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How the climatoids spent the summer lecturing us on the permanent drought that climate change has brought to Central Europe, and how they have earned nothing but rain for their hubris

How the climatoids spent the summer lecturing us on the permanent drought that climate change has brought to Central Europe, and how they have earned nothing but rain for their hubris
Photo by Nick Nice / Unsplash
June headlines: "Germany is facing permanent drought." August headlines after a rainy summer: "Rain is no help against drought." December headlines after still more rain: "There is no more drought."

In the past year, Germans have had to read a great deal about how carbon dioxide-induced drought is on the verge of changing life forever in the Federal Republic.

On 6 June 2023, for example, state media broadcaster ZDF ran a piece on “How Germany is losing its groundwater”:

Drought, forest fires, dry soil – for those of us in Central Europe, this was unheard of for a long time. How can we get by with the challenges of climate change in the future?

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Two days later, on 8 June 2023, state media broadcaster NDR ran another piece in this genre, under the headline “Drought: The lack of rain has these consequences for wildlife”:

Dry fields, soil and meadows - not good news for farmers, and not for animals either. Spring is out of balance, explains Thomas Behrends, nature conservation officer at NABU Schleswig-Holstein. It was still very cold at night for a long time and the insect world has not yet been able to fully develop. Birds feed themselves and especially their young with insects and worms. When the ground becomes drier, these retreat into deeper layers of soil and no longer serve as food for the birds.

On 12 June 2023, Tagesspiegel asked “Is the next summer drought looming?”

After a wet spring, things looked good for the soil in Germany. But since May, there has been no rain, especially in the northeast. Researchers suspect a connection with climate change.

June remained relatively dry, but in July it started to rain, a phenomenon to which our highly observant and conscientious journalists remained initially oblivious, even though it was happening directly outside their windows. Thus the drought drumbeat continued, and regional news service hessenschau could still write on 13 July 2023 about “How Hesse is preparing for even more heat and drought”:

Water shortages, uncertain harvests – and extreme heat stress in some cities: The effects of climate change are causing people problems and forcing politicians to take action.

On the same day, NDR (state media) reported that “Drought is hitting northern Germany particularly hard.”

Heavy rainfall and heatwaves – most districts and cities in northern Germany fear an increase in these two weather events. This is the result of joint research by NDR, BR, WDR and CORRECTIV, in which all 400 districts and independent cities in Germany were asked what consequences of climate change they fear for their region and how they are preparing for them.

The extremely inconvenient rain continued through August, and slowly these paint-by-numbers articles after the manner of “X bad thing, Y bad thing, Z bad thing – why these bad things are bad” began, well, to dry up. What was worse, obnoxious internet people began to ask whether we were really in any kind of drought at all. They noted that the statistics compiled by the German Weather Service showed nothing but an increase in annual precipitation since the start of record-keeping in 1881:

Not to worry! The fact-checkers soon arrived to save the establishment drought mythology with some very curious arguments. Foremost among them was a counterintuitive piece by the Deutsche Presse-Agentur which literally explained “Why the ground is getting drier despite more rain.” It appeared in major outlets like Tagesspiegel and Welt to refute those “opponents of climate protection” who had begun deriving awkward conclusions from publicly available data. The problem, our deboonkers explained, is not with total precipitation, but rather with a trend of decreasing summer precipitation specifically. This is bad because plants do a lot of their growing in summer, and summers have gotten about 5% drier. Of course plants also do a lot of their growing in spring, and springs have gotten even wetter …

“Precipitation anomaly” for spring in Germany since 1881. The dotted line marks the linear trend, showing that spring precipitation has increased an average of 12.4mm since the late 19th century, while summer precipitation has decreased 10mm over the same time period.

… but they let this fact pass in silence. Even if more rain is falling, that’s no good, because it’s getting warmer, and warmer equals drier:

Additionally, the amount of precipitation alone does not indicate soil moisture or drought, says [German Weather Service meteorologist Andreas] Brömser. He cites the rise in average temperatures since 1881 as one reason for this: “The higher the temperatures, the more the rain quickly evaporates.” The increase of 1.7 degrees Celsius recorded in Germany means around 12% more evaporation.

This is an odd argument. Evaporation does not cause moisture to disappear, because evaporated water soon returns to earth in the form of rain and snow. To the extent Germany has gotten slightly warmer, the wet periods have simply moved around, while total precipitation has increased because warm air carries more moisture.

As you read further into the deboonking, you begin to realise that its authors are all too aware of this. Between the lines, they admit that the meagre groundwater bemoaned by climate hysterics is not a consequence of the slightly drier summers in general, but rather of the anomalous drought that struck Central Europe in 2018 and 2019 specifically. Deep in their article, they even reluctantly print Brömser’s warning that “we … need to be cautious when making statements about whether this is a long-term trend or a fluctuation over a few years.”

As I type this, the rain only continues. The Elbe outside my apartment has swollen to about twice its usual size …

… and the press have begun to sing a wholly different tune, in much shorter articles squeezed onto their back pages. “After several dry years, the soil and groundwater levels in Germany have recovered,” whispers Deutschlandfunk, in a few awkward paragraphs recycled from our erstwhile drought explainers at the Deutsche Presse-Agentur:

As far as groundwater levels, 2023 was a good year for Germany, said Andreas Marx, Head of the Drought Monitor at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig, to the German Press Agency. The soil is currently soaked to a depth of 60 centimetres. In Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, the soils are even as wet at a depth of up to two metres as statistically only every ten years. In many regions of eastern Germany, however, the levels have not yet returned to normal.

You can always find some variable somewhere to fit a preconceived narrative, whether it is summer precipitation, or groundwater in specific regions, or something else. Something will always be below average somewhere.

Die Zeit, meanwhile, reluctantly admit that “Groundwater levels are slowly recovering after years of drought”:

It has been exceptionally dry in Germany since 2018, but groundwater levels in Germany have recovered this year. According to Andreas Marx, Head of the Drought Monitor at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig, it was a good year for groundwater. Thanks to all the rain, 2023 was not a year of pronounced drought.

“Not a year of pronounced drought” is a very strange way to describe a year of above-average precipitation.

What will happen after our good journalists return from their Christmas holidays is all too predictable. We will get new deboonkings from the climate understanders to explain that there is a difference between climate and weather, that climate is about long-term trends and that fluctuations in weather do not refute climate change. They will write these pieces even though they themselves use every last remotely plausible weather event to argue for the immediacy and urgency of global warming.

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