Global Warming Follies

Don’t worry about those polar bears!

Posted in Common Sense by tjgavin on January 5, 2009

Remember all those stories designed to make you cry about polar bears drowning? It was your fault that global warming was melting their ice flows and THAT had to stop RIGHT NOW! Well, those stories will have to be put into storage for awhile.

Thanks to a rapid rebound in recent months, global sea ice levels now equal those seen 29 years ago, when the year 1979 also drew to a close.

Two interesting things happened in 1979. That was the year that satellite observations of sea ice began. It was also the year that Time Magazine ran a cover story headlined “Another Ice Age?” telling us that thirty years of observations indicated that the globe was cooling. (I strongly urge you to read the article and see if you notice how similar it is to the hype you’re hearing now about global warming.)

You might be wondering what happened to the predictions we heard earlier this year that Arctic Ice was disappearing so much that shipping lanes could open up through the Northwest Passage.

Earlier this year, predictions were rife that the North Pole could melt entirely in 2008. Instead, the Arctic ice saw a substantial recovery. Bill Chapman, a researcher with the UIUC’s Arctic Center, tells DailyTech this was due in part to colder temperatures in the region. Chapman says wind patterns have also been weaker this year. Strong winds can slow ice formation as well as forcing ice into warmer waters where it will melt.

Imagine that. Wind and colder temperatures were all it took. Interestingly, the idea that wind patterns can blow sea ice to warmer waters where it melts never got much press when it was happening. Now that ice is growing, its reported in its absence.

But why were all those, oh so smart, scientists wrong?

Why were predictions so wrong? Researchers had expected the newer sea ice, which is thinner, to be less resilient and melt easier. Instead, the thinner ice had less snow cover to insulate it from the bitterly cold air, and therefore grew much faster than expected, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Or maybe it just didn’t fit the expectation of warmer tempertures because “everyone knows that we’re having global warming”. 

It used to be that science was a discipline that constantly reassessed its assumptions. Now, because grants are at risk, that’s no longer operative. Now we hear statements like “cooler temperatures are a result of gloal warming” and are expected to believe it. 

And its not just a hypothetical arguement. Those assumptions cause our government to act:

In May, concerns over disappearing sea ice led the U.S. to officially list the polar bear a threatened species, over objections from experts who claimed the animal’s numbers were increasing.

Let’s hope this “whoops moment” causes some more testing of global warming assumptions before our policy-makers cause real damage to real people. This time its about erroneously putting the polar bear on the endangered species list. Next it will be about food production, what you can and cannot eat, taxes and the entire economy. Now that will be a real “whoops moment”.



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