Bolivia’s evaporated lake

UPDATE 2300, Thursday 11 February: See below.

The Herald reports the second-largest lake in Bolivia has evaporated.

Lake has disappeared before

Lake Poopo was officially declared evaporated last month. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have lost their livelihoods and gone.

High on Bolivia’s semi-arid Andean plains at 3700 metres (more than 12,000 feet) and long subject to climatic whims, the shallow saline lake has essentially dried up before only to rebound to twice the area of Los Angeles.

Scientist says ‘climate change’

“This is a picture of the future of climate change,” says Dirk Hoffman, a German glaciologist who studies how rising temperatures from the burning of fossil fuels have accelerated glacial melting in Bolivia.

What a fatuous comment. One wonders how long such a study might take. Since a link between human emissions from burning fossil fuels and atmospheric temperature is highly controversial and has not been demonstrated, and since temperatures haven’t been rising, and since glaciers are more sensitive to precipitation and topography than to minute changes in air temperature, it’s likely that the stated objects of study cannot be found in Bolivia (except Bolivia).

So he’s probably studying just glaciers, which are quite interesting, and he’s talking about a link with fossil fuels just to secure funding from some generous climate change charity. Or Germany.

But this was man-made climate change

Other factors are involved here, including diversion of water for mining and agriculture (who might have guessed?), and politics. President Evo Morales has sought to deflect criticism for not acting earlier. He suggests that Poopo could come back, saying, “My father told me about crossing the lake on a bicycle once when it dried up.”

He returned last month from the UN climate conference in Paris. I looked it up; it finished on December 12 (a long time ago). El Pres must have taken a few weeks off from arduous presidenting. Or maybe he was buying bigger machine guns for the fight against drug trafficking.

Get your act together, President Morales. Your people need some assistance to look after the environment.

UPDATE 2300, Thursday 11 February

A reader, Maggy Wassilieff, advises: “Pity journalists don’t check the readily available scientific literature to discover that in recent times this shallow lake was dry between 1994-97, in the early 1970s, and the early 1940s.”

The paper she links to confirms this, concluding:

Water balance computations indicate that Lake Poopó was dry between 1994 and 1997 and was very low during 1969–1973. The computations also show that the lake can recover from almost dry conditions to normal or even to spill-over depth within a year. Drying of the lake to a very small surface area takes a longer time.

So having dried at leisure, the lake could be back to normal within a year. Climate alarmists may one day be asked to account for their deceptions; those who now uncritically repeat them will surely not escape scot-free.

Thanks, Maggy.

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Richard C (NZ)

>“This is a picture of the future of climate change,” Or not. Stephen Schneider, October 1989: “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.” Offering up a picture of… Read more »

Maggy Wassilieff

Pity journalists don’t check the readily available scientific literature to discover that in recent times
this shallow lake was dry between 1994-97, in the early 1970s, and the early 1940s.

Mike Jowsey

OMD, a shallow lake actually becomes a dry lake every now and then. Worse than we thought.

Maggy Wassilieff

OMD…. French version of OMG

Mike Jowsey

Not so much French, I consider myself somewhat conversant in the language of Dog. OMD = Oh My Dog. I might be called dyslexic in this matter. Which matters not. I have my beliefs, I am sure you have yours. It matters not in the Grand Scheme of Things Canine.

Richard C (NZ)

Ship of Fools expedition paper as reported by the Guardian ‘150,000 penguins die after giant iceberg renders colony landlocked’ “Since 2011 the colony of 160,000 penguins has shrunk to just 10,000, according to research carried out by the Climate Change Research Centre at Australia’s University of New South Wales. Scientists predict the colony will be gone in 20 years unless the sea ice breaks up or the giant iceberg, dubbed B09B, is dislodged.” Note the paper abstract makes no mention of 150,000 dead penguins: The impact of the giant iceberg B09B on population size and breeding success of Adélie penguins in Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica KERRY-JAYNE WILSON1, CHRIS S.M. TURNEY2, CHRISTOPHER J. FOGWILL2 and ESTELLE BLAIR3 1 West Coast Penguin Trust, PO Box 70, Charleston 7865, West Coast, New Zealand 2 Climate Change Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia 3 29 Neurum Road, Yaroomba, QLD 4573, Australia Abstract: The arrival of iceberg B09B in Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica, and subsequent fast ice expansion has dramatically increased the distance Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) breeding at Cape Denison must travel in search of… Read more »

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