Polar Science Center

Mon, 2011-02-07 08:24Richard Littlemore
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"ArticGate" - Heartland Backs Schmitt in Climate Misinformation

Incompetent or Dishonest - Either Way They’re Wrong

The former astronaut and proud climate change denier Harrison Schmitt is not alone in making the false claim that “Artic [sic] sea ice has returned to 1989 levels of coverage.” He has been bolstered  by the smokey hacks at the Heartland Institute, and especially by the brittle letter writer and Heartland head honcho, Joseph Bast.

If Schmitt’s false statement had stood on its own (or if he had moved to correct it when it was pointed out), you could reasonably have dismissed it as an error made in good faith.  But when Bast stooped to the flagrant manipulation necessary to argue that Schmitt’s assertion could have some basis in fact, well, you have to wonder - especially when there is already an established relationship between Schmitt and Heartland (check the name on the podium in the Schmitt denier video).

It’s awkward always to trace climate denial back to the money trail. Some people - maybe even Schmitt - deny climate science out of ideological blindness, not greedy self-interest. But it’s interesting that Heartland’s two favourite projects are denying the science of climate change and arguing that tobacco is really not all that bad for you. It’s relevant, too, that before they started hiding their funding sources, Heartland used to acknowledge the generous support of the tobacco and oil industries in propping up the “think” tank’s operations.

Tue, 2011-01-25 10:21Richard Littlemore
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On Climate Change: Is Individual Action Pointless?

My friend Anna Atkinson asked recently whether I agree with Canadian author Gwynne Dyer, who in his fabulous book, Climate Wars, suggests that individual actions in the fight against global warming are next to useless - that we will only enjoy success if the world’s governments collaborate on big initiatives.

As it turns out, I agree completely. Nothing you or I do will make a spit of difference. Unless we all see some significant government action, we are helpless to overcome the problem of global warming and doomed to watch changes in our environment - in our lifetime - that NOBODY is going to enjoy.

But it doesn’t end there. Governments act because people want them to act. And people change their wants because they are nudged in one direction or another: by advertising (most often); by their conscience (not all that often); and by their paranoia that they may fall out of step with their neighbours - that they may, by their behavior, demonstrate that they are not aligning with societal norms.
 
This, I think, is the biggest driver.
Wed, 2010-11-03 10:16Richard Littlemore
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Arctic Sea Ice Trends: Down, Down Down

Two graphs, inluding the brand new one to the left, show two (mutually affirming) analyses of the trajectory of Arctic sea ice over the last 30 years.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center graph (left) shows Average Monthly Sea Ice Extent. The figure below shows a Polar Science Center model-generated calculation of Sea Ice Volume. Notwithstanding that NSIDC reports Arctic temperatures in October were 4 to 6 degrees Celsius (7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than normal, there is something chilling in the similarity of the two graphs. 

PIOMAS Ice Volume Anomaly

Thu, 2010-09-23 16:55Richard Littlemore
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Arctic Ice: There's bad news and worse news

Update: NSIDC pinpoints Sept. 19 as date of least Arctic ice extent in 2010

Arctic Sea Ice Extent, which the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Co., announced had reached its annual minimum on Sept. 10, has now slipped even further, to a point that could be below the 2008 minimum. That would make this the second lowest summer ice cover in recorded history.

“It’s awfully close (to the 2008 low),” NSIDC research scientist Dr. Walt Meier said on Wednesday (Sept. 22, 2010). “And even though the air temperatures are getting colder, the ocean has a lot of heat in it and can continue to melt ice.”

Meier acknowledged that the NSIDC jumped the gun in announcing the apparent annual minimum. The ice extent had been increasing for three consecutive days and the scientists assumed the season had turned. But much of the ice is broken up and thin, conditions that mean “it doesn’t take a lot to get late season melting,” Meier said.

Ice watchers may be more concerned, however, by the inset Polar Science Center graph of ice volume, which shows that the total amount of ice (as differentiated from the extent of the Arctic ice cover) has dropped off a cliff.

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