steel bridges, halal meals, and air transport, amounts to another $89.1 million, according to USAID. (Kronstadt et al. 2010)

International Humanitarian Aid.  China claims it was the first to contribute aid to the flood victims and has provided about $47.0 million.14 The European Union has provided a total of about $450.9 million of cash and in-kind aid, including about $210.4 million from the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department and sums from more than 20 countries. For example, Germany about $47.0 million cash and in-kind, Denmark about $24.4 million, Sweden about $25.5 million, Norway about $66.0 million, the United Kingdom about $209.0 million, and France about $4.3 million.15 As of September 8, 2010, Japan has provided a total of $25.6 million in cash and relief commodities.16 As of the end of August 2010, Australia has provided $75 million and Canada has pledged about $52 million U.S. dollars with an additional $1.4 million from a Canadian humanitarian coalition.17 India also has provided $5 million of aid and is offering more, although receiving aid from India is controversial in Pakistan. (Kronstedt et al. 2010)

Security implications

A summary of security concerns regarding Pakistan is provided by Kronstedt et al. (2010):

Pakistan is at the center of several crucial [global security issues], including fighting terrorism and religious militancy, seeking stability in neighboring Afghanistan, and promoting nuclear non-proliferation, among others. . . [I]nterests in countering Islamist militancy in the region and strengthening Pakistan’s democratic institutions are under greater threat due to the chaos and destruction caused by widespread flooding there. . . The aftermath of the floods . . . may undermine the already waning legitimacy of the civilian government by demonstrating its ineffectiveness to large numbers of Pakistanis in need of public services, while improving the status of Pakistan’s powerful military by the more visible role it played in providing disaster relief. It may also provide militants an opportunity to garner favor with affected communities by giving militants an opportunity to demonstrate that they can provide assistance in areas where the government is absent. The crisis has also diverted attention and resources from other national priorities, at a time when Pakistan remains financially strapped. (Kronstedt et al. 2010)

Some repercussions of the floods for the stability of Pakistan an regional stability include:  consisted of:

  • Most logistical supplies for U.S. forces in Afghanistan are shipped to Afghanistan overland through Pakistan. Some of these supply shipments were disrupted and delayed due to the road and bridge destruction throughout the country – but especially in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
  • U.S. military assets were used on HA/DR missions and hence these assets were unavailable for active military operations – whether in Afghanistan or elsewhere in the region.
  • The floods exposed weaknesses in the Pakistani government’s ability to respond to natural disasters. As one of the few robust institutions in Pakistan, the Pakistani military played a central and valuable role in responding to the flood. In terms of both attention and resources, this – at least temporarily – removed some focus away from Pakistan’s operations against Taliban forces located in Pakistan, such as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. Given that U.S. progress in Afghanistan is contingent upon simultaneous efforts by Pakistan against Taliban forces in Pakistan itself, this opportunity cost had repercussions for U.S. operations in Afghanistan.
  • Response efforts to the floods have been performed by a number of different entities, including some Islamic militant organizations. Some of these groups are actively engaged in efforts directly counter to U.S. interests in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. While the scale of these efforts is such as to only make a marginal difference (in terms of both disaster response and political gains), the mere fact that a gap existed in response efforts which was filled by organizations hostile to U.S. interests magnifies the credibility of these groups amongst the local population (and conversely downgrades the credibility of U.S. and Pakistani response efforts.)
  • The floods caused massive relocations of IDPs throughout Pakistan. Many of these IDPs, however, have moved towards urban areas. For example, as of November 2010, hundreds of thousands of IDPs were in camps around the city of Karachi (population 18 million). Karachi is already considered a hotspot for ethnic violence given rivalries between the majority Mujahirs and the Pashtuns (while formally considered a minority in Karachi, Pashtuns still comprise a population of 7 million residents in the city.) Tensions also exist between these groups and Sindhs living in the city. IDPs in Karachi come from a variety of ethnic groups and regions across Pakistan. Therefore, in addition to the mere addition to population density (a threat driver in its own right), the ethnic tensions in Karachi are added to by significant numbers of IDPs. Minor incidents of violence between groups, and government forces and groups have occurred since the floods began. (Dixon and Shaffer 2010).
  • Household and community resilience: Following the floods, resources available to households and communities to bolster their resilience to natural hazards are significantly lower than they were before. In the rural areas impacted by the floods, entire communities are gone. While these villages can potentially be rebuilt, a major issue that Pakistan will have going forward concerns property rights. Many legal documents delineating property holdings have been permanently lost. As a result, disputes over land ownership are expected to develop.
  • One of the key long-range issues involving security is poppy cultivation: Poppy cultivation, unlike its replacement crop, wheat, creates more jobs over less acreage. But farmers will often sacrifice some profit and forgo illicit crop cultivation—which attracts insecurity, insurgents, and law enforcement—as long as the alternatives bring them sufficient income. If efforts to that end succeed in Afghanistan—and as long as there is global demand for opiates—cultivation and heroin production could very likely move back to Pakistan. Such relocation would critically undermine the Pakistani state by empowering jihadists with profit and political capital. (Brookings)
  • Governance systems and existing political violence: The 2010 floods highlighted a Pakistani governance system that is already under extreme stress. The floods clearly showed that the civilian government did not have the capacity to either effectively warn communities of the growing flood levels or respond to the ongoing disaster. The Pakistani military, on the other hand, had the capability, heavy equipment, and resources to respond to many aspects of the flood. This has resulted in a perception and, to a degree, a reality of the Pakistani civilian government being even more reliant on the Pakistani military than it has been in the past. This has two negative ramifications. First, the rising preeminence of the military further erodes democratic governance in Pakistan. Second, the Punjabi ethnic group dominates the Pakistani military. A perception that the military – under the influence of a particular ethnic group – is taking more and more of a role in implementing government functions will result in further distrust and disengagement by large populations in Pakistan who are not Punjabi.

Political violence in Pakistan is extreme and ongoing. In addition to a series of assassinations and coups in recent decades, Pakistan is struggling to gain political control over major areas of the country, notably in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. This transitional area is a stronghold for Pakistani Taliban insurgent groups, as well as terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, that operate in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. This unsettled area – in which Pakistani military operations are currently ongoing – is the very same where the floods began and did considerable damage. (Dixon and Shaffer 2010).

Prediction and predictability of the floods

Webster et al. (2010a; submitted paper) provide an historical perspective on the Pakistan floods. There have been  67 flooding events occurring since 1900 with a clustering of 52 events in the last 30 years [IDD, ].This clustering is consistent with the increase in intensity of the global monsoon during the last three decades (Wang et al. 2010) occurring with the warming of the last three decades.  There have be other flooding events with similar death tolls and cost (e.g., 1950, 1977, 1998).

Webster et al. (2010a) investigate two questions regarding the Pakistan floods: Was the rainfall abnormal compared to previous years? Could a high probability of flooding have been predicted with a lead time sufficient to allow timely evacuations, mitigatory water resource management decisions, the protection of infrastructure and the saving of agricultural and household effects? They concluded that while the average May to August rainfall for year 2010 was comparable in magnitude to previous years, it was the rainfall rate and the location of the deluges that conspired to produce the devastating floods.  They used the ECMWF EPS 15-day ensemble forecast system is used to assess whether the rainfall over the flood affected region was predictable. A multi-year analysis shows that in general the rainfall in Pakistan is highly predictable out to 6-8 days. The summer of 2010 was no exception and a high probability of intense rainfall was predicted 6-7 days in advance, with indications of each heavy rainfall event seen 10-14 days in advance.

Webster et al. (2010a) conclude that if the rainfall forecasts had been coupled to a hydrological model then the high risk of extensive and dangerous flooding could have anticipated, enabling proactive actions to mitigate its effects.  If such forecasts had been available to the regions of northern Pakistan, government institutions and water resource managers could have anticipated rapid filling of dams, releasing water ahead of the deluges.

Lessons from the 2010 Pakistan Floods

The 2010 Pakistan floods have exacerbated a mix of destabilizing elements that already existed within Pakistan. Future natural disasters and climate change impacts will occur in Pakistan and may add to the toxic mix of instability already present. Ultimately, if this cycle continues, the threat accelerant nature of natural disasters and climate change impacts may result in a failed state that could destabilize the entire region.

The question then rises – if, going forward, natural disasters will inevitably occur in Pakistan, what can be done to limit the probability of these natural disasters being threat accelerants?

An issue that has not been adequately addressed is to what extent improved understanding of flood vulnerability and monitoring and prediction of floods on timescales of days to weeks can be used to make operational decisions in terms of river management, prepositioning resources and providing advance evacuation warnings to communities. While relatively few lives were lost given the magnitude of the floods, substantial losses were sustained for livestock, crops and seed stock.  Havesting and/or transporting harvested crops away from the flood region in advance of the flood and evacuating livestock and seed stock can substantially mitigate the losses and speed recovery.  Such evacuation during the 2008 Bangladesh floods was accomplished with warnings beginning 9 days before the anticipated floods (Webster et al. 2010b).

The relative frequency of significant flooding in Pakistan, and perhaps increasing frequency in the future, raises questions about if and how efforts to rebuild can improve the nation’s resiliency to future extreme weather events and how scenarios of future flooding frequencies and can inform resilient rebuilding.  Note, this is a very concrete example of my interest in how to make regional decadal scenario projections out to 2040.

Efforts to address such issues seem mired in politics (international politics about which group is seen to be the source of the aid, funding, national level politics). Further complicating the issue internally in Pakistan, in late December Pakistan’s Ministry of the Environment was included in a batch of ministries that are in line to be dissolved at the federal level and decentralize them to the provinces, effective 28 Feb 2011. This decentralization will make it more difficult for international organizations to help Pakistan address these issues.

128 responses to “Pakistan flood follow-up

  1. Are the displaced people mostly subsistence farmers or what? It sounds like moving to the city is the best option. It will prevent this happening to them again, it will nullify the need to rebuild the flooded area, and the only remaining hit will be the cost of beefing up city services.

    • The Swat Valley is one of the most God Forsaken places on the planet.

      Putting up a hydro-dam and permanently flooding it would be a massive improvement. At least it would create an honest days for for the residents during construction.

  2. John from CA

    When the St. Louis area was hit by floods washing away homes, farms, and businesses, the owners were not allowed to rebuild in the flood plain and the Army Corp of Engineers built Berms to seal off the flood plane from other low lying areas.

    Drainage to manage flood conditions is another approach used.

    Anticipating the problem and eliminating its potential impact seems like a logical approach. Attempting to forecast weather events and evacuating millions from flood planes is far more expensive and doesn’t address the true cause of the problem.

    • I wasn’t for re-building New Orleans after Katrina, at least with Federal Tax monies. It’s time that we stopped being stupid about where we choose to live in the US. I know the poor in Pakistan don’t have as many options. To me, this is just another case of another failed third world government. It is too big a problem to try to fix.

  3. John from CA

    See Terrace Farming:

    In theory, the pressure from falling water can be converted to pump the water to interior lakes during monsoons for use in the dry seasons; water wheels. Windmills can be used to oxygenate the lakes so they don’t stagnate.

    Interesting design problem and they already appear to have the labor available and the natural resources to fix the real problem.

  4. Judith, Peter,
    The truth…okay but it will be awful.
    An Ice Age primary goal is to generate massive amounts of precipitation.
    This is going to effect millions of lives into starvation and many will freeze due to the affordabilty of products will rise.
    Governments will be ineffectual to help.

  5. This post barely mentions dams, yet they saved India from floods on its section of the Indus.

    In fact WWF and fellow travellers have stopped dams being built all over
    including in Queensland, v. Marohasy blog.

    Why are there no large dams on the West Indus+?

    • Oh boy, it’s all the fault of the evil eco groups. That’s a pretty desperate straw man, but true to form.

      • Not evil, just sometimes badly informed and thereby often suppporting a cure that’s worse than the purported disease. Man doesn’t always alter the environment for the worse, but quite often for the better. You can’t answer a strawman attack by inventing an even worse one.

      • It’s not possible to straw man Tim Curtin when it comes to the WWF.

        The truth is the WWF et al actually hate people especially those in the 3rd World for their temerity in aspiring to the Western standard of living and lifestyle (WWF has been trying to get rid of the Kalahari Bushmen for years), …
        — Tim Curtin, Deltoid, March 20, 2009 4:22 AM

        First it was the Kalahari bushman, now it could be Pakistan’s Indus population. The WWF’s clearly overreaching with its genocide, though.

    • extensive discussion of dams was done on the earlier thread Pakistan on my mind.

    • Try this link and search for dam but I see your point.

      Interesting, the monsoons are perfect for fish farming as well if they manage the resource. Maybe the river is a “sacred cow” or something — it doesn’t make any sense to me to waste such an amazing resource but what do I know.

      The Indus is moderately rich in fish. The best-known variety is called hilsa and is the most important edible fish found in the river. Tatta, Kotri, and Sukkur, all in Sindh, are important fishing centres. Between the Swat and Hazara areas the river is noted for trout fishing. Fish farming has become important in the reservoirs of dams and barrages. Near the mouth of the Indus—for about 150 miles (240 km) along the coast—there are numerous creeks and areas of shallow sea waters. This zone is rich in marine fish, the most important catches including pomfrets and prawns, caught from November to March. A modern fish harbour has been built near the port of Karachi, providing cold storage and marketing. An export trade in prawns has developed, and sea fish are marketed in different parts of Pakistan.

    • OK, I’ll bite. Why would the WWF not want dams built in Pakistan?

    • I also looked back at the Pakistan OMM post. Why wouldn’t dams control floods and present opportunities for fishing just like they do here in the US? Seriously, could someone explain that?

    • Since the eco groups are willing to let thousands of people die in the name of saving the Earth, it might rightly be called eco-homicide.

  6. According to the OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database,
    Pakistan has suffered the following since 1900..

    63 Floods
    23 Earthquakes
    23 Local storms/Tropical cyclones
    20 Avalanche/Landslides
    15 Extreme temperatures
    10 Epidemics
    1 Drought

    Seems to me these people are going to suffer some sort of disaster EVERY YEAR as they have done so for the last 110 years.
    Worrying about the possibility that they may suffer 1.1 or 1.2 disasters per year seems pointless.

    Plans to try and predict these disasters, hence the evacuation of people may possibly work, but they’ll never be able to evacuate industry and infrastructure.
    This means these people will forever be trapped in poverty UNLESS some sort of ENGINEERING plans are made to TAME this wild land of rivers.

    So my advice to policy makers would be to run a mile from climatologists and Green activists and make good friends with engineers.

    p.s. to J Bowers
    Wake up and smell the coffee

    • So I drank some coffee and had a flash of inspiration; go and see what the WWF said last year…

      WWF Pakistan – Pakistan Flooding: Impacts, Attribution, Adaptation & Solutions

      * Weak management of watershed and catchment areas […]
      * Bad regulation of existing reservoirs for flood control. […]
      * Poor land-use and water resource management planning, particularly in floodplain (Katcha) areas and along northern Pakistani rivers.[…]
      * Failure of irrigation infrastructure due to natural reasons (because of heavy rainfall, farmers were not using water from the huge canal network, which resulted in breaches and overflows in some areas) and poor planning and corruption (millions of US$ World Bank–funded headworks and barrage rehabilitation projects failed as floodwaters bypassed these structures).

      Another development is that all the politicians and technocrats from Punjab province are saying that we could have saved “all the damages” if only had we built large dams on Indus. WWF – Pakistan does not agree with this assessment and advocates a scientific assessment of the need to have small and check dams on the Indus and its tributaries, including additional storage capacity as the existing storage capacity has been reduced due to heavy siltation.

      And back in 2005 the WWF was already voicing concerns about increased flood risk in Pakistan.

      Floods linked to deforestation: WWF appeals to stop deforestation and increase in forest cover (2005)

      WWF-Pakistan has always been concerned about the loss of natural forests and associated floral diversity that has accelerated the process of run-off over the last few decades and, consequently, has enhanced the floods and sedimentation in the rivers, barrages, and dams with several other negative impacts on the quantity and quality of water, people’s lives, and bio-diversity.


      • David L. Hagen

        Re: “existing storage capacity has been reduced due to heavy siltation.”

        The Himalayas are young mountains, AND deforestation and farming has removed much of the protective cover. Consequently, siltation “In 16 reservoirs, the actual [sedimentation rate] is more than 5 times the design rate.”

        Hydrology and water resources of India By Sharad K. Jain, Pushpendra K. Agarwal, Vijay P. Singh, p 996.

        The 2010 Queensland floods are inundated an area larger than New South Wales or of France and Germany combined. This suggests that conventional modeling high highly underestimated the natural extent of precipitation extremes. The unusually low solar cycle may be contributing.

  7. John from CA | January 5, 2011 at 10:02 pm says

    “Maybe the river is a “sacred cow” or something ”

    No John, Pakistan is an Islamic nation. You’re thinking of India maybe?

    • Nope, India seems pretty fond of dams.

      The dams of India have developed the internal navigation by which the pressure on the railways has relieved to some extent. Moreover, these dams have effectively controlled floods on rivers, thus preventing untold damage to the people of the nation.

      • Thnx Jim, informative link.

        However I was referring to the religious context of a river being “sacred” (like the ganges for example)

        Islam doesn’t allow the worshipping of idols (as far as I know)

    • Cows aren’t sacred in India. They are “holy” though. I heard that first on QI :p.

  8. Over the last 50 years, what flood protection projects have been proposed (and perhaps even paid for) which were not developed?

  9. The disaster data quoted by Baa Humbug provides some of the answers to this problem. The area is one where disasters of a natural sort can be relied on to happen at regular intervals, what has changed in the last sixty or so years is the size of the population and their distribution across the Indus valley and other flood prone areas. There was a massive flood in this area in the 1940s – it probably escaped world attention because of a certain global conflict – but, though there were thousands affected, it wasn’t on the sort of scale as this last one in terms of numbers.

    Moving the countryside population, who actually feed the rest of the populace from what we would consider ‘subsistence’ farms – into the cities would cause major problems, not least because the cities are already overcrowded and unemployment is in silly numbers. It would also cause a major famine – less food production, less food, higher prices … All of which would feed straight into the hands of the already overly powerful and influential Mullahs and their ‘schools’ for would be Taliban. Don’t forget this is the country which boasts a ‘Blasphemy Law’ used frequently to strip non-Mulims of property, livelihood and life as it has only one sentence – public flogging and stoning to death. (Though these days, as a sop to Western sensibilities, they usually hang the guilty party…)

    Pakistan has been unstable since its inception, Jinna’s grand idea of a state run by the fundamentalist principles of Islam was always going to cause conflict between those who wished to advance commercially and intellectually, and those who wanted to stay as they are. I cannot see it ever being resolved no matter how much money or aid is pumped in.

    WWF, Greenpeace and Fiends of the Earth do oppose the building of dams, especially for hydro-electricity and they have clashed frequently with the Indian government on this and ran massive campaigns against the UK government for supporting and funding one in Malaysia. WWF is always concerned about the habitat that is lost, especially where there is wildlife under threat which may be endangered species, Greenpeace hates anything to do with commerce or industry unless its making more windmills and covering the countryside with them. In Pakistan the main reason that the dams have not been built, even though they have been proposed, is that there are tribal rivalries, family interests and enormous corruption all blocking and preventing progress on these and many other issues.

    This is a failing State – one which will be a flashpoint for the foreseeable future.

  10. The Gray Monk is spot on re dams and the Green NGOs.

    Oddly enough, after I had posted here this morning, I saw yesterday’s Bangkok Post which had a lengthy leader page article by one Ame Trandem of International Rivers and Save the Mekong, arguing forcefully against the proposed Xayaburi Dam in the mountains of northern Laos (one source of the Mekong). What particularly irks Trandem is that this dam will sell 95% of its hydo power to Thailand, thereby obviating the coal fired stations that would otherwise be necessary. For what really annoys the Fiends of the Earth and their ilk like Trandem is anything which allows power consumption to continue without CO2 emissions, as they would then lose their mission.

    Trandem’s campaign would not be complete without reference to fish extinctions including above all of course the loveable Giant Mekong Catfish. Rubbish of course, but what is interesting is Trandem’s demonstration that him/her and their Friends are indeed opposed to each and every form of development in support of human wellbeing even when it could mitigate alleged climate change.

    • Really big cat fish tend to like the environment at the base of dams, at least in the US. I guess there is a lot of detritus there as a good food source.

    • The Chinese don’t give a flying F about what the greens think. I love that about them.

  11. Dr. Curry
    In short 10 years secular variation of the geomagnetic field in Indian sub-continent has moved from moderate to high
    In addition this is the area of greatest gravity anomaly gradient anywhere.
    Both of the above are signs of large tectonic movements (as confirmed by frequent earthquakes) which certainly would affect the Monsoon Drift current
    Major climatic change should not be un-expected.

  12. In Pakistan, the death and healthcare toll is largest for women and children. Also elders. As you note, many were already displaced (by war).

    The peace and women’s issues are not esoteric and can’t be separated from the activities of the West.

    The people who have least contributed to the human-caused aspects of the climate crisis and struggle with severe poverty and are also geographically most vulnerable e.g. deltas, island nations and the North, matter more than some guy in Texas who wants cheap gas for an SUV used for sport. More, obviously, since we’re comparing mindless consumption with the need for basics like food, water, and a safe home.

    Internationalism is not welcomed by everyone.

    As a result of climate change (rather than, say, politics) individuals are required to re-think not only their understanding of science but their values and interests.

    The information you are providing in this article should help people connect with your work, and care.

    • Martha,
      No matter what you think can be done, this planet has a repeating performance that has been lost to a 150 year temperature record. This ignores a 4.5 billion year history record. If you follow the receeding ice from the last ice age, what happens when you run out of ice to melt? A slight warming, pressure build-up and climate change.

    • randomengineer

      The peace and women’s issues are not esoteric and can’t be separated from the activities of the West.

      I don’t for a moment think this is the least bit accurate. But, for argument, let’s say that it is.

      What Pakistan and the rest of that region really needs more than anything is energy. Energy = wealth. If the western world embarks today on development of Spaceborne Solar (a technology that is understood, scalable, green, and works) then within a generation we should be able to orbit at least one such device over that region, providing abundant energy. And if we can park one over Pakistan, we can park them anywhere.

      Needless to say orbiting these over the western world would also happen, replacing coal plants with renewable solar energy that works 24/7/365.

      Would you be interested in supporting this effort? If not, why?

      I’m asking so as to determine if you have merely rhetoric or a plan, and if you have a plan, what it is. Plans accomplish things; rhetoric, no so much.

      • RE – I am interested to read a bit more on this technology. Have you any good links? Thanks, Rob.

      • randomengineer

        An decent intro is at the WIKI page:

        In particular note the timeline; there’s a company (Solaren?) who’s been negotiating with PG&E to loft an SPS device as we speak. This isn’t “maybe sorta kinda in the far future” tech. It’s real and it’s now.

        I’d said above it would take a generation to loft birds but I’m guessing that this is party due to scaling (e.g. 1.21 gigawatts is desired, extra points if you know what that references) and of course politics.

    • We often hear of the externalities involved in burning fossil fuels and these are always negative. However, if you view the health vs. wealth video, you will see that poorer nations have also been elevated without the corresponding wealth. That is to say, the slope of the curve has lessened. I don’t know if a government has paid some academics millions of dollars to study this, so this is just my take on it, but it seems the advances in civilization made by the West has “trickled down” to the poorer countries. The West had to develop modern technologies vertically. The poorer countries get a lateral transfer. I would say this should also be considered an externalize of using fossil fuels and developing industry. However, in this case it is a benefit rather than a cost. The “externality” benefits might well outweigh the alleged costs.

  13. Here is an animation of health vs wealth. I think it fits in with this post and is really fascinating. I see it as a salute to what relatively cheap and abundant energy, along with advances in science and technology, have done to make the lives of everyone around the world much better.

  14. Jim

    Interesting video.

    I thought so myself when I posted it last month. ;)

    However, your thesis, “relatively cheap and abundant energy” would be utterly falsified using Hans Rosling’s methods; the correlation of energy cost and welfare improvement would have to be extraordinarily low on his scale, and the statistics for advances in science and technology could easily be said to account for the majority of the changes.

    Moreover by the same methods, the style and type of government, and intensity of government, would by eyeball be a far better correlation for improved lifespan, and even though I point it out, I’m not convinced that one ought try to justify expanding government because of four minutes of what is after all little more than video game graphics.

    Also, there’s no mention in the video of whether the measures adjust for the time value of money (income), and other little details that might modify one’s view of the conclusions are also not clearly noted, so while I’m impressed by the clarity and attitude of communicating to a wider audience the findings of scientific research, I think of this more as a starting point to understanding, than as an end in itself.

    My own feelings are that Pakistan has been more damaged by extremist religion (to tie into the prior Evangelism thread) than catastrophes of all natural varieties by a factor of at least a hundred in the past century, surely an outlier among nations.

    That this insignificant valley has so successfully exported its bile, hatred, prejudice, venom, rabid fervor for ancient violence in the name of tradition and faith, mocking the traditions and faith of most of the rest of the world in its murderous appetites, is indeed a sadness which reflects ill on all evangelism, whether of religion or of oil.

    • Bart. Without consuming energy to industrialize, the advances in science and technology would be severely retarded. Think of all the precise machine tools necessary to build some of the common lab apparatus. None of this would have happened without cheap energy. The advance of science and technology required and requires a robust infrastructure to keep industry going.
      Energy is key. I really don’t see how you can dismiss its importance so easily.

      • Jim

        Works well in slogan, but not in practice or theory.

        The best lab apparatus has historically come from regions with exceptionally high energy costs, to the best of my recollection, or put more simply, you’ve made a ridiculously exceptional claim, for which one might expect some exceptional evidence.

        Please point to a link of your favorite lab equipment manufacturers of the last 2 centuries and their corresponding energy costs compared to the 200 countries referred to by Rosling, if you would.

        In common experience, it’s the oldest, worst, most poorly-made and slowly advancing technology that depends on cheap energy as a crutch to keep it on the market. Your shiny new SUV isn’t a marvel of advanced technology, but of advances in marketing and bodywork, and creative tax accounting in most cases.

        This false trail you’re laying linking cheap energy (by which one supposes you mean government subsidized coal and gasoline) to happiness is just a smokescreen to excuse grabbing taxes from my pockets to support fat corporate charities.

        Your snowjob isn’t working.

      • You are begging the question Bart. Fine lab equipment rests on steel technology and all manner of industry that we in the West have had the good fortune and good intelligence, skill, and know-how to build and run. Lab equipment of today isn’t manufactured by Santa’s elves. It has a history. That history is couched in coal and petroleum. This conversation reminds me of that fun series, Connections, hosted by James Burke. You seem to be missing many decades and centuries of development. We didn’t just wake up to the wonderful technology as if from a dream.

      • Jim

        Lab equipment would surely be more a matter of glass technology or silicon technology than of steel at any time in history, no?

        As the third generation of my family to have worked in steel (albeit in my case doing IT consulting in a metallurgy lab rather than foundry or rolling mill), it happens I’m conversant with the history of our wonderful technology over many decades and have heard a fair bit of the history of steel and of technology over centuries, and again, I can find nothing supporting your slogan in this direct experience firsthand, nor in secondhand or more indirect reports.

        While industrialists salivate over anything that lowers their input costs, steel generally does best where transportation, cooling, labor and land costs are lowest (in roughly that order).

        Not steel, but aluminum depends far more heavily on low energy costs, to the extent that many smelters were created through backroom government deals to promise them low electricity prices .. and then turned around and started selling their excess subsidized electricity for a profit because it was a whole lot more lucrative then trading in the metal directly.

        So, again, not convinced by your barking mad slogan, because in the immortal words of G.W. Bush, “fool me once, shame on you, foo, uh, erm, foo.. ain’t gonna be fooled again.”

      • OK, Bart. Enjoy your blinders.

      • Also Bart, I’m against subsidies for all energy except possibly nuclear, and even for that I would like to see a private solution.

    • I agree with you about the bile, hatred, etc. And it is sad. I don’t know enough Muslims well enough to know if the extremism is common among them. I can only hope it isn’t and that there is a minority of them willing to literally blow themselves up at the behest of an Imam. But I don’t have a handle on it and am concerned by it.

      • I see no reason to distinguish a so-called Muslim who would kill people at the urging of some extreme interpreter of divine writings from a so-called Christian extremist who would do the same.

        Given that most such interpreters gain immense political, economic and social advantage by having the power to incite such killings (be they assassination, war, terrorism, or capital punishment), any skeptic would be excused for concluding that they are merely profiteers dressed up as preachers, I think.

      • Bart – Name the incidents where Christians in modern times have killed people? What do you have, one? Zero? There is no moral equivalence here. Muslims are very violent compared to Christians. Look at the recent attacks on Christian Churches in Egypt. Look at 9/11. Look at all the homicide bombings. The trains in England. This list is very long. Where is you list of similar atrocities by Christians? You don’t have one.

      • randomengineer

        In the US peace loving christians bomb abortion clinics and walk into churches hosing the congregation in automatic weapons fire.

        Bart is pointing out that the primary difference is motivation, and the primary common denominator is True Belief.

        Bart is correct.

        The human condition is such that historically christians have killed at a pretty fair rate; had the populations of the middle ages been comparable to today and with modern weaponry, the death tolls then would have been easily comparable to the 20th century death toll.

        There is no fundamental underlying difference that makes the christian superior, even now. What christians enjoy now is western affluence and hegemony.

      • OK, let’s compare how many killed in abortion clinic bombings versus Muslim acts of violence. Still, a pretty lame comparison. If you are referring to the Unitarian Church shooting, that guy was a mental case. There are mental cases in all groups of people, so he doesn’t count. You are still on thin ice.

      • OK, Jim. Enjoy your blinders.

      • Not to mention Northern Ireland and the Balkans. No group, religious or ethnic, has a monopoly on hatred and violence. I’m very much in agreement that the drivers tend to be more interested in power than piety. As for the followers, they range from the fanatics to those who like the idea of moral cover for profit and/or score-settling.

      • Name the incidents where Christians in modern times have killed people?

        Former Yugoslavia (300,000 Muslims killed and 100,000 women raped in Bosnia alone), and look up the World War Two extermination camp Jasenovac and who ran it (a Franciscan monk – even the SS complained to Hitler about the barbarity).

      • Jasenovac was set up by a government, not a church or religious group. So you get -10 for deception. The war in Yugoslavia was caused by political instability, not a church or religion setting out to conquer the infidels. The fact that the warring factions broke down along ethnic/religious lines is coincidental. So, you score a grand total of -20.

      • Jim,

        Is it your contention that bin Laden and Co. represent all of Islam? That would be quite a feat given a decentralized religion with two major and several minor sects. It may well be their goal to be seen as such (a time-honored tactic of terror is to use attrocity to trigger a backlash against the larger ethnic/religious/etc. group, thereby widening the conflict and drawing in new recruits), but I doubt that it’s accurate.

        The ethnic/religious composition of the factions in the former Yugoslavia were hardly accidental – hundreds of years of carefully tended grudges between the groups were barely contained by the federal government. When that broke down, the old divisions flared back to life. Similarly, do you believe the ethnic/religious divisions in Northern Ireland were coincidental?

        Please note, I am certainly not arguing for any kind of equivalence. I firmly believe that the intertwining of the political and religious, particularly that resulting from the alliance of al-Wahhab and the house of Saud is dangerous to world peace and impeding the modernization of the Muslim world. We do have to be careful, though, not to believe that any group is immune to having their faith manipulated for political purposes – the examples given prove that manifestly false. We also have to be careful not to conflate the manipulators with the underlying faith.

      • I’ll post your own statement yet again.

        Name the incidents where Christians in modern times have killed people?

        And that’swhat I did. -10 for you, I think.

      • Final comment on this from me:

        Peace an Collbaorative Development Network:

        Ustashe leaders declared they would slaughter a third of the Serb population in Croatia, deport a third and convert the remaining third from Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism. Anyone who refused to convert was murdered.

        One may claim that the religious motivation and the brutality of butchers were leading principles in Jasenovac. The fact that 743 Roman Catholic priests were members of the Ustashi and personally murdered Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. Jasenovac was for a time, run by Fr. Filipovic-Majstorovic, a Catholic priest who admitted to killing “40,000 Serbs with his own hands.” So at one point, a Franciscan monk was camp commandant of what the second largest concentration camp of the war.

        The Jasenovac system of Croatian camps also included a camp for children run by Catholic nuns who used toxic soda to save bullets.

        Roman Catholic priests who participated in the killing of tens of thousands of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies and the running of Jasenovac escaped Europe through the “Vatican Ratline” run by Fr. Draganovich, a Croatian Catholic priest who helped morons like Clause Barbe escape from Europe. Those Catholic priests escaped to Argentina where they also escaped justice.

      • One of the problems, IMO, for champions of Islamo-Christian equivalence, is that their founding narratives are so different. The founding narrative of Christianity is one of forgiveness and universal love, whereas that of Islam is of conversion by armed conquest. This makes it easy for Christians to disown the occasional loonie Christian who thinks he’s doing God’s work by killing people – and they do, loudly and unequivocally, and without fear of retribution. Conversely it is hard for peace-loving Muslims to reject unequivocally the extremists in their midst, since they lack unequivocal scriptural grounds for doing so. So, by and large, and certainly in comparison to Christians, they don’t.

      • And that is why I don’t have a handle on how many Muslims are extremists. Whatever peaceful ones there are don’t speak out. Very well put Tom.

      • David L. Hagen

        Consider what happens when the “peaceful” ones speak out. e.g. See what happened to Pakistan Governor Salman Taseer this week.
        Islam’s Hijackers and Hijackees

      • * Muslims for Peace:
        * Islam is Peace:
        * Muslim Peace Fellowship:
        * BBC – Muslims in European peace drive:
        * Japan Muslims Peace Federation (JMPF):
        * All Africa – Christians And Muslims Call for Peace And an End to Religious Stereotypes in Sudan:
        * Muslims for Peace message broadcast to millions of people in Times Square:

        If you’re in London, such organisations have taken out bus ads.

      • Latimer Alder

        That’s just daft. That there are a number of muslim organisations that campaign for peace does not negate the number that don’t.

        The existence of the pacificist quakers does not negate the fact that the crusades were called to smite the infidel, nor that protestant heretics were burned at the stake by the catholics…and vice versa.

        Personally. I am of the opinion that all organised religions..and I count Environmentalism in that broad generalisation always tend to wanting to kill unbelievers. I’m led to believe that this is explicit in the koran, implicit in the bible and actively pursued by some extreme environmentalists.

        And the thing they all share is absolute moral certainty that whatever they do and however many they kill is god’s (or gaia’s) will and therefore beyond critcism.

        A plague on all of them.

      • The original staement I was responding to:

        Whatever peaceful ones there are don’t speak out.

        You just wasted keyboard life constructing a straw man rebuttal.

      • and I count Environmentalism in that broad generalisation always tend to wanting to kill unbelievers.

        Then you’re disassociated from reality.

      • From what I have read of Islam, it is OK to deceive in order to protect the Muslim community and Islam. This makes it difficult to evaluate what Muslims say. It makes it difficult to take them at their word, that is. So, the uncertainty for me remains.

      • David L. Hagen

        ‘Religion of peace’ launching ‘ferocious’ attacks

        the Religion of Peace website reports that for 2010, there were 1987 jihad attacks in 46 nations resulting in 9,175 deaths and 17,436 injured.

  15. Having a range of nearly 30,000 foot tall mountains on the north creates weather instabilities that most of us can barely comprehend. Add to that an ecology where most of the arable land is close to the river, and it’s hard to see how people can avoid living in flood prone areas. Then there is the dysfunctional politics.

    My understanding is the the biggest reason dams have been opposed in India – by Indians – is because of the millions of people displaced. Most big dams in the US were in sparsely populated areas. Think of what it takes to build a new power transmission line in the US and then magnify that by a thousand and you can see why there is a lot of opposition. Whatever the ecological reasons of the WWF or other enviro groups, the primary driver for opposition is the vast populations that get displaced.

    • Getting displaced is a lesser evil than getting killed. JMO.

      • But it’s always somebody else who will be killed, right? Is this all that different from farmers in Indonesia who insist on living on the slopes of volcanoes, where the most fertile soil is?

        And whatever the anti-flood protections of Indian dams, I think that the primary argument made in their favor is irrigation. The allotment of that water is politically controlled and the poor people (low caste/untouchable/dalits) who get displaced rarely have access to the water.

        I followed some of the dam debates in India (I lived there for a while in the 90’s) and what I remember is irrigation vs displacement, with power generation being an issue in some cases. I certainly don’t remember any discussion of fish in the english-language Indian newspapers that I read. That’s just a figment of those who want to blame environmentalists for everything.

      • Dean,
        Your going to find any land on the ocean side of mountains are in for extreme weather events happening due to the climate shifting.

      • David L. Hagen

        Understand the natural rainfall variation as well.
        e.g. in Darjeeling India

        The southern slopes of the ridges get much higher (4000-5000mm) precipitation than the leeward sides (2000-2500mm).

        Be prepared for natural variations in rainfall that include:

        “The records show some of the long continued down pours. Amongst them the most remembered ones are in 1787,1789, 1827 (493 mm in one day) and in June 1950 (965 mm). The last such rainfall recorded during 1968 (2nd and 5th Oct – about 1780 mm). Thereafter, 358 mm in Oct 1973, 382 mm in June 1983, 457 mm in September 1986 and 350mm in 1990 were recorded.”

        i.e. 38″ of rain in one day, and 70″ of rain in three days when major tropical depressions blew in from the Bay of Bengal.

        I expect most planners have not experienced such intense rainfall.

        WJR Alexander shows linkages between double 21 year solar cycles and precipitation.

        Most ignored Alexander’s accurate warnings of floods and droughts – they were not politically correct!

  16. Until the Nation of Pakistan enacts the required reforms that provide all citizens with equal rights in view of the law then any plan to ameliorate the plight of the individual by technology or other financial means is doomed to fail at the next event. It is in times of crisis that property rights, and the respect of them, become paramount. Without a history of, and current respect, for those rights; no Nation can overcome the calamities that visit all Nations from time to time. Pakistan is no exception.

    • How does private property rights relate? Seems to me that the place to look at for managing and preparing for disasters is Chile. They have demonstrated a fantastic preparedness, and I haven’t seen property rights described as being a key factor. But feel free to describe how it did.

      • Chile vs Pakistan. What a great pick for a comparison.

        Notice that the Government of both Nations have fairly close levels of freedom but the People of Pakistan suffer under a regime that is horribly disrespectful of property rights, financial freedom is low, investment and labor freedom also pathetic. When the individual and groups of individuals do not have their rights respected, they have no incentive to invest in their own communities. They then become reliant upon the beneficent (or lack of) Government. So when the next calamity befalls Pakistan, once again the people will not have prepared their own communities and will squabble over who should be the benefactors of a corrupt and incapable Government. Chile did not rebound because of its Government but in spite of it; its people had already built their own institutions and groups that brought with it a respect for those and their property around them and they felt comfortable and confident that they could rebuild again – which they promptly did.

      • Getting the government out of peoples lives can be a match to gasoline game changer. Even Communist China eased up on their people, after killing millions of them, so that a modicum of free enterprise could exist. It has made all the difference. Moderate inflation is a much better problem to have than a dead economy.

      • David L. Hagen

        “after killing millions” is a bit of an understatement!

        Historian Frank Dikötter, having been granted special access to Chinese archival materials, estimates that there were at least 45 million premature deaths from 1958 to 1962

        About as many more were not born. This predominantly man-made caused a prominent drop in global population. That is the great danger of centralized planning such as advocated by environmentalists advocating “mitigation” of “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.”

      • “Chile did not rebound because of its Government but in spite of it”

        This strikes me as ideology personified, but as it’s not the subject of this post or blog, I’m just going to agree to disagree and let it go there. Not interested in getting into a role-of-government debate here.

      • If Allende had set his hooks in Chile as Chavez has done in Venezuela, Chile would be just another benighted basket case.
        But it would be lefty, so our lefty idiots here would love it.

  17. “The question (is) of how improved weather forecast and climate scenario information might be used to reduce some of the threat accelerant components of natural disasters in Pakistan.(?)”

    Politically, reliable information of 10 year climate would become a neutral ‘accelerant’ if available to all sides in a country like Pakistan. The information would seem to confer a proportionately equal advantage to the ins and the outs, the pros and the cons. Truly, the greatest advantage such information would confer would be to stable, strong, and technically capable non-aggressive countries with an effective government; and stable, strong, and technically capable aggressive countries with an effective government. The type of government is irrelevent, as long as it is effective. Pakistan is out of the running and will be for sometime (if not forever).

    India would no doubt make great use of such information, as would China, Brazil, South Africa, etc., etc. (and the “developed” countries). I wouldn’t include Mexico, they’re fast approaching the level of Pakistan. Mexicans are beautiful people, it’s their worthless government that’s taking the Pakistan-example to new lows.

    • patrioticduo

      “The type of government is irrelevent (sic), as long as it is effective.” This is a misnomer and an oxymoron. The type of Government determines if it can be effective. The Pakistani Government fails the freedom indexes and as a result, fails its people. I’ve known Pakistani’s that have left the country because of this very fact. The type of Government determines how the people within its purview act and plan. When a country sees people leaving in desperation, it is not because the Government respects them now is it. What type of Government respects the people? Authoritarian? Military? Theocratic? Democratic? And don’t tell me Pakistan is a democratic republic. Even China has that title. But the evidence points to authoritarian. In fact, Pakistan has the worst of it. It is all three bad forms in one place. Militaristic, authoritarian AND theocratic. Is it any wonder a flood is capable of wiping it out. BTW, Australia is currently undergoing a flood of massive proportion and you don’t see anyone wondering if those affected Aussies will now have to live in abject poverty as a result of it.

      • All I said “effective”, that’s the description of ‘government’ I used. There have been “effective” militaristic, authoritarian, theocratic, etc. etc.. Did I say something that made you mad? Mae Culpa, Mae Culpa, Mae Maxima Culpa. (Don’t get mad again, but based on everything else you said however, I kinda’ agree with you. Still can’t see how I stepped on your toes.)

      • patrioticduo

        Didn’t mean to come across strident and you certainly didn’t step on my toes. Hope I didn’t yours.

      • Been there, done that too. Toes fine. Have a great day.

  18. Martha | January 6, 2011 at 9:10 am says…

    The people who have least contributed to the human-caused aspects of the climate crisis and struggle with severe poverty and are also geographically most vulnerable e.g. deltas, island nations and the North, matter more than some guy in Texas who wants cheap gas for an SUV used for sport. More, obviously, since we’re comparing mindless consumption with the need for basics like food, water, and a safe home.

    I couldn’t disagree more with this hypocritical, naive, uninformed claptrap if I tried.
    To form a judgement that one person in one part of the world is worth more than another person in another part of the world beggars belief.

    So I am to be held accountable and made to feel guilty because I help form a modern civil society, and because of a perception that my activities is causing a climate crisis? A crisis that hasn’t been proven?

    Even if it had been proven, being told I matter less because of my activities, by a person who is using those very same activities to communicate her diatribe to me is the height of self righteous hypocrasy.

    Tell you what Martha, you give up all of your modern carbon belching activities, do a Mother Theresa and go to a third world country of your choosing and practice your self righteousness to your hearts content.

    Me? Because of these endless guilt tripping exercises foisted on me from the likes of you, I will INCREASE my carbon belching at every opportunity, and the more you “think I matter less” the more I will belch, the more I will hinder your political ambitions in any way I can.

    I’ll leave your holier than thou self with a few quotes from Fiona Kobusingyes’ essay called Africas Real Climate Crisis. July 2009

    “Life in Africa is often nasty, impoverished and short. AIDS kills 2.2 million Africans every year according to WHO (World Health Organization) reports. Lung infections cause 1.4 million deaths, malaria 1 million more, intestinal diseases 700,000. Diseases that could be prevented
    with simple vaccines kill an additional 600,000 annually, while war, malnutrition and life in filthy slums send countless more parents and children to early graves.
    And yet, day after day, Africans are told the biggest threat we face is – global warming.”

    “It’s the almost total absence of electricity keeping us from creating jobs and
    becoming modern societies. It’s that these policies KILL.”

    “Al Gore and UN climate boss Yvo de Boer tell us the world needs to go on an energy diet. Well, I have news for them. Africans are already on an energy diet.We’re starving!

    It’s all very well sitting at your computer pretending you know anything at all about people from other cultures in other parts of the world. I prefer to hear from those people themselves, like Ms Kobusingye. They don’t care if the global temperature anomaly has increased by 0.6DegC and the gigawatts of energy wasted debating the issue. They don’t care what the temperature might be in 50-100 years time. THEY NEED TO KNOW IF THEY CAN FEED THEIR KIDS IN 50 MINUTES TIME.

    As soon as this rain clears here in Queensland, I’ve got lots of fallen trees to burn in a bonn fire. I think I’ll invite my SUV driving red neck friends and drink some imported beer. The bigger the carbon footprint the better. And the phrase of the moment will be….Get Stuffed.

    • Baa – as a Q-lander this may amuse you. Some years ago – long BC (Before Climategate), I went with a mate to the Woodford Festival. For a libertarian, right-ish sceptic like me, it was a surreal experience, awash with mutual self-congratulation, absurd posturing and the cloying unctuousness that can only exist between people who are 100% certain that for 4 days they aren’t going to meet anyone who challenges their world-view one tiny little bit. On the last night of the festival we were urged to come and view a “fire ceremony”, which turned out to be a sort of son et lumiere, using performers whose enthusiasm for the task greatly outweighed their skill – and real fire. They burned a weird effigy made out of 4×2 that seemed to embody a combination of a Cross and a Crescent, presumably in an attempt to deliver a preachy reconciliation message (9/11 was recent). Trouble is, you can never be quite sure how a bonfire’s going to burn, and the crescent seemed to be quickly consumed, leaving them at one stage with nothing but a burning cross. I don’t think a Klan meeting was what the event committee had in mind.

      I seemed to be the only one there to see the irony of ending a 4-day eco-love-in by sending a couple of tons of perfectly good radiata pine up in voluminous smoke.

  19. I recently returned from a a trip to both Pakistan and India and have done extensive business in both countries. It appears that the writers of the post are very naive about Pakistan. In any case, I am thoroughly confused about what the writers are proposing be done. Pakistan is an independent nation state and is responsible for the construction and maintenance of it’s own infrastructure. If millions of Pakistani people are killed annually by flooding due to poor infrastructure planning in it certainly no business of the United States (or Britain). The Pakistani government is not united in fighting the Taliban, are one of the creators of the Taliban and supports them today.

    BTW, I would also disagree that the $9.7 B in flood damage is anywhere near accurate. Traditionally, damage estimates in Pakistan are much higher than their actual cost to repair since the actual repairs are done mostly by low cost local labor. Bottom line……it is Pakistan’s problem, not ours….stay out of it.

    • Rob Starkey writes “Bottom line……it is Pakistan’s problem, not ours….stay out of it”

      I agree with you, but I have misgivings. If nations like Pakistan neglect their infrastructure, and a disaster happens, then it costs Canada money. We feel we need to send help. This does not happen for an earthquake in New Zealand, or a flood in Australia. Yes, we occasionally help the USA, but this is just good PR and we often get back more than we spend. For example, when Newfoundland and Labrador took care of aircraft passengers for 9/11. But when third world countries neglect their infrastucture, if often costs Canada our hard earned money.

      • Jim

        I am not suggesting that helping people in need is a bad thing. If it makes you (or other Canadians) feel better to contribute money to Pakistan then by all means do that. I am commenting on the concept of debating how others get involved in debates about the Pakistani preparedness for disasters. The tone of the initial post by Judith Curry seemed to suggest that this was something others should be deeply concerned about.

        In truth, Pakistan is a very corrupt country that has a very high number of religious extremist terrorists. Both of those issues are the predominate reason why their infrastructure is not a priority to them. I have little interest in worrying about the infrastructure of one of the more corrupt countries in the world with a population whose growth rate is unsupportable.

    • David L. Hagen

      Consider the ancient admonition:

      Rescue those being led away to death;
      hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
      If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
      does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
      Does not he who guards your life know it?
      Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

      Proverbs 24:11-12 NIV

  20. Baa Humbug

    You are in solidarity with Ugandan mother Fiona Kobusingyes? That’s interesting.
    I can see why you think you might be. That essay is circulated on all the major climate site denial and libertarian policy sites. The group paying this mother is in fact an anti-environmental, American-based conservative group. But don’t take my word for it — the information is public knowledge and the group doesn’t hide its interests.

    They have been arguing that ‘environmentalists hate poor people’ recently — oh, about since the time they made a major political campaign in the United States to resist cap and trade. Exxon is a consistent funder.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that the essay wasn’t written by this mother or that her belief that the science is all a hoax is not informed. But what are the chances? Let’s see…

    The American organization paying her, CORE, was formerly a support for the civil rights movement but in the past few decades has morphed into something unrecognizable to its founders. It is now an expressly right-wing group that promotes conservative economic views and interests.

    It was instrumental in support for military dictator Idi Amin.

    In more recent years, it dismantled support for black women struggling with HIV.

    This mother is fighting for maternal and child health with anti-malaria campaigns supported by CORE, which has put the use of DDT for health reasons at the centre of its agenda. Want to guess why? She has apparently been told that this type of use is banned — which is not correct, as anyone in pubic health can tell you — and that this is the result of a Western environmental lobby.

    My guess is that she may not have re-written facts, all by herself; and that the special interests so transparently at play have nothing to do with anyone caring in the least about this mother, poverty in Africa, empowerment approaches to development, healthcare in Africa… or climate change.

    Yes, malaria and other water borne health threats are major killers and will increase as a result of flooding from extreme weather events related to climate change, and that is a significant concern to African medical and healthcare workers– in addition to, not instead of, everything else.

    • Martha, I take it you’re talking about CORE, who are discussed in this article in The Tyee:

      Inside the DDT Propaganda Machine

      At that time CORE had been at the forefront of the struggle for equal rights, as a pioneer in the use of non-violent direct action to challenge segregation. CORE collapsed in the ’70s and the remnant was taken over by Roy Innis (Niger Innis’s father), who moved the organization to the Republican right. […]

      In 2003, Innis formed a partnership with one of the most aggressive anti-environmental organizations to launch a campaign to popularize the term “eco-imperialism.” The Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise (CDFE) had earlier claimed credit for coining the term “eco-terrorism” and creating the so-called wise-use movement. Its funding comes from conservative foundations, forest-products companies, ExxonMobil and DuPont, a leading producer of DDT. […]

      Driessen is also a senior fellow at the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a libertarian think-tank whose researchers and advisers are prominent industry-backed global warming deniers. (Roger Bate is on this organization’s board of advisers.) The committee received $540,000 from ExxonMobil between 1998 and 2003.[…]

      They set up one special-purpose organization — Africa Fighting Malaria — and utilized an existing one — Congress of Racial Equality — to put a poor, black face on their efforts.

      But behind the facade was a network of free market, libertarian think-tanks and their corporate sponsors pulling the strings.

    • What? That’s it? Ignore the message and have a go at the messenger by pretending to know what motivates her? Nothing substantive to say except Global warming => extreme weather => more malaria? Amazing.
      I’ll adjust my bonfire phrase of the day to “Hypocrites get stuffed.”

      J Bowers

      Try Green Inc by Christine McDonald (an enviromentalist, certainly not right wing or big anything)
      Then think Beyond Petroleum

      You want to get into a discussion about who gets funded by whom and how much do you?

      • What? That’s it? Ignore the message and have a go at the messenger by pretending to know what motivates her?

        Straw man. I didn’t actually have a pop at Fiona Kobusingye, nor did Martha for that matter. But if you want to get into it, she is the director of CORE in Africa. So why should the organisation she’s a director of be excluded from the debate when she’s employed by it? Or is it only permissable in this climate debate for individuals to be accused of fraud, genocide, criminal activity, because of their profession or association with a narrow field of science, CRU, NASA, the WWF or the IPCC? Whatever happened to balance in the debate?

        You want to get into a discussion about who gets funded by whom and how much do you?

        Fine by me, but I’d insist on a couple of ground rules: Income for spending on an organisation’s entire worldwide operational costs is not used under the pretence that said income is entirely lobby expenditure, or that total funding for scientific research goes into the pocket of the PI.

        Back to Kobusingye, I see she’s not averse to making sure plenty get to see the thoroughly debunked and factually inaccurate Great Global Warming Swindle, according to Canada Free Press anyway.

        And this, from All Africa, is very interesting…

        NGO Abandons Students in Kampala

        Kampala — OVER 130 students who participated in a malaria awareness walk were on Sunday left stranded in central Kampala after the organisers vanished and switched off their cell phones.

        Congress for Racial Equality (CORE), an international NGO, organised the 300-mile walk from Kampala to Gulu.

        How far can you walk in a day? Given the more I read about CORE, the more it wouldn’t surprise me if CORE had used that as reason to claim the walk for malaria awareness was actually a 600 mile walk. According to Wiki this is what one of the stranded students had to say…

        “We feel used, dumped and taught to lie,”
        Grass roots? Yeah, right.

    • How stupid does your CO2 obsession make somone?
      Malaria was killing millions in Africa long before the CO2 obsessed began bleating about apocalypse.
      The fact-free take on history by the AGW faithful, and its reliance on idiocratic conspiracy theories to support it is boring.

  21. @Rob Starkey,

    I completely agree.

    And I would like to add to your comments the following observations, all verifiable on the internet.

    Pakistan has decided that is should be a nuclear power with an atomic bomb. If that means that we should eat grass, then we will eat grass (Pakistan PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto). By now they are building their 5th plutonium production plant, including heavy water nuclear reactors. They could have build LWR, producing electricty with low Pu production. You can check this yourself at the archives at armscontrolwonk dot com.

    I personally think that they get what they deserve when you put your priorities this way, how harsh this may sound: it is the choice of the Pakistani’s themselves.

    Of course I feel very sorry for any loss of live, property or what else, and I would wish that I could do anything to help them. But they should make the right choices in the first place, and get their priorities right.

    The Pakistani people are very bright, as can be deduced from their nuclear industry. They can solve this problem with water, rainfall and infrastructure completely by themselves. But they have to make choices.

  22. Randomengineer

    No I wouldn’t, not as an immediate plan.

    Climate science has given us knowledge that fossil fuels are causing climate change. Obviously, a major solution is to reduce GHG’s. That is what I support right now.

    Engineers are on the cutting edge of a lot of development issues and have an opportunity to make some of the most important contributions to the future, in all countries.

    We have many ways to reduce emissions immediately, here in the West. It’s about efficiency, and I think this is better than putting all our eggs in untried or unready technical interventions in space, without the unintended consequences, safety issues and enormous costs.

    But is it part of the future? Probably. The more wisdom, the better. :-)

    Great that you’re discussing it.

    • randomengineer

      Obviously, a major solution is to reduce GHG’s. That is what I support right now.

      In the US this isn’t going to happen outside of dictatorial powers and/or widespread adoption of new nuclear plants.

      The former will foment revolution, of course.

      HOW you think reduction is possible is the question.

    • Dear Martha,

      This is complete BS. GHG are not nearly as effective in raising temperatures as is generally being accepted. They are not.

      But that was not what this post was about. It was about the misfortunes of Pakistan due to the flooding, the lot of money that has been thrown at it from international sources.

      I think we have to examine the way the Pakistani government has made its deciscions for their rule, before we start pouring money over them without any control or feedback.

      • This is complete BS. GHG are not nearly as effective in raising temperatures as is generally being accepted. They are not.

        A pity it’s mostly accepted by most climate scientists. Water vapour’s the strongest GHG by the way.

    • Bunk.
      Anyone who thinks we are going to manage the climate by regulating CO2 is a fool.

  23. My last sentence was lost in transmission:

    But they have to make choices.

    And as far as I can see at this moment, the choices they have made were the wrong ones.

  24. Judith,

    Current climate patterns are lining up to following the old Ice Age patterns to set-up mass precipitation.
    There are two Ice Age patterns: Melting Patterns
    Precipitation Patterns

  25. J Bowers said “Water vapour’s the strongest GHG by the way”. Yes indeed, so you would support all measures necessary to restrict rainfall?

    • Only to the point where it’s not more likely to flood entire districts, by curbing CO2 emissions funnily enough. The other advantage is to put a halt to the extra energy we’re putting into the system via water vapour.

      Everybody wins. ;)

      • But water vapor condenses. That’s why it isn’t a problem.

      • I’ve yet to see a CO2 cloud in the sky, there’s 4% more water vapour in the atmosphere, and the sky above doesn’t seem any cloudier than when I was a kid.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘there’s 4% more water vapour in the atmosphere, and the sky above doesn’t seem any cloudier than when I was a kid’


        So where did the extra 4% go then? Your two statements do not seem to be compatible.

      • Rainfall over the 48 contiguous states rose by 7% while heavy rainfall events rose by 20%, as one example.

        For every one degree Fahrenheit increase in sea temperature, the water holding capacity for the atmosphere goes up by 4%. And since the 1970’s on average there’s about a 4% increase in water vapor over the Atlantic Ocean and when that gets caught into a storm, it invigorates the storm so the storm itself changes, and that can easily double the influence of that water vapor and so you can get up to an 8% increase, straight from the amount of water vapor that’s sort of hanging around in the atmosphere. This is reasonably well established. […]

        So although a lot of aspects of this is the sort of thing that happens is weather and natural variability, one could easily argue that up to about a 10% enhancement of this is associated with global warming. And possibly even more in terms of some of the other things that are going on but which are much harder to pin down. So that’s the link.

        It’s directly related to the fact that there’s more water vapor in the atmosphere. There’s warmer sea temperatures over the ocean that provide that moisture in the atmosphere. And then the right storm comes along, the right conditions, especially slow moving, and bingo.

        — Kevin Trenberth

      • Latimer Alder

        Sorry JB, that wasn’t a peer- reviewed paper. It was an interview with Joe Romm at an activist website.

        Please provide a link to a peer-reviewed paper showing the figures. It isn’t in the ‘related’ section in the piece you cite.

      • I’d like to see you 1. Prove there is 4% more WV in the sky, compared to when? and 2. If 1 is provable, then prove it is due to the burning of fossil fuels. I think you are on very thin ice here.

      • randomengineer

        Only to the point where it’s not more likely to flood entire districts, by curbing CO2 emissions funnily enough

        And how do you propose this be accomplished? I keep asking this hoping that someone has a rational solution that works in the real world, and I keep hearing bumper sticker level progressivist sound bytes with a distinctly totalitarian tinge to it. So what’s the workable plan?

      • I suggest a read of the free book, Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air by David Mackay.

        A 10 page synopsis is available on the download page.

      • randomengineer

        And in return I suggest trying to be minimally topically relevant.

        This is an English perspective. England is essentially a top down “more socialist than not” society living on an island a fraction of the size of the USA. In England the government dictates what’s going to happen and it does, and the geographical area is limited.

        The US is a large portion of an entire continent, with completely different sets of problems and a government comprised of relatively free citizens. Totalitarian, top down diktat doesn’t play here, and an admixture of “sustainable wavepower” doesn’t do much for downtown Omaha any more so than electric cars make any sense outside commuting in highly congested urban areas. e.g. the Smart car that’s oh so fashionable in the EU is a bust in the US.

      • England is essentially a top down “more socialist than not” society

        As a long time citizen of this island I can assure you that the UK is far from socialist, whereas the US currently seems to be hell bent on a new kind; reverse-socialism, where whatever wealth the poor may have is to be redistributed amongst the filthy rich.

      • Do you actually think you can manage flood events anywhere by regulating CO2?

  26. John from CA

    If you take a closer look at “flood entire districts” and see that if one lives in a flood plain one should buy flood insurance or move — this is a moot point yet a deterministic input that has nothing to do with weather events. The inputs (true causes) are obvious.

    Access to water appears to account for the location of communities along the Indus flood plain. Absolutely beautiful landscape begging for insightful development.

  27. As to the total cost of the pakistani nuclear program, have a look at this:

    I think it renders the discussion above a complete new facette to look through, just like carefully split diamond.

    It is all a matter of priorities.

  28. I think it is amazing, the effect of completely unexpected reactions to what is generally PC content. I really wonder why there have been no or almost no reactions to my extremist statements. Were they an inconvienent truth?

    Or were you not aware of these facts?

    My guess is the latter.

  29. Nice rundown.
    Pakistan has under developed its infrastructure and so a flood prone region of the world is having more destructive floods as populations and investment in flood zones increase.
    I would dispute if poppy production is going to change much if it expands into former legitimate framing areas of Pakistan as a quick fix opportunity to flood ravaged areas.
    I think poppy production is very mobile and if it moves into Pakistan this season or next, it will be run by mostly the same people- or their approved friends, as it is today in Afghanistan.

  30. I think it is amazing, the effect of completely unexpected reactions to what is generally PC content. I really wonder why there have been no or almost no reactions to my extremist statements. Were they an inconvienent truth?

    Or were you not aware of these facts?

    My guess is the latter.

    I know, this is a repost from earlier. But I am flabbergasted about the complete lack of reactions to my post.

    Illuminate me! Please!!!

  31. “my extremist statements…”

    The statements aren’t extreme. The statements are true and obvious.

    The issue is, “should we care” when they clearly don’t care about their country?