Skip to content

NYT’s Fake Claims About Kenya Drought

March 13, 2018

By Paul Homewood


h/t Joe Public


There’s a drought in Kenya, and guess what – it’s YOUR FAULT:



KAKUMA, Kenya — These barren plains of sand and stone have always known lean times: times when the rivers run dry and the cows wither day by day, until their bones are scattered under the acacia trees. But the lean times have always been followed by normal times, when it rains enough to rebuild herds, repay debts, give milk to the children and eat meat a few times each week.

Times are changing, though. Northern Kenya — like its arid neighbors in the Horn of Africa, where Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson paid a visit last week, including a stop in Nairobi — has become measurably drier and hotter, and scientists are finding the fingerprints of global warming. According to recent research, the region dried faster in the 20th century than at any time over the last 2,000 years. Four severe droughts have walloped the area in the last two decades, a rapid succession that has pushed millions of the world’s poorest to the edge of survival.

Amid this new normal, a people long hounded by poverty and strife has found itself on the frontline of a new crisis: climate change. More than 650,000 children under age 5 across vast stretches of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are severely malnourished. The risk of famine stalks people in all three countries; at least 12 million people rely on food aid, according to the United Nations.


 To get some historical perspective, let’s start by looking at a UN study into aridity in northern Kenya in 1979:




It begins:




Note the reference to the Sahel drought in the 1970s, which extended into Kenya. As HH Lamb and others wrote at the time, this was at a time of global cooling, and droughts both across the Sahel and also into Asia were a direct result of a colder Arctic, which squeezed the global rainbelts closer to the tropics.

The study goes on to describe the climatology:



Clearly, rainfall is extremely variable in northern Kenya, but the wet years appear to be the exception to the rule.

This variability is evident in the next section:



Despite the severity of the 1970s drought, the authors suggest that it was little worse than other droughts in the 1920s and 30s.


How then do recent rainfall levels compare with these earlier droughts?

The evidence is incomplete. According to KNMI, data for Marsabit ends in 1995, and there us a gap in recent data for Moyale.

Nevertheless, the last few years of data does not indicate anything unusual or alarming is happening.

The droughts of the 1920s and 30s, along with the 1970s also stick out like a sore thumb:




The World Bank Climate Portal does have average rainfall stats for the country as a whole. While this does not necessarily track that of the northern part of the country, we can see a similar pattern, with droughts in the 1920s and 1970s particularly prominent. Also the much higher rainfall totals in 1961 and other years in that decade.




There have certainly been no unusual droughts since 2000. The NYT article states that “the lean times have always been followed by normal times, when it rains enough to rebuild herds”.

But the long term record suggests that those wetter years, which were occurred occasionally in the 1960s , were actually not normal at all, and were not a feature of Kenya’s climate prior to 1960.

Meanwhile agricultural output in Kenya has risen steadily since records began in 1961:




In reality, northern Kenya has long been at the edge of desertification. It may be that some of its inhabitants will migrate south, to where there is more food available and life is more comfortable..

No doubt they will then be classified as “climate refugees”. In fact they will simply be following the same pattern of migration from rural to urban areas that has characterised human history for centuries.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    March 13, 2018 4:15 pm

    Kenya’s population has risen from 6m in 1950 to >50m today.

    Scaremongers never recognise changing climate’s contribution towards supporting such massive growth of humanity.

    • AZ1971 permalink
      March 13, 2018 6:26 pm

      You beat me to it. No mention of the normal arid-to-desert climate, or of the population explosion, that inevitably results in a humanitarian crisis? That’s disingenuous at best and intentionally misleading at worst. This region of the planet was simply not designed to support intensive agriculture or its current population. And the rest of the world aiding this perpetual disaster-in-waiting to 12 million people who should not exist is criminal. Aid should be given to those for whom birth control is enforced.

      • HotScot permalink
        March 13, 2018 9:02 pm

        “This region of the planet was simply not designed to support intensive agriculture or its current population.”

        Forgive me, but who designed what, and what evidence is there of that design?

        If the country is supporting 50M people, it was designed to do so, surely?

      • March 13, 2018 9:59 pm

        There is a big difference between different regions of Kenya. The north is similar to parts of Somalia and Ethiopia, that is very dry.

        Other parts are more equatorial or coastal.

        One of the specific factors of that northern part is its proximity to the East African Highlands, which tends to act as a barrier to either deflect rainfall from the Indian Ocean, or prevent it reaching the region.

    • John F. Hultquist permalink
      March 14, 2018 1:52 am

      You can find what is expected regarding future Kenya population at this link:

  2. Broadlands permalink
    March 13, 2018 4:49 pm

    “Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson paid a visit last week, including a stop in Nairobi — has become measurably drier and hotter, and scientists are finding the fingerprints of global warming.”

    The weather in the 1930s in Nairobi, Kenya can be seen here…monthly temperatures and precipitation:

    “measurably”? Yes, but how much and in which direction do those “fingerprints” take us?

    • March 14, 2018 1:22 pm

      It took Rex Tillerson out of the Secretary of State’s office in favor of now, CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, former Congressman from Kansas. Pompeo is a West Point graduate (first in his class). From 1986 to 1991, Pompeo served in the U.S. Army as an Armor Branch Cavalry Officer, reaching the rank of Captain. He served as a United States Cavalry officer patrolling the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin Wall and also served with the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry in the 4th Infantry Division in the Gulf War. In 1994, Pompeo received a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School where he served as editor of the law review.

      He is a conservative, “Tea Party” Republican who differs from Tillerson in that his views mesh with President Trump’s agenda. Tillerson was opposed to pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, did not agree with moving our embassy to Jerusalem, and was not in favor of the border wall. Finally, probably what really got him removed was the coming to light that he had been working behind the scenes to keep the the “agreement” with Iran in place. Oh, and Tillerson also opposed Trump’s North Korea policy. Basically, he was not with Trump on the President’s major campaign issues. The Secretary of State represents the President all over the world and negotiates in matters for him. He needs to represent the President’s policies. Pompeo will as he and President Trump are on the same page.

  3. Robin Guenier permalink
    March 13, 2018 6:58 pm

    So Kenya finds itself “on the frontline of a new crisis: climate change”. So why, oh why, is the Kenyan government supporting the development of a coal-fired power plant in Lamu – “expected to supply 20% of the country’s power when it comes online in 2020”: And it’s largely financed by the evil Chinese (the Koch brothers must have been asleep):

    An extract:

    According to data compiled by CoalSwarm, an industry watchdog, more than 100 coal-generating units with a combined capacity of 42.5 gigawatts are in various stages of planning or development in 11 African countries outside of South Africa—more than eight times the region’s existing coal capacity. Nearly all are fueled by foreign investment, and roughly half are being financed by the world’s largest coal emitter: China.

    • HotScot permalink
      March 13, 2018 9:08 pm

      China emits coal?

      Wow!…….Cutting out the middle man and just ejecting the stuff into the atmosphere unburned?


      Sorry, a bit cheeky.

  4. Tom Dowter permalink
    March 13, 2018 7:11 pm

    Yet another example of the groupthink that was the subject two blogs back!

    I certainly agree with Booker and Co that such groupthink is a serious problem in climate science. However, I think that confirmation bias is even worse.

    Compared with this, any deliberate faking of the results is trivial.

    • Curious George permalink
      March 14, 2018 7:17 pm

      This has nothing to do with a groupthink. It follows a simple rule: If it’s bad, it is a climate change. If it is (God save) good, it is just weather. That’s settled. Science.

  5. Nordisch-geo-climber permalink
    March 13, 2018 8:55 pm

    It’s all population-related, and that is dictated by tribalism, religion, politics and access to water of course. In a hundred years, CO2 has increased 100 ppm, that is greening Kenya and the arid areas, so CO2 or any perceived warming is not the problem.

    • HotScot permalink
      March 13, 2018 9:24 pm

      Sorry, nothing to do with population in my opinion. A myth fed to us all like the climate scam.

      Humanity exists on capitalism, it was borne from the principle.

      Population will find it’s natural level. How dare humanity set artificial limits on mother nature’s progress. Where do we go with that one? One cildren families? That’s been tried, and female babies were murdered because they weren’t considered worthy.

      That was the consequence of communism infecting the natural Capitalist inclinations of mankind, and the very reason socialism is the thin end of the evil wedge. It’s an unnatural bureaucratic distortion of mans natural inclination, to survive.

  6. March 13, 2018 10:22 pm

    All droughts are now caused or exacerbated by AGW, and are the “new-normal”. Here is my reconstruction of Cape Town rainfall back to 1850, possibly indicating long-term variability on top of the usual periods of good old-fashioned drought, if so that might be bad news for Capetonians if the “new-normal” is a repeat of the long period of relatively low rainfall around 1850:

  7. Bitter@twisted permalink
    March 13, 2018 11:28 pm

    Once again Paul ruins a perfectly good AGW sob-story with some unpleasant facts.
    How shocking is that?

  8. Athelstan permalink
    March 14, 2018 12:08 am

    Another puff piece in America’s version of the graun’, it’s a cute headline and totally out of synch’ with reality but whodda guessed it?

    With a properly well run government and an effective method of running it’s agri economy and not least allowing Kenyan producers to access European markets, with an abundance of resources not least in the great rift and minerals galore, it should could be, a very bright future for Kenya.

    Of course Kenya’s biggest problem, apart from the EU’s CAP are: Kenyans from east to west and from north to south they all, hate each others guts. Added border bonuses, throw in South Sudan racked by civil war, adjacent to Ethiopian warlords, Ugandan internecine warring and Somalia which has been for the last thirty odd years a region dedicated to war and eternal murder, Kenya has a nightmare on its borders – it ain’t a recipe for perfect harmony and now that the new colonialists are here, the mix just got ‘even better’.

    weather – is just that, weather sometimes it’s wet, sometimes it’s dry, most of the time unless you’re in the uplands – it’s bloody hot.

    • March 14, 2018 6:37 am

      I think the NYT is New York’s version of the Grauniad, just like the WaPo is Washington’s version of the Grauniad.

      • Athelstan permalink
        March 14, 2018 9:05 am

        too right, Phillip – and throw in the LA Times for another untasty dollop of west coast ill-liberalism.

      • March 14, 2018 11:44 am

        The NYT and WaPo are the BBC’s first port-of-call for any local commentary on happenings in the USA.

      • Athelstan permalink
        March 14, 2018 2:21 pm

        NYT and WaPo and some beeb exec’s basted in their groupthink delusion, are, still hoping for another Hoffman and Redford Bernstein and Woodford-esque scoop, though I don’t think that either, the NYT or WaPo get up early enough in the morning to catch ‘the Donald’.

  9. Phoenix44 permalink
    March 14, 2018 9:43 am

    They say it dried faster in the 20th century than any time in the previous 2,000 years. That’s purely arbitrary, and what influence did manmade CO2 have in the first half if the century? In any event you are comparing a pretty small sample if you are looking at centuries and then 1,500 or more of your 2,000 years have very poor data. How you can see “fingerprints” of anything in that is beyond me. This stuff is so weak, and as ever shifts the focus away from the real problems of real people. In that sense its pretty despicable.

  10. dennisambler permalink
    March 14, 2018 9:46 am

    The trouble is, people in the West tell developing countries that their bad weather is the fault of the West and it falls on very receptive ears. Reparation is demanded, we must atone for our industrial past by killing our present day industry and NYT will not be linking to Paul’s excellent piece.

    In the Middle Ages, in Europe, bad weather was blamed on witchcraft.

  11. March 14, 2018 1:27 pm

    I seem to remember an article some months ago here which spoke about the fact that the Paris Climate Accord was blocking African countries from using their own coal for power generation. Was it not Kenya mentioned as the country? Also there were/would be a number of deaths due to the lack of this power.

  12. Peter Hill permalink
    March 14, 2018 1:59 pm


    A date for your diary

    View this email in your browser

    Climate Change: A Defining Challenge for the 21st Century? The Sir Thomas Gresham Annual Lecture 2018

    Speaker: Dame Julia Slingo FRS Former Chief Scientist, Met Office

    Thursday 14th June 2018 6.00-7.00 pm

    The scientific evidence for climate change will be examined, describing how simulations of the Earth’s weather and climate are constructed and how these can be used to make assessments of what our climate and weather might be like in the coming decades.

    Based on this scientific evidence it will be argued that climate change may well be one of the defining challenges of the twenty-first century, and that how we respond will determine our future prosperity, health and well-being and the sustainability of Earth’s natural environment.

    Dame Julia Slingo is a British meteorologist and climate scientist. She was Chief Scientist at the Met Office from 2009 to 2016. She now undertakes a range of advisory roles nationally and internationally.

    Thursday 14th June 2018 6.00-7.00 pm

    The Old Library at Guildhall Basinghall Street London, EC2V 7HH

    This event is free but seats must be booked in advance through Eventbrite.

    If you are booking for more than one person, please add the names of your guests when booking.


    Gresham College, Barnard’s Inn Hall, Holborn, London, EC1N 2HH You have received this email from Gresham because our records show that you have signed up to receive Gresham e-communications.

    Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list


    • Athelstan permalink
      March 15, 2018 1:32 am

      “She was Chief Scientist at the Met Office from 2009 to 2016. She now undertakes a range of advisory roles nationally and internationally.”

      Dear Lord “advisory roles” and no doubt topping a very generous state provided index linked ‘no worries’ pension.

      I thnk it advisable that I stay away from slingits ramble.

  13. dennisambler permalink
    March 15, 2018 10:12 am

    Did Al Gore pay them a visit?

    Kenya: Heavy Rains Flood Nairobi

    • March 15, 2018 11:00 am

      No, that would have been accompanied by snow and ice storms.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: