BY Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian
The scientist credited as being the first to convince Tony Blair of the urgency of the climate crisis has accused green activists of being Luddites who risk setting back the fight against global warming. In an interview with the Guardian today Sir David King, who stepped down last month after seven years as the government’s chief scientific adviser, says any approach that does not focus on technological solutions to climate change - including nuclear power - is one of “utter hopelessness”.
He says: “There is a suspicion, and I have that suspicion myself, that a large number of people who label themselves ‘green’ are actually keen to take us back to the 18th or even the 17th century.” He characterises their argument as “let’s get away from all the technological gizmos and developments of the 20th century”. “People say ‘well, we’ll just use less energy.’ Come on,” he says. “And then there’s the real world, where everyone is aspiring to the sort of standard of living that we have, which is based on a large energy consumption.” Read more here.
As the NSIDC and others have reported the Antarctic set a new record (since satellite records began in 1979) for extent of sea ice this past winter. The IPCC report noted that Antarctica with the possible exception of the region near the Antarctic Peninsula appeared to be stable and unlikely to show much decline and may with increased snowfall actually build snow and ice. But that hasn’t stopped the claims that the melting of Antarctica is a risk. Steve Milloy of Junk Science reports on the latest study and then looks at some actual data.
A Globe and Mail story Antarctic ice sheet shrinking at faster rate noted one of the biggest worries about global warming has been its potential to affect the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet, a vast storehouse of frozen water that would inundate the world’s coastal regions if it were to melt because of a warming climate.
But a new study presents a worrisome development: Antarctica’s ice sheet is shrinking, at a rate that increased dramatically from 1996 to 2006. In an e-mail, Dr. Rignot (the study’s lead author) attributed the shrinkage in the ice sheet to an upwelling of warm waters along the Antarctic coast, which is causing some glaciers to flow more rapidly into the ocean. He suspects the trend is due to global warming, and isn’t part of a normal natural fluctuation.
Junk Science Comments:
Our guess is it’ll be at least next week before competing statistics says the Antarctic is gaining ice mass. What isn’t highlighted in this piece is that this again relies on PlayStation® climatology. Meanwhile JunkScience reader M O’R has beaten us to checking the data, pointing out that the Antarctic Peninsula (the region of alleged ice loss) shows dramatic cooling over the last year.
See full size image here
See the full Junk Science story here with more data points surrounding the peninsula and a google map link.
Icecap Note: That cooling was this year and there is no disputing as one emailer noted that warming has occurred near the Antarctic Peninsula in recent years while temperatures have been steady or cooling in the vast interior. Another email today to Icecap noted the following about the globe and mail story: “...after many paragraphs of scare mongering in the story you linked to, we have this nugget of truth in the LAST sentence in the story. “One encouraging finding from the study is that the largest ice sheet, the one covering East Antarctica, has remained relatively stable, showing a small net gain in size.” The untold fact left out of this global warming hysteria fear mongering piece of journalism is that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is about 12% the size of the East Antarctic Ice sheet. The larger, growing East Antarctic Ice Sheet contains 26 million cubic kilometers of ice. The less stable West Antarctic Ice Sheet contains 3 million cubic kilometers of ice.”
The most pessimistic predictions of sea level rises as ice sheets are melted by global warming may have to be scaled back as a result of an extraordinary discovery that ice persisted when the Earth was much hotter than today. Scientists have discovered that glaciers survived for hundreds of thousands of years during an extraordinary era when crocodiles roamed the Arctic and the tropical Atlantic Ocean was as warm as human blood. They had thought that Earth was ice free during the so called Turonian period, a “super greenhouse world” between 93.5 million and 89.3 million years ago. But now evidence has been found of hothouse glaciers that persisted by studies of tiny plankton and other marine organisms.
Large ice-sheets existed about 91 million years ago, during one of the warmest periods in the past 500 million years, an international team of scientists reports in Science. The scientists from the UK, Germany, USA and Netherlands found evidence of an approximate 200,000 year period of widespread glaciation, with ice sheets about 60 per cent the size of the modern Antarctic ice cap. Professor Thomas Wagner, of Newcastle University, says: “Speculation about whether large ice caps could have formed during short periods of the Earth’s warmest interval has a long history in geology and climate research, but there has never been final conclusive evidence. Our research from tropical marine sediments provides strong evidence that large ice sheets indeed did exist for short periods of the Cretaceous, despite the fact that the world was a much hotter place than it is today, or is likely to be in the near future’,
Today, the Antarctic ice cap stores enough water to raise sea level by about 60 metres if the whole mass melted and flowed back into the ocean. But the new results are consistent with independent evidence that sea level fell by about 25-40 metres at this time. Sea level is known to fall as water is removed from the oceans to build continental ice-sheets and to rise as ice melts and returns to the sea. Dr André Bornemann, who led the research at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, University of California, and who has since moved to Leipzig University, Germany, says it is not clear where such a large mass of ice could have existed when the Earth was so hot or how ice growth could have started. ‘This study demonstrates that even these super-warm climates were not warm enough to always prevent ice growth. “However, paradoxically past greenhouse climates may actually have aided ice growth by increasing the amount of moisture in the atmosphere and creating more winter snowfall at high elevations and high latitudes,’ he said. Read more here.