Thursday, June 15, 2006


Global warming skeptic, that’s me, or rather an AGW (anthropogenic or man-made global warming) skeptic. Why? Because Mars is warming up too and I don’t think the Martians drive SUVs, because the sun’s output has gone up over the last thirty years and may have been going up over the last century, because CO2 is not the main greenhouse gas and we’re only contributing 3.5% to the total anyway, and because AGW is a banner that has been taken up by anti-capitalists and green luddites across the world. Mmm, glad to have got that off my chest – now to the meat of the matter.

On a message board I was recently arguing about this, about how the Antarctic stubbornly refuses to comply with with the disaster merchants' predictions, when someone who has acquired the label there of ‘Red Sue’ (no points for guessing her stance on AGW) told me the articles I’d been refering to were out of date. She kindly updated me with the article below:

The Antarctic ice sheet is losing as much as 36 cubic miles of ice a year in a trend that scientists link to global warming, according to a new paper that provides the first evidence that the sheet's total mass is shrinking significantly. The new findings, which are being published today in the journal Science, suggest that global sea level could rise substantially over the next several centuries. It is one of a slew of scientific papers in recent weeks that have sought to gauge the impact of climate change on the world's oceans and lakes. Just last month two researchers reported that Greenland's glaciers are melting into the sea twice as fast as previously believed, and a separate paper in Science today predicts that by the end of this century lakes and streams on one-fourth of the African continent could be drying up because of higher temperatures. The new Antarctic measurements, using data from two NASA satellites called the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), found that the amount of water pouring annually from the ice sheet into the ocean -- equivalent to the amount of water the United States uses in three months -- is causing global sea level to rise by 0.4 millimeters a year. The continent holds 90 percent of the world's ice, and the disappearance of even its smaller West Antarctic ice sheet could raise worldwide sea levels by an estimated 20 feet. "The ice sheet is losing mass at a significant rate," said Isabella Velicogna, the study's lead author and a research scientist at Colorado University at Boulder's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. "It's a good indicator of how the climate is changing. It tells us we have to pay attention."

Scary stuff hey? We’re all heading towards disaster, right?


Take some key phrases from the article and study them closely:

"global sea level could rise substantially over the next several centuries ... to rise by 0.4 millimeters a year ... could raise worldwide sea levels by an estimated 20 feet"

Now let me do the math for you. There are 25.4 millimeters in an inch, 12 inches in a foot, so a rise of 20 feet equals 6096mm. Divide that by 0.4 and guess what (shock horror disaster) a 20 foot rise in sea levels in about 15,000 years. Obviously "several centuries" in this case means about 150 of them. It is alarmist crap like the above that’s misleading an awful lot of people.


Anonymous said...

I feel you should know i am handing this link out to people.

stick this in your pipe and smoke it Mr. The-Sky-Is-falling Gore.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait for global warming, about time Wales had some bloody sunshine!

Anonymous said...

Well said Neal, although I think we are responsible for a measurable amount of global warming, eg. 17th century importing cattle to argentina = huge increase in methane, but counter that with the loss of the dinosour, what is the mean level of temprature on this planet? its a balance, if the balance moves to a level that precludes human life well tough titty we should be more adaptable! mother nature will ensure life continues in one form or another.
Thats my fatalistic view, probably no major changes different to that have already occured during Man's relatively brief sojourn on this planet.

see you Bro

Anonymous said...

That's pretty much my view, too. Plus when you add in the urban heat island effect, and consider the urbanization of the past hundred years, well....

Anonymous said...

OK. But what if at the top of the solar cycle, where the planet can cope naturally there's our 3.5% that represents the tipping point. And instead of 0.4mm per year it starts to run away (say it's just enough to release the trapped methane underneath the antartic sheet begins to escape (as it is)) and the rate climbs.

Or not. Even if you don't buy into the gloom and doom scenario there's still the polution to deal with and so it does seem to do the opposite of harm to lower emissions and who knows it might make an even bigger difference. One less mouth to feed is... one less mouth to feed. 2 for 1 is always a good deal.

Living on an island you think you'd be more concerned. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi Neal,

if you'd like some more information on why the Antarctic isn't exhibiting the behaviour that we might expect, have a look at this.
In fact, the quantity and density of information from working scientists makes the whole realclimate blog a gold mine.

PS - Thanks for pointing me to the Atom feed.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Duncan, and it's all pro AGW as are all the links from that site.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with some of the comments made by botanist (and global-warming heretic) David Bellamy - in effect saying that world temperatures have been going up and down like a yoyo from before history began. All part of life on planet Earth.

Every time we have a 1976-type heatwave in the UK, it's global warming. Hurricane Katrina? Global warming. Rising gun crime? Global warming.

OK, I made the last one up. But I'm sure that whatever bad happens in the world, global warming must be behind it, somehow. ;-)

Anonymous said...

One thing to rralize, AGW's been going on for a long (by human standards) time:
(or , if munged)
Quite a nice book, Fits in well with the ongoing paradigm shift re early man's reshaping of the global environment.

And keep up that hot & nasty skiffy coming, Neal!

Cheers -- Pete Tillman
Consulting Geologist, Arizona and New Mexico (USA)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Peter. Interesting links, and more evidence of how the certainty of the AGW pundits is not certain at all.

Anonymous said...

So, even presuming that the info is correct, there's no chance of acceleration?

Willing to bet that the rate is just linear

"...glaciers in Greenland are accelerating in response to climate warming. The loss of ice doubled between 1996 and 2005."

You may be worried or annoyed about those who claim we should be too worried, but I'm equally concerned about the "Head-in-the-sanders" who say we shouldn't worry at all, or the "No-single-raindrop-thinks-it's-responsible-for-the-flooders" who say the Humans aren't responsible for the results.

If you are standing in the road with a chance of getting run over, doesn't it make more sense to get out of the road a bit rather than arguing about how you got there?

A few metres and Londoners need snorkels.

A few centimetres and Londoners will have much more than perpetual drizzle and fog to be concerned with.

The biggest problem with the skeptics is that they think it's sooooo far off (decades, centuries) that they are unwilling to consider doing anything about it. Re-read your modern history and see how long it takes people to get together on an issue and make any real progress (decades, centuries). And we're talking about a global coordinated effort to make any progress.

Maybe what we should really be looking at is whether or not we can make any change. If we can't, maybe we should look at leaving 'Spaceship Earth' altogether.