Despite What You Hear, Global Warming Is Still Benefiting Africa

Published December 22, 2012

Michel Nasibu, an advisor in the International Development Advisory Section of KPMG East Africa, attempted this week to salvage his claims that global warming is devastating the African continent  after I debunked his initial claims in an October article. As was the case with Nasibu’s October column, I empathize with his global warming fears, but once again the facts contradict his assertions.

In his October column, Nasibu asserted that global warming is drying up the African continent, causing expanding deserts and reduced crop production. In response, I presented powerful evidence that African deserts are actually shrinking, soil moisture is improving, and crop production is dramatically increasing.

Nasibu now follows up by citing three articles that he claims show “the continent is drying up at an alarming rate.” The three articles, however, show no such thing.

One of the articles describes how Darfur Lake is drying up. The article, however, does not even mention global warming. There is a good reason for this. Regional population growth and increasing water demands are the primary reasons the lake is drying up.

Interestingly, rainfall patterns in the Sahel region, an arid landscape just south of the Sahara Desert where Darfur Lake is located, mirror global temperature patterns. During the first half of the twentieth century, as global temperatures rose in the aftermath of the Little Ice Age, rainfall in the Sahel increased dramatically. From the late 1940s through the late 1970s, when global temperatures cooled, rainfall in the Sahel declined dramatically. Since the 1980s, as global temperatures warmed again, Sahel rainfall increased dramatically again.

second article cited by Nasibu discusses Lake Chad drying up and properly mentions population growth as a cause. The article says United Nations non-scientist humanitarians say climate change is also to blame. The article neither identifies these non-scientist humanitarians nor presents any scientific evidence to back up the non-specific assertion about global warming being to blame. There is a good reason for this. Lake Chad, like Darfur Lake, is in the Sahel region where rainfall has been increasing since the 1980s.

The third article cited by Nasibu contains nothing more than self-serving UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change model predictions (as opposed to empirical evidence) that global warming will dry up much of Africa. The article itself acknowledges that such UN models are “unreliable” and “guesswork.”

A good way to test the accuracy of the UN models is to see how the models have performed against real-world climate conditions. The models, presented in 2007, claim Africa will warm by at least 2.5 degrees Celsius between 2007 and 2030. We are now five years into the 23-year period and neither global temperatures nor African temperatures have risen at all, let alone the 0.6 degrees Celsius necessary to comply with the UN models.

As I documented in my October column, African deserts are receding, soil moisture is improving and crop production is dramatically increasing. None of these facts is called into question by Nasibu’s mentioning of population-affected Sahel lakes or United Nations climate models that fail spectacularly when compared to real-world scientific data.

I believe Nasibu is sincere, if misguided, in his global warming fears. Nevertheless, the “solutions” he offers are quite self-serving. Nasibu says “The Big Polluters need to compensate the biggest losers….”

This is a common theme among advocates of a global warming crisis. The proposed solutions always stifle Western democratic economies and/or call for outright cash transfers from Western democracies to developing nations.

Ironically, real-world evidence shows global warming is benefiting Africa, so perhaps the United States and other Western democracies should seek compensatory cash transfers from Africa.

[First published at Forbes.]