A Disgraceful Chasm Between Real-World
Observations & Climate Science Reporting
Injecting frightening scenarios into climate science reporting has seemingly become a requisite for publication.
In a new Nature Geoscience editorial, a common scare tactic is utilized by the (unidentified) author so as to grab readers’ attention.
The East Antarctic ice sheet is currently the largest ice mass on Earth. If it melted in its entirety, global sea levels would rise by more than 50 metres.
Wow. 50 meters. That would be catastrophic.
But then we read about real-world observations for East Antarctica. And they don’t even come close to aligning with the catastrophic scenario casually tossed into the editorial.
First of all, East Antarctica is not losing mass and adding to sea levels. The ice sheet is gaining mass and thus removing water from sea levels. The surface mass gains have been occurring not only since 1800 (Thomas et al., 2017), but for the recent decade (2003-2013) too (Martín-Español et al., 2017). Even the author of the Nature Geoscience editorial acknowledges this.
“The East Antarctic ice sheet may be gaining mass in the current, warming climate. The palaeoclimate record shows, however, that it has retreated during previous episodes of prolonged warmth.”
Not only has East Antarctica been gaining mass, the author goes on to say that it would take 100s of thousands to millions of years for Antarctica to even exhibit partial retreat. So much for the “if it melted in its entirety” warning we read earlier.
“In terms of immediate sea-level rise, it is reassuring that it seems to require prolonged periods of lasting hundreds of thousands to millions of years to induce even partial retreat.”
So if the editorial department at Nature Geoscience realizes that it would take 100s of thousands to millions of years to even witness a partial retreat of the ice sheet, is there any scientific justification for the inclusion of the sea-levels-would-rise-50-meters-if-East-Antarctica-melted commentary? Since when do imaginary scenarios pass as science?
A ‘Staggering’ 9 Trillion Tons Of Greenland’s Ice Has Been Lost Since 1900! That’s A Sea Level Contribution Of Less Than 1 Inch
It’s not frightening to learn that 9 trillion tons of ice losses actually amounts to less than 1 inch of sea level rise contribution from Greenland meltwater in 115 years.
Since a total sea level rise contribution of 1 inch in 115 years from the Greenland ice sheet isn’t scary, the author of the Washington Post article (Chris Mooney) finds it necessary to offer his readers a macabre thought experiment: What if that additional 1 inch of water sitting atop the world ocean were to be collected somehow and then dumped onto all the United States interstate highways? Now that would be scary. It would mean that 1 inch of sea level rise turned into 98 feet of sea levels rise (63 times over) in very same imaginary world where additional sea water is dumped onto U.S. interstate highways.
This is how the modern version of climate science works.
Below are a few more examples of glacier melt and sea level rise observations from recently-published papers casting doubt on the tragic, alarmist, and attention-seeking headlines that are so prevalent today.