Cause for alarm?  Or minor natural variation?

The following alarmist paragraph seems typical of what we read today: “The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot. Reports all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone.  Expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met with as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared.”

Yet in fact it’s a quote from the US Weather Bureau dated 1922, ninety years ago.  There are other similar reports from the late 19th and early 20th century.  Climate alarmism is not a new or recent phenomenon.  We read breathless accounts of Russian icebreakers making their way through Arctic seas as though this was unprecedented, yet similar voyages are recorded a century ago.

During the 10,000 years of the current Interglacial (and arguably for much longer) there has been a natural climate cycle of warming and cooling of around 1000 years.  In the last 2000 years we’ve seen the Roman Optimum, the much cooler Dark Ages, the Mediæval Warm Period, and the Little Ice Age of the 17th & 18th centuries.  The best interpretation of the slight warming in the last 150 years is nothing to do with human activity and industrial emissions (which it pre-dates), but simply a recovery from the Little Ice Age and the beginning of a new 21st Century Optimum.  We should be glad of it, since all history shows that mankind generally does better in warmer periods than in cooler periods.

It is true that around the world glaciers are retreating — although rather slowly, and not consistently.  But geological evidence shows exactly what we should expect — that glaciers tend to grow in cool periods, and retreat in warm periods.  So far, so obvious.  We should expect similar effects with sea ice.  Yet over the last ten years Arctic ice cover has shown little variation — again, this is what we might expect, since even Prof Phil Jones of the UEA CRU has admitted that there has been no statistically significant global warming for fifteen years.

Nor can we expect significant changes in sea level.  It’s worth noting that despite the media hysteria, sea level changes are very small indeed.  In fact the painstaking studies of people like oceanographer Nils-Axel Mörner over decades show almost no sea level variation around islands like Tuvalu and the Maldives — those poster-children for climate alarmism.  Nor should we expect sea level change.  Arctic sea ice is floating, so when it melts it doesn’t affect sea level (Archimedes).  Any melting of the Greenland ice shield might add to sea level.  But the slight warming which could affect Greenland has also increased precipitation in Antarctica, where ice mass is tending to increase (and temperatures don’t seem to be rising).  There were dramatic sea level rises at the beginning of the current interglacial (creating inter alia the English Channel, and separating Britain from France), but the rate of rise has decreased ever since.

Al Gore famously illustrated a polar bear on an ice floe.  He seems oblivious of the fact that the bear is perhaps the best swimmer amongst terrestrial mammals, or that they survived the previous Interglacial — the Eemian, 100,000 years ago — perfectly well.  The polar bear is the animal of choice for Warmist propaganda.   Yet recent studies show that far from suffering in the heat, polar bear populations are doing rather well, with substantially increasing numbers.  Similar comments apply to penguins in the Antarctic.  The BBC highlighted a “scientific report” in 2009 predicting that global warming would decimate Emperor penguins.  Yet a couple of weeks back it reported a new study showing the Emperor penguin population to be double the previous estimate.

The global warming scare is hopelessly over-hyped.  It’s time to get it into perspective.

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34 Responses to ARCTIC ICE COVER

  1. Andrew Shakespeare says:

    That photo is a famous one, having been used relentlessly by the alarmists as an example of a polar bear marooned on a melting iceberg, and facing the imminent prospect of drowning.

    I remember some time ago reading a commentary by the photographer. In fact, polar bears love to play with ice flows, using them as climbing frames. This wasn’t a case of a terrified polar bear contemplating death miles out to sea on a melting iceberg. It was amusing itself, having had quite enough to eat and feeling comfortable and content.

  2. John Russell says:

    So that’s the story according to Roger Helmer; a politician.
    Now here’s the story according to NASA’s scientists:

    • rfhmep says:

      Great evidence, that, John. Even NASA agrees that the change in mean temperatures over the last 130 years is well less than one degree centigrade — so, as I said, comparable to the run-up to the Roman Optimum and the Mediaeval Warm Period. Thank you for confirming my thesis. And remember that the NASA view on warming is widely questioned, and is driven by James Hansen, Al Gore’s mate, who is a noted alarmist. Maybe you’d like to come to Chicago later this month for the Heartland Climate Conference, where you’d meet hundreds of distinguished scientists (some of whom will have been IPCC panellists) who dissent from the “orthodoxy”. Although maybe I should stop calling it the orthodoxy — I find very few people believe it these days.

      • Andrew Shakespeare says:

        Few people believe it, Roger, but that doesn’t stop our government throwing enormous proportions of my children’s inheritance at it, and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it, because the opposition proposes doing precisely the same.

        And they wonder why nobody can be bothered to vote any more. I find myself contemplating the old anarchist’s slogan that “If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it” with rather less contempt than I did a few years ago.

      • John Russell says:

        Thanks Roger; glad you agree that NASA knows what it’s talking about.

        Aha! The great ‘1 degree C is not much’ meme! Well there’s a huge amount of thermal inertia, as 94% of the warming that results from our fossil-fuelled activities goes into heating up the oceans. And it’s also the case that atmospheric pollution we create suppresses the warming by increasing albedo. So the warming we’ve experienced so far is being attenuated for the moment, but is exactly what the IPCC predicted for this time. Remember that just 8 degrees C is the difference between the temperature today and that during the coldest part of the last ice age — so, globally speaking, a small change is all it takes to generate a big impact. So we’re only just starting out on a hell of an experiment.

        As for the Heartland shindig: ‘…hundreds of distinguished scientists’? You must be joking. With respect; you and your fellow complacents have a great ability to mutually deceive yourselves.

  3. neilfutureboy says:

    Try for a listing of, usually, alternating warming and cooling scares going back to 1895.

    • John Russell says:

      Scientists just publish their findings which can be right or wrong to varying degrees: only time and other scientists’ work will indicate which is the case. ‘Scares’ are the work of the newspapers, who take the scientists’ work and make exciting ‘stories’ out of it.

      Does the fact there have been ‘scare stories’ in the past mean all science is wrong? Of course not. And even if it did, it would mean science that you like (such as immunisation) is as tainted as that which you deny (like global warming, perhaps?).

  4. David W. says:

    President William Jefferson Clinton let us all in on the dirty little liberal secret, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” And was it Eric Holder who said to never let a good crisis go to waste?

    The left doesn’t know when to quit, especially when there’s money and power to gain; which is precisely why you won’t see any of the crisis constructors, nor their mindless minions, admit they’re wrong about AGW, global warming, climate change, climate disruption, weather weirding (WHATEVER!!!!!). It’s alll about defining who makes money (the establishment, the well-heeled and well-positioned) and who pays (everybody else, especially productive classes) by force of law.

    Greed, lust for power run amok!!

    • John Russell says:

      I would agree that some science is liked by some people because it appeals to their politics. However, the same is true in reverse. Rejecting science because it doesn’t fit with one’s politics is a dangerous path to tread. One needs to adopt an objectivity to these matters.

      • David W. says:

        Observation often reveals patterns to the observer; in the case of AGW, global warming, climate change, climate disruption, weather weirding (WHATEVER!!!), the only real consensus is the public is suffering abuse at the hands of “believers”.

        Get rid of the soothsayers who claim to have all the answers (Hansen, Gore, et al), and replace them with objective scientists, then perhaps we can find out what’s really happening. As it stands, the AGW, global warming, climate change, climate disruption, weather weirding (WHATEVER!!!) is among the greatest scams mankind has suffered to date.

  5. rfhmep says:

    John: I didn’t say that NASA (or its alarmist spokesmen) knew what they were talking about: I said that the first thing I happened to read when I followed your link, confirmed what I was saying. I see you’re using the old “It’s the particulates that are slowing things down” line, previously used to explain the cooling between 1945 and 1975. You’re just plain wrong when you say that temperature is following predcitions: there has been no warming for fifteen years (so says Phil Jones of UEA/CRU), and the trajectory is well below all the alarmist forecasts. As for Heartland: just read the list of contributors. Rather more impressive than the railway engineers and GreenPeace propagandists on the IPCC panel!

    • Andrew Shakespeare says:

      If temperature were following predictions, we’d be halfway to frying by now.

    • John Russell says:

      Roger, I’d very much like to take you up on some of your points in this blog post and your following comments, starting with your repeated point that according to Phil Jones of UEA/CRU, there has been no warming for fifteen years. However, before I begin, please can we agree ‘terms of engagement’? I’ll keep it simple.

      First: we should both agree to respond to each other’s posts — neither of us can just ‘disappear’. Second: the debate/discussion — call it what you will — will end when one of us admits defeat (I think that’s an unlikely occurrence) or says we’ve had enough. Third: when one of says we’ve had enough, we both agree that that will not be an admission of defeat, but that your readers can decide for themselves what that means. Fourth: if any of your readers wade in with ad hominem attacks on either of us, you will agree to delete their comment in full. Fifth and last: we both agree to stick to the content of this original post and not to introduce new topics.

      Roger; I know you are very clever and an honourable man. I trust you find this suggestion fair. If you agree to this we can both enjoy giving this subject a good airing. If you want to suggest any variation on these ‘rules of engagement’, just propose them and I’ll decide whether I want to continue.

  6. EU Hypocrisy says:

    Try these links which may be of interest ?

    Dr Syun Ichi Akasofu founding Director and Professor of Physics, Emeritus, of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks from its establishment in 1998 until January of 2007. Dr Akasofu has published more than 550 professional journal articles.

    Dr Akasofu, in his peer reviewed work, has evidenced that recent Arctic warming is entirely consistent with what would be expected of the earth’s recovery from the Little Ice Age

    Here, for reference, are two of his papers :

    “it is shown that the Earth has been warming from about 1800–1850 to 2000 at approximately the same rate, so that there is no definitive proof that “most” of the warming after 1975 is due to a manmade greenhouse effect (Figure 2b). This is simply their hypothesis. It is well known that CO2 molecules can cause the greenhouse effect and that its amount in the atmosphere is increasing, so it is natural to hypothesize that CO2 is one of the causes of the warming trend. However, it is not appropriate to conclude a priori that the 0.6°C rise is mostly due to human causes without carefully subtracting the contributions of natural changes. Natural causes are almost ignored in the IPCC study except for some obvious causes (e.g., solar changes and volcano effects). The results presented in this paper show that natural changes are substantial and, further, that there is nothing unusual about the present temperature rise.”

    And also a further paper here :

  7. Mike Spilligan says:

    Mr H: Referring to John Russell’s latest comment, as a regular reader and sometime commenter, I’d rather not see long interchanges without much hope of a satisfactory “closure” – and in any case I don’t see why he should try to use your blog as his forum with his rules; he should create his own blog. Most of your readers, I would assume know where they can read longer dialogues on these matters in any case.
    By the way, I’m so glad that Professor James Lovelock has admitted that his forecasts of climate catastrophe were so very wrong, having discovered that our planet wasn’t reacting as it should to his “models”.

  8. Paul says:

    Roger, a must watch. Extremely informative video debunking the myth:

    • John Russell says:

      Dr David Evans gained a PhD in electrical engineering at Stanford in the 1980s. He has no expertise in climate science nor in modelling climate. But, like every lay person, he is, of course, entitled to an opinion.

      • matthu says:

        Dr David Evans consulted full-time for the Australian Greenhouse Office from 1999 to 2005, and part-time to the Department of Climate Change from 2008 to 2010, modeling Australia’s carbon in plants, debris, mulch, soils, and forestry and agricultural products. Evans is a mathematician and engineer, with six university degrees including a PhD from Stanford University.

        I would say that probably qualifies him rather better than most to evaluate empirical evidence and comment on feedbacks and modelling.

      • Andrew Shakespeare says:

        It is frequently pointed out just how few alarmists have any qualifications in climate change either: Al Gore, for example, or James Lovelock (inventor of the Gaia hypothesis, which he admitted a couple of weeks ago was wrong

        But I’ve never seen one of your lot apparently consider that a disqualification. Why do you set the bar so much higher for those scientists who disagree with you?

  9. matthu says:

    John Russell – I assume you are aware that 49 former NASA scientists and astronauts sent a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden last month admonishing the agency for it’s role in advocating a high degree of certainty that man-made CO2 is a major cause of climate change while neglecting empirical evidence that calls the theory into question?

    Selected excerpts from the letter:

    ■“The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.”
    ■“We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated.”
    ■“We request that NASA refrain from including unproven and unsupported remarks in its future releases and websites on this subject.”

    • John Russell says:

      No, I’m not aware that “…49 former NASA scientists and astronauts sent a letter to NASA…”. I am aware that 49 former NASA employees, mainly administrators and engineers but with a few astronauts and a couple of scientists, sent a letter. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that NASA currently employs 18,000 people, so in total we can probably assume that they have at least 100,000 ‘former employees’.

      Are you aware of the reply they received from NASA’s chief scientist? I recommend it:

      • matthu says:

        “As an agency, NASA does not draw conclusions and issue ‘claims’ about research findings.”

        Does that mean that NASA is disassociating themselves from any of the statements made by James Hansen the? (Dr. James Hansen heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and is Adjunct Professor of Earth
        and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.)

        Or perhaps NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati is totally unaware what James Hansen advocates from time to time while fully in the employ of NASA?

      • John Russell says:

        Hansen’s opinions are his own, not NASA’s — though some of his colleagues agree with him. NASA don’t censor their employees, as the statement from their Chief Scientist indicates.

        Everyone is allowed personal opinions. Perhaps we should listen to those of a climate scientist about the subject area in which he or she works. They are, after all, more informed opinions than we’ll hear from non-scientists.

  10. Paul says:

    John Russel, so you choose to believe unqualified climate scientists such as Al Gore, George Monbiot, Ed Milliband, David Cameron, Caroline Lucas etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum. Yes you go ahead and believe all you want about the issue but please remember that there is little difference between climate alarmists and Jehovah s witnesses who equally believe the end of the world as we know it.

  11. matthu says:

    James Hansen describes himself as a Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences – but perhaps that doesn’t qualify him as a climate scientist. Either way, it is interesting that you should consider a climate scientist as being somehow distinct from say a scientist from any other scientific discipline such as say, physics or astronomy or mathematical statistics and more qualified to make a pronouncement about the veracity of climate models.

    Because it is precisely the failure of climate scientists (shall we call them climate change scientists?) to consider all of the evidence and all of the branches of science that that has led them to make such alarmist claims.

    When we have the mis-application of mathematical statistics, an over-reliance on computer models that have never been properly verified, a willingness to suppress adverse data and an apparent unwillingness by otherwsie reputable scientists to make a stand against these practices, that is not the way to win converts.

    We really do need to start looking at the empirical evidence.

    When we have had cooling oceans since 2003 (ever since we started measuring oceans properly), evidence from ice cores, stalagmites, sediments, and isotopes and over 6000 boreholes around the world which all point to temperatures in medieval times being about 0.5°C warmer world wide than they bare today (and only contradicted by several rather suspect analyses of tree ring data that only work if you surreptitiously disregard data after 1960 because it would otherwise throw the whole reliability of the rest of the data into doubt), evidence from 28 million weather balloons that fail to pinpoint any heating in the iupper troposphere (in the absence of which all of the amplification and most of the warming in the climate models is thrown into doubt) and on top of all this, we have not had any warming trend for over 15 years (and this last point is getting to be statistically significant if we consider the very small proportion of climate model runs that failed to exhibit any warming trend over a period as long as 15 years) then we really do need to scale back on the alarmism and show a little more humility.

  12. David H. Walker says:

    Among the greatest ironies are those employees of the World Bank proudly strutting as economic experts and, conveniently, climate change experts.

    With regard to Mr. Russell, you can throw the science out. It’s not about science; never has been and never will be no matter how much the Hansen’s and Gore’s insist. Their amibition is power, prestige and wealth regardless of how tall the tale.

    1. Create the perception of crisis.
    2. Proffer your own convenient, pre-determined solution.
    3. Lobby your convenient solution into law.
    4. Profit by force at the expense of the masses.
    5. Fein another crisis to sucker more of the naive, gullible, etc.

    Even John Russell acknowledges this process occurs across the political spectrum.

    Don’t watch the hand in your face; watch the hand behind his back.

  13. matthu says:

    The problem is that the convenient, pre-determined solution was sold to the electorate as being necessary to lower the cost of energy and create jobs. And it has done exactly the opposite. To the extent that even our rather apathetic electorate can smell a fish.

    Which is why I will not support any political party that fails to distance itself pretty smartly from climate alarmism – and, of course, closer integration with Europe.

    • David H. Walker says:

      As you know, the idea has not been to make energy more affordable and create jobs; it has been to mandate specific products and methods, which are conveniently marketed and manufactured by the appointed “stakeholders”.

      Economics 101: If you want the price of a service or item to increase, mandate its use especially if its less effective than otherwise conventional, competitive services or items. Again, it’s ironic that so many “economics experts” at the World Bank are also “climate experts”. The correlation reveals many likely conflicts in interests if not criminal activities, much like the Iraq food-for-fuel fiasco brought to the UN by the likes of Mr. Climate Summit himself, Maurice Strong (an energy tycoon). Hilarious and maddening.

      • Andrew Shakespeare says:

        If you want the price of a service or item to increase, mandate its use especially if its less effective than otherwise conventional, competitive services or items.

        And then, in Britain’s case, at least, artificially increase the price of said conventional items so that pet project becomes competitive. If this means that millions of families have to choose between heating their homes and feeding their children, redefine “fuel poverty” so that they don’t count in the statistics any more. Callous and disgraceful.

  14. machokong says:

    Thanks for the insight Roger but we really do need references for all points made, this makes it easier for everybody else. I don’t know if you have a helper for this, but I think it’s lacking on both sides of the argument.

    I want hyperlinks, not just an asterisks, something official.


    • matthu says:

      Have you tried Google? (Nothing that Roger has said strikes me as being particularly contentious.)

  15. RB says:

    Hansen is not a climate scientist. He is a curator with an activist agenda who fiddles with temperature records but who pontificates about all sorts of climate impacts and other systems about which he, as an astrophysicist, has very little expertise. No doubt admirers consider him a principled man. I am entirely suspicious of him and his motives. There is no way to tell with him in respect of science and activism as to which is informing which.

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