Blaming SUV owners for genocide in Africa?

Al Gore and other alarmists call global warming a “moral issue.” But for them it is actually a moralizing issue. Global warming allows them to impute moral agency to the workings of inanimate Nature and blame political adversaries (George Bush, America the fuelish) when bad things (hurricanes, drought) happen to good people.

By the same token, global warming becomes a kind of Twinkie Defense for tyrants and thugs. “You can’t really blame the Sudanese Government for killing all those peasants; global warming made them do it.”

U.N. Secy. Gen. Ban Ki-moon puts the point more diplomatically in his Washington Post op-ed , “A Climate Culprit in Darfur,” but that’s the gist. His argument is that global warming heated up the Indian Ocean, which disrupted the monsoon cycle, which caused famine and drought, which forced people to fight over water and food.

The unstated implication is that the United States, being the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is the “real culprit,” as Al Gore charmingly put it on page 117 of the book version of An Inconvenient Truth. Every SUV owner (like yours truly) has a “role in this escalating disaster,” in Gore’s words.

This morality tale is not only morally challenged, it is unscientific. A team of four researchers led by Martin Hoerling of NASA compared actual precipitation data with the rainfall simulations of 18 climate models used by the IPCC in its Fourth Assessment Report. The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change summarizes the Hoerling team’s findings:

In the words of the four researchers, “the ensemble of greenhouse-gas-forced experiments, conducted as part of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, fails to simulate the pattern or amplitude of the twentieth-century African drying, indicating that the drought conditions were likely of natural origin.” In fact, they say that for both of the regions studied, “the observed trend amplitude exceeded that of the greenhouse gas signal by an order of magnitude,” and they state once again that they “therefore concluded that greenhouse gas forcing played little or no role in the 1950-99 observed African drying trends.” What is more, they say there is “considerable spread” among the 18 model projections, making their mean trend so small that they suggest that “natural variability will continue to be the primary driver of [Africa’s] low-frequency rainfall variations during the next century.”

In short, the Center concludes, “there is absolutely no evidence that the 20th-century drying of much of Africa was in any way related to CO2-induced global warming, nor is there any model-based reason for supposing it will be so related over the next century.”