April 18, 2020 JV

Mistakes were made

This is the story of an 11-year-old boy who believes that he is the best detective in town.  He runs the agency Total Failures with his best friend, an imaginary 1,200-pound polar bear.  Never heard of it?  Me neither, but I couldn’t go past the title, image and plot summary when looking for a context-setter for this article.

In her 2017 article “Bearing Witness? Polar Bears as Icons for Climate Change Communication in National Geographic” Dorothea Born investigated how polar bears were established as icons of climate change in the popular science magazine National Geographic.  She writes:

“A polar bear, adrift on a melting ice floe, a polar bear desperately clutching to some blocks of ice, or a polar bear expressing emotions of sadness or distress; these images no longer appear to present a particular animal, place, or time… Today, it seems almost impossible not to associate them with climate change.  In recent years, polar bears have been used in many campaigns connected to climate change in order to raise awareness of and engagement with the issue.  An animated bear splashed through Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth while a “real one” was put on the cover of Time magazine… The polar bear has been termed the “poster child” of climate change (Owen & Swaisgood, 2008, p. 123) and has apparently become iconic of the melting of the Arctic ice shield due to anthropogenic climate change (Dunaway, 2009).”

AGW proponents have enlisted the Polar Bear as Global Warming’s Canary in a Coalmine idea since the late 1980’s.  As recently as 2007, an article (Scheer, 2007) stated that “Polar bears may be extinct by 2050 due to melting sea ice.  The accelerating effects of global warming—which are rapidly melting Arctic sea ice—have forced scientists to conclude that polar bears will be extinct in the U.S. by 2050.  ‘There is a definite link between changes in the sea ice and the welfare of polar bears,’ says U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist Steven Amstrup, who helped coordinate the research. ‘As the sea ice goes, so goes the polar bear,’ he said, adding that 84 percent of the scientific variables affecting the polar bear’s fate were tied to changes in sea ice.”

However, have you noticed that Polar Bears seem to have disappeared from the front pages of pro-AGW reports?  Why would that be?  Perhaps, it’s the presence of an inconvenient fact like growing polar bear numbers?

A 2018 article from www.polarbearscience.com Polar bear numbers not declining despite media headlines suggesting otherwise sheds light on the topic.  It concludes: “The sea ice situation hasn’t really improved or deteriorated since 2007 but the polar bear picture is much better: there is information on more subpopulations and studies show most are holding stable or increasing (Aars et al. 2017; Crockford 2017a, b; Crockford and Geist 2018; Dyck et al. 2017; Matishov et al. 2014; Obbard et al. 2015, 2016; Stapleton et al. 2014; SWG 2016; Regehr et al. 2016; Rode et al. 2017; Wiig et al. 2015; York et al. 2016).”  Happy days.

OK, what about species extinctions, coral bleaching, ocean acidification, walruses falling to their death over cliffs and sea-level rises?  In addition to polar bears, each of the above topics have been used by AGW proponents to raise alarm and gain sympathy to their cause.  To respond to each topic fully would require many thousands of words.  This is not possible here and now; a brief response to each will follow, providing an alternative position to that proffered by the popular media.

Species Extinction:

In a 2015 report (Ranosa) stated that “An international team of researchers led by the National Autonomous University (UNAM) has found that since the year 1900, about 477 different species have become extinct because of continued human degradation and destruction of natural habitats… These extinct species include 158 fish, 146 amphibians, 80 birds, 69 mammals and 24 reptiles.”  There is no doubt that human encroachment on the natural habitat of fauna has a permanent impact on ecosystems.  However, this is not the scope of Climate Change.

Rather than experiencing extinction due to rising CO2 levels, Craig and Sherwood Idso (www.co2science.org) have argued for the opposite effect in the case of plant species.  They have archived thousands of results from hundreds of peer-reviewed research studies conducted by hundreds of researchers showing the positive effects of rising CO2 levels.  This archive is available free of charge on the Internet at http://www.co2science.org/data/plant_growth/plantgrowth.php.

Coral Bleaching:

Professor Peter Ridd is one of Australia’s leading experts on the Great Barrier Reef.  He won an unfair dismissal case against his former employer (James Cook University) for claiming that the reef was reasonably healthy.  Some of Peter’s findings on the reef include:

  • Of all the ecosystems in the world, the reef is one that’s best at adapting to climate change.
  • In 2016, 8% of the Great Barrier reef died, but regeneration is rapid — it can recover in a year.
  • The general rule for corals is the hotter the better.  If you want to see the worst corals, go and see Sydney Harbour.  There are even corals in Scotland.  If it was warmer, there would be more corals.  Temperatures for coral go right up to 38 degrees C in the Red Sea and corals are happy with that.

Following the court ruling, there was no remorse for attempting to shut down a dissenting voice at JCU.  They have since removed “clause 13.3,” which will stop any further dissent.  Can genuine scientific discourse survive in Australian Universities?

Ocean Acidification:

You may have seen photos of shells being dissolved by an increase in ocean acidification due to rising atmospheric levels of CO2.  Willie Soon discusses this topic in a Youtube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gj-lo6Qe8lk .  The key point he makes is that “most of these experiments…[were] modified by the addition of acid and/or base to control pH.”  That is, instead of allowing CO2 levels to rise naturally by bubbling the gas through water, the AWG proponents expedited the process by adding acid.  Willie Soon shows what happens to crustaceans when the concentration of CO2 in water is raised slowly (as it will in nature).

Walruses falling to their deaths over cliffs:

A veteran zoologist says Netflix’s “Our Planet” is lying about its viral scene of walruses falling off a cliff.  “Our Planet” blames climate change for walruses falling to their deaths, but it may have actually been caused by polar bears.  The film crew denied these claims with tears.  Other footage became available later which showed that the film crew themselves were actually very good at acting.



Sea Level Rises:

The volume of data and articles on sea level measurement almost matches that of temperature measurement.  Several articles have already been dedicated to land surface temperature measurement alone.  There will be no attempt to do the same for sea level measurement.  Instead, the following points will be provided to support an alternative argument.

TIME magazine’s cover shows U.N. chief António Guterres standing in waters off a Pacific island that’s allegedly “sinking” into the sea — except scientific studies indicate it’s not.

Studies have found most low-lying Pacific islands either remained stable or increased in size over the decades, including Tuvalu.

Some recent AGW proponents including the Virginia Institute of Marine Science are warning of an acceleration in sea level rises.  Criticism of the report is focused on the author’s ability to identify and model an acceleration figure, given NOAA’s guide for tide gauge accuracy.

As we’ve seen recently from COVID-19 models, projections are only as good as the data and the underlying assumptions.  The good thing with COVID-19, we were able to see within weeks just how overblown the models were.  Who is going to fact check sea-level models in 100 years’ time?

An important point regarding sea level measurement is: relative to what?  We don’t tend to think about vertical movement of the earth’s crust (either up or down).  “We tend to think of Pacific atolls as static landforms that will simply be inundated as sea levels rise, but there is growing evidence these islands are geologically dynamic and are constantly changing,” researcher Kench said in 2018.

One final point regarding sea level rises, former President Obama purchased a $12M sea-side mansion, a few feet above sea level.  I guess he’s not too concerned about Al Gore’s predictions of a complete lack of summer sea ice in the Arctic by as early as 2013 with a possible 20-foot sea level rise.

30 years ago, AGW proponents predicted the death of an icon.  I’m not sure this is what they meant by it. 

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