Says The Canadian Free Press (warning: it has lots of stupid ads on it). I wonder what it is? But not very much. What does it *say*?

Well, its an attempt to counter Gores movie (oh good, that means people are worried by it…). There is much of the same-old-septic-rubbish in there, but a new (and bizarre argument): that we shouldn’t think a vast majority are convinced by GW, because we should only count a small number of those who actually understand detection and attribution.

This is a very funny argument, because of course none of the skeptics are in this category. What most of the skeptics quoted in the article are, are “former” this or that – something of a hint that its the Old Guard. And lots of geologists, for some odd reason.

Some of the septic gunk: ”paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth’s temperature over this [geologic] time frame‘ – this is silly. If you’re arguing at this level you have nothing. As the ice core record makes clear, there is a very good correlation between CO2 and T, over the last 650 kyr. You can argue which one leads, but the correlation is definitely very high. Patterson is going into the further past, for reasons of his own, where the records are much poorer.

Closer to home, KarlĂ©n clarifies that the ‘mass balance’ of Antarctica is positive – more snow is accumulating than melting off. As a result, Ball explains, there is an increase in the ‘calving’ of icebergs as the ice dome of Antarctica is growing and flowing to the oceans This is (a) duboius and (b) irrelevant. Last I heard, the mass balance is pretty hard to say, in absolute terms, but not terribly important – the base rate is factored into the observed sea level rise. What matters are changes to it. I very much doubt that snowfall in the interior is going to affect calving rates in the near future. OTOH A meltdown is simply not a realistic scenario in the foreseeable future is close to fair-enough: a collapse of West Antarctica is conceivable, but not likely. Over in the Arctic, they have some quibbling (see-also John Flecks recent about a new paper on Arctic T trends… interesting) but there is no doubt that Arctic sea ice has declined over the last few decades; see also the RC Greenland stuf from a while back.

I have some measure of sympathy for them: the best evidence for global warming is… that the globe is getting warmer. But that makes for boring pictures, so calving icesheets is more fun in a movie (I haven’t seen it, BTW). But thats no excuse for deliberately distorting things in return.

Comments

  1. #1 jp
    2006/06/15

    Why so many geologists? Good question. The outward appearance is that some geologists are simply not capable of thinking at the temporal scale that is appropriate to the subject matter of AGW. For example, while I am delighted to learn that near tropical conditions were prevalent in the high Arctic in the early Tertiary, it is absolutely irrelevant to the coming decades. Of course not all geologists are so inclined, over 25 years ago in my first undergraduate geology lecture William Fyfe impressed two points upon us: (1) geology is worthy of study and relevant to our lives, and (2) we (humans) are the most important agents of change on this planet. He was correct.

  2. #2 Q
    2006/06/16

    jp sounds like William Fyfe had it in a ‘nutshell’ 25 years ago.

    The thing is people like their cars or ‘personal space’ vehicles, and americans like cheap gasoline. People have an inherent faith that the rain + wind will clean away any pollution or sins, as if by ‘magic’. But you still need the garbage man to clear the garbage, and you need to recycle more or reduce garbage (and landfill sites), if you do not want to be buried by garbage. The same applies to CO2 emissions and greenhouse gas, no good thinking the atmosphere will recycle it ad infinitum, there is a ‘physical & chemical’ limit to how much it can recycle naturally, before it becomes even more evident (and hotter) that it is accumulating and Man is affecting Climate. Q

  3. #3 Eli Rabett
    2006/06/17

    Think Louis Hissink and his obsessions. A pretty typical mineral geologist.

  4. #4 ron
    2006/06/19

    THe “no correlation” statement is followed by “when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years”. Is such a “fact” (temperature AND CO2 levels 450 MILLION years ago) knowable?

    [I don't really know, but I'm pretty sure (discusssions elsehwre I can't remember) that this is very much a cherry-picked factoid -W]

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