By Paul Homewood
Yet more disgracefully misleading propaganda from the BBC:
In our monthly feature, Then and Now, we reveal some of the ways that planet Earth has been changing against the backdrop of a warming world. Here, we look at the effects of global heating on Victoria Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world – and how Sub-Saharan Africa is learning to cope with the climate crisis.
In full flow, Victoria Falls easily qualifies as one of the natural wonders of the world. Spanning 1.7km at its widest point and with a height of more than 100m, locals refer to Africa’s greatest waterfall as „the smoke that thunders“.
This amazing feature is formed as the Zambezi river plunges into a chasm called the First Gorge. The chasm was carved by the action of water along a natural fracture zone in the volcanic rock that makes up the landscape in this region of southern Africa
In 2019, however, Victoria Falls was silenced.
In a drought described as the worst in a century, the flow of the Zambezi was reduced to a relative trickle and the Falls ran dry.
As one of the region’s biggest attractions for tourists, Victoria Falls is a valuable source of income for Zimbabwe and Zambia. As news of the low waters spread, local traders noticed a visible drop in tourist numbers.
As well as hitting the countries’ economies, it also hit electricity supplies, which are dependent on hydroelectric generation.
More widely across the region, agencies reported an increase in the need for food aid, as crops failed in the drought.
A single extreme weather event cannot, in isolation, be viewed as a consequence of climate change.
But the region is recording a sequence of extreme droughts that reflect what climate modellers have predicted will occur as a result of an increase in greenhouse gases in the world’s atmosphere as a result of human activity.
Zambia’s President, Edgar Lungu – speaking at the time – called it „a stark reminder of what climate change is doing to our environment“.
The UN’s State of the Climate in Africa in 2019 report painted a worrying picture for a continent that could see its population double over the coming century.
Speaking at the report’s launch in October 2020, World Meteorological Organization secretary-general Petteri Taalas observed: „Climate change is having a growing impact on the African continent, hitting the most vulnerable hardest, and contributing to food insecurity, population displacement and stress on water resources.
It may have been “described” as the worst drought in a century, but it most assuredly was not, as I reported at the time, when the BBC made the same propaganda a year ago. In fact, the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls, the eastern, always dries up like this in the dry season, October – December. This is because the Eastern Cataract is at a higher elevation than the other side.
But take a look at that split image above- notice how the BBC compares JANUARY 2019 with DECEMBER 2019.Why not compare December with December.The BBC clearly want you to think that the Falls have gone from spate to drought in the space of one year because of climate change.
To get the full account of what happens there, we can consult The Lonely Planet, who to their credit make it their job to understand what is happening at ground level in the places they write about. Note this was written in December 2019, shortly after the original BBC report:
Eyes around the world have turned to Victoria Falls as recent reports that droughts in southern Africa and warming global temperatures have caused the famous cascade to “shrink to a trickle.“
But local authorities insist that, while water levels are far from their peak, Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders) is alive and well – and shows no immediate signs of vanishing. With an end to the annual dry season just around the corner, what is really going on at Victoria Falls?
An aerial photo on 9 December shows the level of water flow going over the main cascade at Victoria Falls © courtesy of the Zambezi Helicopter Company / Lonely Planet
Hundreds of thousands of years before a Scottish explorer named Dr. Livingston christened the falls in honour of Queen Victoria in 1855, gentle flows of volcanic lava spread out across southern Africa like honey poured onto a cookie sheet. Those minor eruptions formed a relatively flat stretch of basalt along a high plateau in parts of what are now the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. Eventually, the massive Zambezi River cut through cracks in that basalt, forming deep gouges like the Bakota Gorge into which the falls spill today.
Like Niagara Falls, Victoria Falls sits on the border between two countries – Zimbabwe and Zambia. You’ve likely seen photos of the western, Zimbabwean side of the falls where the lion’s share of the Zambezi’s water flow spills over. Many of the recently circulated shots of the supposedly bone-dry Victoria Falls were snapped of the Eastern Cataract on the Zambian side, which sits at a higher elevation and regularly dries up for a few months each year – a phenomenon called “Victoria Walls.”
“Every single year the Eastern Cataract of the Victoria Falls exposes a dry rock face, normally between the months of October to December,” explains Wilma Griffith, a marketing executive at the Wild Horizons Lookout Café, a restaurant overlooking the Batoka Gorge. “Historical figures show that on or around 14 November the river is at its lowest and then gradually starts to rise again around 14 December, once the localised rains start having an impact on the Zambezi.”
November and December are the end of spring and the beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere, but it can take time for the post-winter rainfall in the DRC and Angola to travel downstream to Victoria Falls, and eventually to in the Indian Ocean. Those familiar with the Zambezi say the annual dry season is already coming to an end. “The water levels are changing,” says Warren Ncube of the Zambezi Helicopter Company, “and with the rains we will soon have a full flood.”
According to the Zambezi River Authority, the flow at Victoria Falls can be as much as 10,000 cubic metres per second (recorded during an especially wet March in 1958), or as low as 390 cubic mps (recorded during the drought of 1995), while the long term annual mean is about 1100 cubic mps. Most recently, the flow has been 252 cubic mps – low, but still higher than this time last year, when Zimbabwe was experiencing a drought.
Let’s recap my highlighted text:
- The Eastern Cataract dries up every year between October and December
- Because of summer rainfall up stream, there is always a big rise in lake levels in January.
- Although lower than average, the flow rate in December was MORE than in December 2018.
That is why the BBC fraudulently used January 2019 as the comparison, and not December 2018.
The Zambesi River Authority confirms that the 2019/20 curve (purple) was not at a record low in 2019, and that flow rates always rise sharply in January. The highest flow rates were in 1968/69:
Finally, let’s look at the implication that crops have failed because of climate change induced drought. The chart below runs up to 2019, and shows a decline in cereal yields in 2018 and 2019. However, similar drops in yield have occurred many times in the past. There is no evidence of any impact from “climate change”:
This report on Victoria Falls is the second in a monthly series by the BBC. The first, you may recall, was about the “megadrought” in California, which was also full of misleading claims, and on which I have filed a complaint to them:
via NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT
May 3, 2021