Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Where the Global Warming Debate Stands
The following article appeared on Powerline on December 3rd
By John Hinderaker
The scientific debate over Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming continues to rage. In my opinion, the realists are thrashing the hysterics, but for a more neutral view, check out this essay by Rupert Darwall, the author of The Age of Global Warming: A History (2013) and Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex (2017).
Darwall’s essay is balanced and thorough. You really should read the whole thing. This is his assessment of one of the Left’s latest efforts to stoke hysteria, the West Antarctic melting due to geothermal heat. Which can hardly be caused by global warming, given the continent’s frosty temperatures:
The average high temperature in Antarctica in January is -18 degrees F, while the average low temperature in January is similar, at about -21 degrees F. The temperature decreases dramatically into February and then March. February’s average high temperature is about -41 degrees F and the average low is about -45 degrees F. The average high in March is -65 degrees F and the average low is about -70 degrees F.
Darwall explains what is going on:
West Antarctica has become the poster child of the media’s climate change alarmism. Late in 2016, four New York Times journalists visited the West Antarctic ice sheet, which had been singled out by Al Gore as having passed a climate change tipping point. “Recent computer forecasts suggest that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at a high level, parts of Antarctica could break up rapidly,” they wrote in a three-part story on their trip published in May. “Antarctica’s collapse has the potential to inundate coastal cities across the globe.” Scientists, they claim, now believe that West Antarctica is a disaster waiting to happen, if human-caused global warming has not already set the calamity in motion. “It’s kind of a blowtorch on the underside of the ice shelf,” one of the experts told them.
This speculation depends on greenhouse gas emissions causing the ice sheet to disintegrate. However, the human causation story is not straightforward, as the Times report quietly concedes. The warmer water under the ice shelf has not been linked to global warming—“at least not directly.” It had likely been there for centuries, so why had it not cooled down by now? …
Despite the presence of a figurative blowtorch under the West Antarctic ice sheet, the word “geothermal” appears nowhere in the Times piece. The area sits atop the West Antarctic Rift System, where, according to a 2014 paper by four University of Texas geophysicists, “geothermal fluxes are expected to be high, heterogeneous, possibly transient.” Heat from the Earth’s interior, they note, is “likely a significant factor in local, regional, and continental ice sheet stability.” Did the Times fly four of its journalists to Antarctica to report on geothermal fluxes? The word does not appear in their three-part report.
“I don’t think the biblical deluge is just a fairy tale,” a retired glaciologist told them. In language that, if used by a non-scientist, would be disregarded as activist hyperbole, he continued: “Some kind of major flood happened all over the world, and it left an indelible imprint on the collective memory of mankind.”
It is entertaining to see a liberal scientist endorsing Noah and his ark. But what is happening in Antarctica is quite different:
The recent discovery of 91 volcanoes under West Antarctica was reported by the Washington Post as a human-caused climate change story. Only three quarters of the way through the story did the paper quote the remarkable third-year student at the University of Edinburgh, Max Van Wyk de Vries, who had made the discovery, saying that Antarctica as a whole had generally been doing better than most glaciers around the world. “It’s not melting rapidly like glaciers in the Rockies or Alps,” he said.
How volcanoes in the Antarctic could possibly be linked to any human activity is hard to imagine.