The cult of global warming, aka “alarmists”, have found a new drum on which to bang. Scientists recently announced that the western ice shelf in Antarctica is “collapsing”. Immediately the “Chicken Little” pronouncements of imminent doom were sounded by the usual suspects all implicitly tied to AGW. The UK’s Guardian sounded the alarm in various headlines which read:
“Two separate studies confirm loss of ice sheet is inevitable, and will cause up to 4m of additional sea-level rise
‘Collapse will change the coastline of the whole world’
Reading on into the actual findings of the studies, however, one finds that the drama that is implicit in these headlines could have been tempered a bit with a very slight modification:
But the researchers said that even though such a rise could not be stopped, it is still several centuries off, and potentially up to 1,000 years away.
Oh. So it isn’t a crisis that will impact the world today or anytime in the near future, correct?
This is not new stuff either. This story has been popping up since 2008. I wrote about it here and here. As noted in 2008, a fairly simple discovery, not mentioned in any of these articles, proffered an explanation of why the ocean water was warming and the ice shelf was melting.
“Scientists have just now discovered an active volcano under the Antarctic ice that “creates melt-water that lubricates the base of the ice sheet and increases the flow towards the sea”. That could include the Wilkins Ice Sheet as well (the article cited talks about the Larson A and B sheets.
But, say the alarmists, we’re not talking about Wilkins or the Larson sheets. We’re talking about the Thwaites glacier.
The study honed in on the Thwaites glacier – a broad glacier that is part of the Amundsen Sea. Scientists have known for years that the Thwaites glacier is the soft underbelly of the Antarctic ice sheet, and first found that it was unstable decades ago.
The University of Washington researchers said that the fast-moving Thwaites glacier could be lost in a matter of centuries. The loss of that glacier alone would raise global sea level by nearly 2ft.
Thwaites also acts as a dam that holds back the rest of the ice sheet. Once Thwaites goes, researchers said, the remaining ice in the sheet could cause another 10 to 13ft (3-4m) of global sea-level rise.
Ok. Well, let’s look at a couple of pictures then. The first is from the 2008 post I did on the volcano:
The second picture, from the Guardian article, shows the area of the study. The red dot is the glacier in question:
Does anyone notice anything interesting? Yes, that’s right, the glacier in question is in the vicinity of the volcano in question. And I don’t think anyone would argue that a undersea volcano can’t heat up the sea in the vicinity to a little higher temperature than it would be normally (it was certainly successful with Wilkins). Has it had an effect? Who knows … it doesn’t seem to have been mentioned at all in the study. But, if you go to the Guardian article you’ll see an embedded 17 second video that attempts to explain the effect of the warmer water on the glacier. It shows less dense (and therefore lighter) warm water somehow flowing under much denser and therefore heavier cold water to destabilize the glacier. The only reasonable explanation for such a flow would be if the heat source were somewhere near the bottom of the ocean, no? Otherwise its hard to explain how that warm water got below the cold water and stayed there.
But if you question things like this, you’re an ignorant nincompoop. A “denier”, which, by the way is akin to being a member of the KKK and a Holocaust denier all in one. However, I’m certainly not denying that something is happening in Antarctica. I am questioning the purported cause though. It isn’t at all unimaginable that the side of Antarctica most exposed to warmer South Pacific sea currents and experiencing volcanic activity might see some melting due to causes unrelated to CO2 put in the atmosphere by man.
That, of course, won’t stop the cultist from declaring themselves to be the ones with science on their side and deniers to be the fact-challenged among us. Here’s a perfect example from today’s NYT:
But the unfortunate fact about uncertainty is that the error bars always go in both directions. While it is possible that the problem could turn out to be less serious than the consensus forecast, it is equally likely to turn out to be more serious. In fact, it increasingly appears that, if there is any systemic bias in the climate models, it’s that they understate the gravity of the situation. In an interesting paper that appeared in the journal Global Environmental Change, a group of scholars, including Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at Harvard, and Michael Oppenheimer, a geoscientist at Princeton, note that so-called climate skeptics frequently accuse climate scientists of “alarmism” and “overreacting to evidence of human impacts on the climate system.” But, when you actually measure the predictions that climate scientists have made against observations of how the climate has already changed, you find the exact opposite: a pattern “of under- rather than over-prediction” emerges.
Really? If that’s the case, that should be pretty easy to demonstrate, shouldn’t it? Since pictures are worth 1,000 words, here’s a little picture I picked up over at The Federalist that does exactly that – it demonstrates that the pattern of the climate models is exactly as the “deniers” have claimed they are:
Somehow, the claimant from the NYT couldn’t be bothered to actually fact check. Instead she swallowed whole the alarmist line and regurgitated it with the usual ignorant literary smirk found in most of their fact free writing. Sean Davis sums up the argument for most “deniers” very well:
I have a simple rule when it comes to people who want me to invest obscene sums of money in their forecasts of discrete future events: just be accurate. If you come to me and tell me you can predict future stock market performance based on these five factors, then you had better predict future stock market performance based on those five factors. All you have to do is be correct, over and over again. But if your predictive model is wrong, I’m not going to give you any money, and I’m certainly not going to pretend that what you just did is science. Any idiot can make incorrect guesses about the future.
Science, properly practiced, is the search for truth. Science, properly practiced, rejects forecasting models that consistently produce inaccurate forecasts. There’s nothing scientific about shouting down anyone who has the audacity to point out that the only thing your model can accurately predict is what the temperature won’t be.
Some pictures of Greenland taken in the 1930s have revealed glacier melt that is worse than that taking place today:
Recently unearthed photographs taken by Danish explorers in the 1930s show glaciers in Greenland retreating faster than they are today, according to researchers.
The photos in question were taken by the seventh Thule Expedition to Greenland led by Dr Knud Rasmussen in 1932. The explorers were equipped with a seaplane, which they used to take aerial snaps of glaciers along the Arctic island’s coasts.
It’s difficult to know exactly what’s happening to the Greenland ice in total and very different estimates have been produced in recent times. However Professor Box says that many glaciers along the coasts have started retreating in the past decade.
It now appears that the glaciers were retreating even faster eighty years ago: but nobody worried about it, and the ice subsequently came back again.
The emphasized line is priceless. Chicken Little stayed home.
Why were the glaciers on Greenland retreating faster 80 years ago?
[One scientist, Professor Jason] Box, theorises that this is likely to be because of sulphur pollution released into the atmosphere by humans, especially by burning coal and fuel oils. This is known to have a cooling effect.
Unfortunately atmospheric sulphur emissions also cause other things such as acid rain, and as a result rich Western nations cracked down on sulphates in the 1960s. Prof Box believes that this led to warming from the 1970s onward, which has now led to the glaciers retreating since around 2000.
Or, “we cleaned up the air and it got warmer”. Other scientists disagree:
Still other scientists, differing with Prof Box, offer another picture altogether of Arctic temperatures, in which there were peaks both in the 1930s and 1950s and cooling until the 1990s: and in which the warming trend which resulted in the melting seen by Rasmussen’s expedition actually started as early as 1840, before the industrial revolution and human-driven carbon emission had even got rolling. In that scenario, variations in the Sun seem to have much more weight than is generally accepted by today’s climatologists.
Variations in the Sun! Whoda thunk?
Bottom line – nothing particularly unusual or worrisome if you actually have come to the conclusion, based on the evidence at hand, that the earth goes through climate cycles. The key, of course is the fact that a warming trend that resulted in the retreat of the glaciers in the 1930s was begun almost 100 years before without the benefit of the industrial revolution and human carbon emissions.
Then there’s that lingering little scientific fact that CO2 is a lagging indicator, not a cause, of warming. The fact the alarmist side continues to love to ignore.
Anyway a little context to the “OMG the glaciers are melting”.
More alarmist myths bite the dust. The claim that rain forests would be damaged by warming:
The threat to tropical rainforests from climate change may have been exaggerated by environmentalists, according to a new study. Researchers have shown that the world’s tropical forests thrived in the far distant past when temperatures were 3 to 5C warmer than today. They believe that a wetter, warmer future may actually boost plants and animals living the tropics.
There are many climactic models today suggesting that … if the temperature increases in the tropics by a couple of degrees, most of the forest is going to be extinct. What we found was the opposite to what we were expecting: we didn’t find any extinction event [in plants] associated with the increase in temperature, we didn’t find that the precipitation decreased.
Or the claim that melting glaciers would threaten 2 billion people:
The spectre of imminent thirst and/or starvation for billions by 2035 from melting glaciers would appear to have been confirmed as the worst kind of alarmist scaremongering.
Sea level increases and more violent hurricanes?
First, there is still no proof the Earth is experiencing “dangerous” warming. Temperatures have levelled off since 1998. Many measuring locations are also located in unsuitable areas. Furthermore, the methodologies of averaging temperature are inconsistent and full of problems. This is why “Global Warming” was replaced as a slogan by “Climate Change” (nobody denies that climate changes), and more recently by “Climate Disruption” (which is impossible define or prove).
Second, the increased temperature is supposed to increase sea level mainly by melting the ice-caps, which is impossible. Thermal expansion of the oceans seems to be of little consequence at present because the satellite measurements show the oceans are cooling. Le Mesurier gilds his picture with a few asides on “extreme climatic events” in general and hurricanes in particular. Recent studies, however, show no increase in hurricane activity in the last 40 years.
But remember, the "science is settled".
Then there’s the drive for “green jobs” , “green technologies” and how that’s faring:
MORE than $1 billion of taxpayers’ money was wasted on subsidies for household solar roof panels that favoured the rich and did little to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, a scathing review has found.
Despite a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government, Solyndra, a maker of solar panels in the southeast San Francisco Bay Area city of Fremont, will close one of its manufacturing plants, lay off 40 permanent and 150 contract workers, delay expansion plans of a new plant largely financed with the government-guaranteed loan and scale back production capacity more than 50 percent. Despite the hype and tax money, Solyndra seems unable to compete with Chinese manufacturers, whose prices are lower. This is the latest bad news for the company touted by Mr. Schwarzenegger and President Barack Obama as one of the green industry’s supposed shining lights.
Because, you know, government’s do this stuff so much better than private markets.
Thought you’d want to know.
Lots of stuff coming in under the oil spill and McChrystal radar. For instance, Antarctic ice melt (“PIG” refers to Pine Island Glacier, to which some scientists have attempted to attribute melting to man made sources – i.e. AGW):
Many scientists have theorised that the PIG’s accelerating flow is due to global warming. However, recent research – including surveys beneath the bottom of the floating, projecting ice sheet by Blighty’s Autosub robot probe – indicate that this may not be the case.
It appears from the Autosub’s under-ice surveys that the PIG’s ice flow formerly ground its way out to sea across the top of a previously unknown rocky underwater ridge, which tended to hold it back. Many years ago, however, before the area was surveyed in much detail, the glacier’s floating outflow sheet separated from the ridge top which it had been grinding away at for millennia and so picked up speed. This also allowed relatively warm sea water to get up under the sheet and so increase melting and ease of movement.
“The discovery of the ridge has raised new questions about whether the current loss of ice from Pine Island Glacier is caused by recent climate change or is a continuation of a longer-term process that began when the glacier disconnected from the ridge,” says Dr Adrian Jenkins of the British Antarctic Survey.
Really? There’s debate about whether a rock ridge might protect it from warmer sea water and thus when it broke away from it, what was then in the sea melted faster?
If there is debate, it’s face-saving debate. Instead why not admit to the fact that the theory its melting was driven by AGW was flawed because the information being used for the hypothesis was flawed (inaccurate and incomplete). Those that did the study conclude “the glacier would have shown the same acceleration and thinning it has shown since the 1990s with or without climate change.”
Moving on, this time to Arctic ice. A new study, using a new technique to measure ice thickness and distribution in the polar region (where we’ve been consistently told by the AGW crowd we’d be ice free soon) yielded these results:
Overall the researchers conclude that the distribution of old Arctic ice has changed little since 2007 and what changes there have been are well within the range of natural variability. They speculate that the large ice loss seen in 2007 may have been offset by weather patterns since then that prevented further ice loss.
“There is still hope for the ice,” said Christian Hass, adding that in many ways thje ice is in better shape entering the melt season than it has been for years. He dismisses suggestions that a “tipping point” may soon be encountered that will result in catastrophic, runaway ice loss. Extreme melts there may be, but he considered they would be compensated for by rapid recoveries.
Al Gore call your publicist. It seems that 2007 may have been an anomoly, but not one that was outside of the range any credible scientist would dismiss as “natural”.
And that also applies to Swiss glaciers as well – another favorite of the AGW crowd:
Matthias Huss and colleagues gather about 10,000 observations of glaciers in the Swiss Alps (daily ice melt, snow accumulation, ice and snow volume) made over the past 100 years and used them to create a computer model of some 30 glaciers.
Visible in the data was the influence of the very poorly understood Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) – a regular change in sea surface temperatures on timescales of up to 60 years or more.
The glaciers studied generally lost mass during the 20th century although there were brief periods of mass gain in the second decade and in the 1970’s. In the 1940’s and since 1980 mass has been lost as more precipitation fell as rain rather than snow.
Last December, Huss published a study that showed that Swiss glaciers melted at a faster rate in the 1940’s than they do nowadays, and that glacier melting is influenced by long-term changes in solar radiation.
You know, that big yellow hot thing that hangs in the sky every day? Yeah, that. Note too that glaicer melt was more pronounced in the ’40s than now.
In conclusion, the Swiss Alps now join Mt Kilimanjaro as having had a misleading press. We now know that Mt Kilimanjaro’s dramatic shrinkage of its summit glacier is due to decadal fluctuation in air moisture and not man’s effects. The changes seen in the Swiss Alps likewise seem to have a greater natural, perhaps even dominant, variation than has recently been reported. Glaciers are highly sensitive to many environmental factors, most of which cannot be laid at the door of man-made climate change.
All that to say you should be “cool” to any further suggestions by the Al Gore set that man is melting the ice caps and glaciers. Seems, as usual, to be a “misinterpretation” (one I see as deliberate) of natural phenomenon.
I’ll leave the “why” up to you, but the big three that come to mind for me are power, money and control. I’d also add that it appears that real science is finally beginning to prevail and show the AGW scare to be the big scam most of us skeptics thought it to be from the beginning.
This gets worse and worse – or better and better, depending on which side of the man-made global warming scenario you come down on. This time it is the Himalayan glaciers:
A warning that climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 is likely to be retracted after a series of scientific blunders by the United Nations body that issued it.
Two years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a benchmark report that was claimed to incorporate the latest and most detailed research into the impact of global warming. A central claim was the world’s glaciers were melting so fast that those in the Himalayas could vanish by 2035.
In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC’s 2007 report.
It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.
Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was “speculation” and was not supported by any formal research.
Yet it found its way into a science journal, and later was included in the IPCC’s 2007 report as an alleged scientific finding? How many scientists signed that report? And why, now that the CRU and NASA’s GISS data (the basis for the AGW hypothesis) has been called into question and we find the glacier “scientific fact” was based on speculation, not research, should we ever take anything they say seriously?
This is an excellent example of the worth of anything called “scientific consensus”. Cherry-picked and manipulated data along with claims based in pure speculation.
That’s science? That’s what we should base life-changing political policies on?
AGW is dead. I just wonder how long it will take politicians and the religious “environmental” zealots to finally realize that?