Alarmists Freak Out Over Greenland’s Ice — Again

Written by Jeff Jacoby


“While the president rages, the world melts,” keened The Washington Post in an editorial over the weekend.

As President Trump spent another week rage-tweeting, the world continued to warm, and the consequences became ever-clearer — and more alarming.

A consortium of 89 scientists released in the journal Nature on Tuesday a study showing that Greenland’s enormous ice sheet is losing seven times as much ice now as a quarter-century ago. . . .

Greenland’s melting has already driven up sea levels by more than a centimeter, with much more to come.

That certainly sounds like bad news, and the Post has plenty of company in bewailing it.

Stories about Greenland’s unprecedented level of melting ice appeared in recent days in The GuardianFox News, the BBCBusiness Insider, and CNN — and those are from just the first page of results obtained by googling news stories for “Greenland”+ “ice” + “melt.”

All quite dire, no doubt, and apparently a phenomenon that every right-minded person should be lamenting. Greenland’s ice sheet thawed in 2019 at a scary rate? We’d all better drop everything and pay attention.

And I would — really, I would — if it wasn’t for the fact that climate alarmists and their media chorus deplored the same terrible news in 2018 (“Greenland’s ice sheet is melting at its fastest rate in centuries”).

And in 2017 (“As Greenland Melts, Where’s the Water Going?”).

And in 2016 (“Greenland is Melting”).

And in 2015 (“Greenland Is Melting Away”).

And in 2014 (“Greenland ice sheet loses its last grip”).

And in 2013 (“Why Greenland’s Melting Could Be the Biggest Climate Disaster of All”).

And in 2012 (“Rare Burst of Melting Seen in Greenland’s Ice Sheet”).

And in 2011 (“Greenland ice loss continues to accelerate”).

And in 2010 (“New melt record for Greenland ice sheet”).

And in 2009 (“Greenland’s shrinking ice hurts native tribe”).

Perhaps it is really true, as the Washington Post grieves this weekend, that Greenland’s ice melt is calamitous and the point of no return is at hand.

But while such stories appear at around this time every year, the world-ending catastrophes caused by climate change never quite seem to materialize.

Doesn’t there come a point at which the boy who so regularly cries “Wolf!” ought to be taken a little less seriously?

Maybe mankind’s dependence on fossil fuels will indeed make the world less livable and more dangerous.

Maybe Greenland’s melting ice really does presage lethal flooding and soaring numbers of climate-related deaths. But it hasn’t happened yet.

On the contrary: the rise in worldwide use of fossil fuels has led to less loss of life from floods and other natural disasters.

As climate scientist Patrick J. Michaels (past president of the American Association of State Climatologists, and contributing author of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) pointed out a few years back, the statistic that should be front and center in these discussions is “climate-related deaths.”

And on that score, the era of modern global warming has also been the era of improved livability:

In the decade from 2004 to 2013, worldwide climate-related deaths (including droughts, floods, extreme temperatures, wildfires, and storms) plummeted to a level 88.6% below that of the peak decade, 1930 to 1939.

The year 2013, with 29,404 reported deaths, had 99.4% fewer climate-related deaths than the historic record year of 1932, which had 5,073,283 reported deaths for the same category.

That reduction occurred despite more complete reporting, an incentive to declare greater damage to gain more aid, and a massively growing population, particularly in vulnerable places like coastal areas, in recent times.

In the alarmists’ view, Michaels observes, the global climate system is a naturally stable and safe place that humans make more volatile and dangerous through the reckless use of coal, oil, and natural gas.

But the opposite is true: “The global climate system is naturally volatile and dangerous. We make it livable through development and technology.”

Perhaps all this good news is on the point of being washed away by Greenland’s runoff. Perhaps our era of greater worldwide climate livability will be seen, in retrospect, as merely a benign interlude before the climate disaster erupted.

Perhaps all the climate Cassandras will have the last, bitter laugh. But on the record so far, I’m not counting on it.

I’ll make a different prediction: About 12 months from now, a spate of stories will appear in the media about the shocking amount of melting ice in Greenland in 2020, and why we’d all better drop everything and pay attention.

h/t John P.

Read more at Boston Globe

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Comments (5)

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    Michael Grace


    Minus 37 deg c Queen Elizabeth Isles Not a lot of icemelt going on….as normal

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    T. C. Clark


    What is the problem? The Vikings are returning to southern Greenland because it’s becoming green again….Iceland just had 30 feet of snow so what’s not like about Greenland? Let us all help make Greenland green again….exercise more….exhale more CO2….help the Vikings return in their long boats to the sunny shores of Greenland.

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    James DeMeo


    That there is a slight warming and melt-back of glaciers over the period c.1980 to the present should not be any big surprise. What would be surprising is, if during the period c.1930 to 1980, that there was a meltback. That is the period of global cooling, when academic and media hysteria claimed we were headed for a new Ice Age. That glaciers grow, and then recede, is no big discovery. That some grow at the same time others recede is generally ignored. Also the issue of accessibility to study glaciers. Much more is known about the location of glacial snouts over the years for those in the most southerly regions of the Northern polar ice domains, as with Greenland. One might anticipate the southern Greenland glaciers might recede faster due to latitude-dependent thermal warming over those in northern Greenland. I never see these kind of data, or lack of it, being presented. The satellite images are fascinating and meaningful, but only begin around 1972 and so we have no actual documentation on distant glacier behavior in the pre-1972 period.

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    Most of the ice that is melting is underwater Since it is already underwater it doesn’t include anything to sea rise because it is already part of the volume of water. Most ice is underwater which means that most ice melt will not increase sea levels at all.

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