As far back as June, corporate media outlets, for instance, CNN, began publishing stories claiming Madagascar’s ongoing hunger crisis is due to a climate change induced drought and resulting crop failure. Climate Realism, here and here, for instance, repeatedly refuted that claim. Citing data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Climate Realism provided evidence Madagascar has repeatedly set records in recent decades for crop production, so any present food supply shortages are due to political or economic factors not declining crop production.

While news outlets ignored the evidence Climate Realism presented proving climate change is not behind Madagascar’s present drought and associated famine, they are now admitting this truth based on a new study.

CNN, the Associated Press and others are all carrying stories today admitting climate change isn’t behind Madagascar’s problems. In her story, titled “Madagascar’s food crisis has been blamed on climate change. These scientists say that’s wrong,” CNN International Climate Editor Angela Dewan writes:

The UN’s World Food Programme and multiple media organizations have been warning that the African island nation of Madagascar is on the brink of the world’s first climate-change-induced famine. But a new study says the human-made climate crisis has had little to do with the current food scarcity in the country.

Consecutive years of low rainfall have led to a prolonged drought that has shaken Madagascar’s food security and has already pushed tens of thousands of people into famine-like conditions.

A study by scientists at the World Weather Attribution initiative, an international collaboration led by Imperial College London and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, found that a natural variation in the climate was most likely the main reason for the drought.

The group said that poverty, poor infrastructure and a high level of dependence on rain for agriculture were also behind the country’s food crisis.

This conclusion sounds amazingly similar to what was reported by Climate Realism earlier:

History shows back to back droughts are not unprecedented in Madagascar’s history. The current drought is serious. However, … Madagascar had a similar drought forty years ago, at a time when scientists were warning of a coming ice age, not global warming.

Peer reviewed research shows Madagascar’s large megafauna declined sharply, with many species going extinct during previous extended droughts. Research indicates Madagascar suffered extended droughts nearly 6,000 and again nearly 1,000 years ago. A drought, approximately 950 years before present, triggered a large transformation in vegetation, an increase in wildfires, and a sharp decline in the island’s megafauna.

Madagascar’s current drought is hardly unique and as dire as the present food shortage its people face may be, there is no evidence supposed human caused climate change is to blame.

[A]ny food supply shortages are due to political or economic factors not declining crop production.

It is good that CNN and other mainstream media outlets are finally catching on to the truth that Madagascar’s hunger crisis is not a result of climate change. Climate Realism pointed this fact out since Madagascar’s famine first began making headlines. To paraphrase the immortal words of celluloid hero, John McClane from the movie Die Hard, “Welcome to the party, pal[s].”

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News. In addition to directing The Heartland Institute's Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy, Burett puts Environment & Climate News together, is the editor of Heartland's Climate Change Weekly email, and the host of the Environment & Climate News Podcast.


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