Run! The Glaciers Are Coming!

Another ridiculous propaganda effort just emerged from climate denial industry. Robert Felix of is writing US Senators urging them to vote against the Markey Waxman bill because not only is climate change a bunch of hooey, but we are actually on the verge a new ice age.

Who knew??

Felix trots out a laundry list of glaciers around the world that are racing towards us: “In May, Alaska’s Hubbard Glacier was advancing at the rate of seven feet per day - more than half-a-mile per year. And in Icy Bay, at least three glaciers have advanced a third of a mile in one year…More than 90 percent of the world’s glaciers are growing…”

Sounds like crap? It is. In fact virtually all glaciers in Europe, North and South America and Asia are in rapid retreat. A report released last week showed Swiss glaciers have declined 12% in the last ten years.

The Jakobshavn Isbræ glacier in Greenland started rapidly retreating in 2002 and is now losing 100 feet per day. 

In Antarctica, the massive Wilkins shelf disintegrated this April - a slab of ancient ice the size of Jamaica. A recent study found that one third of Antarctic sea ice could be gone be the end of the centrury.

The list goes on. However, Mr. Felix is instead urging US Senators to believe exactly the opposite.

So what are his qualifications to lobby US lawmakers on such an important issue? According to a bio, he is no scientist, but a “former architect” who is “not affiliated with any university or scientific establishment”. Ten years ago, he wrote a book called “Not By Fire, But By Ice”. Here’s the saucy blurb from the back cover:

The next ice age could begin and day! Next week, next month, next year…One day you’ll wake up – or won’t wake up rather – buried under nine stories of snow as the climate of Greenland, descends on Canada, Britain, Norway, and most of the north…practically overnight.”

Wow. Reminds me of a made-for-TV movie from the 70’s called Killdozer. An earthmover possessed by space aliens manages to chase down a squish almost the entire cast, even though it could only go 2 miles per hour.

For the record, it takes several thousand years for an ice sheet to advance across a continent, though an ice age is clearly not the problem we should worry about. In any case you can sleep well tonight, free of worry that a glacier might come through your bedroom wall.

Felix’s caliber of objectively and scientific rigor apparently qualified to be a co-sponsor the latest Heartland climate deniers conference. No surprise there.

This loopy misinformation would be a lot funnier if it wasn’t having an impact. This week the Pew Center released a report showing that most Americans don’t believe that humans are responsible for climate change. And public opinion matters a lot in the world of politics, whether it is right or not.

Waxman Markey now moves towards an uncertain fate in the Senate. I am sure that Mr. Felix has sent similar letters to several other Senators. It is no wonder the denial machine is shifting into high gear, given how much some vested interests stand to lose if America embraces a clean energy future.

Like many people, I don’t like being told what to think. If you happen to be one of the 51% of Americans who still seem to question the conclusions of thousands of independent climate scientists, maybe you should instead be suspicious of the coal-funded lobby groups that are telling you not to believe them. Your opinion matters a great deal to the fossil fuel industry, and they are paying a great deal of money to influence it.

Don’t take my word for it. There is a powerful tool call the Internet. Use it and find out for yourself.


51% seems like a small number to me. I bet more like 90% are pretty uncertain about the climate future and what if anything they could or should do about it. Also they’re just too busy living their lives to really get into it much.

You said:

“In Antarctica, the massive Larsen shelf disintegrated this April - a slab of ancient ice the size of Jamaica. A recent study found that one third of Antarctic sea ice could be gone be the end of the centrury.”

I think you mean the Wilkins Ice Shelf. While being a similar size to Jamaica sounds scary I think you should look at a satellite image of the West Antarctic Peninsula and get a perspective on just how small the area that collapsed is. It was the south east corner of the ice shelf and not the whole ice shelf itself. The portion that broke up was not a disintegration but an ice break (there is a difference).

The ice shelves are not that ancient. They have all collapsed a number of times in the last few thousand years. A few as late as a couple of hundred years ago.

The statement that Antarctica will lose more than a third of it’s sea ice by the end of the century is completely meaningless. Antarctica loses over a third of it’s sea ice every single year in summer and regains it again in winter. In addition, no one can predict just how the sea ice pack in Antarctica will behave between now and the end of the century with any statistically significant precision.

Finally. The southern hemisphere sea ice anomaly is well above normal and there is no sign of any significant decline.

Nonsense, Steckis.

First, he means the Larsen ice shelf, which finally collapsed completely after losing huge chunks lately, for instance:

“During 2002-01-31–2002-03-07 the Larsen B sector collapsed and broke up, 3,250 km² of ice 220 m thick disintegrated, meaning an ice shelf covering an area comparable in size to the US state of Rhode Island disappeared in a single season. Larsen B was stable for up to 12,000 years, essentially the entire Holocene period since the last glacial period, according to Queen’s University researchers.”

The alleged small Wilkins ice shelf:
“The Wilkins shelf covers an area of 5,600 square miles…”

“The Antarctic peninsula, which stretches north from the frozen continent towards South America, has experienced unprecedented warming over the past 50 years.”

“Six other ice shelves have already been lost entirely — the Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen B, Wordie, Muller and Jones shelves.”

“The report found that ice coverage on the Antarctic Peninsula alone has decreased by 27,000 square kilometres in the past 50 years.”

so much contradictory information out there about sea ice and glaciers - lets everybody just admit we’re guessing on this stuff and whatever it’s significance might be.

I suggest QrazyQat, get your facts straight. He does mean the Wilkins Ice Shelf (click on his hyperlink). There was no collapse of Larsen B this year. The causes of the Larsen B disintegration and the Wilkins breakup (there is a difference between a disintegration and a breakup) are different. This is because the two are formed differently (Larsen B by glacial flow and Wilkins by snowfall buildup. I suggest you read up on this topic (and not just Wikipedia).

The Antarctic Peninsula is warming more than the rest of the continent. Think about why. It is almost surrounded by ocean and therefore subject to oceanic influences such as current changes and prevailing oceanic weather. Those influences are less severe for the continent as a whole. The ice sheets are dynamic systems. They are not and never were super stable systems. The causes of sea ice shelf formation and collapse are many and varied and so called AGW probably plays a minor role.

In the context of Antarctic ice shelves, the Wilkins Ice Shelf is tiny. The part that broke up is only a small portion of the Wilkins Shelf. Why don’t you visit the links I provided to gain a bit of perspective.