AGW: More Fear and Misinformation

Over on Discovery there are numerous articles about Global Warming (AGW stands for Anthropogenic Global Warming, it means human caused Global Warming).  They have a certain tone of panic about the state of the climate.  Two articles that caught my attention are one about Geoengineering to save the planet and a linked one about the oceans getting saltier.

First off one of the main points in both articles is the warming of the oceans.  They are actually referring to the natural cycle of the AMO when they are talking about the warmer oceans.  There has been no warming of the oceans that is outside of the natural oscillations that they are always going through.  The fact that the 1960-1990’s are heavily used to determine the baseline temperature of the Atlantic Ocean in particular is troubling as it was in its cool phase then.

The main part that catches my attention is the reference in the geoengineering article that comments that the oceans are saltier than ever before.  That is a lie.

Parsing this article is going to be a hassle, but that is what I will do.  The actual article about the oceans talks about the tropical oceans getting saltier, while at the same time saying that the Arctic is getting less salty.  The simple facts are that all of the ocean has been much, much saltier in the recent past.  The reason for this is the sea levels.

As the Ocean article correctly points out that the amount of salt in the oceans is constant.  It is only the amount of water that varies.  18,000 years ago when the last glaciation (ice age) was still holding sway over the planet, all the oceans were much saltier.  That is because the oceans were roughly 120m (400 feet) lower than they are today.  The sea levels for the past 200,000 years look like this.

Inconvenient Skeptic

200,000 Year Sea Level Chart

The salinity of the oceans will vary directly with the sea level.  Increasing sea levels will cause decreasing salinity.  Decreasing sea levels will increase the salinity.  So the article in discovery is stating (and implying) that global warming is causing the oceans to be saltier than ever before.  Such a statement when the oceans have had a natural change of more than 120m (400 feet) in the past 20,000 years is simply astounding.

The greatest misinformation in all of this is that the Earth is supposed to stay the same.  It never has and it never will.  The ocean levels will not stay the same as they are today.  They will be higher in the future, but they will also be lower, much lower in the future.  The average sea level for the past 200,000 years is about 60m (200 feet) lower than the sea level is today.  That means that on average, the oceans have been much saltier over the past 200,000 years than they are today.

Posted in Fear and Misinformation and Science Articles - Global Warming by inconvenientskeptic on September 16th, 2010 at 6:00 am.

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