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Posts Tagged ‘Polar Bears’

Charlie Brown and the Climate Skeptics

Mon ,19/11/2012

 

 An article has recently been circulating around the Skeptics’ websites called  “ Four recent scientific blows to the global warming theory”. They are hardly blows and they certainly cannot be called scientific, as they contradict scientific research. They do make you wonder where Skeptics get their misinformation. Lucy spilled the beans on that in one of the Peanut’s cartoons.

 Lucy: Charlie Brown, do you want to hear some little known facts of science?

 Charlie Brown, looking puzzled: Wait a minute, if they are so little known, how do you  know them?     

  Lucy: Because I’m the one who made them up.

Being a good scientist, Charlie Brown has a healthy skepticism toward Skeptics. And, no matter who made them up, he has found a little skepticism of the Skeptics is a good idea.

The Article starts: “The science behind the anthropogenic global warming theory appears to be falling apart with each new scientific study.”  ”In fact, since the Climategate scandal broke, where top climate scientists were caught manipulating data to fit the theory, polls have shown the number of global warming believers has plummeted to new lows.”

Charlie Brown:  It’s strange that there are no references to those “new scientific studies”. Op ed pieces by skeptics, maybe, but no recent scientific studies or polls say that . Also, isn’t it time to give up on Climategate? Nine independent investigations into Climategate have found no scientific misconduct?

Article: It goes on, “Czech President Vaclav Klaus, an economist who lived through the rise and fall of communism, recently said that the climate change movement is a threat to democracy.” “I consider (the global warming doctrine) a new dangerous attempt to control and mastermind my life and our lives, in the name of controlling the climate or temperature.” And environmentalists “ don’t care about resources or poverty or pollution. They hate us, the humans. They consider us dangerous and sinful creatures who must be controlled by them.”

Charlie Brown: Wow! Dangerous and sinful? Few Skeptic’s articles are complete without quoting an obscure figure with bizarre views. Environmentalists do not want to control the climate or temperature; they would just like to keep it at a level comfortable for human civilization. And, aren’t they also “humans”?

Article: Blow 1., finally. ”A biologist who claimed that polar bears were drowning because of melting ice has been suspended and is being investigated for scientific misconduct following his “veracity” in emotionalizing a debunked topic.  Get ready for Polarbeargate. “

Charlie Brown:  Polarbeargate? The Polar bear has become a symbol of all we may lose by failing to address our carbon emissions problem adequately. Skeptics can’t disprove the theory so they  to attack the symbol.  The scientist’s account of the polar bears drowning was a credible account of what he observed. The extent of the Arctic sea ice has declined about 30% since 1980. Polar bears now have to swim many miles to reach the sea ice to hunt. Those who don’t want to swim that far rummage around in the garbage dumps, leading Skeptics to believe that the bears are now more numerous.

 Dr. Monnett, a biologist studying Polar bear populations, counted four bears who had drowned trying to swim to the receding sea ice to hunt. Though that happened five years ago, the Interior Department was just recently put under pressure to investigate the matter by  Sen. James Inhofe who was unhappy that the bears were put on the threatened species list.   That was done, not because of Dr. Monnett’s work, but because the bear’s habitat is declining. As their habitat disappears, so will the Polar bear. There just aren’t enough garbage dumps to feed them all.

Article: Blow 2. “Today, new NASA data blows a gaping hole in global warming alarmism: NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing.”(sic?)

Charlie Brown: This is about an article by Roy Spencer, “On the Misdiagnosis Of Surface Temperature Feedbacks From Variations In Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance“, which claimed that climate scientists have the role of clouds wrong . It did not have enough scientific evidence to blow a hole in anything, but the article had a remarkable ability to “ shapeshift” as it sped around. It went from a paper published in a little-known journal where was not likely to be reviewed by climate scientists, to Roger Pielke’s website, where it was given a Skeptic’s A-OK. Then it went to the Heartland Institute, where senior fellow James Taylor fixed it up a little, classified it as a news article, renamed it “New NASA data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism” and sent it on to Forbes. Apparently Forbes did not realize that describing scientists as “alarmist” 15 times was suspicious, perhaps because James Taylor is also on staff at Forbes as, get this, a “contributor on energy and environment issues”. From there it went on to Yahoo! News, most other major media sources, and dozens of Skeptics blog sites.

It was amazing that it became so distorted and widely circulated just three days after publication, before legitimate climate scientists had a chance to respond. When they did, they had some rather unkind things to say about the research. Trenberth and Fasullo soon summed it up: ”The model has no realistic ocean, no El Niño, and no hydrological cycle, and it was tuned to give the result it gave.The bottom line is that this paper has NO scientific merit” Later, A.E. Dessler analyzed Spencer’s paper in detail and published a rebuttal destroying Spencer’s arguments. The editor of Remote Sensing was so ashamed of the bad publicity that he resigned, saying” the paper should never have been published”.

Article: Blow 3. ”The CERN physicists conducted a cosmic ray climate experiment that is said to directly contradict the climate change debate in the political arena.  Apparently, so much so that the scientists have been gagged from discussing their findings reportedly proving that cosmic (space-based) energy has a far greater effect on the climate than previously believed.”

Charlie Brown: Who said that? A book by perennial Skeptic Nigel Calder and Henrik Svensmark, The Chilling Stars,  claimed  the number of cosmic rays from the stars that strike the Earth is increasing. And, lead to more clouds since cosmic rays produce charged particles in the atmosphere that seed clouds. It’s an interesting theory, but the  data does not show that cosmic rays are actually increasing cloud cover. Also, there are plenty of particulates in the air to seed clouds and any effect from cosmic rays would be small in comparison.  ( See Blow 4., below.)

 The CERN scientists were not “gagged”, but they were asked not to report the results to the media before the formal paper was published. Perhaps they wish to avoid the type of outrageous publicity experienced by Spencer’s article.  Climate scientists are interested in the role that charged particles play so the scientists At CERN agreed to investigate the effect of cosmic rays on nitrate and sulfate aerosols.  After the experiment, the CERN cloud chamber was found to contain contaminates, so the experiment could not have proved or disproved anything. Except perhaps, considering Spencer’s paper, that climate Skeptics really don’t know clouds at all.

 Article: Blow 4. “A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found evidence that coal burning plants may actually be cooling the planet. The findings have been accepted to the point of suggesting using sulfur to combat global warming; ‘Sulfur’s ability to cool things down has led some to suggest using it in a geo-engineering feat to cool the planet.’  If anything, this study proves that the science behind the anthropogenic global warming theory is unproven.”

Charlie Brown:  The particulates from power plants cause cooling, as well as cancer and lung diseases. Particles soon settle out of the airwhile the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere keeps building up, warming the Earth much more than the cooling by the particles. We are now emitting 135 times as much CO2 as all the world’s volcanoes, but only about 7 times the particulates. The effect of particulates from volcanoes on the Earth’s temperature is well understood, so it is hard to see how this shows the “theory is unproven”.

The article concludes by noting that “the stakes are incredibly high” and then wanders off into some conspiracy theory. However, the stakes are high, and if we are not more skeptical of  the  Skeptics’ “little-known facts of science”, we are likely to find out just how high they are. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Earth stayed about the same for children in the future?

(c) 2012 J.C. Moore

Global Warming in Pictures

Thu ,01/09/2011

Science is about using observation and reason to understand the physical world. Some people are suspicious of computer models and theories; so here is the basic data about global warming in pictures and graphs.

Ice Ages: In the past, the Earth’s temperature has varied from the Ice Ages to the much warmer temperatures of the interglacial periods.  Ice core data gives a good picture of what has happened to the Earth’s temperature in the last half million years, as shown by the blue line. The changing temperatures are attributed to the Milankovitch Cycles, small variations in the Earth’s orbit that cause the Earth to receive different amounts of sunlight. The Earth becomes slowly warmer during the periods where the solar energy increases. As the Earth begins to be warmed by sunlight, CO2 becomes less soluble in the ocean and the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere increases, which further amplifies the warming since CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

As you can see in the graph, the red line shows how intricately the CO2 concentrations and temperatures are related. The CO2 concentration drops to about 180 ppm during the glacial periods and rises to about 290 ppm during the warmer interglacial periods. As the far right of the graph shows, we are now in an interglacial period that began about 6000 years ago. The Milankovitch Cycles predict that Earth should slowly cool for the next 20,000 years, but it is warming instead.  Please note that the concentration of CO2 did not rise above 300 ppm in any previous warmer periods but on the far right side of the graph, the red line indicating the CO2 concentration is now approaching 380 ppm. http://www.daviesand.com/Choices/Precautionary_Planning/New_Data/IceCores1.gif

Current CO2 Levels: In the past, the warming oceans released the CO2 as a natural process. However, man is now putting about 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year. Much of it stays there and the Keeling curve below shows how CO2 is building up in air. What might that mean for man? In 2011, the CO2 concentration reached 387 ppm, far higher than it has been for perhaps 15 million  years.

  

 This article explains what the Earth may have been like then: ”The last time carbon dioxide levels were apparently as high as they are today — global temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher , the sea level was approximately 75 to 120 feet higher, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic, and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland.”

 

Earth’s Temperature: Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases that warm the Earth. NASA’s graph below shows how its increase is changing the Earth’s temperature. Though the Earth’s mean temperature varies widely from year to year, the graph on the right is a moving average that allows you to see the trend in the temperature much easier.

                                                           htp//data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2010november/fig2.gif

  The effect of particulates, which cool the Earth, can be seen around 1991 when Mount Pinaturbo exploded. The flat place in the graph from about 1940 to 1970 is attributed to particulates generated by World War II, atmospheric atomic bomb testing, and postwar industrialization – before particulate emissions were regulated. Clearly, the Earth is getting warmer.

Record Temperatures: Nine of the 10 hottest years on record occurred in the last decade. The other record-breaking year was 1998. the chart gives the record temperatures for 50 years and the inset for the last last 160 years.

Capture

 


This has led to extreme heat waves  in areas such as Moscow.

 

Moscowjulytempanomaly2010 

 

Effect on the Weather:  According to NOAA, global warming is affecting the El Niño and La Niña ocean currents cycles which affect  the weather patterns in North America.  The cycles are occurring at higher temperatures and are becoming more unpredictable . Changes in ocean currents may be a major tipping point in climate change.

Enso-global-temp-anomalies

Effect on the Earth: Scientist tell us that the increasing CO2 concentration is leading to a warmer Earth, more extreme weather, melting glaciers and polar ice, crop failure, droughts, and wildfires. We have certainly experienced many of those things recently, which should make us think about what effect our activities are having on the Earth. Many of the changes in the Earth are subtle, but here are two of NASA’s pictures that clearly show how the Earth is changing. Between 1979 and 2010, about 30% of the Arctic ice has disappeared.

Current Sea Ice

 This has greatly affected the way of life of the native Inuit who live and hunt on the Polar ice.  While they may adapt, their way of life and culture which sustained them for centuries will be destroyed. The Polar bears, uniquely adapted to live in on the Polar ice, have been put on the threatened species list because their habitat is clearly declining.  As their habitat disappears, so will be the Polar bear. It is something man should think about – as our habitat is deteriorating, also.

 Note: This was posted on 09/01/2011 and updated on 03/06/2013 to include data that was not presented in this more comprehensive collection of pictures and graphs of global warming data.

(c) 2011/ 2013 J.C. Moore

Bits and Pieces 9: The Arctic Ice and the Inuit

Mon ,22/08/2011

“Pictures of the polar region from 1979 and 2003 clearly show that about 30% of the Arctic  ice has melted. This has greatly affected the way of life of the native Inuit who live and hunt on the Polar ice.  While some may adapt, their way of life and culture, which sustained them for centuries, will be destroyed.”

 

Although arguments still rage about whether the Arctic sea ice is disappearing, the disappearance is a fact of life for those who live near the Arctic Ocean.   The photos clearly show that the Arctic Sea ice is disappearing. A recent TulsaWorld article described how the disappearance of the Arctic sea ice has affected the lives of the native Inuit people in Greenland. Ice which used to be 2 meters thick in the winter, now grows only a few centimeters thick, far too thin to allow dogsleds to go to the nearest town, 50 miles away across the bay. They can no longer venture onto the ice to hunt for seals or walrus, a mainstay of their diet,  nor can they go out on the ice to fish. The Polar bears they sometimes hunt have no fat, as the bears cannot swim to the ice packs to hunt, and they sometimes prowl the villages looking for food.

Drilling for oil has picked up in the area as the ices disappears, but so far little oil has been found. Exploration continues, and if oil is eventually found, it carries the possibility of  economic development. But it also carries  the possibility that an oil spill, almost impossible to clean up in the icy  environment, would destroy much of the ocean life the natives now depend on for food. The sad thing is that they are being forced to change a way of life that sustained them for centuries. While some may adapt, their way of life and culture will be destroyed, and many will likely end up among the poor and unemployed.

(c) 2011 J.C. Moore

Sen. Inhofe and the Three, Maybe Four, Polar Bears

Mon ,15/08/2011

Sen. Jim Inhofe, the Senator from Oklahoma who never met an oil company executive he didn’t like, often proclaims that “Global warming is a hoax.” He often uses his Senate position on the Environment and Public Works Committee to attack climate science and to promote the interests of oil companies. He is upset that the Polar bear was put on the threatened species list, which protects the Polar bear’s habitat. Recently, Senator Inhofe sent a letter to Mary Kendall, the acting inspector general at the U.S. Department of Interior, pushing for further investigation of Dr. Charles Monnett, who Sen. Inhofe blames for the Polar bear being put on the threatened species list, although that is not the case.  It is clear what Sen. Inhofe  was thinking when he proclaimed, “As a result, critical habitat for the Polar bear was designated, which added additional layers of onerous regulations to oil and gas development in 187,000 square miles of land in Alaska.”

The September 2004 issue of National Geographic has pictures of the Polar region taken in 1979 and 2003, which shows that over that period, the extent of the polar sea ice had declined 30%. Polar bears, whose hunting grounds are the sea ice, now have to swim many miles to reach the ice – when in the past they could simply walk onto it. Dr. Monnett, who is studying the Polar bear population, counted four Polar bears who had drowned because they were caught in a storm trying to swim to the sea ice to hunt. He reported that incident in a paper on the declining habitat of the Polar bear, which was published in a peer-reviewed journal. However his survey report only reported on the drowning of three bears, because only three were in the survey area. That is a reasonable explanation for the discrepancy, however, it led to a controversy about him inflating the number of bears in his research article.

Though that happened five years ago, the Interior Department has been put under political pressure to investigate the matter and they are doing so. As Sen. Inhofe wrote in his letter, “As ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), I am committed to ensuring that scientific integrity is upheld in the federal decision-making processes”. If he really means that, perhaps he should wait for the investigation, which is hopefully being done by unbiased scientists under proper procedures, to be completed before jumping to conclusions.

The Polar bear has become a symbol of all we may lose by failing to address our pollution problems adequately. The charges against Dr. Monnett are a politically motivated witch-hunt designed to punish scientists who disagree with Sen. Inhofe’s views on global warming. The polar bears were put on the threatened species list, not because of Dr. Monnett’s work, but because their habitat is clearly declining. As their habitat disappears, so will the Polar bear. It is something man should think about – as our habitat is deteriorating, also.

(c) 2011 J.C. Moore

Is Global Warming a Hoax?

Tue ,10/05/2011

Sen. James Inhofe (R –OK) is famous for his statement, “Global warming is a hoax”. The local Tulsa newspaper often carries letters giving the opposing viewpoint. For example, Corey Cohen, recently wrote, “Sen. Inhofe, please cease your effort to stop EPA’s ability to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The science of global warming and climate change is obvious and known. For example, excessive CO2 in the atmosphere absorbs heat reflected from the ground and traps that heat in the atmosphere, melting glaciers and ice and snow packs all around the planet. A given molecule of CO2 in the atmosphere has a life of approximately 100 years. The implications are fairly obvious: rising sea levels, loss of fresh water for humans and unpredictable growing seasons for Oklahoma farmers and their winter wheat crops due to atmospheric heating.” (1)

Mr. Jack Williams replied (2) by “pointing out a few facts”  to defend Senator Inhofe’s position:

“1. More than 31,000 scientists signed a petition opposing the concept of man-made global warming.

2. More than 100 top climate scientists have expressed their opposition.

3. A dozen recognized scientists from nine countries who initially were global-warming proponents have changed their opinion and now oppose it in light of recently published information.

4. Earth has undergone many cooling and warming periods during its history.

5. Carbon dioxide constitutes less than 0.1 percent of the atmosphere while water vapor, at least as effective a greenhouse gas as CO2, ranges from about 20 to 100 times its concentration, and is quite variable.

6. There has been no measurable increase in global temperatures during the past decade.

7. The polar bear population dramatically increased during the past decade, as has ice thickness on Antarctica.”

It’s always nice to get alleged facts in a numbered list, where it is possible to check them one by one.

Endorsements: Facts one, two and three, fall into  the category of endorsements, and as with many endorsement, it is not always clear how well qualified those who endorse the position are, or whether the numbers listed are significant. There are about 23 million graduates with degrees in science and engineering. If 31,000 scientists signed the Oregon Petition, that is about 0.13% of those – hardly significant. Even then, the petition appears to be a hoax. In 1989, the Petition was mailed to thousands of Bachelor of Science students. It was formatted to appear as if it came from the National Academy of Science, but the organization quickly responded that the information was misleading and “the petition does not reflect the conclusions of expert reports of the Academy.”  The mailing collected 17,000 signatures and 14,000 have been added since. Most anyone could sign it, many who signed were misled, and many were not scientists at all, as it is possible to get BS degrees in fields such as journalism, sociology, education, philosophy… (3)

Endorsements that matter: All the major scientific organizations in the world have endorsed a statement such as that of the American Chemical Society,  ”Careful and comprehensive scientific assessments have clearly demonstrated that the Earth’s climate system is changing rapidly in response to growing atmospheric burdens of greenhouse gases and absorbing aerosol particles. There is very little room for doubt that observed climate trends are due to human activities. The threats are serious and action is urgently needed to mitigate the risks of climate change.” (4) A recent CNN poll found that 97% of scientists who are actively engaged in research in climate science agree that global warming is caused by man. (5) There is clearly a consensus among scientists on the matter and those making policy would be wise to heed it.

Warming and Cooling: Point four is a fact, but it is not relevant to what is happening today. The Earth has in the past had many natural warming and cooling periods but the current warming trend is not part of those. In the  past, ice ages and warmer interglacial periods have occurred in roughly 100,000-year cycles. These are attributed to the Milankovitch cycles. These cycles are small variations in the eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession of the Earth’s orbit that cause the amount of sunlight the Earth receives to increase and decrease in predictable cycles The cycles predict that a slow cooling trend, which began some 6,000 years ago, will continue for the next 23,000 years. The current warming trend is too rapid and in the wrong direction for the Milankovitch Cycles to be the cause. (6)

Greenhouse gases: Point five is also a fact, but it incorrectly downplays the role of  CO2  in determining the Earth’s temperature. In 1956, G.N. Plass calculated (7) that doubling the concentration of CO2 in the air would cause a 3 to 4 C increase in the Earth’s temperature. Many dismissed his work, as it seemed impossible that CO2, which made up only 0.03% of the air, could have such a large effect on temperature.   However, in 1997, J.T. Kiehl found (8) that, under clear sky conditions, CO2 accounted for 26% of the greenhouse effect – with water vapor accounting for most of the rest. More recent research (9) has confirmed their work, and CO2 has been labeled the “Control Knob” for the Earth’s temperature.  Recent research in the Journal of Climate, covering the last five ice ages, has experimentally confirmed Plass’ work. The Earth is warming because of the greenhouse gases we emit, and research finds the increase in CO2 is the main cause.

Temperature record: Fact six is based on the idea that 1998 was so hot, it couldn’t have been hotter since. However, NASA’s temperature record shows that 2005 and 2010 are tied for the warmest year on record and the last decade has been the hottest in recorded history – and the trend is yet upward (10). There have been attempts to discredit NASA’s temperature data by challenging the accuracy of the temperature recording stations, but a study of that issue by the American Geophysical Union found that claim to be false. (11) NASA has put men on the Moon and brought them home safely, and they certainly should be able to measure temperatures on the Earth correctly.

Polar Bears:  It’s true that the Polar bear population has increased, but not because the Polar ice is increasing. The bears were hunted nearly to extinction, and their population is increasing because restrictions were placed on hunting them from aircraft . Recently, Polar bears have been put on the threatened species list, not because of their numbers, but because their habitat is disappearing.  Satellite measurements of the Arctic sea ice have shown that both the volume and extent of the sea ice has decreased remarkably over the last 30 years. (12) Polar bears are uniquely adapted to live and hunt on the Arctic Sea ice. As it disappears, so will the Polar bears.

Claiming something as “fact” does not make it so. And, even facts can be misleading if the inferences drawn from them are in error.  If Senator Inhofe bases his position on facts such as those listed by Mr. Williams, it is easy to see why he incorrectly thinks global warming is a hoax.

(1)http://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/article.aspx?subjectid=62&articleid=20110313_222_G2_CUTLIN933913

(2)http://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/article.aspx?subjectid=62&articleid=20110403_62_G2_InhisM784632

(3) http://jcmooreonline.com/2010/01/29/the-oregon-petition-how-can-31000-scientists-be-wrong/

(4) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#General_science

(5) http://articles.cnn.com/2009-01-19/world/eco.globalwarmingsurvey_1_global-warming-climate-science-human-activity

(6) http://jcmooreonline.com/2010/12/31/science-global-warming-and-the-ice-age-mystery/

(7) http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm#M_25_

(8) http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/1520-0477%281997%29078%3C0197:EAGMEB%3E2.0.CO;2

(9) http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6002/356.abstract

(10) http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2010november/fig2.gif

(11)http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2009JD013094.shtml

(12) http://climateprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/NSIDC-12-10.gif

(c) 2011 J.C. Moore

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A New Tactic in the Climate Change Debate

Tue ,27/04/2010

The old tactic in the debate on climate change was denial. Some skeptics claimed that the Earth’s temperature was not rising while others claimed that any increase observed was not from man’s activities. However, the mounting scientific evidence from many fields of science can no longer be effectively denied. The latest IPCC report (1) shows that the Earth’s mean temperature is rising, that the temperature increase is changing the environment, and that the changes are caused by man’s activities. Scientists are concerned that politicians are not getting the message and every major scientific organization in the world has endorsed a statement concurring with the IPCC’s conclusion. Clearly, denial was no longer an effective option and a new tactic was needed by those profiting from the status quo.

The new tactic is being championed by Lord Nigel Lawson, a British politician who fought for years to keep British Parliament from supporting the Kyoto Treaty (2). His new book on the subject, An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming, admits global warming is occurring and that man is responsible. However, he claims that it is impossible to do anything about it, that to try would cost too much, and that a little global warming is actually a good thing. That might be true for those who live in damp, dreary England, but the book overlooks or minimizes many of the problems associated with climate change. Lord Lawson says that we shouldn’t worry as we and the Earth will adapt: “Over the past two-and-a-half-million years, a period during which the planet’s climate fluctuated substantially, remarkably few of the earth’s millions of plant and animal species became extinct. This applies not least, incidentally, to polar bears, which have been around for millennia, during which there is ample evidence that polar temperatures have varied considerably.”

The book is highly touted by some but it blithely ignores the work of many scientists and ecologists who conclude: “Many plant and animal species are unlikely to survive climate change.” (3) A recent study at Harvard “suggests quite decisively that non-native and invasive species have been the climate change winners. Invasive species can be intensely destructive to biodiversity, ecosystem function, agriculture, and human health. In the United States alone the estimated annual cost of invasive species exceeds $120 billion.” (4) As to polar bears, they have recently been put on the threatened species list because their habitat, the Arctic ice, is disappearing. Polar bears have become uniquely adapted over many thousands of years to survive and hunt on the pack ice. It is unlikely that they, and many other species, will have time to adapt to the climate changes predicted to occur over the next century.

Even if a warmer Earth were a good thing, it is not good that our oceans are becoming more acidic, that the glaciers and polar ice caps are melting, that species are becoming extinct and invasive species are proliferating. Our use of fossil fuels is putting 30 billion tons of CO2 into the air annually along with mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and radioactive isotopes of radon. Those end up in the air, the water, and the food chain. We are now finding mercury in fish where there are no natural sources and many places have limits on consumption. The oceans are now 20% more acidic and the coral, fisheries, shellfish, and oxygen-producing plankton are threatened. Ignoring those problems will not make them go away.

So, the new tactic is just a call to inaction. Rather than addressing climate change, Lord Lawson wishes for us to ignore it and adapt to it. He does miss one small thing that might become important to England. The large amounts of fresh water from the melting ice sheets may cause the Gulf Stream to shut down. Without the heat being brought across the Atlantic by the Gulf Stream, England may plunge to glacial temperatures with average winter temperatures of -25°C. England might have a little trouble adapting to that. No one knows the future, but we will be better off fashioning it rather than just letting it happen to us.

______________________________________________________________________
1)http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/spm.html
2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigel_Lawson
3) http://www.nature.com/nature/links/040108/040108-1.html
4) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100203111626.htm

Science, Polar Bears, and the "Coming Ice Age" Story

Mon ,26/10/2009

Those who do not believe the Earth is warming have promoted the “Global Cooling” and the “Coming Ice Age” stories to discredit the scientific evidence. George Will in “Can Bears Survive Ice Age and Global Warming?” 1 champions these stories but his article has a number of flaws- besides the awkward title. How can you trust science, he asks, when in the 1970s the scientists were predicting the coming of a new Ice Age  but now scientists claim that the Earth is warming. To prove his point, George will quoted an article in the February 1973 Science Digest that said “the world’s climatologists are agreed” that we must “prepare for the next ice age”. Case closed. 

 Well, perhaps not.  The Science Digest published excerpts of articles from other sources. Like in the game of “Gossip”, George Will quotes Science Digest who quotes the Christian Science Monitor who quotes ….   Clearly, the world’s climatologists had not agreed  as there is an article in the same issue that quotes  Dr. Cesare Emiliani, a noted American geologist who warned, “If the present climate balance is not maintained, we may soon be confronted by runaway glaciation or runaway deglaciation.”  Why would Mr. Will quote one article and ignore the other?

Mr. Will’s story is “Not true.” also says climatologist Thomas C. Peterson of the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C..  To prove it, he and his colleagues surveyed all major journal papers on climatology published between 1965 and 1979.   They report that in that time period “only seven articles predicted that the global average temperature would continue to cool, 44 journal papers indicated that the average temperature would rise and 20 were neutral or made no climate predictions.” 2 Mr. Will’s quote is clearly wrong but he has persisted in using it. Ignorance is no excuse as John Fleck, one of the authors of the survey, reported he sent Mr. Will an advance copy of the article in May of 2008.

The bears entered into this story because the Department of Interior had just put the polar bear on the threatened species list. That was simply a decision made by scientists who study bears and climate. The polar bear is uniquely adapted to live and hunt on sea ice and there is ample evidence that the polar sea ice is disappearing.3 Satellite photos of the Artic region taken in 1979 and in 2003 clearly show that 30% of the sea ice has disappeared. But to George Will, this was a conspiracy between scientists, litigious environmentalists, federal judges and government officials to control everything in his life.  Using polar bears as a lever, he claims, the Endangered Species Act could be used to prohibit the building of a power plant in Arizona, driving a SUV, or leaving your cell phone charger plugged in overnight. Well, the bears are a threatened species, not an endangered species, and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne pointed out that the Endangered Species Act could not be used to limit greenhouse gases. However, George Will apparently believes in the power of exaggeration and the “slippery slope” theory.

 (1)  http://www.tulsaworld.com/TWPDFs/2008/Final/W_052308_A_18.

 (2)  Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, September 2008

 (3)  See, for instance, the before (1979) and after (2003) satellite pictures in National Geographic (September 2004, page 21). The pictures show about a third of the polar sea ice disappeared between 1979 and 2003.