Climate Change: The West vs The Rest by Will Alexander

We are fortunate to have a guest post by Will Alexander (see his earlier one here). WJR (Will) Alexander is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Civil Engineering of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and Honorary Fellow of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering. He spent the past 35 years of his career actively involved in the development of water resource and flood analysis methods as well as in natural disaster mitigation studies. His interest in climate change arose from claims that it would have an adverse effect in these fields. In his subsequent studies of very large hydrometeorological data sets he was unable to detect any adverse human-related changes. He has written more than 200 papers, presentations and books on these subjects. []

GUEST POST By Will Alexander


Climate change is presently in a position of total disarray. The credibility of many scientists and their institutions is at risk. It is not difficult to identify the origin of the problem.

The G20 and G8 nations are due to meet in Canada during June. The United Nations Secretary General visited Canada during May. His mission was to convince the Canadian Prime Minister to elevate climate change above the global economic crisis to the top of their agenda. The request was refused. This was an amazing request.

The global financial crisis is adversely affecting the livelihoods of many millions of people across the world. It has its origins in the financial mismanagement of the Western nations. What the Secretary General, his advisers and the Western nations failed to realise is that this whole climate change charade has its origins in a decision made by the G8 nations at a meeting at Glen Eagles, Scotland in June 2005. This is what happened.

The international academies of science produced a document: Joint science academies statement: global response to climate change. It was addressed to the G8 nations’ summit meeting. The signatories accepted the IPCC’s assessment reports of 2001, and then made further recommendations.

I draw your attention to its comments that adaptation to climate change required worldwide collaborative inputs from a wide range of experts, including physical and natural scientists, engineers, social scientists, medical scientists, those in the humanities, business leaders and economists. [ This recommendation was ignored.]

Also note the following important paragraph.

Work with developing nations to build a scientific and technological capacity suited to the circumstances, enabling them to develop innovative solutions to mitigate and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change, while explicitly recognizing their legitimate development rights. (My emphasis). [This recommendation was also flagrantly ignored. In the years that followed all nations of the world, east and west, rich and poor, were expected to follow this suicidal path.]

The Stern Review

The academies’ recommendations to the G8 nations resulted in the appointment of Nicholas Stern, a British senior civil servant and economist to review the whole climate change issue and make recommendations. After his appointment he called for submissions.

I responded to his request. On 24 November 2005 I submitted my 92-page technical report An assessment of the likely consequences of global warming on the climate of South Africa as well as my United Nations commissioned report Risk and society — an African perspective. They were ignored.

On 20 February 2006 I responded to another call for comments. It was ignored as were my subsequent e-mails of 5 March and 13 April. I protested and offered to come to the United Kingdom and address a meeting of experts of his choice. It was also ignored. The original correspondence and my reports should be available in the archives of the Stern Review. Note the following passage in my e-mail of 13 April in particular.

Current climate change theory and the conclusions drawn from it are seriously in error. Governments that accept the IPCC’s position should be aware of this. They should also carefully consider the sociological, economic and political consequences should they undertake costly and economically restrictive measures that are subsequently found to be based on erroneous science. Climate change scientists should also be aware of the potential harm to tens of millions of the poor and disadvantaged people of the world should their recommendations be implemented and later found to be in error. They should also consider the risks to their reputations and to those of science and scientists in general. I’m very confident of my conclusions.

Alas, these predictions have come to pass.

The brief notes below illustrate one of the many examples in my report to the Stern Review that completely demolishes the alarmist predictions by climate change scientists as described in the IPCC’s assessment reports.

The fourth assessment report was published in segments during 2007. The following sentence was published in the report. The same view was also expressed in earlier assessment reports.

The human activity on climate in this era greatly exceeds that due to known changes in natural processes, such as solar changes and volcanic eruptions.

This single statement lies at the very core of the whole climate change charade.

Solar linkage

In the 1850s British astronomers reported the linkage between sunspot numbers and famines in India. In 1889 D.E. Hutchins published his book Cycles of drought and good seasons in South Africa. He based his analyses on data from the Royal Observatory in Cape Town that was established in 1842. In the 1960s through to the 1980s engineering hydrologists became increasingly concerned about the unexplained variability present in many hydrological records. In the 1960s there were already references to the receipt and poleward redistribution of solar energy as the probable driver of these variations. I was directly involved in international discussions on these serious hydrological anomalies from 1970 onwards.

Over the years I produced approximately 3 GB of calculations, technical reports and refereed publications on this subject. One of these was my extended summary report that I submitted to the Stern Review in November 2005. My report was titled An assessment of the likely consequences of global warming on the climate of South Africa. It had 92 pages, 15 figures, 13 tables, and 50 references. I was aware of the requirements expressed by the international academies of science at that time. My report was directly relevant to the recommendations by the academies.

The essence of my report was that after three years of study of a comprehensive hydrometeorological database, I could find no evidence of unexplained variations in the data. It became increasingly obvious that the anomalies were the consequence of variations in the receipt and poleward redistribution of solar energy.

Subsequently my reports and papers were targeted at South African readers. I had lost all faith in material published by Western authors in the light of my experience with the Stern Review. It was impossible to determine the nature of material that was deliberately omitted from their analyses, as well as the deliberately manipulated data such as that produced by the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in the UK.

The following are very small samples of the figures and tables in my report. Table 1 is the comprehensive and extensive database used in the analyses. It is available in computer-readable format.

Table 1.  Database used in the analyses
Set Process Stations Years
1 Water surface evaporation 20 1180
2 Concurrent rainfall 20 1180
3 District rainfall 93 7141
4 Dam inflow 14 825
5 River flow 14 1052
6 Flood peak maxima 17 1235
7 Groundwater 4 312
8 Southern oscillation index 1 114
  TOTAL 183 11 804

Figure 9 is very important. It demonstrates the unequivocal synchronous relationship between annual sunspot numbers and the annual flows in the Vaal River that is South Africa’s major river. Note the alternating above (rising) and below (falling) flow sequences. Note also their synchronous relationship with sunspot numbers; as well as the statistically significant (95%), 21-year periodicity in the flow data that is synchronous with the double sunspot cycle.

Notice also the absence of 11-year periodicity in the correlogram of the Vaal River. It is no wonder that climate change scientists have been unable to detect synchronous relationships with the 11-year sunspot cycle. It does not exist! This is because the properties of the alternating solar cycles are fundamentally different to the extent that the climatic responses are also very different.

Figure 9. Comparisons of the characteristics of annual sunspot numbers with corresponding characteristics of the annual flows in the Vaal River.

Another frequent error associated with the sunspot cycle is the assumption that the maximum effect is associated with the sunspot maxima. This is altogether wrong. The maxima occur immediately after the solar minima. Table 10 illustrates this.

Table 10. Comparison of sudden changes in the annual flows in the Vaal River with corresponding sudden changes in sunspot numbers
Three-year totals of flows in Vaal River (% of record mean) Three-year totals associated with the corresponding sunspot minimum
Minimum year Three previous years Three subsequent years Sunspot minimum Three lowest years Three subsequent years
1932/33 100 388 1933 25 250
1941/42 297 625 1944 56 277
1953/54 205 538 1954 50 370
1965/66 234 241 1964 53 247
1972/73 177 654 1975 73 275
1986/87 112 438 1986 60 400
1994/95 135 464+ 1996 48 277
Average 180 478 Average 52 300


Table 12 demonstrates the well-known Joseph Effect of alternating above and below average multi-year sequences published separately by two other South African authors. It is very interesting. Compare the durations of the wet and dry sequences with Josephs biblical prophecy of seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. The coincidence is not fortuitous.

Table 12. Wet and dry sequences
Years Wet/dry Length of sequence Sunspot cycles
    Wet Dry  
Bredenkamp:   Mzimgazi + St Lucia + Uitenhage + Wondergat
1919-24 Wet 5   1913-22
1925-29 Dry   4 1923-32
1930-39 Wet 9   1933-43
1941-53 Dry   12 1944-53
1955-62 Wet 7   1954-63
1965-71 Dry   6 1964-75
1972-78 Wet 6   1976-85
1980-83 Dry   3 -do-
1984-90 Wet 6    
Tyson: South African rainfall
1905-15 Dry   10 1901-12
1916-24 Wet 8   1913-22
1925-32 Dry   7 1923-32
1933-43 Wet 10   1933-43
1944-52 Dry   8 1944-53
1953-61 Wet 8   1954-63
1962-70 Dry   8 1964-75
1971-80 Wet 9   1976-85

This table completely destroys the repeatedly stated claim in the IPCC literature that there is no meaningful linkage between variations in solar activity and synchronous linkages with variations in the climatic processes.


The following conclusions were summarised on the first page of my report.

Continued global warming will NOT

  • Pose a threat to water supplies
    • Adversely affect agricultural production
  • Increase the risk of floods and droughts
  • Increase the spread of malaria
  • Increase the eutrophication of water in dams
  • Increase soil erosion
  • Result in the loss of natural plant and animal species
  • Result in desertification

There is no believable evidence to support these claims.

It would be most unwise

For South African authorities to force the implementation of costly measures, based on unverifiable global climate models, and abstract theory, for which there is no believable evidence.


My technical report contained 50 references. The following are seven references to my prior publications in scientific journals. They were therefore available to the Stern Review.

Alexander W J R 1985. Hydrology of low latitude southern hemisphere landmasses. In Hydrobiologia, ed Davies & Walmsley, Junk Publishers, Holland.

Alexander W J R 1995. Floods, droughts and climate change. South African Journal of Science 91, 403-408.

Alexander W J R 1999. Risk and society – an African perspective. United Nations commissioned study. Geneva, Switzerland.

Alexander W J R 2002a. Climate change – the missing links. Science in Africa. September 2002.

Alexander W J R 2002b. Statistical analysis of extreme floods. Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering, 44 (1) 2002 20-25.

Alexander W J R (2005a). Development of a multi-year climate prediction model. Water SA Vol 31 No 2 April 2005.

Alexander W J R (2005b) Linkages between Solar Activity and Climatic Responses. Energy & Environment, Volume 16, No 2, 2005.


Why was my report deliberately ignored by the Stern Review despite my protests and offers to come to the UK to present it to a critical audience of his choice? There can only be one answer. It completely undermines the claim is of exclusive human causality of climate change. Now the whole climate change issue is in total disarray as a consequence of this demonstrably false assumption.

Many scientists in other fields have reported similar experiences. It is now very clear that the manipulation of science in the IPCC publications was a general practice. There are increasing suspicions that these manipulations were intended to force developing nations to undertake costly measures that would reduce their rising economic competitiveness with the West. The failure of the World Trade Organisation to produce a binding international agreement is also a consequence of Western nations protecting their own interests.

The situation is very fluid. China has already overtaken the Western nations as Africa’s major trading partner. This is one battle that the West cannot win.

I’m prepared to e-mail a copy of my technical report and the data used in the analyses in computer readable format, with my compliments to anybody who has an interest.

W.J.R. Alexander Pr Eng

Professor Emeritus, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Fellow, South African Institution of Civil Engineering

Member, United Nations Scientific and Technical Committee on Natural Disasters, 1994 – 2000


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