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What about the poles?

By Dennis T. Avery
web posted November 19, 2007

"The relentless grip of the Arctic Ocean that defied man for centuries is melting away," warned Doug Struck in the Washington Post. "The sea ice reaches only half as far as it did 50 years ago. In the summer of 2006, it shrank to a record low. This summer, the ice pulled back even more, by an area nearly the size of Alaska."

NASA's James Hansen keeps claiming that CO2 is "pushing the climate past its tipping point."

British banks are sending "volunteers" to the Arctic to see for themselves the loss of sea ice, and to view the "endangered" polar bears—whose numbers have tripled in recent years.

Ho hum. Just another day at the scare factory.

Point one: We've known for 20 years about the earth's moderate, natural 1,500-year climate cycle, which we discovered in the Greenland and Antarctic ice cores. The ice shows seven previous global warmings in the past 12,000 years. Two of these—8,000 years ago and 5,000 years ago—were, for many centuries, substantially warmer than today. The Greenland and Antarctic ice caps didn't melt.

Point two: This can't be global warming. 1) The Arctic was also warm in the 1920s; the Russians say it happens every 70 years or so. 2) The Antarctic Ice is now at a modern high. The Antarctic has been cooling since the 1960s, according to Peter Doran's 2002 paper in Nature. Thanks to warming's additional snowfall, the East Antarctic ice cap is currently gaining about 45 billion tons of ice per year.

Neels Reeh of the University of Denmark says that another 1 degree C of warming would melt enough Greenland ice to raise sea levels perhaps half an inch per year—but added ice in the Antarctic would lower sea level almost that much. The net increase has been six inches per century, and it isn't expected to change.

Why not? Cliff Ollier, well-known geoscientist from the University of Western Australia, writes to say that Hansen is just a climate modeler who doesn't understand either ice caps or their melting. He thinks the whole ice cap melting thing is a figment of the climate modelers' computerized imaginations, conjured up to ensure that we're properly frightened of global warming. Otherwise, the grant money might dry up.

If the media only reported facts, who would be frightened about sea levels rising at the current rate of six inches per century? Who'd be frightened by the earth warming just two-tenths of a degree C over the past 70- years?

Ice caps don't melt from the surface down, they melt only at the edges. Once the edges are melted, further ice loss depends on the uphill weight of the ice built up over previous centuries. The ice flows—reluctantly because it's so cold—on the warmer ice at its base, with the upper, brittle ice carried downhill by its own weight. When a chunk of ice reaches the edge of the cap it falls off—and the AP writes a news story. That's neither melting nor collapse.

The Greenland ice cap is 2–3 kilometers deep and much of its ice lies inside a basin that won't slide off. Its undisturbed ice dates back at least 105,000 years. The temperatures over the ice are well below freezing, at about -30 degrees C in the north, and -20 degrees C in the south.

The Antarctic ice cores date back more than 760,000 years, in the coldest place on earth. The lowest recorded temperature was -89 C at Vostok in 1983. The highest Vostok temperature taken was -19 C in 1992—still far below freezing.

By the way, even the southernmost polar bear population is doing fine in the Davis Strait, with higher numbers and some of the largest bears yet seen. ESR

Dennis T. Avery was a senior policy analyst for the U.S. State Department, where he won the national intelligence medal of achievement. He is the co-author, with atmospheric physicist Fred Singer, of the book, Unstoppable Global Warming—Every 1500 Years, available from Rowman & Littlefield. Readers may write him at the Center for Global Food Issues, Post Office Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421.

 

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