It seems we are bombarded daily with news of the looming catastrophe from climate change. It seems you can’t turn on the news these days without some anchor telling us that we are facing certain doom if we don’t take drastic measures to stop climate change.
Many have pointed to Greenland as evidence of human’s influence in changing the climate. Everyone from Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) to Al Gore has claimed, “The evidence is clear.” Human emissions of greenhouse gasses “are causing Greenland to warm at an unprecedented rate.”
A recent study conducted by B. M. Vinther, K. K. Andersen, P. D. Jones, K. R. Briffa2 and J. Cappelen of the Climate Research Unit in the UK and published in Journal of Geophysical Research (1) shows Greenland has not warmed. In fact Greenland has cooled by 1.3 degrees Celsius since 1950.
Several reports have made the claim that “Greenland’s ice sheets are melting faster then ever before.” A recent series of specials on CNN entitled Planet in Peril made the claim that 40% of the Greenland ice sheet has melted. According to the a study by Johannessen et al. (2) published in the journal Science in 2005, the Greenland ice sheet “has seen a net gain. Most of the melting is occurring in the southern region of Greenland near populated areas.” The study has been updated several times since then and the Greenland ice sheet continues to gain thickness.
According to Al Gore and the IPCC, anthropogenic global warming is solely to blame for the retreat of the Arctic glacier. They point to the fact that the Arctic glacier is at record lows. What they conveniently don’t tell us is that we have only been actively monitoring the glacier since 1979.
An interesting study was conducted in 2000 by Dr. T. Vinje and published in the journal Climate (3) that used a combination of local records and satellite records (in use since 1979) which shows the Arctic glacier runs in cycles of advancing and retreating. The current extent of retreat, according to the study, is still within the normal variation of this cycle.
A report on the CNN special Planet in Peril pointed out that over the past two years, the rate of glacial retreat has increased. They reported it as being due to global warming despite all the scientific reports that state otherwise. According to NASA’s Dr. Nghiem “Unusual atmospheric conditions set up wind patterns that compressed the sea ice, loaded it into the Transpolar Drift Stream and then sped its flow out of the Arctic” he said. “When that sea ice reached lower latitudes, it rapidly melted in the warmer waters. The winds causing this trend in ice reduction were set up by an unusual pattern of atmospheric pressure that began at the beginning of this century,” (4)
This observed “unusual” pattern is consistent with the findings of a study published in Geophysical Research Letters by Ignatius G. Rigor entitled Variations in the age of Arctic sea-ice and summer sea-ice extent (7). In the study, Rigor discovered that the sea ice in the Arctic advances and retreats on several time intervals based on natural changes in wind patterns. Rigor further explains that this loss of “older, thicker ice” causes “more solar energy to be absorbed, thereby prolonging the melt season”
One of the most outrageous claims that is not substantiated is that Polar Bears are going extinct because of climate change. Australian scientist Tim Flannery has made the claim that “within the next 25 years, Polar Bears will be extinct.” He further made the claim that “Polar Bears typically give birth to triplets, but now they are only giving birth to one bear.” According to biologists that study Polar Bears, this is completely false. “Polar Bears typically give birth to single bears or twins. Rarely do they give birth to triplets as Flannery claims.”
Dr. Mitch Taylor, biologist for the Department of Environment in Canada, says that Polar Bear populations are increasing. In a media release from May of 2006 (5) Dr. Taylor seems rather dismayed by the misinformation being spread about the Polar Bear population. He said “This complexity is why so many people find the truth less entertaining than a good story. It is entirely appropriate to be concerned about climate change, but it is just silly to predict the demise of polar bears in 25 years based on media-assisted hysteria.”
Dr. Taylor admits that in one region, western Hudson Bay, the population has decreased, while the rest of the regions have increased. In an interview with the Scotsman, Scotland’s national newspaper (6), Dr. Taylor explains “We’re seeing an increase in bears that’s really unprecedented, and in places where we’re seeing a decrease in the population it’s from hunting, not from climate change.”
Listening to media reports, one would think that both the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets are melting. Nothing could be farther from the truth. While it is true that the Arctic Ice sheet has melted due to natural processes, the Antarctic Ice sheet is at record high levels. (8) This growth of the Antarctic Ice sheet appears to contradict the hypothesis of Anthropogenic Global Warming.
In Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth”, the claim was made that Antarctica is warming at an unprecedented rate. This also is false. Antarctica has cooled since 1957. (9) Current temperatures and computer models point to the continuation of this downward trend in temperatures.
A recent press release from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) makes the claim that “The penguin population of Antarctica is under pressure from global warming.” This claim is absurd at best. First of all Antarctica is not warming. Secondly there is currently no way to accurately estimate the populations of many of the different breeds of penguins. (10) It is true that observations have seen a decline in certain species in certain regions, but because of the vast expanse of remote areas, a true analysis of the populations is incomplete. Some regions have seen a marked increase in the number of specific species, yet no one truly knows what the populations of these species are in the remote areas of Antarctica. (11)
Several Global Warming alarmists have made the claim that because of warmer temperatures we will see an increase in the number and intensity of storms. This is just plain silly. There are a number of factors that go into severe weather. Heat is just one of them. You also need to take into account barometric pressure, the jet stream, upper level winds, mid level winds, surface winds, humidity, temperature variations in the mid levels and upper levels of the atmosphere as well as rapid temperature changes in a rather small geographic area. Observations of the number and intensity of severe weather do not show any increase. Quite the opposite is true. There has been a decrease in the number of severe weather events. (12)
Every proponent of AGW insists that the Earth has an actual baseline temperature. This temperature is what the Earth’s average temperature is supposed to be. Unfortunately for them, no one group can agree on what that temperature is. Dr. James Hansen at NASA’s Goddard Institute will say it is 58.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The Climate Research Unit has it at 61 degrees Fahrenheit and the IPCC has it listed as 60.25 degrees Fahrenheit. This may seem trivial, but even small variations in the base of their calculations can have significant effects on the rest of their work. These baselines appear to be nothing more then a made up number. Several mathematicians, statisticians and others have run calculations based on the available numbers and the average of all available temperature data never equals any of the numbers listed above. It would appear that for whatever reason, these groups just decided that these would be the numbers they would start with.
With all the hype being presented as fact by the media these days, one would be hard pressed not to believe that some of these things are happening or will happen. The scientific evidence does not support many of the claims we are constantly being bombarded with.
1. Extending Greenland Temperature Records into the
Late Eighteenth Century http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/greenland/vintheretal2006.pdf
2. Johannessen et al. journal Science November 2005: Vol. 310. no. 5750, pp. 1013 1016
3. Vinje, T., Anomalies and trends of sea ice extent and atmospheric circulation in the Nordic
Seas during the period 1864 to 1998, journal Climate, 2000
7. Ignatius G. Rigor, Variations in the age of Arctic sea-ice and summer sea-ice extent, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 31, L09401, doi:10.1029/2004GL019492, 2004 http://seaice.apl.washington.edu/IceAge&Extent/Rigor&Wallace2004.pdf
8. New record for Antarctic Ice Extent 2007 http://icecap.us/index.php/go/joes-blog/a_new_record_for_antartic_total_ice_extent
9. Amundsen – Scot temperature data (South Pole) 1957 – 2007 http://data.giss.nasa.gov/work/gistemp/STATIONS//tmp.700890090008.1.1/station.txt
10. Barber-Meyer, S.B., et al., 2007. Estimating the relative abundance of emperor penguins at inaccessible colonies using satellite imagery. Polar Biology, 30, 1565-1570
11. Stokstad, E., 2007. Boom and Bust in a Polar Hot Zone, Science, 315 (5818), 1522 – 1523, doi:10.1126/science.315.5818.1522:
12. Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide ARTHUR B. ROBINSON, NOAH E. ROBINSON, AND WILLIE SOON http://www.climatescience.org.nz/images/PDFs/gwreview_oism150.pdf