Bellamy mystery solved

Hey, remember when David Bellamy claimed?

Indeed, if you take all the evidence that is rarely mentioned by the Kyotoists into consideration, 555 of all the 625 glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich, Switzerland, have been growing since 1980.

And George Monbiot’s heroic efforts to track down the source of this claim? Bellamy got it from a crackpot web site (“The next ice age could begin any day”), which got it from Larouche’s 21st Century Science, which got from SEPP (presumably S Fred Singer):

The World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich, Switzerland, in a paper published in Science in 1989, noted that between 1926 and 1960 more than 70 percent of 625 mountain glaciers in the [mid-latitude] United States, Soviet Union, Iceland, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy were retreating. After 1980, however, 55 percent of these same glaciers were advancing.

That’s where the trail went cold, because there was no such paper published in Science in 1989. Well, it seems that the source was a paper published in Arctic and Alpine Research, not Science. And it was published in 1988, not 1989. And it wasn’t written by The World Glacier Monitoring Service but by Fred Wood of the OTA. And it didn’t say that 55% of 625 glaciers were advancing, but that 55% of 446 glaciers were advancing. And it wasn’t since 1980 it was from 1979 to 1980. So the only thing that SEPP/Singer got right about the article was the 55% number. And that was the bit that Bellamy turned into 555. So as well as Bellamy’s statement being wrong overall (the vast majority of observed mountain glaciers are actually retreating), every single part of it was wrong.

(Via Peter O’Neill at Climate Audit, who in the usual Climate Audit way thinks that Monbiot needs to make a correction, not Bellamy.)

Comments

  1. #1 El Cid
    July 26, 2008

    You fancy pants panicky enviro-whackoes with your ‘facts’ and your ‘science’ need to learn how to listen to these people who know how to read with true eyes.

  2. #2 ben
    July 26, 2008

    Linden Larouche is definitely my favorite nut-job lefty. We have ours, you have yours, such is Mango.

  3. #3 blf
    July 26, 2008

    Linden LaRouche? That not only takes the biscuit, can, oil drum, and nuked baby whale, it it it … so astonished he sputters to halt and wipes the spilt coffee off the keyboard

  4. #4 z
    July 26, 2008

    this is how memes are born. try typing 55%, but miss the shift key. bingo.

  5. #5 James Lane
    July 26, 2008

    Actually, the exact quote from the abstract of Wood (1988) is:

    “Between 1960 and 1980, on the basis of data for about 400 to 450 glaciers observed each year, advancing glaciers are shown to have increased from about 6% of observed glaciers to 55%.”

  6. #6 Peregrine
    July 27, 2008

    Congrats Tim on that piece of forensic detective work. I think that kind of misquoting and misinterpretation exists even in academic circles, what a shame it could make such a potential impact in muddying the waters on an issue as significant as climate change.

  7. #7 ChrisC
    July 27, 2008

    Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to call LaRouche a lefty, but he is certainly closer to the left end of the spectrum than towards the conservative end. But yes, I’ll agree with ben, he is definately my favourite nutjob. Who could forget Homer Simpson’s classic remark “Aliens. bioduplication. Nude conspriacies! Lydon LaRouche was right!”.

  8. #8 dhogaza
    July 27, 2008

    Actually, James Lane is correct, what is strange though, is how …

    Warmer, wetter, weather with higher annual precip rates is thought to somehow disprove global warming?

    For instance:

    Wolverine Glacier (60.4°N, 148.9°W) on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, isstudied by the U.S. Geological Survey to investigate climate, glaciers,and glacier-fed rivers. The glacier terminus is receding, but massbalance measurements at three sites indicate that glacier growth isoccurring, and the growth is related surprisingly to climatic warmingwith associated increases in mountain precipitation, especially snowfall

    Here we have a glacier which is both growing and receeding. Receeding because increased warming at the terminous has increased the rate of melting, while growing because at higher elevations, annual snowfall has increased.

  9. #9 James Lane
    July 27, 2008

    dhogaza, I never said anything about disproving global warming. All mountain glaciers experience a tension between precipitation at the top and melt at the bottom.

    Is your position that retreat and advance are both evidence of GW? Otherwise your point is banal.

  10. #10 san quintin
    July 27, 2008

    James Lane
    there is no surprise that many mountain glaciers advanced in the 1970s and 80s. What is clear is that the vast majority are now in recession, and this recession is reaching a level not seen for 5-7,000 years. Combine this with the melting of other parts of the cryosphere and you have a pretty good example of how AGW is affecting the landscape.

  11. #11 Georg Hoffmann
    July 27, 2008

    Just by coincidence I got the latest Glacier Mass Balance (2004-2005) Bulletin. Actually at the WGMS they have 105 glaciers under observations. From these 105 4 glaciers in Norway and two in Russia had a positive massballance.
    If you think about it (the amount of noise you would assume in such a global network) it is really astonishing how few outlyers there are. The glaciers are all going back and nearly everywhere.
    I already asked on my webside for at least one advancing glacier (on a climatological scale of more than a decade). Just one.
    http://primaklima.blogg.de/eintrag.php?id=13

  12. #12 James Lane
    July 27, 2008

    san quintin: Whay is it no surprise that many mountain glaciers advanced in the 1970s and 80s?

    Georg: I believe both the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers in New Zealand are advancing.

    I’m agnostic about glaciers. There are several hundred thousand glaciers on the planet, probably less than 1% are “observed”.

    Real Climate has a nice graphic of long-term glacial retreat, with the inconvenient fact that most glacial retreat started about 1850, before industrialisation and as one would expect in a rebound from the Little Ice Age:

    http://tiny.cc/K9nvd

    I doubt that glaciers (as currently surveyed) have much to tell us about AGW

  13. #13 dhogaza
    July 27, 2008

    Is your position that retreat and advance are both evidence of GW? Otherwise your point is banal.

    It’s not my position, it’s the explanation given by working scientists for changes in the Wolverine Glacier, documented empirically (they know more snow is falling, they know the foot is receeding).

    I’m agnostic about glaciers.

    Yeah, right. Because you understand the data doesn’t support your denialist position, right?

    There are several hundred thousand glaciers on the planet, probably less than 1% are “observed”.

    Annually. You forgot the all-important annually word. And you’re forgetting the power of stastical analysis. And you’re forgetting that the world has warmed significantly since 1980 and that any increase in precipitation at the head of most glaciers is being outweighed by increased melting.

    Real Climate has a nice graphic of long-term glacial retreat, with the inconvenient fact that most glacial retreat started about 1850, before industrialisation and as one would expect in a rebound from the Little Ice Age.

    Except for the inconvenient truth that glacier retreat has been *accelerating* as one would expect with 20th century AGW-driven warming.

    Indeed, from the Real Climate article you so kindly referenced:

    Indeed, the reconstruction of temperature from glacier data is notable for having a rather distinctive “hockey stick” shape

    Oops. Europe, only, no one has done the reconstruction globally, but it is consistent with what we know of the long-term trend from other paleoclimate reconstructions.

    In other words, consistent with CO2-driven AGW, not with non-AGW warming only.

  14. #14 san quintin
    July 27, 2008

    Hi James. In many maritime mountain regions (where glaciers are accumulation-driven) the 70s and 80s were wetter than now.

    You are right that only a small percent of the world’s glaciers are studied in detail, but wrong to suggest that we don’t know about the rest. For instance, accurate measurements on Patagonian glaciers are only available for a handfull, yet we have used remote sensing to know that the rest (over 400) have receded over the past century.

    Why wouldn’t you expect glaciers to respond to the AGW that multiple lines of evidence have shown is occurring?

  15. #15 James Lane
    July 27, 2008

    Sam,

    “Why wouldn’t you expect glaciers to respond to the AGW that multiple lines of evidence have shown is occurring?”

    As I said I expect glaciers to be retreating as a result of warming, but I don’t think it says anything about anthropogenic warming. As the RC graphic shows, glacial retreat began about 1850, before anthropogenic influence.

    You say retreat is accelerating. Have you got good cite for that? Wood (1988) says that “between 1960 and 1980, on the basis of data for about 400 to 450 glaciers observed each year, advancing glaciers are shown to have increased from about 6% of observed glaciers to 55%.” That’s an impressive statistic, but you say it’s “no surprise”, because “in many maritime mountain regions (where glaciers are accumulation-driven) the 70s and 80s were wetter than now.” Got a cite for that one (setting aside the fact that we’re talking about the 60s and 70s)?

    “You are right that only a small percent of the world’s glaciers are studied in detail, but wrong to suggest that we don’t know about the rest.”

    Nonsense, there are several hundred thousand glaciers on Earth, and only a paltry number are observed by direct observation or remote sensing.

    dhogaza, I can see you’re keen on glacial retreat as an indicator of AGW. My position is that the evidence says nothing either way. I’m unimpressed by the RC comment as it doesn’t seem to me to be consistent with the evidence. I’m not an expert on glaciers, but I’ve taken a keen interest in the literature over a few years. If you have better citations I’m willing to be persuaded.

  16. #16 san quintin
    July 27, 2008

    Hi James. You said: “there are several hundred thousand glaciers on Earth, and only a paltry number are observed by direct observation or remote sensing”.

    You are wrong.

    You also said: “I’m not an expert on glaciers”.

    I’m afraid it shows.

  17. #17 Luna_the_cat
    July 27, 2008

    James Lane — not to mention the fact that the Industrial Revolution was already well under way in the 1850s, with the UK and Europe’s “dark, satanic mills” burning tonnes of coal and pumping out tonnes of soot and smog. Everything was steam-powered and gaslit by around 1840 — what do you think they burned to power that?

  18. #18 san quintin
    July 27, 2008

    Having re-read some of the previous posts, I missed a point. I think it would be difficult to formally attribute glacier recession to AGW, but we don’t need to as there are loads of other ways in which this is achieved. What glacier recession does tell us is that warming is ocurring, and is global, and is not the result of UHI. And will likely have important implications for mountain communities (hazards, water supply etc).

  19. #19 James Lane
    July 27, 2008

    Fair enough san. I said I’m not an expert, but since you are, a few simple questions:

    1) How many glaciers are there on earth (if you like, round it off to the nearest 100,000)?

    2) How many are directly observed?

    3) How many are observed by remote sensing? Be careful with this one as you earlier wrote “yet we have used remote sensing to know that the rest (over 400) have receded over the past century.” I’m really interested in this remote sensing technology that goes back 100 years, can you provide further details?

    And you don’t provide any of the cites I asked for.

  20. #20 James Lane
    July 27, 2008

    I cross-posted with san and generally agree with his #18.

    For luna the cat (if that really is your name) the early pollution at the start of the industrial revolution was aerosols, agreed by both “sides” to have a cooling effect. C02 is presumed to kick in much later.

  21. #21 san quintin
    July 27, 2008

    Hi James. Apologies if I was rude. You are right that only a small proportion of the world’s glaciers are directly observed. But this invariably means that these are the ones where mass balance data are regularly taken. For instance, in the Tian Shan there are detailed balance data from only a handful of glaciers, but there has been over 100 years of observations on the rest.

    In Patagonia we know the age of the glacier recession because of 50 years of moraine mapping, lichenometry and dendrochonology. A similar situation exists in Iceland, Scaninavia, the European Alps, New Zealand,North America, China with historical photos, archives etc adding to the data.

    This means we know that the age of the late-Holocene recession from the majority of the world’s mountain glaciers, even if few have been intensively studied.

    Check out journals like: J. Glaciology, Geografiska Annaler, Global and Planetary Change.

    Difficult to count glaciers (problems with defining them) but I’ve heard estimates over 200,000.

    Hope this helps.

  22. #22 dhogaza
    July 27, 2008

    I think it would be difficult to formally attribute glacier recession to AGW, but we don’t need to as there are loads of other ways in which this is achieved. What glacier recession does tell us is that warming is ocurring, and is global, and is not the result of UHI.

    Exactly. It is consistent with warming (no matter what cause) and as the RC piece pointed to by James Lane states, existing reconstructions are consistent with “hockey stick” warming from 1600.

    James is cute in a sweet, imbecilic way. Note how he cites a graph from RC that he feels supports his denialist claims, yet at the same time says

    I’m unimpressed by the RC comment as it doesn’t seem to me to be consistent with the evidence

    It’s actually a refereed paper James is disagreeing with, and his evidence for its not being consistent with the evidence? His waving hand trumps actual physical empirical evidence, THAT’S his so-called evidence.

    For luna the cat (if that really is your name) the early pollution at the start of the industrial revolution was aerosols, agreed by both “sides” to have a cooling effect. C02 is presumed to kick in much later.

    Um, it doesn’t matter how dirty the coal furnace is, it’s still emitting CO2 if it’s burning coal.

    “wow” level of ignorance in that claim.

    Now, CO2 emissions were a hell of a lot lower in 1850 than they were 50 years later (not to mention today), but you seem to be claiming first that 1850 was “pre-industrial”, then when caught out wrong on that, that in 1850 coal was being burned by some magic process that generates soot but not CO2.

    Ha!

    And of course James Lane rests his case on glacial retreat on a paper that only covers the period 1960 to 1980. 1980 was 28 years ago and of COURSE glaciers AND SCIENCE(!) have stood still all that time. Yessirreebob!

    As for the number of glaciers in the world, it’s about 100,000 but we don’t need to measure them all in order to build a picture as to what’s happening.

    Statistics was invented for a reason.

  23. #23 san quintin
    July 27, 2008

    Re number of glaciers. With GW the number will probably increase as big ones break up into small ones. Should be a field day for the sceptics!

  24. #24 luminous beauty
    July 27, 2008

    Jam,

    linkee .

    Look around. Rub the ‘a’ off ‘agnostic’.

  25. #25 luminous beauty
    July 27, 2008

    Jam,

    linkee .

    Look around. Rub the ‘a’ off ‘agnostic’.

  26. #26 Ed Darrell
    July 27, 2008

    This Wood fellow from “OTA” — Office of Technology Assessment? If so, I’d love to see the conclusion of the paper. (If not, I’m curious what “OTA” is an acronym for.)

    I have my own personal glacier that I watch, and a few others I nod to occasionally. The glacier on the backside of Utah’s Mt. Timpanogos has been in dramatic decline since about 1980. Those I know at Glacier National Park, the same. Can anyone name a glacier that is not in long-term decline since 1850?

  27. #27 James Lane
    July 28, 2008

    dhogaza,

    I wasn’t trying to make a case. I was trying to have a civil conversation, as I was with “san” If you want to insult me, then I’ve lost interest. I can’t believe you’d be this rude in real life.

  28. #28 dhogaza
    July 28, 2008

    I can’t believe you’d be this rude in real life.

    Is that sort of like believing that glaciers tell us nothing about global warming?

  29. #29 James Wimberley
    July 28, 2008

    Ben: it’s Lyndon not Linden LaRouche. Even nutjobs have mothers.

  30. #30 John Mashey
    July 28, 2008

    For useful data sources, and comments by serious glacier expert mauri Pelto, see Climate Progress, and especially, explore my favorite glacier website by the Swiss, who tend to know and care about glaciers, and keep typically-Swiss meticulous records.

  31. #31 Glacial Intellect
    November 9, 2008

    Glaciers smaciers. Even if Bellamy is wrong about glaciers, who cares? The ‘scientific’ basis of AGW is still flawed to the point of being laughable.. The earth may or may not be warming, but mankind almost _certainly_ can’t do anything about it.

  32. #32 Jason
    November 11, 2008

    So I guess that means you would be that rude in real life. When you fail at persuading someone with intelligent conversation, go right into insults. I’m sure that will convince people that you’re right.