Good Bye Glaciers

Most of the world’s mountain glaciers are either totally melted or reduced significantly in size. For every one of these glaciers, there’s somebody who will tell you that that particular glacier has disappeared or is disappearing for some reason that has nothing to do with anthropogenic global warming. Once, some guy tried to convince me that one of the world’s major tropical glaciers was melting away as a result of global cooling.

It used to be that I thought of people like that as poorly informed. Then, I changed my mind when I realized that you can’t be THAT poorly informed, and that you must be either some sort of idiot or a person with very questionable motivations and a strong dishonest streak to support such ideas. But those times have gone by as well. Even people who for a log time denied the reality of anthropogenic global warming, and in particular the significance of the startling fact that the world’s mountain glaciers are all either reduced or gone (with one single exception that I know of), have stopped saying that. The only people left are the crazy ones. You have to be absolutely nuts to think that global warming is not real, human caused, and responsible for the melting of all that ice.

I’m reminded of all this by the following photograph that NASA just sent me:

i-3f80a500656e5fdd891b6d66669161f3-alaska-640-thumb-500x273-73880.jpg
The retreat of Pedersen Glacier in Alaska. Left: summer 1917. Right: summer 2005. Image credit: 1917 photo captured by Louis H. Pedersen; 2005 photo taken by Bruce F. Molnia. Source: The Glacier Photograph Collection, National Snow and Ice Data Center /World Data Center for Glaciology

NASA posted this because Earth Day is just around the corner.

My question for you is this: Why is it that the first Earth Day was decades ago but we’ve done almost nothing to address global warming?

Comments

  1. #1 Jim Thomerson
    April 19, 2012
  2. #2 Greg Laden
    April 19, 2012

    Well, the Zurich study confirms the GRACE study ( http://goo.gl/t3J1X ) more or less.

    All the glaciers (but one that I know of) are melting. That the Himalayan glaciers are melting less quickly than previously estimated is nice, but they’re still melting.

  3. #3 Pffft (Your Mom)
    April 20, 2012

    Ever hear of “The Great Lakes”? Might want to research that.

  4. #4 Eric
    April 20, 2012

    I believe the Karakoram glaciers have, on average, been gaining mass and volume.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    April 20, 2012

    Eric, that is the glacial region I was thinking of as the exception.

    Pfft, I live a short distance from the “Great Lakes” … and for a while in the past, I lived just four blocks from them, so yes, I have!

    Are you trying to make some sort of comparison between the melting of continental glaciers at the end of the Ice Age and AGW happening now? Because if you are, stop now, that’s irrelevant denialist crap and we don’t really need it here.

    Having said that, it is fun to notice that the great lakes and many other lakes in this region really are giant puddles left behind from the melting of those enormous glaciers. But the relevance of that to the current discussion is pretty much zero.

  6. #6 Pffft (Your Mom)
    April 20, 2012

    Glacier Bay was first surveyed in detail in 1794 by a team from the H.M.S. Discovery, captained by George Vancouver. At the time the survey produced showed a mere indentation in the shoreline. That massive glacier was more than 4,000 feet thick in places, up to 20 miles wide, and extended more than 100 miles to the St. Elias mountain range.

    By 1879, however, naturalist John Muir discovered that the ice had retreated more than 30 miles forming an actual bay. By 1916, the Grand Pacific Glacier – the main glacier credited with carving the bay – had melted back 60 miles to the head of what is now Tarr Inlet.

    1879.

    1916.

    lol

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    April 20, 2012

    PFfft, you are making the argument that glaciers melting at the turn of the century obviates AGW as an explanation. That is a common mistake made by people who don’t know much about climate, climate change, or global warming. The global warming trend is not something that started the day after YOU first heard of it. It is something that started in the middle of the 19th century, with accelerations subsequent to that.

    The Industrial Revolution, which started in the late 18th century in England and really took off in the mid 19th century in many other places including the US was fueled by the burning of enormous amounts of coal.

    Your denialism is stupid and annoying. Take it somewhere else, please.

  8. #8 dean
    April 20, 2012

    The amount of Great Lakes surface area covered by ice during the winter has also been trending down.

    http://www.miskeptics.org/2012/03/great-lakes-ice-coverage-down-71-percent-since-1973/

    I can’t read the U.S. Meteorological Society article referenced in that link – I don’t have a subscription. It covers through 2010; satellite imagery from this winter showed only 5% of the Great Lakes surface was ice covered. The long-term average is about 40%.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    April 20, 2012

    And for lakes generally. Most, if not all, of the winter time fishing fests in the lower two thirds of the state of Minneosta have been cancelled permanently or have become hit or miss because of the very very regular and reliable icing over not happening (iceover happens, usually, but the ice is too thin).

  10. #10 MadScientist
    April 20, 2012

    But … “Lord” Monckton says the glaciers are growing! Black is white, night is day, good is bad … four legs good, two legs baaad!

  11. #11 pffffft. (your cousin)
    April 21, 2012

    “The Industrial Revolution, which started in the late 18th century in England and really took off in the mid 19th century in many other places including the US was fueled by the burning of enormous amounts of coal.”

    1879

    1916

    LMFAO! dumbass.

    scientist? or just another liberal DUMBASS? you choose.

  12. #12 pffffft. (your cousin)
    April 21, 2012

    “The Industrial Revolution, which started in the late 18th century in England and really took off in the mid 19th century in many other places including the US was fueled by the burning of enormous amounts of coal.”

    1879

    1916

    LMFAO! dumbass.

    scientist? or just another liberal DUMBASS? you choose.

  13. #13 pffffft. (your cousin)
    April 21, 2012

    “The Industrial Revolution, which started in the late 18th century in England and really took off in the mid 19th century in many other places including the US was fueled by the burning of enormous amounts of coal.”

    1879

    1916

    LMFAO! dumbass.

    scientist? or just another liberal DUMBASS? you choose.

  14. #14 Robert
    April 22, 2012

    “Why is it that the first Earth Day was decades ago but we’ve done almost nothing to address global warming?”

    As I remember,(that was my sophmore high school year) when Earth Day first started we were anticipating global cooling.

    Winters sure have changed since then. They are no where as long or as cold as I remember them to be.

  15. #15 Silas
    Iowa
    February 3, 2014

    Climate change is false Mr.Laden, I would urge you to research this before publishing it.

  16. #16 Silas
    Iowa
    February 3, 2014

    I apologise Mr.Laden, that was my estranged mother!
    I completely agree with you :)