A US-Dutch team of scientists has found that the rate of melting ice in Greenland and the western Antarctic is only about half what was previously thought. The error occurred when the scientists failed to take into account movements in the crust of the earth that occur as tons of ice melts. Those movements had been read as part of the melting itself, as opposed to the natural rebound of the earth’s crust. In simple terms, scientists misunderstood satellite readings and interpreted them to mean more melting than has actually occurred.
The findings are couched in scientific terms such as “isostatic adjustments,” “gigatonnes per year” of ice melt and “deformations of the earth’s crust.” But for global warming skeptics, it’s simply another nail in the coffin of climate change theory. Check your local talk radio programs this morning for reminders of how this latest error simply reinforces the accidental or purposeful mistakes that have marred global warming prognostications.
This new reversal on the high rate of glacial melting undermines the public’s confidence in scientific objectivity and honesty, and lays the foundation for strengthening the position of the anti-global warming forces. From the first appearance of Al Gore’s alarming 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth, energy producers and their political partners in both major parties have looked for every and any opportunity to present global warming as a hoax intended to hurt business and eliminate US-based jobs. 2009’s Climategate brouhaha – despite a thorough debunking – remains proof in certain circles of the nefarious intentions of climate scientists and their enabling academicians.
It’s difficult to know or understand the impact of this new information from the US-Dutch team. Do we have substantially less to fear from global warming because the ice is not melting as quickly as originally believed? Or is the inevitable impact of climate change so great that these new findings are of little real meaning? Those are questions that the scientists don’t bother answering with their sterile statements. There’s no context or perspective. Nor is there any form of mea culpa in making the announcement. It’s all about refinements in scientific data gathering, with no apologies for alarming people unnecessarily. In fact, the report calls the data correction “innovative,” as if a major course correction is viewed as good news in scientific circles.
The obfuscatory explanation of what went wrong with the multi-satellite, gps-directed data gathering will only add power to the denunciations of the entire climate change scientific community. And the current environment of economic survival for many Americans will further relegate the climate change issue to the trash heap of secondary concerns facing the public.
Today will not be a good day for those who hold deeply felt concerns for the impact of man-made global warming on the future of our planet. Sarcasm, skepticism and downright denunciation of global warming as an important public policy matter seems sure to intensify.