Alarmist global warming claims melt under scientific scrutiny?

So says the Chicago Sun-Times. Oh dear. But what are these claims? For example, Gore claims that Himalayan glaciers are shrinking and global warming is to blame. Does he? I suppose he might, though I don't remember it myself. Whats the rebuttal? Yet the September 2006 issue of the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate reported, "Glaciers are growing in the Himalayan Mountains, confounding global warming alarmists who recently claimed the glaciers were shrinking and that global warming was to blame." Curious language for J Climate, no? Makes one suspicious. No ref, of course. But what about Himalayan Glaciers Are Growing ... and Confounding Global Warming Alarmists by the Heartland institute? That seems to be the source. And says: Glaciers are growing in the Himalayan Mountains, confounding global warming alarmists who have recently claimed the glaciers were shrinking and that global warming was to blame. A new study of the Karakoram, Hindu Kush, and Western Himalaya mountain ranges by researchers at England's Newcastle University shows consistent recent growth among the region's glaciers. Researchers found cooler summers are failing to melt winter snows, which are themselves becoming more frequent, resulting in advancing ice sheets.

Which is then enough to turn up Conflicting Signals of Climatic Change in the Upper Indus Basin by Fowler and Archer DOI: 10.1175/JCLI3860.1. Whose abstract concludes:

The impact of observed seasonal temperature trend on runoff is explored using derived regression relationships. Decreases of â¼20% in summer runoff in the rivers Hunza and Shyok are estimated to have resulted from the observed 1°C fall in mean summer temperature since 1961, with even greater reductions in spring months. The observed downward trend in summer temperature and runoff is consistent with the observed thickening and expansion of Karakoram glaciers, in contrast to widespread decay and retreat in the eastern Himalayas. This suggests that the western Himalayas are showing a different response to global warming than other parts of the globe.

So, that morhped from obs thickening in some and widespread decay elsewhere in the paper into the accurate but misleading list of areas of growth into the assertion of growth only in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Motto: as ever: don't trust the papers to get science right.

[Update: Deltoid had this first -W]

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man made global warming is the greatest lie . dont believe global warming. al gore is a showman . he makes own market

[Indeed, don't rely on Gore, read the IPCC -W]

Glacier monitoring and glacier recession seems to be a very young science, and James Taylor appears to take advantage of this elsewhere in referring to this 2002 paper by Braithwaite where, on the basis of a study of 246 glaciers, Braithwaite states:

There is no obvious common or global trend of increasing glacier melt in recent years, and the data mainly reflect variations on intra and inter-regional scales, which need more study in future.

Which seems to be a call to not rush to conclusions one way or the other. Taylor of course, far from taking this advice to heart, uses it to attack "alarmists" for over-reaching.

On the other hand, Roger, in a 2006 lit review, seems more sure of his conclusion:

Mountain glaciers are key indicators of climate change, although the climatic variables involved differ regionally and temporally. Nevertheless, there has been substantial glacier retreat since the Little Ice Age and this has accelerated over the last two to three decades. Documenting these changes is hampered by the paucity of observational data. This review outlines the measurements that are available, new techniques that incorporate remotely sensed data, and major findings around the world. The focus is on changes in glacier area, rather than estimates of mass balance and volume changes that address the role of glacier melt in global sea-level rise. The glacier observations needed for global climate monitoring are also outlined.

Now, I'm no scientist (and I'm certainly not a concern troll), but isn't there a tension here?

As for me, I reckon papers can be right or wrong, but I see "Heartland Institute" on anything, and think woah! - I'll be surprised if there's any truth and balance here.

If memory serve me, I think what Gore had to say about Himalayan glaciers was the risk associated with their loss, given their importance to the water supply to a substantial area of both India and China.

I may be wrong, but I don't remember him saying that they are shrinking, just why we should be concerned if they did (like so many other mountain glaciers).

In the defense of the Sun Times, its neither their news division nor their editorial board writing this piece. Rather, its an op-ed from James Taylor at none other than the Heartland Institute.

That said, the selection of op-ed pieces does say something about the integrity of a newspaper.

I'm sorry, but when Al Gore says "the debate is over" even when the IPCC acknowledges that human induced global warming is still very, very much a theory and much more information is needed only shows that he doesn't really care about the science, but rather the world's environmental response to "fix" global warming. He's an opportunist making a buck on all of this. All this BS about concensus, and when facts, or opposing and credible theories arguing against global warming are presented, the references are always suspect or bought and paid for by the oil companies. The simple fact that water vapor is by far an more effective green house gas responsible for about 95% of the GH effect. Where's the campaign against water vapor? We have about the same amount of influence on water vapor levels as we do on CO2 levels, which is to say next to nothing.

[I have my problems with the way that Gore presents some matters. But its clear you've been sold a pup. Or two, in fact. Firstly, your 95% figure for water vapour is wrong. Secondly we clearly do directly influence CO2 levels but only indirectly influence WV.

The most obvious reason for believing that humans influence CO2 is the huge spike in recent times; see for example fig 1 of . If you're interested in the WV argument, then… is probably the best online source. Do you think you could credibly defend your 95% figure from a reliable source? -W]

Thanks for writing this up; I was diving into Nature and The Journal of Climate searching for the articles mentioned (but not cited, thus making it far more difficult to obtain) in the Sun Times. Thanks for having the info and sharing it

[You're welcome :-) -W]

Been sold a pup huh? hehe. Well I guess I'd rather be sold a pup, then a shaggy old dog that will soon come to pass just like this human induced global warming theory. It'll pass just as the global cooling theory of the 60's and 70's, where the skeptics were ultimately correct. But here are a few sources for the 95% figure:

[Sigh. There was no global cooling theory in the 70's; read

Dr. Robert Essenhigh, Ohio State University…

[That page is clearly rubbish, since he believes that temperature is causing the recent CO2 increase. You don't believe that, do you? And yes, he does pull 95% out of no-where. Whereas the RC post I pointed you to, or the table in, has a real source -W]

Dr. Tim Patterson Carleton University

[I don't see 95% there. I do see 98% by volume, but nothing about how much effect it has. Feel free to quote in more detail. I do see that page noting, correctly, that CO2 rise is caused by fossil fuel burning, so your two sources directly contradict each other. Does this bother you at all? -W]

Dr. Patrick J. Michaels, University of Virginia

[A simple unsourced assertion. Where does Michaels pluck this number from? -W]

William, I will also take issue that your assumption of the "the best online source" is purely your opinion probably because it supports your view. It's an informative source plain and simple.

I'm also very interested in Astronomy and Cosmology and read and watch quite frequently about our solar system, galaxy, and universe. Competing theories of sun cycles and cosmic rays, or combination of both, have a ton of credibility and should be acknowledged as such, but they are not by pro warming supporters, nor by our mass media. I think it's silly to NOT look at the big picture of our sun and our planet's surroundings an its effect on our climate. I also think stating "the debate is over" is not what the scientific process of proving theories is all about, and sadly it is not only Al Gore saying this. It is researchers who know bette. They know that in science, the debate is really never over. Being a skeptical scientist is every bit as important as being a scientist who is a supporter of a theory. It's the only way to reach the truth.

[Excellent: you claim that researchers who know bette state that "the debate is over". Find me a source for this -W]

I know full well that I will probably won't change your opinion. My point is simply to look at all competing theories and more research dollars should be directed to scientists that have set out to prove other theories that are credible. Instead of environmental groups and supporters bashing, discrediting, or sometimes even threatening skeptical scientist (I'm not accusing you of this by any means), they should be welcome in the debate in search of the truth. Can we agree on that?

[I agree that the science money should be spent according to science priorities. However I disagree with the your assertion that the solar theories are credible, since they aren't: there is no solar trend over the last 30 years -W]

By Jeff Hoback (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

Just a quick note since Tim and William are competing for the first whack at James Taylor. I had taken umbrage with the said Mr. Taylor back in April on a discussion with him and his pseudo-science on the Desmog Blog.

The discussion can be found at:

Part of my comments on the Himalayan glacier paper are:

"The paper you discussed about glaciers expanding in the Himalayas is typical of the distortion of facts that you and your organization are responsible for on a daily basis.

Since you do not cite authors or any useful information (except the journal) I cannot find the paper you refer to. However, I did find this article by Fowler (University of Newcastle) and Archer that presents data on glaciers in that area of the world.

"Conflicting Signals of Climatic Change in the Upper Indus Basin", Journal of Climate, vol. 19, 4276-4293, September 2006.

It can be accessed at:

They report that a small number of glaciers in the Karakoram and Hindu Kush Mountains of the Upper Indus Basin are thickening and expanding. However, this is not the normal for the Himalayas or elsewhere on the globe".

The complete thread which includes comments from James Taylor can be found at:

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

Roger had a post a few months ago where he stated that a finding showed that glacier retreat was problematic, therefore we can't discuss it in terms like 'mostly' because of no quantification.

I tried in vain to get him to quantify his statement - something like: is 90% "mostly", 85%? And so on. His commenters tried to obfuscate while he tried to not answer. Soon it was clear he was not interested in accuracy in this issue, or on the other issues I tried to nail him down.



Jeff Hoback:

This is what I gleaned from the Essenhigh paper:

We are currently in a rise that started 25,000 years ago and, reasonably, can be expected to peak "very shortly".
â¢global temperatures are currently rising;
â¢the rise is part of a nearly million-year oscillation with the current rise beginning some 25,000 years ago;

Let's see; if global temperature has been rising over the past 25,000 years by .001 degree F per year, the rise would have been 25 degrees F, total.


Ask Dr. Essenhigh if he can verify that.

[The idea that we are in a phase contiguous with coming out of the last ice age seems to bizarre to be beliveable by anyone -W]

By John McCormick (not verified) on 03 Jul 2007 #permalink

Anybody that actually believes that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are not responsible for warming the planet (however slowly), should get their head examined. As far as I'm concerned, you don't even have an opinion. The debate is OVER. Denial is not a good thing.


By Parm Gander (not verified) on 03 Jul 2007 #permalink

I'm not a journalist at all but isn't there anything that can be done to discipline someone who MANUFACTURES a quote that is supposedly from a scientific journal article, especially when the quote completely misrepresents the conclusions of the scientist? Or is this kind of thing just going to get swept under the rug and people will just keep reading this guy's trash writing? I don't know...maybe I'm just a little naive about journalistic integrity these days.

Obvious that quote wasn't the kind of language to come from a paper, but thanks for tracking the actual source of it. I've been seeing this Heartland Institute article popping up like crazy on nearly every internet forum I visit over the last few days, and that quote is arguably the most damaging claim in the whole article. So it's ironic that I will now be raising it on these forums as an example of why people should be more skeptical of heartland institute articles rather than just blindly accepting them.