Sunday, June 24, 2012

A REALLY inconvenient truth!

I get REALLY cross when my trust is broken.  For over 50 years, I have subscribed to Scientific American. It used to be a reliable source, reporting science by scientists.

About 10 years ago, it started to lose my trust when it treated the Skeptical Environmentalist, Bjorn Lomborg, with contempt. Having given four environmentalists the freedom to trash Lomborg's book (and to do so very badly, I might add), they then refused to allow Lomborg to respond. I was very glad to see the last of that particular editor.

In the latest issue, July 2012, Scientific American has gone wildly wrong again. "Witness to an Antarctic meltdown - as glaciers collapse toward the sea, scientists struggle to figure out how fast the southern continent is melting and what that means for sea level rise" is a piece by a freelance journalist, Douglas Fox.

Strike One - the piece was not about the continent, but about the Antarctic Peninsula, that finger which points north from the continent towards South America. It is not typical of the continent, because nowhere on it are you more than about 20km from the sea.  This means, of course, that it is naturally warmer than the continent proper.

Strike Two - there was a graphic showing how glaciers were supposed to be accelerating towards the sea, and to my surprise there was an arrow showing the sea providing a "Bracing force that resists creep." Now my comparatively brief close encounters with glaciers has convinced me of one thing - they will overcome! Nothing can ultimately withstand them. The resistance offered by the sea can be nothing, nada, niks.

By now my hackles were truly up, for the piece was all about the collapse of the Larsen ice shelves.  Who can forget La Gore, emoting over their collapse in An Inconvenient Truth? So I went to check the evidence on Google Earth - it is a really useful source of ground truth, made all the better by the fact that you can get historical images as well as current ones.

Indeed, back in 1999, all was looking fine:
 You can see the Larsen B Ice Shelf on the left and Larsen A on the right quite clearly. 

By 2002, Larsen A had done the disappearing act, and Larsen B was looking much the worse for wear.

By 2006, Larsen B had joined its brother, and gone to the great iceberg in the sky! 

And then came 2010!! Voila, they had reappeared! If global warming had made them disappear, had global cooling now made them reappear?? 

The ice shelf isn't perfect - it's repair still shows a few cracks - but back it is. (Imagery Date 30 Sept 2010, location Lat.65.59, Lon. -60.81 Altitude 14km)

Strike 3 - Fox was well and truly out, and Scientific American with him.  What gets into these people, that Global Climate Change has to be The Phenomenon That Changes All?? Do the glaciologists really have nothing to say about the movement of sheets of ice? 

Back I went into the article.  It got worse. "The disappearance of the heavy glaciers is allowing the earth's crust below to rebound."  Now look at the 2006 view.  Where the ice shelves had been, there was now open sea.  So the shelves were floating - the crust was not bearing their weight!

And then the article's map - "Former Larsen A Ice Shelf", "Former Larsen B Ice Shelf."  Hubris? Spelling mistake - should have been "Reformed"? You be the judge.

But whatever way you look at it, science has really lost the plot, and Scientific American with it, when the political correctness of  Global Warming distorts the truth to this extent.

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