Wednesday, April 02, 2008

"Warming Island" -Another Global Warming Myth Exposed

In our continuing theme of exposing ill-founded global warming alarmist stories, we'll examine the much touted discovery of "Warming Island"-a small piece of land that has been "long thought to be part of Greenland's mainland"-but that turns out to have been known to be an island back in the early 1950s. Another good story out the window.

As was the case of the previous two scare stories we examined that turned out to be untrue (global warming leading to amphibian decline in Central and South America, and the Inuit language lacking a word for `robin'), the story of "Warming Island" was also prominently featured in the New York Times. On January 17, 2007, The Times dedicated an article to "The Warming of Greenland" and described the recent "discovery" of islands that were exposed as such when the ice connecting them to the mainland melted away. Times writer John Collins Rudolf set the scene:
LIVERPOOL LAND, Greenland - Flying over snow-capped peaks and into a thick fog, the helicopter set down on a barren strip of rocks between two glaciers. A dozen bags of supplies, a rifle and a can of cooking gas were tossed out onto the cold ground. Then, with engines whining, the helicopter lifted off, snow and fog swirling in the rotor wash.

When it had disappeared over the horizon, no sound remained but the howling of the Arctic wind. "It feels a little like the days of the old explorers, doesn't it?" Dennis Schmitt said. Mr. Schmitt, a 60-year-old explorer from Berkeley, Calif., had just landed on a newly revealed island 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle in eastern Greenland. It was a moment of triumph: he had discovered the island on an ocean voyage in September 2005. Now, a year later, he and a small expedition team had returned to spend a week climbing peaks, crossing treacherous glaciers and documenting animal and plant life.

Despite its remote location, the island would almost certainly have been discovered, named and mapped almost a century ago when explorers like Jean-Baptiste Charcot and Philippe, Duke of Orl,ans, charted these coastlines. Would have been discovered had it not been bound to the coast by glacial ice. Maps of the region show a mountainous peninsula covered with glaciers. The island's distinct shape - like a hand with three bony fingers pointing north - looks like the end of the peninsula.

Now, where the maps showed only ice, a band of fast-flowing seawater ran between a newly exposed shoreline and the aquamarine-blue walls of a retreating ice shelf. The water was littered with dozens of icebergs, some as large as half an acre; every hour or so, several more tons of ice fractured off the shelf with a thunderous crack and an earth-shaking rumble. Such ominous implications are not lost on Mr. Schmitt, who says he hopes that the island he discovered in Greenland in September will become an international symbol of the effects of climate change. Mr. Schmitt, who speaks Inuit, has provisionally named it Uunartoq Qeqertoq: the warming island.

The remainder of the article was filled with other tales of the evidence of warming across Greenland and splashed with pictures and maps of the newly freed "Warming Island."

Since "Warming Island" was exposed as an island during the warm period preceding 2005, and seemed to be a peninsula connected to the mainland by a glacial tongue during the cold period in the early 1980s, we wondered what the situation by have been in the early 1950s, near the end of the prolonged warm period extending from the mid-1920s to the early 1960s. So we decided to see what we could find out ourselves.

Many research expeditions were undertaken in the first half of the 20th century by the Danish government to explore and map the geography and geology of Eastern Greenland. The maps that were produced from these many projects were generally of too coarse a resolution or did not quite include the area where "Warming Island" is located. The ones that did cover the region indeed showed "Warming Island" connected to the mainland. However, most of these maps were produced in the early part of the 20th century -a cold time prior to the period when the big warm-up of Greenland had either started, or had gotten much of a foothold. The mostly likely period for "Warming Island" to have shown itself as being an island prior to its "discovery" in 2005, was probably some time in the late 1940s through the early 1960s, after a period of 3-4 decades of temperatures near current levels.

This led us to the Dr. Lauge Koch expeditions of the late 1940s and early 1950s and a book published by the official aerial photographer of the mission, Ernst Hofer, titled Arctic Riviera. Hofer spent four summers in the early 1950s in eastern Greenland serving as an aerial photographer to support ground-based geologic research and mapping efforts. Hofer spent many hours flying over the vicinity of "warming island" as it was located near the mouth of the fjord in which his camp was located. His favorite photos were reproduced in Arctic Riviera.

Surely, among the thousands of photographs Hofer took during his time in Eastern Greenland must be photographs of "Warming Island" but unfortunately none are reproduced in Arctic Riviera. If they do exist, they likely remain in a collection of the research results from the Koch expeditions, stored somewhere in Denmark. But, Hofer did provide us with a map of region over which he so often flew, so as to place his pictures and stories in context.

Lo and behold, right before your very eyes, is three-fingered "Warming Island" shown as an island by probably the person with more first-hand knowledge of the region than anyone alive at the time. Surely if Hofer did not believe it to be an island, he would not have depicted it as such.

So, there is has been all along. And shown to be an island, rather than a peninsula attached to the mainland, by a least one man, and all the readers of his book, since 1957. Rather than the New York Times announcing the "discovery" of "Warming Island," in actuality, it seems that what they were really reporting on was the rediscovery of an island that had been shown to have been such 50 years prior. Funny how Hofer didn't issue a big press release about the Island's existence-oh yeah, back then the warm up was being described as "a climate improvement" by one of the most prominent Arctic researchers of the day (Ahlmann, 1953). My how times have changed!

Certainly, this fact-that "Warming Island" has been shown to have been an island as recently as the 1950s-had it been known the Times, would have tempered its enthusiasm for the story, for the claims made by Denis Schmitt that he had discovery it, and all of the hype that it ushered forth. Or at least we can only hope.

Silly claims like "Warming Island," no Inuit word for `robin,' and global warming killing frogs-claims which with a bit of due diligence are exposed as being inaccurate, but which are held up as poster children for global warming-only serve to hurt the alarmist cause rather than enhancing it. Our advice-stick to the facts, let science tell its own story, and then let the people decide if and how they may want to respond. Of course, if everyone took our advice, we'd be out of material. So on second thought, keep the hype machine in full gear, we're more than happy to spend our time exposing these, and other, silly global warming myths.

See here for more (including graphics)

UK's Sir David King Embarrassed by Skeptical Scientists

Britain's Cambridge university has recently appointed Britain's chief climate alarmist to a prestigious position. Below is a letter written by Britain's Rupert Wyndham about the matter. The letter was in response to a request for donations from his University Master. Wyndham explains a few facts to the Master as to why donations might not be forthcoming this year

31 March 2008.

Lord Butler, Master University College Oxford

Dear Robin

Thank you for your letter last week on the subject of fund raising for the College. When last we exchanged correspondence about this, attention was drawn to the fact that contributions had been made on a number of occasions in the past, and I looked forward to gifting further in the future. However, as I also mentioned, just at this precise moment, I am already fairly heavily committed. In short, there are a dozen small (and now not so small) waifs in Chiangmai, orphaned by AIDS but not themselves carriers of the virus, who depend on me directly for a significant part of their welfare, especially educational.

There is, however, another factor, which I should like to draw to your attention. I ask your indulgence if this letter turns out to be a little long, but think you'll see why. Anyway, a little background history is called for.

Four years ago Dr. Andrei Ilarionov, then chief economic adviser to Vladimir Putin, decided to cross check the advice coming to him from the Russian Academy of Sciences on the subject of global warming. Its members had opined that it would not be significant and would pose no threat. To this end, and here I quote from an impeccable source, "he looked around for the sappiest, laziest, most acquiescent, most true-elieving government in the world, and settled upon the UK.."

The then Foreign Secretary was invited to a meeting avec entourage, including the then Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King. Unbeknown to them, six of the world's most eminent sceptical scientists had also been invited. Let me continue by further quoting my source:
"Sir David King, not realizing he had been ambushed, launched into his usual exaggerated, alarmist presentation (he actually knows remarkably little about the science of climate, and makes an ass of himself every time he opens his mouth on the subject).

The six sceptics heard him politely until one of them, who told me the story, could contain himself no longer. When Sir David said that the snows of Kilimanjaro were melting because of "global warming", my informant pointed out that, in the 30 years since satellite monitoring of the summit had begun, temperature had at no instant risen above -1.6oC, and had averaged -7oC (Molg et al., 2003); that the region around the mountain had cooled throughout the period (Cullen, 2006); that the recession of the glacier had begun in the 1880s, long before any anthropogenic influence (Robinson, Robinson & Soon, 2007); and that the reason for the long-established recession of the Furtwangler glacier at the summit was ablation caused by the desiccation of the atmosphere owing to the regional cooling. It had nothing to do with global warming."

Fortuitously, it just so happens that I am a child of empire, one of the last, and this rings a bell entirely personal to me. You see, as a small boy in either Kenya or Uganda, I remember Kilimanjaro (as well as what I now know to be the Furtwangler Glacier) being discussed at my father's dinner table. Of course, I do not remember the detail of the grown-up conversation nor would I have understood it all, but its essence I do remember. It was a speculation about the apparent diminution of ice at the summit. So, to return:
"Sir David King, embarrassed at having been caught out, said he had never been so insulted in all his life. He flounced out of the meeting, followed by the rest of the British delegation. To Dr. Ilarionov, two conclusions were evident: first, that the supporters of the "consensus" position had based their argument on known scientific falsehoods and were accordingly unable to argue against the well-informed sceptics; secondly, that, as he put it at the time, the British Government were behaving like old-style imperialists. The breakdown in relations between the UK and Russia began at that moment."

I will not comment on the conclusion contained in the last sentence, save to say that it wouldn't surprise me any more than would the indented part of paragraph 2 above.

So, what is the point of all this? The point is a simple one. It is that anthropogenic global warming, now spun to climate change, has not a scintilla of authentic scientific evidence to support it. Likewise, there is not a scintilla of authentic scientific evidence to support the plethora of catastrophic phantasmagoria which the likes of David King and Al Gore are determined to promote as fact. In other words, King, himself a distinguished chemist if not scientist, is content not simply to watch the corruption of scientific method, and therefore the scientific endeavour generally, but to act as an enthusiastic participant. This issue, we are admonished ad nauseam, is the defining challenge to the species in the 21st century.

Intellectually, however, it is no more than a vast inverted pyramid constructed on the summit of a sand dune. Let me go a step further and suggest that it is so manifestly shoddy, mendacious and corrupt that it is simply not possible for AGW science to be pursued disinterestedly and with honesty of purpose. At a macro level, Nigel Lawson has called for the dissolution of the IPCC. He's right to do so.

You may or may not agree with the proposition just put, but it represents my carefully considered conviction and, moreover, I believe it to be supremely important on many levels. I am not alone.

So, where does that leave us or, more accurately, where does it leave me? Well, I find myself confronted with an uncomfortable dilemma. In general terms, do I consider that donating to the University in one guise or another is `a good thing'? Yes, of course. Do I, on the other hand, really feel in good conscience that financial support should be given to an institution, which not only promotes the self-preening of a vain man, but actually goes further by installing him in a sinecure calculated to allow him to further his malignant proselytising endeavours.

No doubt, in the fullness of time, the ethical conundrum will resolve itself in my mind - perhaps to the benefit of the university and/or college, perhaps not. Either way, in purely monetary terms, the effect will be insignificant. In the long run, I am not so sure that that it will remain so with regard to the appointment of the Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford. We shall see.

Yours sincerely

R.C.E. Wyndham



In contrast to a widely discussed theory that world oil production will soon reach a peak and go into sharp decline, a new analysis of the subject by Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) finds that the remaining global oil resource base is actually 3.74 trillion barrels -- three times as large as the 1.2 trillion barrels estimated by the theory's proponents -- and that the "peak oil" argument is based on faulty analysis which could, if accepted, distort critical policy and investment decisions and cloud the debate over the energy future.

"The global resource base of conventional and unconventional oils, including historical production of 1.08 trillion barrels and yet-to-be-produced resources, is 4.82 trillion barrels and likely to grow," CERA Director of Oil Industry Activity Peter M. Jackson writes in Why the Peak Oil Theory Falls Down: Myths, Legends, and the Future of Oil Resources. The CERA projection is based on the firm's analysis of fields currently in production and those yet-to-be produced or discovered.

"The 'peak oil' theory causes confusion and can lead to inappropriate actions and turn attention away from the real issues," Jackson observes. "Oil is too critical to the global economy to allow fear to replace careful analysis about the very real challenges with delivering liquid fuels to meet the needs of growing economies. This is a very important debate, and as such it deserves a rational and measured discourse."

"This is the fifth time that the world is said to be running out of oil," says CERA Chairman Daniel Yergin. "Each time -- whether it was the 'gasoline famine' at the end of WWI or the 'permanent shortage' of the 1970s -- technology and the opening of new frontier areas has banished the specter of decline. There's no reason to think that technology is finished this time."



A press release below from Dr Kesten C Green, Business and Economic Forecasting Unit, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. The paper referred to can be found here

The U. S. government commissioned studies to support the listing of polar bears as a threatened or endangered species. Polar bear numbers are currently high and the population has been increasing rapidly in recent decades. Everyone likes polar bears, so this is good news. A decision to list would require forecasts that the current upward population trend will reverse. The government studies concluded that polar bear populations would decrease substantially.

Decision makers and the public should expect people who make forecasts to be familiar with the scientific principles of forecasting just as a patient expects his physician to be familiar with the procedures dictated by medical science. Three scientists, J. Scott Armstrong of the University of Pennsylvania, Kesten Green of Monash University, and Willie Soon of The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, audited the government studies to assess whether they were consistent with forecasting principles. Their paper, "Polar Bear Population Forecasts: A Public-Policy Forecasting Audit," has been accepted for publication in the management science journal Interfaces. It is the only peer-reviewed paper on polar bear population forecasting that has been accepted for publication in an academic journal.

They concluded that the government forecasts were based on false assumptions and their polar bear population forecasts contravened many principles for scientific forecasting. Indeed, the reports followed fewer than one-sixth of the relevant principles. Given the importance of the forecasts, all principles should be properly applied. In short, the government reports do not provide relevant information for this decision.

Research shows that for issues such as the population of polar bears-situations that are complex and where there is much uncertainty-the best forecast is that things will follow a "random walk;" in effect, this model states that the most recent value is the best forecast for all periods in the future. Because the polar bear population has been increasing over recent decades, however, a continuation of that trend over the short term is possible.


France and Germany are close to resolving their dispute over EU auto emissions targets that could see a softening of the proposed regulations, a German newspaper report said on Monday. "The talks are making progress," business daily Handelsblatt cited a source close to the talks as saying. "A deal should be possible by the end of April."

The European Union wants to impose a carbon emissions limit of 120 grammes per kilometre on all new EU cars by 2012, but Handelsblatt said that this may be pushed back to 2015 and that fines on emissions over this limit may be lowered.

Berlin opposes the plans as vehicles made by German firms like BMW, Daimler and Porsche tend to be larger, luxury vehicles with greater emissions. French carmakers like Renault and Peugeot on the other hand are more focused on the market for smaller -- and therefore greener -- cars. The dispute had added to talk of a chill in Franco-German relations.



See below. Note the typically Marxist usage of "problematic" ("problematique") as a noun below. Marxists don't admit to problems because they think that they know it all. There are only things that look like problems: "Problematics"

Eberhard Rhein's proposals for an new international climate regime (see his guest blog post from yesterday) has the merit of being more concrete than what I have seen from the EU up to now in terms of efforts to put a global agreement on the rails. Nevertheless, I have two fundamental problems with it (like I have with the EU's climate policy in general BTW).

Eberhard looks only at the climate change challenge. This might be appropriate if you focus on the current international talks but it is not enough when you take as a starting point the global crisis we are facing. Indeed, the climate crisis is just one symptom of a much broader "problematique" which is the unsustainability of our industrial development model. There are other symptoms which show that we are reaching the limits of this model: peak oil or even peak energy (also gas, coal, uranium), the new commodities price boom, our global water and biodiversity threats. All these symptoms demonstrate that the natural capital, which the Earth had built up over the course of millions of years, has been exhausted in less than 150 years to feed our (mostly Western) "growth and consumption hunger".

Anyone who thinks (like the EU and the whole international community) that by tackling the climate crisis, we are out of the woods, is fundamentally mistaken. We will have to do much more than move to a low-carbon economy; we will have to build a one-planet economy and learn to produce and consume within the Earth's resource constraints. The transition to such a new development model will not be easy and the ride will be even rougher if we keep postponing the structural reforms needed.

Secondly, while I agree with Eberhard's analysis that we will not have binding CO2 targets and we should concentrate on the big sector solutions, I miss in his proposal a frank reflection on what these sector proposals will mean for prices of electricity, driving, food etc. Politicians will need to have the courage to tell their citizens that the era of cheap electricity, cheap car petrol, cheap flights and holidays is over and finished. Will our political systems be resilient and visionary enough to deliver such messages and the required political action? Or will we have to wait until economic and ecological collapse will force sustainability upon us? And what will be the cost of such a forced transition to sustainable development which respects the one-planet limits of our future lifestyles?



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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