A new round of Antarctic ice alarm

March 28, 2015

The alarm of a catastrophic meltdown of the Antarctic cycles up and down every year or two.  A journal article says the rate of melt is increasing, the popular press picks up on it and breathlessly warns about huge sea level rises sinking coastal cities around the world. We are told that x number of gigatonnes of ice per year are being dumped off the continent and wreaking their havoc on the world.   Then another study says “not so fast,” the mass losses aren’t that great after all.  Or, some crazy old skeptics ruin all the fun by recklessly bringing some logic to the discussion.

Today we have “Volume loss from Antarctic ice shelves is accelerating” (Paolo, et. al., Science, 2015).  The abstract warns us

“Overall, average ice-shelf volume change accelerated from negligible loss at 25 ± 64 km3 per year for 1994-2003 to rapid loss of 310 ± 74 km3 per year for 2003-2012.”

310 km3 per year (roughly the same as 310 gigatonnes per year) is pretty high compared to most other estimates. So you will probably see many references to this number because the bigger and scarier the more the press likes it.  But for the more sober minded, consider the following comparison of ice loss estimates from “Ice sheet mass balance and climate change” (Hanna, et. al., Nature, 2013)

Various estimates of ice mass change in the antarctic

Various estimates of ice mass change in the Antarctic

How does the recent Science paper compare?  If we place it on estimate plots from Hanna’s paper it would look like this..

Ice sheet mass balance and climate change - Hanna - Nature - 2013 v4

The Paolo Nature paper is an outlier.  But lets take them at their word.  They say that the Antarctic, on average, shed about 300 more Gigatonnes of ice per year during the 2003 to 2012 period than during the 1994 to 2003 period.  Where did all this ice go?  In to the oceans, of course.  That is why we have the great sea level rise scare.

So it follows that the sea level should have been rising faster during the 2003 to 2012 period than during the 1994 to 2003 year period.  How much faster?  Well, every gigatonne of water dumped into the oceans raises the sea level by about 2.78 microns. So 300 gigatonnes of extra water per year would raise the sea levels about an extra 840 microns a year, or about an extra 0.84 mm per year.  We are told that satellite data indicates that the global sea level is rising about 3 mm per year.  0.84 mm per year is a significant fraction of 3 mm per year, so such a rate increase should really stand out in the sea level rise data..

Well, here is some of that satellite sea level rise data…

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This discussion has been about ice that is moving from the land to the sea and raising the sea level.  But let’s take a quick moment to look at the sea ice that surrounds Antarctica.  While this ice does not contribute to changes in the sea level, it does say something about the conditions in that area.

seaice_anomaly_antarctic - Cryosphere Today 150328

Do you see a trend?  I see a trend.  And I know there are variety of “just-so stories” to explain away this trend, but I am unconvinced.


Between 1994 and 2003 the average sea level rise rate was 3.77 mm/yr, according to satellite data (University of Colorado).  If the Antarctic were depositing an average of about 300 more gigatonnes of water in the ocean per year in the following years (2003 to 2012), then the average sea level rise rage from 2003 to 2012 should have increased by about 0.84 m/yr, to 4.61 mm/yr.

Instead, the average sea level rise rate from 2003 to 2012 dropped to 2.66 mm/yr.

The claim of a huge rise in ice loss from the Antarctic over this period is quite implausible.


Alarmism at Scientific American (again)

February 24, 2015

Scientific American is such an embarrassment.  It’s sad, because I used to like that magazine.

Once again they are shills for the global warming alarmists, scaring people with wildly exaggerated claims about sea level rise.  This time Colin Sullivan writes that the sea level at New York City could increase by six feet by 2100.

Heat waves and floods caused by climate change could mean disaster for the Big Apple’s five boroughs by the end of the century, with sea levels now predicted by a new report to climb by as much as 6 feet by 2100.

Really?  6 feet by 2100????

First, lets start with a minor point.  Real scientists and science writers usually don’t use “feet,” they use meters.  So why does Scientific American use “feet?”  My guess is that it is some linear combination of the following two reasons: the Scientific America audience isn’t really scientifically literate these days, and “6 feet” sounds like more than “2 meters” (even though it is actually slightly less).

Now, lets get to the major point.  Any responsible journalist writing about sea level rise in at New York City would present the historical data.  There are nearly 150 years of sea level rise data available for The Battery (at the southern tip of Manhattan) from NOAA


Do you notice that the sea level rise is less than 3 mm/year?  Can you detect an acceleration over the past 150 years?  The sea level at the Battery will go up about 22 cm by 2100 at the present rate.  To go up 6 feet (1.83 meters) by 2100 it would have to look something like this…

Battery sea level rise extended 4

There is a part of me that wants to heap invective on Colin Sullivan and Scientific American, but I realize that while that may make me feel better, it will not help the situation.  So I will simply ask them, “Why don’t you show the actual historic data?”  It seems like a no-brainer, and anything less is journalistic malpractice.

Deniers and Alarmists

People like me have been branded with the “denier” epithet.  Why this particular word?  We are called “deniers” an ugly attempt to link us with Holocaust deniers.  It is an inaccurate and unfair moniker.

But we tend to call those at the other end of the spectrum “alarmists.”  Is that an unfair accusation?  I don’t think so, and this Scientific American article demonstrates why.  They pretend to be an objective source, but leave out the most pertinent data.  I can only think of two possible reasons for this: they are just stupid, or they want to cause a state of alarm.  I may be charitable in assigning the second motive.  “Alarmist” is an accurate and fair epithet for them.


Strategy for Protecting Freedom of Speech

January 17, 2015

The world is grappling with how to handle Islamist extremists.  The lynch pin of advanced civilizations is the freedom of speech, and the Islamist extremist now see this as one of our vulnerabilities.  By taking down this one pillar, the integrity of the entire structure trembles.

I propose what I will call the “expanding infidel group” strategy.  

The center of the infidel group will be those individuals or organizations who have already published ideas, including cartoons and satire, that the Islamic extremist condemn with threat of death.  

The outside part of the infidel group will be individuals or organizations who pledge support to the inside part.  Specifically, they will pledge to also publish ideas that the Islamic extremists object to if somebody from the inside of the infidel group is attacked.  

Attacks on our freedom of speech would then be guaranteed to expand the very thing they attack. 

Further, civilized societies will step up retribution against individuals who carry out attacks, as well as their social support groups and supporting organizations.  

We have seen this already happening in effect with the courageous groups that have defied the Islamic extremists by republishing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and the 50-fold increase in the sales of the Charlie Hebdo issue after the massacre, and the rapid advance of various European police forces on suspected terrorist groups.

I propose the above as an organizing principle.

I would say to US news organizations that have not published the offending cartoons: it is not too late to do so, or pledge to do so (or more) if further attacks occur.


Seven IPCC Claims Refuted

December 8, 2014

Roger Andrews addresses seven claims of the IPCC Working Group 2.  I know that oil people are supposed to be automatically suspect, but open your mind and read what Andrews has to say as he handily addresses these points…

Claim 1: Glaciers continue to shrink almost worldwide due to climate change

Claim 2: Many terrestrial, freshwater, and marine species have shifted their geographic ranges ….. in response to ongoing climate change.

Claim 3: While only a few recent species extinctions have been attributed as yet to climate change, natural global climate change at rates slower than current anthropogenic climate change caused significant ecosystem shifts and species extinctions during the past millions of years.

Claim 4: Based on many studies covering a wide range of regions and crops, negative impacts of climate change on crop yields have been more common than positive impacts.

Claim 5: Impacts from recent climate-related extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones, and wildfires, reveal significant vulnerability and exposure of some ecosystems and many human systems to current climate variability.

Claim 6: At present the worldwide burden of human ill-health from climate change is relatively small … and is not well quantified. However, there has been increased heat-related mortality and decreased cold-related mortality in some regions as a result of warming.

Claim 7: Violent conflict increases vulnerability to climate change.

Here is a teaser.

Part of Andrews’ responses for claims 1 and 4…

Glacier length

World Grain Production

Read Roger Andrews’ Latest IPCC Findings Undermine Climate Change Claims at OilPrice.com.


Victor Davis Hansen has his say about “climate change”

December 3, 2014

Hansen sums up the phenomena of global warming alarmism in two ripping paragraphs…

Take also global warming — for Secretary of State John Kerry, the world’s greatest challenge. Once the planet did not heat up in the last 18 years, and once the ice of the polar caps did not melt away, global warming begat climate change. The new nomenclature was a clever effort to link all occasional weather extremities to some underlying and fundamental climate disruption. Brilliant though the strategy was — the opposites of cold/hot, drought/deluges, and calm/storms could now all be used as proof of permanent climate change — global warming finally was hoist on its own petard: If it caused everything, then it caused nothing.

So, in the end, what was global warming? It seems to have grown up largely as a late-20th-century critique of global-market capitalism by elites who had done so well by it that they had won the luxury of caricaturing the very source of their privilege. Global warming proved a near secular religion that filled a deep psychological longing for some sort of transcendent meaning among mostly secular Western grandees. In reality, the global-warming creed had scant effect on the lifestyles of the high priests who promulgated it. Al Gore did not cut back on his jet-fueled and lucrative proselytizing. Obama did not become the first president who, on principle, traveled with a reduced and green entourage. Solyndra did not run a model transparent company as proof of the nobility of the cause. As in the case of illegal immigration, the losers from the global-warming fad are the working and middle classes, who do not have the capital to be unharmed by the restrictions on cheap, carbon-based fuels.

See Hansen’s comments on global warming alarmism and other topics in Liberalism in Ruins.


Interstellar – Others agree with me

November 20, 2014

I never considered myself very informed about popular culture. I haven’t watched TV in years and my interests lean to the geeky. But I am pleased that my observations about the movie Interstellar are shared by others.

How Ken Burns’ surprise role in ‘Interstellar’ explains the movie

‘Interstellar’s’ Rejection of Climate Change Hysteria

It seems the the thought police and editors are getting a little sloppy.  The re-education camps may get a little crowded


Interstellar – spoiler alert

November 16, 2014

InterstellarAll in all, a pretty good movie. Very creative in many respects. If you like science fiction, I recommend it.

Spoiler alert – The following observation about the movie “Interstellar” will give away part of the plot.

In the movie Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) flies through a wormhole to find several previous expeditions that have been exploring planets in another galaxy for colonization by humans trying to escape a dying Earth.  Each one of these planets has been visited by a single astronaut to collect data to determine its suitability.  The situation is desperate.  A series of mishaps reduces Cooper’s  resources and forces him and his crew to choose a single one of the planets to visit and to abandon the others. 

They make their decision based on the data they have already received from the competing planets.  The astronaut on one of the planets is a famous scientist named “Dr. Mann” (Matt Damon).  His data is compelling enough to cause Cooper to choose his planet.  Cooper uses his remaining resources to find Dr. Mann and his planet, only to find that Mann had fudged his data and that his planet is a wasteland.  Mann insists he fudged his data for the benefit of mankind – right up to the moment the liar gets sucked into the vacuum of space.

I wonder if the producers of this movie picked the nameMannfor some political reason.  I can dream can’t I?

Update 11/16/14 10:30pm:

Noah Gittell at The Atlantic is upset because global warming is surely the culprit for the Earth’s demise in Interstellar, it is never explicitly named.  He says…

Climate change is never mentioned by name in the film, but writer/director Christopher Nolan uses its imagery to define the terms of his story. Interstellar is set in a near-future Earth on the verge of total ecological collapse, with drastic changes in weather patterns and devastating food shortages driving human beings to the brink of extinction.

This upsets Gittell, so he says the movie is a “good space film, bad climate-change parable.”

Really?  Maybe that is because it is not a “climate-change parable” at all.

The movie explains the planet is being ravaged by crop blights. The drastic weather changes the The Atlantic refers to are depicted in large part by real interviews with elderly people who lived through the dust bowl (lifted from Ken Burns Dust Bowl documentary).  But in the movie these interviews are supposed to be from elderly people in the future looking back at their experiences during the demise of the planet.

Global warming, climate change, and CO2 are never mentioned.  However, the character Professor Brand (Michael Caine), vaguely explains something to the effect of decreasing Oxygen levels in the atmosphere due to the crop blights.

So, according to Gittell, Interstellar is describing global warming by using references to the dust bowl, which occurred in the 1930s before significant increases in CO2 and by referring to crop blights, which have been occurring since humans have cultivated crops.

Not too bright Gittell.


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