Please visit the new home of Majikthise at bigthink.com/blogs/focal-point.

« The Department of Union Busting | Main | Zengerle burned badly »

June 25, 2006

Greenland's ice sheet is slipping

The LA Times reports that Greenland's ice sheet is melting much faster than expected. Worse still, melting water is lubricating the ice sheets, causing them to slip. This, coupled with an increase in seismic activity poses a grave threat to the integrity of the polar ice, and by extension, to the world's climate.

The Greenland ice sheet — two miles thick and broad enough to blanket an area the size of Mexico — shapes the world's weather, matched in influence by only Antarctica in the Southern Hemisphere.

[...]The ice is so massive that its weight presses the bedrock of Greenland below sea level, so all-concealing that not until recently did scientists discover that Greenland actually might be three islands.

Should all of the ice sheet ever thaw, the meltwater could raise sea level 21 feet and swamp the world's coastal cities, home to a billion people. It would cause higher tides, generate more powerful storm surges and, by altering ocean currents, drastically disrupt the global climate.

Climate experts have started to worry that the ice cap is disappearing in ways that computer models had not predicted.

By all accounts, the glaciers of Greenland are melting twice as fast as they were five years ago, even as the ice sheets of Antarctica — the world's largest reservoir of fresh water — also are shrinking, researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Kansas reported in February. [LAT]

Al Gore discusses the implications of melting Greenland ice in an Inconvenient Truth.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c61e653ef00d8349b48d753ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Greenland's ice sheet is slipping:

Comments

Excuse me, National Academies of Sciences. It's strange that you would mention a document that perfectly contradicts your own argument. But I hope you're at least open-minded enough to convince yourself of something ;)

to repeat: Ad hominem arguments are fallacious.

People might want to go the _just released_ NAS report, "Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years," which is available at:

http://national-academies.org/

The report was prompted by a serious controversy about the quality of the evidence for a variety of hypotheses concerning global warming. It's also the most balanced report I've seen about this controversial topic. But that's my point; there is real controversy concerning the answers to questions which can't be made to disappear simply by questioning the motives or the sanity of those who raise them. As much as fun as that can be, it's irrelevant to the truth of the matter.

Bob, your level of self-deception is simply staggering. You flatter yourself that (unlike the actual scientists on this thread) you are the One and True Defender of Science, when in fact you have all the intellectual integrity and rigor of a moon landing skeptic, or a booster of intelligent design.

For instance, summary of the NAS report you mention contains the following paragraph:

The committee pointed out that surface temperature reconstructions for periods before the Industrial Revolution -- when levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases were much lower -- are only one of multiple lines of evidence supporting the conclusion that current warming is occurring in response to human activities, and they are not the primary evidence.

Darcy - First,steady yourself... staggering leads to stumbling. Then point out where I've said anything that contradicts the statement you quote above.

BTW, and speaking of intellectual integrity, that paragraph isn't drawn directly from the summary of the NAS report. It probably comes from somebody else's comments on what's contained in the summary; in which case, you've engaged in what's commonly called misattribution.

How bad is global warming? It's apparently caused Greeland to lose its N!

Then point out where I've said anything that contradicts the statement you quote above.

Yes, Bob, you've been awfully cagey about coming out with what you do believe, beyond vague accusations of alarmism and propaganda. And, of course, your fatuous assertions that no one ought to be "coerced" into doing anything at all about climate change and that the forced migration of hundreds of millions of people due to rising sea levels is no biggie.

BTW, and speaking of intellectual integrity, that paragraph isn't drawn directly from the summary of the NAS report.

Copy and paste error -- the paragraph I quoted is from the official NAS press release -- which is virtually identical to the paragraph on Page 4 of the NAS report which reads:

Surface temperature reconstructions for periods prior to the industrial era are only one of multiple lines of evidence supporting the conclusion that climatic warming is occurring in response to human activities, and they are not the primary evidence.

Meanwhile, the NAS report does not at all support your hypothesis that there is "real controversy" surrounding the core issues at stake here -- all it really says is that the further back we go, the more difficulty we have making reliable statements about global surface temperatures, especially for years prior to 900 A.D. Like, duh.

Darcy - Cagey? Me? Naw, I'm an open book to those who ask.

Do I believe that the mean global temperature has increased over the past century? Yes.
Do I believe that we are in a period of greater warming than was experienced in the Medieval Warm Period? No.
Do I believe that human activity has dramatically increased levels of atmospheric CO2? Yes.
Do I believe that atmospheric CO2 contributes to observed warming? Yes.
Do I believe that atmospheric CO2 is the main agent forcing observed warming? No.
Do I believe that current climate change models provide reliable predictions of future trends? No.
Do I think global warming is the most important, most urgent environmental issue we face? No.


Copy and paste error? No. It appears your copy and paste skills worked fine, and you just misattributed what you copied and pasted.

p.s. I hope it's just my contrarianism (heyoka!) that's prompting your nastiness, and that you play nice with most other people. Unlike me, they probably wouldn't be amused by your attempts to be insulting.

Copy and paste error? No.

Yes, actually. I copied the paragraph from the press release to the clipboard. Then I found that similar paragraph from the summary and decided to quote that instead, except the second copy operation didn't work because it's a protected PDF. I didn't notice the difference when I pasted it into the post because the paragraphs are so similar.

Also, maybe you could show us where you think the NAS report supports your last three assertions above?

I don't recall suggesting that the NAS report supports any claim I've made except that there is real scientific controversy concerning some questions about global warming. You've already indicated that you don't think the report does support that claim. But if you consider the background of the report, it's hard to maintain that it represents anything other than a response to scientific controversy (the NAS doesn't produce such reports on a whim).

Regarding those last three "assertions" (actually, I just declined to endorse certain propositions, and that's different than asserting the opposite of those propositions...), I don't find anything in the report that inclines me to think we can responsibly make any positive claims concerning the first two points -- quite the opposite, in fact. And I don't think the report addresses the third point at all -- it arose simply as part of my profession of belief/unbelief.

Sorry Bob--I'm convinced by the scientists on this thread, and by the National Academies of Sciences release that I mentioned. You mentioned ad hominem arguments, but you sidestepped the National Academies of Sciences release that I mentioned. I have no idea why, but the fact remains that they've convinced us, and you have not.

1984 - I think the NAS report released a couple days ago represents a much needed tempering of some assertions in the 2005 statement you quote. If you compare the two documents with some care, the more current of the two is much more "hedged" in it's assertions, and emphasizes the need for more evidence.

And what exactly is it that you think I've been trying to convince you of? I've claimed there is real scientific controversy. The NAS report is premised on such controversy -- it says as much in plain english.

>And what exactly is it that you think I've been trying to convince you of?

That there is real scientific controversy. I'm pretty well convinced that because addressing global warming would have cost some powerful and very rich people money, they scotched Kyoto, and funded some lab coats in order to trump up such controversy, and that there is rough unanimity among those not funded by the offending industries. I'll acknowledge that you have an uphill climb (funny; my finger slipped, at first, and I almost typed "upholl climb," which would presumably rhyme with "uphole." I agree with the European community on this one.

You are, of course, free to believe whatever you want. But what you believe is hardly relevant unless it represents the result of critical reflection on the actual state of the science involved.

Although, yes, what I believe does represent the result of critical reflection on the actual state of the science involved, including upon sources that you yourself provided. Also, unlike you, I didn't discount the opinions of informed scientists such as cfrost, the National Academies of Sciences opinion that I mentioned, or many, many other scientists who have considered what you have to say, but disagree with you.

You are as free to disagree with me, and to discount any scientific opinion you wish, as I am (hopefully) free to disagree with you.

1984 - I doubt the wisdom of trying to continue a conversation with you, but I'd like to know when and where I've discounted the opinions of informed scientists, let alone cfrost.

I also think you should realize that the fact someone has a degree in a scientific field is no guarantee that they are able to think critically, even about their own discipline. On the other hand, one doesn't have to be a practicing scientist to be able to recognize simple fallacies, non sequiturs, an assortment of ad hoc maneuvers, and failures to engage problems. In such matters, I don't think there are a lot of practicing scientists who can claim any greater expertise than me.

I think the NAS report released a couple days ago represents a much needed tempering of some assertions in the 2005 statement you quote.

It does no such thing.

Hmm, well it seems to me that you discounted Steve LaBonne's quite reasonable refutation of your blithe assertion that people threatened by global warming would be able to simply move to high ground. Steve disagreed with you, saying that of course the Bangladeshis would not likely have any safe haven to move to, and I would add, of course, that they have no money or means of transport either. Since you've bragged about your critical thinking and disparaged that of others, I would point out that if you were correct in your high opinion of yourself, and your low opinion of myself, Steve, and all the scientists who would disagree with you, then Steve and I should not have had to point out these facts to you. You should have thought: "Gosh, I wonder if there are poor people somewhere who would be unable to escape the flooding, as they were during hurricane Katrina!" But in any case, it seemed that you full-throatedly disagreed with scientist Steve, and felt that those threatened by global warming would have ample time and resources to move. (If you meant that only some would have such time, and knew that significant numbers of people would have neither the time nor the resources to do so, then critical thinking would also dictate that you mention that, even though it undercuts your idea that global warming may be as beneficial to people as it is harmful.)

Also, you disagree with many, many serious, practicing scientists with your assertion that global warming may be as beneficial to people as it is harmful. That certainly seems to be discounting the opinions of quite a large number of informed scientists.

I'm sure you'll address these seeming inconsistencies in your arguments without resorting to any fallacies, non sequiturs, ad hoc maneuvers, and failures to engage problems, since I am reasonably informed by yourself that you have more expertise in spotting such faulty argumentative skills than most scientists.

In any case, and much more importantly for this discussion, the report that you yourself provided the link for, at:

http://national-academies.org/

largely supports the conclusion that humans are in large part responsible for the current period of global warming (the extent of which, according to the report, is unmatched for at least the last thousand years). Even Bob Koepp has admitted as much; as far as his assertion that global warming is a lower priority for him than other things, or that there might be _good_ effects of global warming! and they might outweigh the bad! these are unsupported, in the case of the latter, and irrelevant, as to the former. It is a high priority to the rest of us here, and we consider the harmful effects of global warming will greatly outstrip the good. This is especially true since, as Bob Koepp has demonstrated, no meaningful preparation will be made to address the needs those made homeless, such as Steve's people of Bangladesh. This lack of preparation, or, to judge by Bob's earlier post, even consciousness, of such problems, will itself increase the problems many-fold. I suggest that we begin to plan, to mollify the bad effects of global warming, and to curtail global warming as much as possible by stopping our carbon emissions.

Edit:

In any case, and much more importantly for this discussion, the report for which Bob Koepp himself provided the link, at:

http://national-academies.org/

largely supports the conclusion that humans are in large part responsible for the current period of global warming (the extent of which, according to the report, is unmatched for at least the last thousand years). Even Bob Koepp has admitted as much.

As far as his assertion that global warming is a lower priority for him than other things, or that there might be _good_ effects of global warming! and they might outweigh the bad! these are unsupported, in the case of global warming's bad or good effects, and irrelevant, as to whether Bob Koepp considers it a priority or not. It is a high priority to the rest of us here, and we consider that the harmful effects of global warming will greatly outstrip the good.

This is especially true since, as Bob Koepp has demonstrated, no meaningful preparation will likely be made to address the needs of those made homeless, such as the people of Bangladesh that Steve mentioned. This lack of preparation for, or, to judge by Bob's earlier post, even consciousness of, such problems, will itself increase the problems many-fold. I suggest that we begin to plan, to mollify the bad effects of global warming, and to curtail global warming as much as possible, by curtailing our carbon emissions.

The comments to this entry are closed.