Really Bad Science: More Climate Apocalypse

Ariel Schwartz writes some really out there articles about  the climate, but I think she has gone a bit overboard.  Her understanding of the science appears to be about as deep as knowing each and every possible catastrophy that has been projected as a result of global warming, but nothing any deeper than that.

I will tackle the list of dangers that she has listed and add some facts to it.  Somehow I doubt that she will appreciate a proper peer review.

Arctic Summer Sea Ice Loss

This year is a bad year for the Arctic Sea Ice Extent.  No argument there, but then she adds this scientifically dubious statement.

This will mean more water in the ocean, which will ultimately lead to to higher sea levels and increased flooding.

Now the Arctic ice already goes through large fluctuations each year.  The peak coverage is ~14 million km2 while the minimum is ~ 4 million km2.  It has been as low as 3 million km2.  So while people have attempted to claim that freshwater density and such will result in higher sea levels, the yearly variation of 10 million km2 has no detectable trace in the sea level.  Yet the reader is left to believe that the last 3-4 million km2 will make more difference than the other 10 million km2.  Enough so that worldwide flooding will ensue.  Call me a skeptic on that one.

Amazon Rainforest Dieback:

This is a fascinating one.  Too bad it is for all the wrong reasons.  There is the problem of deforestation that certainly is happening.  The one of warming temperatures is silly.  The ENSO does cause cycles of drought and flood to the Amazon, but that has been happening for a very long time.  I might also point out that I just covered the temperature trend of the Tropics and there is no significant trend in the data.  None.  The problems the Amazon is facing are human caused, just not global warming caused.  I could argue that higher CO2 is better for plants (which is true), but that isn’t even needed.  The foundation for warmer being bad for a tropical rainforest is silly.

Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation Shutdown:

This does shutdown on a fairly regular basis.  Probably once every 10,000 years there seems to be evidence that it shuts down.  The last time it happened was 8,200 years ago during the Younger Dryas event.  There is evidence that such shutdowns have happened 7 times in the past 90,000 years.  The idea that such events lead to mass extinction of life in the oceans through oxygen depletion is not based on fact.

So while the THC will shutdown in the future (based solely on the fact that it keeps doing so in the past), there is nothing unusual about such events.  Certainly no mass extinctions from them.   This is real ugly FUD.

Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheet Meltdown:

This is the last one I am going to cover.  I have covered Greenland before.  Even the reports that cry disaster show that Greenland is either adding mass or losing mass.  The trends there take place on scales of 100 years.  If the current rate continued it would only take 15,000+ years for it to melt.

The worry about Antarctica is really baseless.  While the Taylor Ice Dome is not in Western Antarctica, it does show that there is often significant natural variation in temperature that also takes place on timescales of 100-200 years.  We happen to be near one of the recent peaks, but that is all.  The peak 700 years ago was even warmer.

Inconvenient Skeptic

Taylor Dome: 10,000 Year Reconstruction


To top it off, the picture in the article was a screen grab from the movie The Day After Tomorrow.  This is a movie that was a contender for the worst science in a movie, ever. I will rank this article right there with it.

Posted in Bad Science and Fear and Misinformation by inconvenientskeptic on June 22nd, 2011 at 1:51 pm.


This post has 10 comments

  1. Is arctic sea ice extent really *that* bad? Visit the U of Illinois site where you can compare daily sea ice images. If you compare different shots from this June to previous years its hard to detect a crisis. I also checked NOAA’s site on polar sea ice extent, and in Sept. 2009 it was 5.4 million square kilometers, as opposed to 4.3 million sqkm in 2007. It was a little lower in 2010 than 2009 but in 2010 it was still higher than what was found in 2007. So it looks to me that polar ice seems to be increasing from the minimums reached before, that could have resulted from other factors in the climate like PDO.

  2. inconvenientskeptic Jun 22nd 2011

    The Arctic is fine, but the fact that the short term behavior is lower makes it one of the only claims that the warmists have. Hence the Arctic sea ice will get lots of attention this year as 2011 is on track to be lower than 2007.

    The short term variation is the only reason that anyone believes in global warming. The Arctic is the only thing going their way.

  3. Greg2213 Jun 23rd 2011

    “This will mean more water in the ocean, which will ultimately lead to to higher sea levels and increased flooding.”

    Ummm… no. The Arctic ice is floating. Melt all of the floating ice and it will make zero difference to sea levels. Melting land based ice might make a difference. Melt all of the Greenland and Antarctic ice (won’t happen anytime soon) and the sea levels will rise by several meters.

  4. inconvenientskeptic Jun 23rd 2011


    I was going to take the same approach, but it seems that some scientists have put forward the idea that the fresh water floating in salt water will somehow make a difference.

    So I took a simpler approach instead of trying argue two points at the same time. Besides, 10 million km2 makes no difference each year. Why would a small amount more suddenly matter?

  5. Richard111 Jun 26th 2011

    This business of melting ice! Its simple to work out. You need 97,000 CUBIC MILES (~400,000 cubic km) of land ice to melt for sea levels to rise by just 1 metre. Then work out the heat energy and heat transport details over a time period of just 88 years (to 2100) and you will see the sun will have to nova to achieve this melt rate.

  6. Charles Higley Jun 26th 2011

    “This will mean more water in the ocean, which will ultimately lead to to higher sea levels and increased flooding.”

    I believe you are missing the point.

    Floating ice cannot change sea level when it melts; it has already displaced the same mass of water.

  7. inconvenientskeptic Jun 26th 2011

    Your point was discusses already. I agree that floating ice melting will not change the sea level. I have had plenty of people argue otherwise.

    Yet somehow, skeptics are the ones that get labelled anti-science.

  8. RobbCab Jun 27th 2011


    Regarding “The Arctic is fine, but the fact that the short term behavior is lower makes it one of the only claims that the warmists have. Hence the Arctic sea ice will get lots of attention this year as 2011 is on track to be lower than 2007.”

    I created a graphic showing the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 & 2011 Arctic plot on the 6/25/11 NSIDC graph. the image is here.

    2011 is slightly above 2010 (which was also tracking below 2007 levels for a bit, but finished 600,000 km^2 above.). If you look at the shape of this year’s plot vs 2006, they are very similar in shape.

    My opinion is like yours. The Arctic is fine. My summer minimum prediction is 5.4 Mkm^2 ± .3. Not that it matters much as every March the maximums are pretty much the same.

  9. RobbCab Jun 27th 2011

    Sorry John, I mistakenly called you Paul.

    I was talking to a co-worker with that name just before I began writing my post. Apologies.

  10. Steven Goddard has an interesting post on his Real Science blog showing multiyear sea ice (plus a typical news story from the alarmists that all multiyear ice is gone):

    He also has a really interesting post showing Hansen’s predictions for different global warming scenarios, and the actual data matches Hansen’s scenario for dramatically reduced GHG emissions. Of course the media is never going to bother reporting his predictions are wrong.

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