Thursday, 19 November 2015

Evidence for banking on extinction of Sumatran rhinoceros

In a previous post, I argued that contrary to what Robert P. Murphy claims in Chapter 6 of his 2007 The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism, speculators and holders of stockpiles of rhinoceros horn have a very strong incentive to wish for the extinction of these species to increase the value of the horn they presently hold.

The thesis was outlined five years after Murphy’s book in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy’s ‘Banking on Extinction: Endangered Species and Speculation’ by the team of Erwin H. Bulte, Richard D. Horan, and Charles F. Mason. ‘Banking on Extinction’ provided a valuable previous example with the Dutch destruction of nutmeg trees, and also discussed banking upon extinction of less critical species like the sloth bear (Melursus ursinus).

Now,  as the Sumatran rhinoceros is extinct outside Sumatra itself and numbers have fallen almost as low as the Javan Rhinoceros, it has become clear that poachers in the primary horn consuming nations of Vietnam and China are deliberately trying to hunt the species to extinction. Although older articles on rhinoceros population declines argued that the crisis facing the Sumatran Rhinoceros has little to do with poaching and was dictated by large-scale habitat destruction for agriculture, in fact there remains a lot of suitable habitat within the historic range of the Sumatran Rhinoceros that is entirely unoccupied by the species.

The fact that the Javan Rhinoceros was poached in Vietnam until the very last individual was dead implies that those who carry out poaching know their superiors’ demands to ensure that the limited remaining horn of these species will sell for the highest price possible – which even for low-level hunters means greater long-term income as the stockpiled horn sells for prices much higher than the  $75 per gram that Sumatran rhinoceros horn presently sells for. What Sumatran horn will sell for once the species is extinct nobody so far as I am aware has ever estimated, but it could be orders of magnitude higher than the present price which no doubt is depressed by stockpiling in the expectation of extinction. Given the rarity of the commodity even today, and the potency traditional East Asian pharmacists associate with the Asiatic rhinoceros species, it’s possible I feel that post-extinction Sumatran horn could sell for $750 or even $7500 a gram. At such prices, only a tiny amount of horn would make the speculators who hold Sumatran horn stockpiles very rich indeed, and the prestige of the commodity would no doubt rise once it becomes via extinction non-renewable.

‘The Operatives’’ study is a very revealing argument against Austrian School claims that free markets will actually protect endangered species in all situations – exploitation can, and not only on cheap farmland in Australia and Africa, be too efficient an alternative.

Paris still can’t get its priorities right

Although I have tried to avoid following the Paris climate negotiations, it has long been clear to me that there is an extremely basic failure in every climate negotiation since Kyōtō that almost nobody recognises.

This being that most global emissions originate, at root, in the mineral resources of a small number of desert nations, who form a discontinuous rim around the southern and western sides of the Indian Ocean. With the gradual exhaustion of more easily smelted chalcophile mineral resources originating from the younger lands of the remainder of the globe, industry – and most especially high technology – can only become more and more dependent upon these desert Indian Rim countries. Indeed, as oil becomes exhausted and electronic technology more and more important, Australia alone will become more and more exclusively the source of mineral wealth for industry, since the vast majority of important minerals for the electronics sector like sand and lanthanide elements come from Australia, and can only be sourced elsewhere at high cost. Among present-day continents Australia is uniquely un-depleted in these elements, whose extreme affinity for oxygen means they concentrate to an extreme extent in ancient continental cratons. The Australian Craton alone has 20 percent of the Earth’s total budget of lanthanide elements, including the core and mantle.

For various political and geographic reasons, these Indian Rim nations – Australia, New Caledonia, Southern Africa and the Persian Gulf States – have generally the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world even when indirect emissions are counted elsewhere, with only North America and a few small declining industrial nations comparable:
This map shows the nations with the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions (note New Caledonia – hard to see here – is one of them and also a major biodiversity hotspot)
Even more critically, most greenhouse emissions and much of the worst pollution from non-Indian Rim nations are dependent upon either:
  1. soon-to-be-exhausted deposits of more “ancient” (less reactive) chalcophile elements like lead, zinc or copper or
  2. fossil fuels or lithophile minerals imported from the desert states of the Indian Rim
Extensive mountain building adds elements normally concentrated in the core and colloquially known as “poor metals” – the zinc and copper families and the lower elements of the boron, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen families – to the continental crust of the Enriched World. Glaciation spread this enrichment to the more geologically stable landmasses poleward of the Alpine Orogeny. (In fact, the Quaternary appears almost designed to ensure all of the northern hemisphere shares this “poor metal” enrichment). Although this addition does not come from the core but from the mantle – where these “poor metals” are depleted vis-à-vis solar abundances though to a lesser extent than in Precambrian continental cratons – it is so significant that concentrations of “poor metals” in Enriched World soils are essentially non-overlapping with those in Australian soils.

My brother said that most of Australia‘s greenhouse emissions are the result of China’s industrialisation, but I think he has placed the cart before the horse. The ability to smelt and use abundant lithophile metals with very strong bonds with oxygen and hence enrichment in cratonic crust is the cause of industrialisation in East Asia. Asia industrialised preferentially over Latin America and Africa because of its large and consistently growing comparative disadvantage in agriculture, and Asian greenhouse pollution is small per capita and largely created from Australian, Southern African and Gulf minerals. Australia could develop its own polluting industry without China or India or Europe, but East Asia and Europe without lithophile metallurgy and the “Green Revolution” (which adds further to Australian emissions by permitting even poorer land to be cleared) would lack both adequate raw materials for major manufacturing and the comparative disadvantage in agriculture that encourages industrial development. For this reason, China’s and India’s emissions are much more dependent upon Australia than the other way round.

Although Australia is extremely unfavourably situated for manufacturing, this could well become unimportant if environmental regulations in the Enriched World toughen and those in Australia do not. There must exist a point beyond which lower taxes and fewer regulations would overwhelm Australia’s geographic disadvantages in manufacturing industry, especially since excessive regulation helps create demographic decline which is already well-advanced in Japan and incipient in the rest of the Enriched and Tropical Worlds.

These facts demonstrate a mere 26 percent cut in Australian emissions as both inadequate and difficult to maintain in the long term.

The usefulness of per capita emissions is a little arbitrary because of demographic differences and human migration, so that I have felt the need to look for something more genuinely “ecological” as an indication of the sustainable energy consumption of a country. Since soil nutrients determine the quality and amount of energy animal can consume, I feel greenhouse emissions per unit of available soil nutrients (extremely difficult to measure over large areas) Australia would be permitted extremely limited emissions relative to what it emits today. Australian soils average an order of magnitude less available phosphorus at the surface than Enriched World soils, and this difference increases with depth. Thus, per unit of soil fertility Australia’s emissions are certainly much higher than most major European nations (e.g. France, Spain) and orders of magnitude higher than most less-developed nations. This difference is of course much, much more extreme if we consider either:
  1. “poor metal” micronutrients (whose importance to Australia’s ecology has been outlined by Gordon Orians and Antoni Milewski in ‘Ecology of Australia: The Effects of Nutrient-Poor Soils and Intense Fires’)
  2. the large proportion of overseas emissions produced by the use of Australian minerals
Consequently it stands clear – even with imprecise data – that uniquely large cuts in emissions are needed by Australia and Australia alone to fairly pay the costs of global climate change. In the absence of demands these to be paid by Australia’s polluting industries, we are seeing a rapid escalation of climate change with severe costs for nations bearing negligible responsibility.

‘Time’ has knowledge I knew from two decades ago

During my time living at Keilor Downs between 1989 and 1996, perhaps the most memorable incident was when I went to Keilor Downs Plaza to look at the video shop (I was then obsessed with movie ratings and the possibility that violence was due to young children watching violent or rude films – a view I have by no means entirely discarded) and tied as I usually did our pet border collie, Minty, outside the shop.

After a brief stay in the shop – a shop I have no recollection of ever visiting again – I found that Minty had forced the leash loose and had run off. I thought with considerable sense that Minty would go back to our house in Daimler Avenue. When I went back there, my family, including my late uncle and father, said Minty had gone up to the north along Rodney Drive and Belmont Avenue where there were two places I frequently visited. One was a small milk bar, where I often looked at the movie ratings of the VHS tapes in the store as I bought milk. The other was a large reserve at the northern end of Belmont Avenue, where I occasionally played on the swing (and was even then seen as too old for that though I had not put on the vast amount of mass I have now). When I found the playground, Minty had gone and I was very worried.

My assumption was that if Minty had left the park where my family said he had gone, then Minty would have kept walking in the same direction since at the time he had not returned. Thus I kept walking, following my instinct on this line (and my recollections from over two decades ago) up Belmont Avenue and then Copernicus Way, Chichester Drive and up to what was then known to me as Keilor-Melton Road. There was no sign of Minty at the time, and having neither a mobile telephone nor coins for a public phone, I was really worried but I still kept walking, expecting Minty would be somewhere around Calder Park Thunderdome. I never found the dog, and I could not imagine how worried my parents would have been (I had no money and it was the pre-mobile era), but I knew only to keep going and going in hope. By the time I was at Keilor-Melton Road, I did not know whether to walk further north or just keep looking, but there was never a sign of Minty. Eventually, I was so tired I felt I had to walk back home, and I found, to my shock, that Minty had come back soon after I went off looking for him! My mother said he was not a “north-heading dog” as I had naïvely assumed from when she said Minty went after escaping the leash.

Within my family, this story has long been a legend, but the amazing thing is that Time in ‘The Amazing Science Behind Pets That Find Their Way Home’ has shown that the knowledge discovered from this old family incident is widespread. Mummy said to me when I came home very tired that Minty actually knew his way home, and Time’s tale of a dog walking much further than from the park on Belmont Avenue certainly verifies what my mother said to me more than twenty years ago! According to Bonnie Beaver’s research which was quoted in Time, dogs create overlapping scents – which in the case of Minty would no doubt have been acquired while my brother and I walked him to and from the park for a few years before he escaped the leash. No doubt, when Minty escaped the leash he knew where the familiar scent of home was, and went back to that and then to the park on Belmont Avenue.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

“Bloodworthgrad”, “Lee Ackgrad”: not new ideas

A decade and a half ago, when I became obsessed with Socialist Alternative, Socialist Worker, Militant and Resistance – in the process imagining their membership as comprising a majority of Victoria’s student body rather than merely a tiny number of activists who put posters up everywhere – my brother said consistently that if these Trotskyists came to power they would do the same things that were done in what I then called (and still do as a joke) the ‘Empire of State Capitalist Dictatorship’ (ESCD), ‘State Capitalist Dictatorship of China’ (SCDC), ‘State Capitalist Dictatorship of Korea’ (SCDK) and ‘State Capitalist Satellite of Germany’ (SCSG; German ‘Staatskapitalistischer Satellit Deutschlands’ or ‘S.K.S.D.’). In particular, my brother once spoke of the “Democratic People’s Republic of Australia” and that all Australia’s major cities would be renamed as they were in the Russian empire after the leaders of the revolution like “Bloodworthgrad”, “Lee Ackgrad”, “Bloodworthsk” and so on. (He admitted though that such names would be tongue-twisting to pronounce).

The Trotskyist groups themselves deny this would happen and that with workers controlling the system through workers’ councils under genuine socialism this would not happen unless it was voted for. They believe that all Russia’s place name changes came after Stalin began his counterrevolution and are not a part of true socialism with workers owning the means of production. With age, I have become very sceptical of claims that the violent class struggle and workers’ militia advocated by groups like Socialist Alternative could produce the utopia of equality, abundance and sustainability they claim, but still their ideas are interesting.

A couple of days ago, in a marginally curious mood, I looked in the State Library and found a seemingly interesting book titled Women of the Far Right: the Mothers’ Movement and World War II by one Glen Jeansonne. I retrieved it immediately, although I did not read it until yesterday, but when I had a good look it seemed both interesting and repetitive. Repetitive because it showed these conservative women attacking not only FDR, but also his first Lady Eleanor Roosevelt for being too modern or masculine. Interesting because it showed up many new facts – for instance that Henry Ford was targeted by both the Democrats and Republicans for the 1924 Presidential election!

The most startling thing I have found in a partial read of Jeansonne’s book, however, was quite startling both as a fact and as a memory. It was that when right-wing “Mother’s Movement” activist Elizabeth Dilling went to Russia, she was not only horrified at the shortages of basic goods and the doctrinaire atheism, but also discovered maps where major cities in the US (which were not mentioned in the book) were renamed after Stalinist heroes – exactly like my brother joked would happen if Trotskyists took over in Australia.

It is surprising that no anti-Communist has ever widely publicised this – let alone reveal exactly what names Stalinists would have given major American cities had they become able to execute their plan. If they could have done this, it would be interesting to imagine the response of affected Americans. Would they have been much more appalled than my brother – who took the story as a joke although he still held dogmatically to the idea that a revolution in an advanced or especially in a resource-super-rich nation would have the same result as in more primitive Russia, China, Yugoslavia and Cuba.

Another fact untold by historians found in Women of the Far Right is that opposition to the Vietnam War through wanting the Vietcong to win had a precedent. Numerous anti-Communist and/or anti-Semitic parties during the 1930s and before Pearl Harbor opposed World War II because they wanted the Nazis to win – a story which neither the PIGs nor standard textbooks nor the Trotskyists tells today’s children. Most of the people in Jeansomme’s book fall into this category, and for this reason the book gives a lot of insight as to why the US, Canada and New Zealand did so little to accept Jewish refugees from Europe – only the marginal Trotskyists wanted to remove all restrictions on Jewish immigration and thus prevent the Holocaust, and FDR turned back many Jews to their death (Canada and New Zealand were vastly worse still).

These days, findings so unexpected as the story of Elizabeth Dilling are rare enough to be more shocking than when I first read Socialist Alternative and seemingly discovered that what I was taught about socialism and capitalism in schools was wrong, or the reverse finding from reading Hans Hoppe or Murray Rothbard.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Monthly and seasonal EWP versus CET graphs: January to June plus fiscal year

In the previous post I had a look at CET versus EWP correlations for the first half the fiscal year (the second half of the calendar year). I will now look at the second half of the fiscal year (first half of the calendar year) to see how the patterns evolve, and as a last step I will see what the results are for the fiscal year as a whole.


As can be seen, a general positive correlation between EWP and CET is evident in January, as in December and November. Outliers from the general pattern of warm, wet Januaries with maritime flow contrasting with cold, dry ones characterised by easterly winds from the continent do occur, but are less distinctive than those for December.

The most notable “cold-wet” outlier is January 1809, with CET of 2.0˚C, estimated Scotland temperature of -1.1˚C, estimated UK mean temperature of 0.9˚C, yet EWP of 134.3 millimetres. There exist other moderate “cold-wet” outliers (forming a semicircle between 100 and 110 millimetres and from 0˚ to 2˚C) in Januaries 1768, 1774, 1789, 1867, 1895, 1942, 1959, along with January 1979 – the coldest month over the contiguous US since before 1880, but very hot in southern Australia due to a super-monsoon and warm in the Far East:
If not to nearly the same extent as December 1886, Januaries 1895 and 1979 were both sunnier than average except in eastern coastal areas. In the southwest Torquay exceeded ninety hours in both months, and was only ten hours shy of the UK record for January in 1979. January 1942, however, was rather gloomy, with only 37 hours sunshine in England and Wales against a virgin mean of 47.7 hours – although 11 Januaries since 1929 have been gloomier. January 1959, however, resembles December 1886 very closely in setting sunshine records, and data from Durham and reports from elsewhere suggest January 1959 is very likely the sunniest since before 1881.

The “warm-dry” outliers of 1898 and 1916 are distinctly different. 1916 was the mildest January on record (though in between a very cold November and snowy, dull March) but was probably the UK’s windiest month since 1871 with gales on 25 days – some destructive even when no rain fell. 1898 was a classic anticyclonic gloom month with little sunshine, but the red diamonds in the upper left (1989, 2005) were ten to fifteen hours sunnier than the mean, and the “winterless winter” of 1948/1949 was extremely sunny.


February shows the familiar pattern from the other winter months of warm, wet, westerly “maritime” months contrasting with cold, dry, easterly “continental” months. Outliers to this pattern are concentrated exclusively in the top left “warm-dry” section of the scatter plot:
  • record warm February 1779 with CET 7.9˚C and EWP of 13.5 millimetres
  • February 1998 with CET 7.3˚C and EWP of 20.4 millimetres
  • February 1790 with CET 6.6˚C and EWP of 20.9 millimetres
  • February 1903 with CET 7.1˚C and EWP of 38.8 millimetres
  • February 1846 with CET 6.4˚C and EWP of 37.1 millimetres
  • February 1815 with CET 6.5˚C and EWP of 44.0 millimetres
The lack of “cold-wet” outliers like January 1809 or December 1886 is highly notable. It is true that February 1900 (CET 2.6˚C; EWP 131 millimetres) was much colder in Scotland than in England, but February 1900 was 2.0˚C warmer than January 1809 at both Edinburgh and Gordon Castle, and not as cold in southern Britain.
Moreover, as can be seen from this precipitation map for the record cold February 1947, these “cold-wet” outliers are only so in the east. Often these supposed outliers are very dry on western slopes which, normally exposed to the westerly winds, are left in a rain shadow (more accurately a snow shadow) that is much stronger than the normal westerly rain shadow on the eastern slopes of temperate zone mountains. The then-record cold “Crimean Winter” February of 1855 was the driest – indeed the driest for any month – between 1845 and 1894 at notoriously wet Seathwaite in the Lakes District, with less than half an inch of water-equivalent precipitation or less than a third the average water equivalent precipitation for all of England and Wales.


As can be seen, the winter graph shows a positive correlation between EWP and CET already explained for the individual months and not significantly altered by greenhouse pollution from Australian road transport and coal power. In complete contrast to the February plot, the most notable outliers are of the “cold-wet” type, most notably:
  • 1878/1879 (fourth coldest since 1766; CET 0.62˚C; EWP 250.0 millimetres)
  • 1978/1979 (red diamond; CET 1.58˚C; EWP 335.2 millimetres one of only four winters since 1910 drier in Scotland)
  • 1914/1915 (marginal outlier; CET 4.33˚C; EWP a then-record 423.0 millimetres)
“Warm-dry” outliers are not so pronounced, and include
  • the amazing winter of 1778/1779 (record warm February is earliest surviving record warm month and MSLP was over 1,030 millibars)
  • the second-driest winter in 1857/1858 (as noted earlier, December 1857 was warmer than 1934 or 1974 in Scotland and probably the UK as a whole, whilst its MSLP was comparable to February 1779)
  • the winter of 1988/1989 with CET of 6.52˚C and EWP only 185.5 millimetres. In contrast to December 1857, this winter was warm all though central and northern Eurasia due to a highly positive NAO index


With March, I have noted with yellow diamonds the several very snowy Marches that occurred around a century ago during World War I. These were particularly disruptive in the emergency with cold delaying opening of the growing season in 1917, and causing human disruption during the snowy March 1916 – apart from 1947 the worst March of the twentieth century. That March 1916 and 1919 were exceptionally cold and wet is very clear from this graph.

It is extremely evident that the positive correlation seen for the previous four months has completely disappeared, and that the line looks exceptionally flat, with “outliers” being either warm (1938 and 1957), cold (1785) or wet (1947 and 1981).

It’s possible that the true shape of this curve is a triangle – one sees much more CET ranges in dry Marches (both March 1785 and March 1938 had EWP of under 20 millimetres and March-April EWP under 30 millimetres) – than in most wet Marches, though the two EWP outliers in 1947 and 1981 make claims of a “triangular”-shaped scatter plot look dubious and we can assume that in March EWP and CET show little correlation.

If we look at the red diamonds controlled by Australian greenhouse gas emissions, the conclusion is not really different. Despite the clear presence of several Marches (1990, 1997, 2011) that were both warm and very dry, the silver diamonds in the top left corner (1779, 1938 and 1961) and several cool, wet Marches during the 1970s and early 1980s suggest no fundamental change. However, before 1884 very cold, dry, easterly Marches occurred as not observed since in 1785, 1786, 1807, 1808, 1845 and 1883. Nevertheless, warm, wet, westerly Marches (1903, 1912, 1981) were not observed to oppose them as would be expected if the EWP/CET relationship had changed.


As we can see, for April the EWP versus CET relationship is again negative – as it was from July to September. The line of best fit is less steep than for July and August, but nonetheless not flat like for March.

There exit numerous red diamonds in outlying parts of this graph – both hot and wet. Nevertheless, because the extreme hot outliers of 2007 and 2011 were both exceedingly dry, it is not likely that man-made global warming had altered the shape of the graph at all.

The “cold-dry” outliers of 1837 (coldest April on record) and 1771 (EWP 31.3 millimetes, CET 5.5˚C) are more striking than the “warm-wet” ones of 1792 and 1961 (CETs both 10.0˚C, EWPs 97.7 millimetres in 1792 and 98.1 millimetres in 1961) – the latter being the wettest April on record in southwestern Australia, which has seen huge rainfall declines due to its own greenhouse emissions.


In May we see a clear negative correlation between EWP and CET, as observed in the summer months in our first set of scatter plots. The most striking outlier is the “hot-wet”, non-anthropogenic May 1811 with CET of 12.8˚C but a very wet EWP of 121.9 millimetres – the eighth-wettest on record and one of only four cases where May was the wettest month of the calendar year (the others being 1773, 1820 and 1983). The striking character of 1811 – a cool summer, two cold winters but very hot spring and autumn – is noted in Kirkpatrick Sale’s Rebels Against the Future: The Luddites and Their War on the Industrial Revolution – Lessons for the Computer Age.

The prime “cool-dry” outlier of 1876 (EWP 23.6 millimetres; CET 9.6˚C) featured two very cold days at the beginning but was the beginning of the summer when W.G. Grace hit the first two first-class triple centuries. From the context of a warming world, May 1991 – the third-driest on record but with CET 0.4˚C below the virgin mean of approximately 11.2˚C – is also notable although it was obviously a similar but more eastward Atlantic block to September 1986 which I discussed before.


As we would expect, in the spring season over the UK, hotter seasons tend to be drier. It’s notable that here one sees the shift brought about by Australian greenhouse gas emissions much more as the diamonds on the upper right (hot and wet) are almost all red.

In contrast to the numerous moderate “warm-wet” ouliers brought about by man-made global warming, there are two exceedingly marked “cold-dry” outliers from before 1974: the record-cold spring of 1837, which was 0.92˚C colder than the winter of 1833/1834, and the record-dry spring of 1785, the core of easily the driest fiscal year since 1750.
Spring seasonMarch EWPAnomalyApril EWPAnomalyMay EWPAnomalyMarch CETMarch CET AnomalyApril CETApril CET anomalyMay CETMay CET anomaly
178518.8 mm-40.0 mm10.1 mm-48.3 mm25.9 mm-38.4 mm1.2˚C-4.1˚C8.4˚C+0.4˚C12.3˚C+1.1˚C
183730.4 mm-28.4 mm50.4 mm-8.0 mm36.7 mm-27.6 mm2.3˚C-3.0˚C4.7˚C-3.3˚C9.9˚C-1.3˚C


For June, the slope of the EWP versus CET graph is strongly negative, as for all the summer months. Despite two major “hot-wet” outliers since 1974 in 1982 and 2007, there is not the concentration of red diamonds in the upper right that we saw for the spring season. The major “cool-dry” outlier is the foggy, obviously northerly and blocked June 1923, which was very cool over Europe and uniquely wet in Australia, where the Mallee received up to five times its normal rainfall. June 1923 clearly had a large Arctic block causing hot weather in Canada as well as the cool in Europe:
It’s notable that in both May 1991 and June 1923 Scotland was less cool than southern England, no doubt because it was nearer the centre of the block and less exposed to Arctic airflows.

Fiscal Year (July to June):

Although I have not yet calculated the Spearman and Pearson correlation coefficients, the full fiscal year EWP versus CET scatter plot suggest that the positive correlations between November and February outweigh the negative correlations we observe from April to September.

It is possible, though I have not checked, that the choice of the fiscal year over other possible twelve-month ranges affects the result by dividing over two years extreme hot and dry summers like 1826, 1868, 1911, 1921 and 1976. Such dry years as 1826 and 1921 were in fact hot as a whole, despite the association of dryness with cold during the winter, the quintessential “continental” year of 1780 was only 0.11˚ cooler than the 1766 to 1974 average despite an extremely cold January, and 1947 with its long, hot summer was 0.61˚C hotter despite its record cold February.

Compared to the individual months, outliers are more numerous for the whole fiscal year. The very cold year of 1813/1814 and the very dry year of 1784/1785, as well as the very wet anthropogenic years of 2000/2001, 2006/2007 and 2013/2014, especially stand out. The hot, dry anthropogenic years of 1975/1976 and 1991/1992 are also marked outliers, as is the extreme “cold-wet” outlier of 1878/1879, where a CET of 7.30˚C was recorded for the twelve months ending October 1879.

Monthly and seasonal EWP versus CET graphs: July to December

Over the past few months, having studied the EWP and CET series that first interested me about fifteen years ago as a result of my long-term study of old county cricket, I have wanted to be able to plot EWP against CET to see patterns I first noted a year or so ago. These relate to the fact that because easterly continental air over the UK tends to have much greater seasonal variation in temperature, and to be much driest at all seasons, the relationship between rainfall and temperature over the UK is opposite in summer and winter: dry months tend to be hotter-than-normal in summer, but colder-than-normal in winter especially over western slopes.

In these next two posts I will give detailed plots of EWP versus CET for all months and seasons, and for the fiscal year from July to June, consequently updating details to October 2015, a month whose warmth shows Australian greenhouse gas emissions to be taking even firmer control of the climate. I will do them from July to June rather than by the calendar year, since owing to the greater variance in temperature during the northern hemisphere winter the problem of unusually cold or warm seasons being divided between two years is thereby minimised.

I originally intended one post, but will do the first half of the fiscal year in this post and then do January to June and a full fiscal year EWP versus CET graph later.

Graphs are done at intervals of 0.25˚C for the hotter half of the year from April to September and  0.5˚C for the cooler half from October to March to deal with larger mean temperature variance.

To clearly distinguish natural variability I will colour in a dark red all data points beyond 1974 when it became clear man-made greenhouse pollution was controlling the climate, a trend that intensified after the botched Kyōtō Protocol – whose absolutely first priority should have been an absolute and uncompromising zero-emissions target for Australia (both the most infertile and oldest continent, a feature that ought to demand exceedingly low per capita emissions, and the worst per-capita polluter) before any reductions in Europe, East Asia or the Americas were contemplated – untenably allowed the worst polluter the most lenient increase!


As we can see from this scatter plot, in July there is a general trend for drier months to be hotter-than-average. The effects of anthropogenic greenhouse pollution upon these trends is not large, since the red diamonds follow a similar type of pattern to the white ones, only the lower part (very cool Julys) is largely or completely absent.

The major outliers are the “hot-wet” Julys of 1779, 1828 and 1834, and the “cool-dry” Julys of 1913 (EWP 32.6 millimetres; CET 14.6˚C) and 1919 (EWP 57.9 millimetres; CET 13.9˚C). July 1919 was extremely dry in Northern Ireland – it is among the top twenty driest months there since 1910 – and clearly possessed a very striking block over Iceland. This Iceland block drew Arctic air over the UK, which was cooler than normal, but produced conditions settled enough for the UK to be unusually dry except in the east which was on the western side of a low pressure anomaly and most exposed to Arctic air:
July 1913 was a rare summer anticyclonic gloom month, hotter than average in northern Scandinavia but very cool in central continental Europe, and with sunshine not much better than the notorious summer of 1912.


This graph is essentially similar to the one for July. We again see a tendency for hot Augusts to be dry, with that of 1995 hotter and drier than any before Australian greenhouse emissions began to control the climate (and perhaps along with the infamously cold but virtually snowless February 1895 the most purely “continental” month over the UK since 1766).

The notoriously cold and sunless August 1912 is an outlier at the opposite end – it was certainly duller than February 1891, 1907, 1949 or 2008, and possibly duller than Februaries 1887 and 1895 – whilst the anthropogenic August 2004 is a “hot-wet” outlier, as is the extremely hot and thundery August 1997, which actually had a strong pre-anthropogenic parallel in July 1808, a month well-known by historians for its violent thunderstorms and large hail.


The summer scatter plot shows essentially the same trends as the July and August plots. The very hot and dry summers of 1976 and 1995 – though already distant as Australian mining and coal control of the climate intensifies – stand out very clearly, as does the hot, dry summer of 1826 when many wells dried up, an occurrence that similar dry summers since like 1870, 1921, 1933 and 1976 did not see.

If anything there are fewer outliers that for the individual summer months, with no real “hot-wet” outlier since Australian greenhouse emissions seized control of the global climate. The main outliers are the “cool-dry” summers of 1972 (EWP 160.3 millimetres; CET 14.19˚C), the above-mentioned 1913 (EWP 114.4 millimetres; CET 14.70˚C) and 1864 (EWP 118.1 millimetres; CET 14.44˚C). 1913 was notable for the worst Sahel drought between 1870 and 1970, and no doubt the midlatitude westerlies were pushed south allowing lower-than-normal pressure over Europe and a persistent block over the north Atlantic.
Temperature anomaly relative to virgin mean for northern summer of 1913. Note that the hot anomaly over West Africa reflects the worst drought (weakest monsoon) over that region during the base period.


Here, we see the inverse correlation between England and Wales Precipitation and Central England Temperature of the hotter months weakening a little. The most notable case of this is the blocked northerly September 1986, which was extremely dry yet very cool. During September 1986 England had such lovely weather – sunny and a perfect 15˚C most days – one wonders why Englishmen moan about their weather until you realise it’s precisely because 90 percent of the world must have worse weather than England, with the result that English people either find the weather boring or are less tolerant of really bad weather! September 1986 is in many respects very similar to the more famous and very cold February of that year – completely blocked and also very wet over the United States.
US precipitation plus US and global temperature (GISS and NOAA) anomalies for February and September 1986. Note the similar cold across Western Europe and the extreme wet over the contiguous US


Here were see a transition to the winter season, as the line of best fit between EWP and CET is very nearly horizontal at CET of about 10˚C. The preponderance of red diamonds near the top shows the influence of Australian greenhouse gas emissions at its peak in the autumn when CO2 and other greenhouse gases are holding heat from the summer sun to the greatest extent.

It might be thought potentially possible in this transitional month that the red diamonds (largely controlled by man-made global warming) would follow a different pattern from the white diamonds largely controlled by natural climatic variability. This does not really seem to be the case on first glance, and even on a brief statistical examination I did not find anything to suggest that there had been a major change since 1974 in either Spearman’s ρ or Pearson’s r.


Here we see that the relationship between EWP and CET has completely reversed from July, August and September. The line of best fit clearly has a positive gradient indicating that warmer Novembers tend to be wetter rather than drier. The record warm Novembers of 1994 (CET 10.1˚C; CEMaxT 12.5˚C) and 2011 (9.6˚C) may not be “warm-dry” outliers since they are so influenced by artificial greenhouse emissions. The record dry November 1945 is definitely a “warm-dry” outlier, although only marginally hotter than the anthropogenically-controlled 1981 to 2010 average:
Novembers 1770 (200.8 mm and CET 5.4˚C), 1910 (128 mm and CET 3.2˚C) and 1807 (115.5 mm and CET 2.9˚C) are “cold-wet” outliers but not extreme, especially the exceedingly wet November 1770 where sample size is so small.

A striking feature is that the “cold-wet” outlier November 1910 was very sunny – possibly the sunniest of the century over the UK with 93 hours over Durham – yet the “warm-dry” outlier 1945 was distinctly dull with only 42 hours of sunshine over England and Wales (virgin mean around 60 hours). This apparent contradiction is not actually even rare, as we will see when discussing December.


The autumn graph shows few startling features, apart from the extreme preponderance of red diamonds near the top of the graph, as it is in this season where the influence of Australian mineral and road pollution is most apparent.

In addition to the hot autumns of 2011, 2006 and 2014, the record wet autumn of 2000 and the record dry autumn of 1978 are also anthropogenic outliers, whilst the record cool autumn 1786 is a natural outlier nearly equalled in 1740 and 1676.


We can see here for December that the positive slope of the line of best fit is more intense than for November, although there are a number of outliers which I will discuss in some detail.

The “warm-dry” outliers are:
  • 1842 (EWP 50.9 millimetres; CET 7.2˚C)
  • 1843 (EWP 18.2 millimetres; CET 7.4˚C)
  • 1857 (EWP 31.0 millimetres; CET 7.3˚C)
    • across the UK as a whole, these last two Decembers may in fact have been warmer than 1934 or 1974, since data suggest Scotland was much more exceptionally warm than central England
  • 1953 (EWP 34.5 millimetres; CET 6.9˚C)
  • 1971 (EWP 37.6 millimetres; CET 6.6˚C)
  • 1988 (EWP 45.7 millimetres; CET 7.5˚C)
It’s notable that, despite being warm and dry which would suggest clear skies and un-wintry conditions, December 1971 was in fact very gloomy with a mere 29.9 hours sunshine over England and Wales, whilst December 1953 was only marginally less gloomy at 32.1 hours sunshine and December 1988 had only 38.4 hours. The median sunshine for England and Wales from 1929 to 1996 was 42.2 hours. The reason for this apparent contradiction of mild, dry months being even gloomier than usual for the UK is “anticyclonic gloom”, whereby persistent anticyclonic control and still conditions – which can be either cold or warm depending on where the airmass originated – lead to dry weather with persistent fog that the weak sun in the UK winter has no hope of lifting. In the past, though not today, anticyclonic gloom could occur in southern Australia, notably in May 1932 which had only 81.1 hours sunshine over Melbourne (average about 134 hours) despite being Victoria’s second-driest May since 1885.

The “cold-wet outliers” are:
  • 1874 (EWP 96.6 millimetres; CET -0.2˚C)
  • 1886 (EWP 145.2 millimetres; CET 1.9˚C)
  • 1981 (EWP 93.3 millimetes; CET 0.3˚C)
It’s amazing, though understandable when one realises how much anticyclonic gloom is the limiting factor on UK sunshine, that the very snowy December 1886 had, according to all available data, much more sunshine over the UK than any December since:
As can be seen, December 1886 was far sunnier than any other December over Durham, with half an hour per day more than the next sunniest (1926). Since December 1886 was a distinctly cold month (CET 1.9˚C; Scotland estimated 0.3˚C; Northern Ireland estimated 2.0˚C) and Durham is on an easterly slope, one would expect with easterly winds an even greater sunshine excess on western slopes, so it seem probable to me than December 1886 would have had over 80 hours UK sunshine, which is more than any November or January since 1881. Figures in the less gloomy southwest would have been logically even higher, and possibly higher than 90 hours with some totals (unrecorded) over 100 – in a month with the lowest pressure recorded in the UK and some of the heaviest snowfall.

The reason such a cold, snowy month was at the same time so abnormally sunny is actually relatively easy to understand: that the disturbed nature of the atmosphere eliminated anticyclonic gloom and allowed the sky to complete clear even during short fine spells. This is quite unlike December 1953 or 1971 or 1988, where stable air and lack of wind meant low cloud never dissipated.

Even December 1981 was no gloomier than the average, whilst very limited reports on 1874 are uncertain. However, the snow-drenched but bright December 1886 is no isolated case: November 1910 (noted above) and January 1959 (second part) were similarly snowy yet exceptionally sunny, and many other cold months were also much sunnier than usual.