Here We Go Again With the Wilkins Ice Shelf

by Paul Chesser, Heartland Institute Correspondent on April 3, 2009

in Blog, Features

This is CNN (you know, no bias; no bull) — so complete the last sentence from this article’s first few paragraphs for me:

A large ice shelf is “imminently” close to breaking away from part of the Antarctic Peninsula, scientists said Friday.

Satellite images released by the European Space Agency on Friday show new cracks in the Wilkins Ice Shelf where it connects to Charcot Island, a piece of land considered part of the peninsula.

The cracks are quickly expanding, the ESA said.

Scientists are investigating the causes for the breakups and whether it is linked to…

So guess which of the following completes this last sentence excerpted from CNN’s report? Your choices:

1) …wind and wave conditions.

2) …volcanic activity.

3) …stress caused by ice growth.

4) …natural processes.

5) …global climate change.

Remember, it’s no bias and no bull, so your choice should be a difficult one. Right?

James April 3, 2009 at 11:46 am

Your sarcasm is great. Too bad you have no logic in your argument. I agree that CNN as well as all of the news channels report what sells, and even use verbiage to try and twist points. However use your common sense so you don't sound so biased yourself.

It says "Scientists are investigating the causes for the breakups and whether it is linked to". The key word is "Scientists", it doesn't say "CNN is investigating the causes for the breakups and whether it is linked to". If you want to be sarcastic and upset with someone because you do not "believe" in global warming, then address the proper people. Write the scientists and ask them why they are not investigating the potential links to wind and wave conditions, volcanic activity, stress caused by ice growth (a far stretch considering the ice has been retreating, a complex word for shrinking or declining, for the last 20 years), or natural processes.

Please develop an argument that is worthwhile. Please.

Dean April 3, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Your arguement is silly James. The "scientists" huh? Anyone can call themself a scientist. You think he should write them? Who are they? What are their names? Where were they educated? What is their address? You completely missed the point of his sarcasm. And please don't tell anyone else to use common sense until you find some yourself.

Please develop an argument that is worthwhile.

Scott April 3, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Except James, that the Global Warming hysteria community counts Social Scientists as "scientists" in reports and studies. If you are unaware they don't have a lick of natural science background.

Rob April 3, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Anyone can call themselves a scientist, but not everyone can BE a scientist. For someone who starts off their commentary with a swipe at CNN's "No Bias, No Bull" tagline, there was certainly a lot of bias in the sarcasm.

Here's some reality: there is no doubt that there is a correlation between rising global temperatures and rising levels of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere. However, as any competent scientist will tell you…correlation does not mean CAUSATION. There are quite a few other mechanisms that can cause global surface temperatures to rise by a few degrees, including the primary suspect: vertical rates of ocean circulation. Whether or not rising levels of greenhouse gases are directly linked is a plausible hypothesis…but is not definitively known. Keep in mind that atmospheric carbon dioxide rose by more than 30% at the end of the last ice age, some 12,000 years before the Industrial Revolution.

None of this implies that we shouldn't do something about reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide and methane, which I guess is the source of your frustration. But if you want to take slaps at CNN (and scientists) for not finishing sentences as you see appropriate, well…maybe there's a reason why real scientists are working on the question, and you're writing an obscure blog about it.

Laurie April 3, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Well done, Rob. Thanks for putting a smile on my face after a rough day.

Johnstone April 3, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Are alarmists pretending to be scientists worse than fascists pretending to be journalists?

Just curious.

Jan April 4, 2009 at 9:33 am

Are redneck muttonheads worse than "intelligent" conservatives?

trebor Kled April 7, 2009 at 6:29 am

One is stupid and proud the other is proud and stupid. Their world view is threaten ….

Jacob April 23, 2009 at 3:54 am


cecelia April 3, 2009 at 12:27 pm

the earth has been going through cycles for how many thousands of years that these "scientists" were not tracking changes,, while i agree that we should ALL be better conservators of our earth i am fed up with all the money that is thrown at 'global warming' and nothing really to show for it but a bunch of theories, and arguments. it's not really going to matter the way things are going downhill, we will destroy ourselves and mother nature will take care of her own

Tavi April 4, 2009 at 7:36 am

Finally, some good old-fashioned conservative nihilism.

THAT's the true spirit behind today's Republicans, isn't it?

TRANSFORMED April 30, 2009 at 5:38 am


will April 3, 2009 at 12:28 pm

GW is not real. It is a fabrication that helps politicians make money. If it were real, Al Gore would be trying to live as green as possible, oh wait, that costs money. So instead, he goes out with everyone else screaming the world is going to end if we don't drive electric cars. Idiots! If we had that kind of impact on the earth, we would have all been dead a long time ago. Just like turning of lights around the world, the truth finally came out, that it actually put a burden on the power grid which uses more electricity in the long run because the power plants still run when we turn our lights off. DUH!

Spock April 3, 2009 at 12:53 pm

The original report, with the names of the primary researchers, is here:

There is essentially no debate in the climate science community. We've burned enormous amounts of oil, natural gas, and coal over the past 200 years. CO2 is a direct, unavoidable byproduct of this. There are simple physics that show that increasing the CO2 in the atmosphere will cause the planet to retain more of the solar energy striking the planet. Climatologists are arguing details of what this increased energy in the system will do, but they're not arguing the basics of AGW. This happens only in the media, fueled by press releases from companies that — guess what? — make their money selling carbon-based fuels.

John April 3, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Yes, of course Global Warming isn't real. It surely makes sense that we can trash our planet as much as we want and dump poisonous fumes into our atmosphere, without any consequences. After all God gave us all these natural resources so we could use them to make money.

Did I get that right: is that the "conservative view" on global warming?

Pockets64 April 6, 2009 at 4:17 am

CO2 is a trace gas that is essential to our biosphere. The stuff is HEALTHY for our biosphere. It helps plants grow. Plants are actually good for us.

Additionally, there is no tangible evidence that human-emitted CO2 is even spreading around the world. From what I'm reading, it is much more likely that current CO2 levels have non-human sources.

Ad hominem attacks against conservatives really do not do much to either rebuke the original article nor advance the AGW cause.

Kayla April 9, 2009 at 7:31 pm

You said it yourself, CO2 is a TRACE element in our atmosphere… and yes plants ARE good. However, plants can only absorb and convert so much CO2 before it becomes harmful to them, kind of like "too much of a good thing is bad for you". Google eutrophication and see what you learn. Even if you don't believe in global climate change, don't you think its still logical to do your part to maintain our planet rather than treating it like a dumping ground.

I fully believe that rather than wasting our breath trying to convince people of something they're never going to believe in, we should appeal to the logic (though it may be a stretch for some) of keeping our planet healthy and clean rather than trashing it.

TRANSFORMED April 30, 2009 at 5:45 am


John April 3, 2009 at 1:31 pm

GW helps make politicians money? As opposed to big oil that has funded most politicians since whenever?

And the brilliant things is that big oil realized that the best chance of preventing electric cars and alternative energy (and hurting America at the same time) is to link global warming to being liberal. This way all the hate filled cows of the right will vote against funding alternative energy schemes even though reducing energy dependence on foreign oil is critical for America.

Notice how Bush always brags about how his family is friends with Saudi Royalty? The same royalty who look down on America? Wake up all you hate filled republican cows, only reason to hire a cowboy is to lead cows.

Kali April 3, 2009 at 1:45 pm

"It had been there almost unchanged since the first expeditions which mapped it back in the 1930s, so it had a very long period of real stability, and it's only in the last decade that it's started to retreat," Vaughan said.

Mr. Vaughan is a glaciologist yet he considers 80 years "a very long period" when referring to a glacier!

Could it be the sugary breakfast cereals these people were fed as children or maybe too much TV?

Scott Michaels April 3, 2009 at 1:58 pm

I think that discussions of scientists and global warming are worthwhile, because eventually information on how science works may become better known to the public.

The scientists that I know are concerned almost entirely with "peer-reviewed" publications – and if you are a scientist in a particular field, you know which publications are the highest rated and most demanding to get published in.

The only problem that I see is that the scientists that I know are relatively disinterested in the standard media that the rest of us are so familiar with, and the two worlds rarely meet.

Roger April 3, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Well, if it was 2005, it would read like this:

The ice shelf is breaking off.. according the Bush administration, this is God's plan. There is no such thing as science. Have a nice day.

TRANSFORMED April 30, 2009 at 5:47 am


Scott Michaels April 3, 2009 at 2:01 pm

To Kali: I think the glaciologist was taking into account the fact that the 'stable' glacier also took quite a bit of time to create.

Matt April 3, 2009 at 2:49 pm

You will see drastic cooling in 2009-2011 because of solar flares and sun spot activity on the sun is decreasing drastically due to solar cycles. I estimate that the sun is responsible for about 99-100% of temperature change. From Ice core samples from millions of years back when the planet was COVERED with jungles and forests, the carbon dioxide levels were nearly 3 times the levels they are now. Carbon dioxide reductions are stupid. It makes no logical sense. I agree with methane and particulate reductions. Current levels will show the exponential factor in which the increase of respitory disease has occured.

And because I am smarter than everyone…I can't believe everything I read if I didn't write it. 🙂

Deekster April 4, 2009 at 11:26 am

Heehaww! Right on! Let's set aside the frenzy, practice some global stewardship and support the scientific process to a definitive conclusion.

TRANSFORMED April 30, 2009 at 6:03 am


Dennis April 3, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Hey I have a nail gun and some liquid nails, I think I can re-attach this shelf if you would like.

Mario April 3, 2009 at 3:20 pm

All BS!

Doug April 3, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Ask the same scientists that are investigating this particular ice shelf what the total ice coverage in the antarctic has done over the last decade. It's not what CNN covers, but what they don't cover that bothers me.

Deekster April 4, 2009 at 11:27 am

Rock on, dude!

Luke April 3, 2009 at 7:36 pm

People seem to think that cetrain causes couldn't possibly be a contributing factor, when, in fact, ALL scenerios are plausible until disproven. Considering reducing greenhouses gases is something mankind can actualy do (unlike moving our cities to help correct volcano activity or building wave walls around Antartica) why would we NOT want to put this in the forefront?


Luke April 3, 2009 at 7:36 pm

People seem to think that cetrain causes couldn't possibly be a contributing factor, when, in fact, ALL scenerios are plausible until disproven. Considering reducing greenhouses gases is something mankind can actualy do (unlike moving our cities to help correct volcano activity or building wave walls around Antartica) why would we NOT want to put this in the forefront?

Doug April 3, 2009 at 8:24 pm

The original report, with the names of the primary researchers, is here:

There is essentially no debate in the climate science community. We’ve burned enormous amounts of oil, natural gas, and coal over the past 200 years. CO2 is a direct, unavoidable byproduct of this. There are simple physics that show that increasing the CO2 in the atmosphere will cause the planet to retain more of the solar energy striking the planet. Climatologists are arguing details of what this increased energy in the system will do, but they’re not arguing the basics of AGW. This happens only in the media, fueled by press releases from companies that — guess what? — make their money selling carbon-based fuels.

Walt April 3, 2009 at 9:08 pm

Here is my question –

When the entire civilized world accepts GW as an actual occurrence (just as 98% of Real Scientists do currently) will this blog offer apologies or admit being wrong ?

Or will you move on to some new "Liberals Are The Devil" conspiracy fantasy?

Just curious….

Pockets64 April 6, 2009 at 4:59 am

No one attacked liberals. The article was about a political movement disguised as science. Don't take it personally.

thgribla April 3, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Alarmist fearmongering!!!

……until then, get back with us when the event actually occurs!!!

You can roll manure in powdered sugar, but it's still not a jelly donut!!!

Jon April 4, 2009 at 9:25 am


James April 3, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Doug: "Ask the same scientists that are investigating this particular ice shelf what the total ice coverage in the antarctic has done over the last decade"

Antarctic sea ice today is about 1/2 million km^2 less than it was on the same day in 1999. Similarly for arctic sea ice. Global sea ice is thus about 1 million km^2 less than 10 years ago. And virtually all glaciers are dramatically smaller.

Of course, that could change from day-to-day, month-to-month, but most days and most months there is less ice than on the same date 10 years earlier.

Browse around for more data.

John April 3, 2009 at 11:40 pm

I skipped over a bunch of the comments after reading the first few. Comment,

It is not "Global Warming" alone that's questioned, but rather the connotation the phrase carries, "man made global warming". Like the comments above that "CO2 is the cause", no offense man, but STRIKE OUT. Correlation does not imply causation, and in the case of CO2 temperatures rise before CO2. Now let's review basic chemistry: rising temperature correlates with decreased [gas] aqueous solubility.

The "and methane" part, however, can be considered: but note that unlike the liberal media pinning it on cows (though we really can learn to feed cows feed more natural to them so that they don't have gas issues–which ranchers are already learning, many already have learned), the rise in temperatures over the last century, which correlate with rising temperatures of the sun itself over that century (i.e. don't try haggling out of it by mentioning four years of decline here or there when the feedback of the previous decades is still amplifying the effects), (and, in fact, over longer periods: agricultural records do tell us a lot of the climate over the last few thousands years!), while simultaneously (mysteriously) the other planets and bodies in the solar system are also warming (thus letting us have a little more certainty about causation, again correlation does not imply causation, but this is not, of course, utter denial of intuitivity when there's a decent amount of evidence well-interpreted). It's not "just" the Sun: we do know that atmospheric gas concentrations are changing, but more of the oceans than our cities, from melting permafrost, from methane ice beneath arctic oceans: all which began melting with increasing solar activity, not human activity. Those changes are happening so quickly, as the alarmists have admitted, there's utterly nothing we could do: we could all stop everything now, it wouldn't matter.

Get over it and adapt. Drop the groupthink and be scientific: truly, because scientists who show how sure they are and talk on that surety as if authority, the kind commonly promoting causes and found in media, are the kind who are not scientific. They are not skeptical.

Arguably we know that historically higher temperature levels, specifically with more C02, allows for greater productivity in agriculture, not perhaps the same kind of agriculture or in the same places as these days, but more C02 allows for greening of deserts if we let the roots spread (something happening in pro-tree, i.e. 'you now, rather than we (the government) own your trees so you may exploit the leaves and fruit they product rather than cutting them down", African states)), more resources for it, more bacteria, stronger and healthier plants: C02 is like fertilizer in the air (for planst), and a boon to bacteria.

As NASA's main man slipped, we're arrogant to say we know best what climate the earth should be (he quickly retracted under the intense condemnation, of course); I would add foolish to think we are changing things by a little (C02 is relatively innocuous, breaks down quickly, and follows temperature rises). Greater environmental challenges come from overplowing millions of acres or miles with techniques that leave dirt exposed and not enough plant matter to keep putting moisture into the air above (which moderates the temperatures of a region), something that America, at least, does no longer; from plastics dumped in the oceans, and a whole lot of other things we can control and do something about: a climate globally changing within the bounds of historic cycles is not something for us to worry about, but to adapt to.

Jon April 4, 2009 at 9:19 am

wow, greening of deserts, eh?

Dan April 4, 2009 at 3:05 am

Well, what about all of those "scientists" who've signed off questioning "Climate Change" " Global Warming", et all?

Coyote22 April 4, 2009 at 4:33 am

How can any accurate conclusion be drawn from a sample size of only the past 70 years? Considering the earth is six billion or so years old, how is it possible to draw any concrete conclusions with such a minute sample? It's impossible. Were talking about a sample size that is .0000000001%

I have yet to hear an explanation as to how we managed to come out of the last ice age with out our planet warmin' SUVs melting all the ice. Somebody please explain. Pretty please.

Dave April 4, 2009 at 5:21 am

It's obvious that virtually none of the commentaries on this short article come from people involved in the research community. If you would read the research journals where the data is reported, if you would even read the 2007 IPCC report (3100 pages of data and synthesis), you would understand that the connection to human activities is very well established. Through isotopic measurements in ice cores, we can extend our knowledge to nearly a million years, and we see that the last 50 years in particular are anomalous, and the problem is accelerating.

It's important to not get your information and conclusions from talk radio. Read the dozens of journals that report the work and you will get a very different view than the drug-addled gas bag Rush Limbaugh provides as he grinds his political axes. The consequences of making poor decisions in this area are severe.

Pockets64 April 6, 2009 at 4:41 am

Clear, concise, logical. I wish.

Anyone care to guess how much of the AGW argument is based on observational science versus computer models? You would be shocked to see that an entire field of "science" that is being used to tear apart our society is based on the output of rigged computer programs.

By the way, nice attack on the recovering Limbaugh. That one's three years old? Really advances your point. More people read for climate news than Limbaugh.

Ron Malleck April 4, 2009 at 6:10 am

AS I have watched and listened to many smart people on this site, I wonder why no one has discussed the freezing of the english channel? Did it not freeze up in the 1700's, and you could walk from England to France? Was this cause a Lack of solar flares? I have only grade 11, but I have listened to others and I say look to the SUN for a proper answer. Just trying to solve warming question. Ron. Canada.

Jerry April 4, 2009 at 6:30 am

I don't know what all the hubbub is about. It's really, really simple. The one thing that believers and non-believers (scientists that is) agree on is that more CO2 in the air does have a green house effect. The argument goes for the alarmist is that we are all going to die if we don't do something about the excess CO2. The (oxymoronly) conservativist (not really conservatist when it comes to environment) argues we are spending precious time, energy and money on an issue that can equally just be a natural occuring event and that humans contribute only a very small amount of CO2 so why hurt the little guy with taxes and so forth that negatively affects society because of some imaginary problem.

I say this…and this is the simple part. Since the scientist agree that more CO2 can and does cause an increase in global temperature, and an increase in global temperature is a bad thing because of all the things it brings, we should try to do something about it. If we don't try, well thats either a kind of denial or just stupidity. It doesn't matter the reasons there is more CO2.

On another note and something to contemplate. Anyone who has studied systems know that there are two major kinds. An 'open' system and a 'closed' system. The earth more or less is a closed system. Yes, the sun influences the earth but even on a bigger scale the solar system or galaxy or even the universe can be considered a closed system. No, the universe is not a closed system when you look at it over hundreds of billions of years. But when you take a slice of say one millions years all of your indicators would point to a closed system. All systems inherently seek a lower energy state. But being a closed system there is give and take and a repeating cycle. Minute losses is how the seeking a lower energy state manifests itself. So, considering this idea, how can you say that humans do not contribute to significantly more CO2 in the air? Yes, a volcano can pump so much more CO2 in the air than a factory. But the volcano is part of the steady state achieved in closed system over..say..the last million years. The human factor is new. Humans were not part of this steady state over the last one million minus ten thousand years. So, how can you say humans don't contribute to the addition of CO2 when all we do as humans is 2 things. We breath and we cut down things that remove CO2. Ten thousand years ago there were only a few humans. Now, there 6 billion every second of every day breathing taking in oxygen and expeleing CO2. And in order to have a place to live (lumber for your house, and a place to have your house) we cut down the only know things that can remove the CO2 from the air. OK, now add in that we create machines that pump CO2 into the air. How can you say that we are not contributing? So the steady state equation changes. The more humans there are, the more CO2 we add to the atmosphere. And even the non-believers agree that more CO2 has a negative effect on the global temperature. It really is that simple. Stop contributing to CO2 in the air!

Wes April 4, 2009 at 1:44 pm

I am a very conservative and agree totally! I will only breathe on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and you can have Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. No one should be allowed to breathe on Sunday, just contribute something oxygen-producing. Maybe plant a tree…

Jon April 4, 2009 at 9:05 am

I'm amazed by people who convince themselves there is not an issue with rapid, man-made global warming when there is clear evidence all over the planet, not just the ice-caps. What do you have to lose by agreeing with 90% of the scientific community that states the natural temperature cycle is being rapidly accelerated? Are you really willing to gamble the health of the planet that you, your children, their children will inherit? Are you afraid how it will effect your life – the amount of product you can consume, the effort required for responsibility? Do you not realize the health benefits (for human beings and nature) and the incredible economic potential of embracing this philosophy?

Of course you don't, it's so much easier to believe that everything is fine. Really what it comes down to is a change needs to be made in how government regulates and how we live our daily lives, change that will be difficult and will demand sacrifices – and small-minded, fat, lazy cattle will always fear and resist that kind of change. Sleep well shiftless dimwits.

Pockets64 April 6, 2009 at 4:47 am

You are right. We should all fight man-made global warming. That was a good fight. Easy to fight that which does not exist.

Anyone else amazed at how much of the AGW argument is leveraged on Pascal's Wager?

Shawn April 4, 2009 at 9:37 am

I find it surprising that the scientists yelling global warming over the ice caps several years ago were saying we were about to hit an ice age and need to melt the caps. I completely agree with you on this, why could it not be something else? Why is it that the mainstream belief should rule out all other scientific processes to make sure that it isn't something else? The hysteria surrounding global warming is hyped by a media trying to make a quick buck. Where are all the stories on the reputable scientists who claim global warming is just our lack of global data over the last few thousands of years? I want to see the whole picture and not just see what media sources like CNN want us to see.

Garacka April 4, 2009 at 5:42 pm

From the political perspective, I offer that you need to consider that the good hearted environmental advocates are being used on the GW issue by some sort of new world order/global financier oligarchy whose agenda is not necessarily saving the planet, although, it's possible that some may justify their actions as having a environmental benefit. This is supported by direct quotes from many such as Maurice Strong and I believe Al Gore even admitted when he was still VP that it wasn't about the science but the policy. The environmental movement has been hijacked. I only wish they would return to applying reason, and valid science to addressing core environmental concerns, because our environment needs to be protected.

Garacka April 4, 2009 at 5:59 pm

From a technical perspective:

a) CO2 increases contribute to warming, but man's contribution is very small and is overwhelmed by natural factors.

b) We are very likely living in a time of historically low CO2 and we certainly don't want it to get down as low as about 200PPM or plants start to die. More CO2 is very likely better.

c) The models from which the 3-8 degree temperature increases are developed can't match reality except for the past which they are adjusted to as best they can. When the models are then correlated to what actually happens, they fail miserably, but the modelers whose livelihoods this work depends will not tell you this.

d) The projections of catastrophic effects that severe Global Warming will bring are largely speculation and even if it was to occur, mitigation is more cost effective (and would give our grand children some fun and challenging work to do – seriously)

e) CO2 is a gas of life and it is technically fraudulent to label it a pollutant.

f) Concerns about energy security are valid. In the short term (5-20 years) we should access more of our own hydrocarbon resources and work on alternatives until we can get the cost down, or come up with a breakthrough. Then we develop it. Some would argue that the private sector could do all this on its own and the market would drive innovation and come up with the alternative energies. Perhaps the only reason it hasn't happened is because fossil fuels are still cheaper than essentially all alternatives. Natural gas and clean coal will actually probably keep us going for another 200+ years.

g) Concerns about pollution are misdirected on the non-pollutant CO2, when the real pollutants are NOx, SOx, Hg, soot, HS, industrial chemicals, human/animal waste and environmental degradation. If we waste money sequestering CO2, it takes away resources that can reduce the pollutants. We're trying to solve the wrong technical problem.

Oh, and regarding the Antarctic ocean ice, its annual low was about a month ago, so these breakups are expected around this time. Also the overall Antarctic ice area is above average from 1979-2000. See:

Mike April 4, 2009 at 8:42 pm

People who are full of it will usally say they know exactly what's going on or what they are doing, while people who know exactly what they are doing will usally say I don't know, kind of, or maybe. Scientists are people too, pick your horse's month carfully.

Drew April 4, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Regardless of any political reason, global warming denial is fringe and considered pseudoscience at best. Scientists roundly accept global warming, and there is a wealth of data supporting it. Carbon dioxide levels do affect the temperature of the planet by preventing heat loss to space. The buffer zone of greenhouse gases works like insulation in your home.

Temperature increases will definitely not result in a "greening of the deserts" that idea is ludicrous. The Sahara has been expanding for years, and scientists predict that Africa will one day be completely covered by it.

Carbon dioxide release is regulated by many different organisms, the biggest carbon sinks are algae and bog mosses. These trap carbon and prevent it from escaping into the atmosphere by resisting decomposition. Algal blooms photosynthesize rapidly, die and drift to the floor of the ocean locking away carbon. However, as the ocean becomes increasing acidic, due to dissolved carbon dioxide, these algal carbon sinks dissolve. It is entirely possible that this cycle cannot be stopped.

Is it really that hard to accept that burning vast amounts of fossil fuels releases gases that regulate the temperature of the Earth? For example the combustion of methane CH4 + 2O2 → CO2 + 2H2O. Well, either that or the vast conspiracy of every national scientific academy in the developed world to accept warming changed chemistry when I wasn't looking.

Girma April 5, 2009 at 2:34 am

In science, if a theory is not valid a single time, it is rejected.

Since 1900, 1000 gigaton of CO2 has been released into the atmosphere by humans. However, the mean temperature of the USA 100 years ago is identical to the temperature now! That is, no increase in temperature with increase in CO2.

The evidence is at NASA’s site:

Is it not time to burry this theory, that human CO2 emission causes global warming, next to bloodletting to relieve headaches?

Garacka April 5, 2009 at 4:31 am

Mike says:

April 5, 2009 at 1:42 am

I think you have a good point that many tend to be too certain. Given the complexity of out climate system and the fact that it is coupled with a number of other systems such as the biologic, sun, planet (s) orbit, cosmic ray, Earth tectonic/volcanic "systems", there should be much more qualified statements being made. The problem I see is that the very people who started the Catastrophic Anthropogenic CO2 Induced Global Warming (CAGW) scare expressed certainty so quickly, that that alone should give anyone who is humbled by complexity pause.

That the CAGW folks are continuing to state things with such agonizing certainty is fine for the advertisers. But what is perhaps worse (and telling) is that too many "scientific" papers include obligatory statements like "Ooops I almost forgot – Yeah it's probably due to CAGW". Especially when the papers themselves cannot support such contentions from the methods and data discussed.

It seems that the folks who believe that Anthropogenic CO2 effects are minor and that natural factors overwhelm CO2 effects, find they have to combat the CAGW propagandists with their own certainty. The problem with a concerned natural factor climate person is that the "game" is being played largely in the public arena, and politicians and lay people are not fluent in appreciating qualifiers. Its the same reason we almost never elect honest politicians. I do think that in this situation, natural factor folks are justified in being a little more certain than they probably should. Having said all that, i do think that most natural factors folks are toned down in their certainty.

Garacka April 5, 2009 at 4:43 am

The case of ice shelves breaking up at the end of the Antarctic summer is a good example of the obligatory, "Oh yeah, this must be due to Anthropogenic Global Warming" statement being inserted everywhere, when uncertainty should be deferred to.

My personal intuition, influenced by my technical background (B.S. Mechanical/Ocean Engineering and lots of reading on this subject) is that, since overall Antarctic ocean ice levels are above average** this is likely due to one of these 3:

a) A normal "random" end of summer break up that happens frequently at these times. We just don't have more than 30 years of pictures to see what "normal" is.

b) A regional variation in nearby ocean currents that broke it away and or thinned it sufficiently to induce breakage from local wind/current.

c) Possibly induced by increased volcanic activity, but (a) or (b) are much more likely.

** Note: No you won't hear that in the news, but see:

Pam April 5, 2009 at 6:01 pm

The red spot of Jupiter is shrinking…Maybe Jupiter has global warming too…

Tyler Durden April 5, 2009 at 7:04 pm

"I find it surprising that the scientists yelling global warming over the ice caps several years ago were saying we were about to hit an ice age and need to melt the caps."

First of all, that was several * decades * ago – the late 60's to be exact.

Secondly, the global cooling hypothesis was proposed by a single scientist, and it was never adopted by the scientific community.

Of course the damage was done with the sensationalist media, who put "Ice Age Approaching!" on the cover of magazines.

By contrast, the * theory * of global warming (yes, there is a difference, and if you don't know what it is, I suggest you look it up) has been confirmed by thousands of scientists reviewing data from hundreds of sources of the course of decades.

There is no comparison between the two – except, of course, that the global cooling guy was a fringe lunatic, just like global warming deniers.

Mike April 5, 2009 at 9:23 pm

If a theory has been confirmed isn't that a fact? I didn't graduate from havard so can someone please help!!

Dean April 5, 2009 at 11:09 pm

I believe it is then called a 'law'.

Kim April 6, 2009 at 1:38 am

As a scientist and educator it really saddens me that our educational system has done such a poor job educating so many of you that you are totally unable to discern between an accepted scientific theory and propaganda. I tell me students it is important to see who profits from scientific outcomes. Scientists do not profit by saying global climate change is happening. In fact, many were marginalized or had their jobs threatened for that very statement over the past decade. There is however, a segment of our population, who has profited immensely for saying the opposite.

Yes the ice shelf is cracking and yes it is climate related. No it isn't waves, volcanic activity, or stress.

PriderockT April 6, 2009 at 3:00 am

Okay, people, all together now. It is NOT, repeat, NOT climate change. It is Global Warming. There is no climate change. There IS global warming. No more of this polital correctness excrement shoved down our throats. It is global warming contributing to the many bizaar weathere changes ocurring around the planet. Including the ice-shelf breakup.

James April 6, 2009 at 3:21 am

Theories don't become laws–they contain laws. They are collections of terms and concepts, plus facts and laws expressed using those, organized around a small core of unifying concepts and principles.

Theories that are confirmed (which ideally means they make meaningful predictions that turn out to be true) become successful: Copernicus' theory of heliocentricity, Newton's theories of gravity and motion, the theory of evolution, the theory of germs, Einstein's theories of relativity, the theory of atoms, quantum theory, the theory of plate tectonics, the standard model for subatomic particles, etc. They never become proven, as with mathematical theories, but do lead to useful engineering, medicine, etc. and tend to provide a fruitful context for making informed queries about the world to fill in details.

Theories that are shown to make false predictions become failed theories: the theory that the sun revolves around the earth, Lamarkian theory, the theory of phlogiston, the theory of spontaneous generation, many versions of creationism, the "raisin-pudding" theory of the atom, the steady state theory, etc. Often failed theories are useful because their failures show people where to focus when building a successful theory.

Purported theories that actually have no explanatory power are considered scientific nonsense, generally worse than failed theories because they simply waste effort to no end: the theory of humors, alchemy, astrology, most versions of creationism, etc.

Jeff of Peoria April 6, 2009 at 6:24 am

OH NOOO. We're all going to dieeeeeeeeee

Courtney April 6, 2009 at 10:11 am

The way I see it, if we boil down the arguments made by both sides, we get four possibilities regarding GW :

GW is REAL, we DO something about it

GW is REAL, we DO NOTHING about it

GW is NOT REAL, we DO something about it

GW is NOT REAL, we DO NOTHING about it

Now, it's pretty clear from all the comments above that ALL who ponder this debate stand for one of the above resolutions. I think the question for everyone to ask is this : what if I am wrong?

For those that claimed it was REAL : turns out they are wrong, and the worst case scenario is they spent a lot of money and wasted a lot of time trying to fix something that was not reality.

For those that claimed it was NOT REAL : turns out they are wrong, and the worst case scenario (GW was real and they didn't actually do anything about it) is devastating to our environment, and therefore to us. Sea waters rise, biodiversity plummets, fresh water becomes scarce, natural crops become scarce, world war over these resources becomes imminent.

By the way, the BEST case scenario is that GW was not real and we never did anything about it. However, given the two worst case scenarios (and that's how conservatives think – hope for the best, plan for the worst), I have made my decision regardless of the actual outcome of this debate!

Now, considering the above scenarios, what side will you take?

Nunya April 6, 2009 at 10:12 am

So let's say you come home sometime this summer and find your oven turned on with the door open. You also note that your house is hotter than it was a couple of months ago. What do you do? The oven clearly isn't the main factor in your house being hotter than it was a couple of months ago – that honor belongs to the natural phenomenon that is summer. Just as clearly you can make things better by reducing contributing factors that *are* under your control. So you turn off the oven.

As far as 'saving the planet', it's more a case of 'saving the planet as we know it'. The earth will survive just as it has for many millions of years before we appeared. The question is whether we (and anything resembling our current society and natural environment) will survive along with it. Pointing out that there have been periods far in the past where there have been higher levels of CO2 and/or higher temperatures doesn't address the issue of what those higher levels would mean in terms of impact on our ability to inhabit the places we do currently.

Phil April 6, 2009 at 3:26 pm

People have their political souls attched to the AGW myth. To deny AGW, their political icons would have to be dupes or outright liars. I would say that shoe fits pretty well. Each time a glacier calves or an ice shelf cracks(as happens every year), photos and videos are taken and fingers start pointing to AGW. When they re-freeze(as happens every year), not a word is said. Each time there is a hot spell, blame it on AGW; when we have record cold, blame it on AGW. Wake up folks. Calling scientists who are climate sceptics kooks or "on the fringe", is intellectually dishonest.

oracle2world April 12, 2009 at 6:02 am

"5) … global climate change"

That has to be a typo in the CNN report. It is global WARMING. Once and for all. You know, people are just not being loyal to the program here. You start to stray, well … where does it end? Fortunately there are cooler heads (sorry but that is the proper idiom) that understand how to finesse these nuanced issues. If arctic ice extent is not decreasing … well the thickness of old ice darn well is. If temperatures haven't been warming for the past ten years … they will be soon. Sometimes you have to dig deep in the struggle and keep the faith.

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