By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Why Climategate doesn’t matter (III)

_46196541_gracenasa226The series explained.

For some time now, global-warming skeptics have found Antarctica to be a source of comfort and joy.

“Report: Antarctic Ice Growing, Not Shrinking” was the headline on a story back in April. And when syndicated columnist George Will was writing a series of whoppers about global warming last winter and spring, he grounded his faulty data in part on the notion that ice loss in the Arctic was being offset by gains in the Antarctic — something he did not explain, and which experts say is bad science.

Well, it was fun while it lasted. According to a study published late last month in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience, the East Antarctic ice sheet has been shrinking since 2006. The finding is based on new data gathered by a NASA satellite that measured changes in the Antarctic gravity.

Dr. Joe Romm of Climate Progress calls it a “satellite data stunner.”

According to news reports by the BBC and in Time magazine, scientists are treating the new data with caution, and are uncertain about what it means. For one thing, Antarctica is so cold that, under some models, warming could actually result in more snow and ice. For another, it’s not clear whether the shrinkage in East Antarctica can be attributed to global warming.

Nevertheless, if the data are borne out, the implications are clear enough: current projections that sea levels worldwide will rise three feet by 2100 are based on the belief that the East Antarctica ice sheet would not experience any melting. Looks like that number will have to be revised upwards.

And if the data are not necessarily evidence of global warming, they nevertheless show that Antarctica can no longer be cited as evidence of its lack, either.

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  1. Bob Gardner

    That’s what we get for tolerating crooks like George Will to take part in the discussion. His column on Three-Mile Island was so obviously and demonstrably a lie, supplied to him by the nuclear power industry that he should have been laughed out of the profession. Then he actually stole material during debate gate–but somehow we looked the other way.
    So now he’s lying and using stolen property at the same time–what did everyone expect?

  2. Dunque

    Why do I get the very strong sense that all of the climate change Cassandra’s will react like this couple of beauties if push ever comes to shove about their beliefs?

  3. charles pierce

    I dunno, perhaps because you seem to reduce everything to the simple political and cultural categories that function so well on talk radio?
    Also, not for nothing, but it might be helpful to remember what the story about Cassandra actually was — she was cursed by the gods that her prophecies always would be true, but that nobody would ever believe her.

  4. Dunque

    Thanks for the clarification, Charles. I was going to use “Chicken Little” but didn’t want to appear too “talk-radioish.”

    Of course, you failed to address the underlying point – how many people, when asked to put their money where their mouth is, all of a sudden lose their religion. If such true believers are loathe to commit to the very policies that in the abstract they claim to approve, why should an increasingly skeptical public do so?

    I understand you are fully bought in to the global warming/climate change agenda but surely as someone who claims to value the truth you must be troubled by the so-called Climategate (can we put a moratorium on “Scandal-gate” forever, by the way) revelations of the desire to change the meaning of and make meaningless peer-reviewed literature so as to support the strongly held beliefs of AGW proponents and minimize legitimate scientific dissent? No? How about the temperature record data from collection stations that didn’t exist at the time they are purported to have provided readings? How about the revelation that the majority of Chinese temperature collection stations had either moved over time or never existed, rendering their “data” meaningless? Those are some of the reasons why the public is skeptical.

    Supporters of AGW have cleverly have tried to dismiss the controversy by positing that scientists “always talk like that” in private. Never mind the pretzel logic required to believe that. It’s not about the words. It’s about the actions that their words describe.

    You’re an investigative reporter. Let’s be honest here. Follow the money. Al Gore is a partner in Generation Investment Management. Their mission statement includes the phrase “Deliver superior investment performance by taking a long term investment view and integrating sustainability research within a rigorous fundamental equity analysis framework.” Think he doesn’t have some incentive to pump AGW? In the old days we’d call him a shill. The more skeptical among us might contemplate the term stock fraud.

    Should one wonder about scientists who see the government funding opportunities available to study and act on AGW might all of a sudden find that, lo and behold, it DOES exist? They’ve got mouths at home to feed to.

    Try following that money too.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Dunque: How about the earth is heating up? Simple enough?

      Charlie’s a hell of a journalist, but I don’t think he’s ever claimed to be an investigative reporter. Nor have I, for that matter.

  5. Dunque

    Your reply is beyond simple, Dan.

  6. Harrybosch

    “Of course, you failed to address the underlying point – how many people, when asked to put their money where their mouth is, all of a sudden lose their religion.”

    You ask an unanswerable question, then complain when it goes unanswered.

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