Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Stinging the CGW-E Bee

The Sacramento Bee is a disciple in the Church of Global Warming – Evangelical. Joel Schwartz over at the indispensable Planet Gore dissects a Bee editorial’s use of falsehood and half-truths often thrown about in the on-going debate, and presented one-sided style in the media.

Let’s star with a key paragraph in the editorial:

"How high will these oceans rise? Some computer models show that, without a significant reduction in greenhouse gases, the Greenland ice sheet could melt sometime after 2100. Such a steady melt-off would lead to a 7-meter (23-foot) increase in sea levels, according to the IPCC report. That would submerge most of San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Tidal action would swamp most of Sacramento."

Bzzzt! Wrong….and misleading…on many counts, as pointed out by Mr. Schwartz. To summarize:

1 - the computer models that predict melting of the Greenland ice sheet were run with the assumption that the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere starts out and stays at four times the pre-industrial level and nearly three times the current level.

2 - Even with atmospheric CO2 at three times current level, the models say it would take 270 years for Greenland to lose even 20% of its ice, and more than 1,700 years to lose 80% of its ice.

3 - Greenland was warmer than it is now for several long periods during the last few thousand years.

4 - The top of IPCC's range for 21st Century sea-level rise is 23 inches.

5 - Sea level has been flat for the last three decades or so, after rising steadily from the 1920s through the 1970s.

The IPCC wasn’t scary enough so the Bee had to embellish. However, had the Bee done some real reporting and fact checking into the IPCC report itself, they would have found that the IPCC report has a few flaws to start with:

"...the IPCC's estimate includes melting of land-bound ice and thermal expansion of the oceans, but excludes dynamical changes in ice flow—meaning it excludes the possibility of, for example, the Antarctic ice sheets sliding into the sea."

I hope that you realize that dynamic changes like the Antarctic ice sheet sliding into the sea would raise sea levels by over 200 feet.

One fear that many informed people have is that one day soon, one of the glaciers in Greenland could just break loose and start sliding at 5 kph rather than kpy and the sea level would start rising daily rather than annually.
Rusty - Take a look at the 11/6 post, "NBC's Antarctic Tale." The current trend for that ice mass is increasing, while the temperatures are decreasing.

Given that Greenland has a history of higher temperatures than we are currently experiencing, or rationally expecting, it's not likely that those who "fear" a 5kph ice slide are actually "informed."

- Ricard
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