Thursday, 08 April 2010

Arctic Ice Expanding, Not Retreating

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At last December’s UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, former Vice President Al Gore shrilly proclaimed that “The entire polar ice cap ... could be completely ice free within the next five to seven years.” As implausible as Gore’s claim already was at the time, recent developments in the arctic have only served to make the fear of an ice-free polar zone all the more absurd.

During the most brutally cold period of this past winter, some pundits were recommending that England’s poor should burn copies of Gore’s book in an effort to stay warm. Now the online edition of the The Times of London is noting that the deep freeze extended far north of the British Isles. According to an April 4 article (“Arctic ice recovers from the great melt”), Gore’s supposed meltdown has frozen over:

IF you thought it was cold in Britain for the time of year, you should see what is happening around the North Pole. Scientists have discovered that the size of the Arctic ice cap has increased sharply to levels not seen since 2001.
A shift in the chilly winds across the Bering Sea over the past few months has caused thousands of square miles of ocean to freeze.
The same phenomenon, known as the Arctic Oscillation, is also partly responsible for the cold winter experienced in northern Europe and eastern America.
It allowed icy blasts of air to escape from the Arctic and make their way southwards. Provisional Met Office figures for December to February suggest the UK had its coldest winter since 1979, with an average temperature of 1.6C — a full 2.1C below normal. Last week a teenager was killed in Scotland when a school bus crashed in the snow — just days into British Summer Time.

Advocates of the theory of manmade climate change will, no doubt, soon proclaim that the warming trend was (a) only to be expected, as part of a longer cooling trend, and (b) will soon be followed by a devastating meltdown unless the industrialized world immediately capitulates to the most radical demands of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Such piffle has become rather shopworn by this point.

The fact is that it appears that the global monitoring is simply revealing longer term patterns than were previously apparent, and that short-term warming trends may simply have been grossly overplayed as a sign of “The End.” When monitoring revealed that the Arctic ice had dramatically receded in 2007, advocates of the theory of anthropogenic global warming panicked. As The Times observes:

It [the Arctic ice sheet] hit an all-time low size of 1.65m square miles, about 39% below average, prompting many scientists, including some at the NSIDC, to suggest that global warming had pushed the Arctic to a tipping point from which it might not recover.
By last summer, however, the ice cap had expanded to 2m square miles and this year’s figures show it approaching normal levels for the time of year.
“In retrospect, the reactions to the 2007 melt were overstated. The lesson is that we must be more careful in not reading too much into one event,” [Mark] Serreze [Director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center] said.
The Met Office had taken a more cautious approach in 2007, warning that the melting was a natural variation so the ice was likely to recover.

One would hope so. Fear mongering has not served the public interest and led to a wasteful and irrational pressure for international agreements which threatened to devastate an already-weakened international economy. Threats of an Arctic “meltdown” were used to pummel delegates to the Copenhagen conference, and if conference organizers had gotten their way, the global economy would have been fundamentally altered through a scheme of massive redistributions of wealth from the first world to the third world. The world has enough real problems to address without inventing fictitious ones.

It would appear that the polar bears will not be running out of ice any time soon.

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