Global Warming: The Incredible Shrinking Meme
By Staff News & Analysis - May 20, 2014

Record Antarctic Ice Extent Throws Cold Water On Global Warming Scare … Antarctic polar ice extent has set another new record, defying alarmist global warming claims. Surpassing the greatest month-of-April ice extent in recorded history, the new record throws cold water on alarmist claims that the Antarctic ice cap has crossed a melting point of no return. – Forbes

Dominant Social Theme: The Earth is melting! The Earth is melting!

Free-Market Analysis: In the past few days we've read numerous articles about how the Antarctic is melting and that it is too late to stop it now.

Being long-time analysts of dominant social themes, we didn't take the meme seriously even though it was repeated over and over again. But the news was so shrill and repetitive that we finally decided to look into it further.

What we found was actually fairly chaotic. There are several sets of facts seemingly being presented. The following BBC article is representative of the confusion.

It begins this way:

Esa's Cryosat mission sees Antarctic ice losses double … Antarctica is now losing about 160 billion tonnes of ice a year to the ocean – twice as much as when the continent was last surveyed. The new assessment comes from Europe's Cryosat spacecraft, which has a radar instrument specifically designed to measure the shape of the ice sheet.

The melt loss from the White Continent is sufficient to push up global sea levels by around 0.43mm per year. Scientists report the data in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The new study incorporates three years of measurements from 2010 to 2013, and updates a synthesis of observations made by other satellites over the period 2005 to 2010.

Cryosat has been using its altimeter to trace changes in the height of the ice sheet – as it gains mass through snowfall, and loses mass through melting.

The study authors divide the continent into three sectors – the West Antarctic, the East Antarctic, and the Antarctic Peninsula, which is the long finger of land reaching up to South America. Overall, Cryosat finds all three regions to be losing ice, with the average elevation of the full ice sheet falling annually by almost 2cm.

The East had been gaining ice in the previous study period, boosted by some exceptional snowfall, but it is now seen as broadly static in the new survey. As expected, it is the western ice sheet that dominates the reductions. Scientists have long considered it to be the most vulnerable to melting.

It has an area, called the Amundsen Sea Embayment, where six huge glaciers are currently undergoing a rapid retreat – all of them being eroded by the influx of warm ocean waters that scientists say are being drawn towards the continent by stronger winds whipped up by a changing climate.

About 90% of the mass loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is going from just these few ice streams. At one of them – Smith Glacier – Cryosat sees the surface lowering by 9m per year. Some western ice streams such as Pine Island Glacier are retreating and thinning rapidly.

Sounds pretty grim, eh? But the news is not all bad. In fact, the second half of the BBC article is a kind of climb-down that seems mainly aimed at debunking the first half.

It reads like a kind of journalistic schizophrenia.

  • The second part of the story makes the point that certain studies propose that any evolution of the current problem could take several hundred years – not nearly such an alarmist timeline as has been implied elsewhere.
  • Also, even with worst case melting, there would only be about 1.2m global sea level rise. That may sound like a lot, but compare it to the total in Antarctica, which if released could add 58m sea-level rise.
  • We also learn according to the article that "the continent has been largely insulated from some of the warming influences taking place elsewhere in the world."
  • Finally, Prof Duncan Wingham, Cryosat's principal investigator, told BBC News: "We lack the capability to predict accurately how the Amundsen ice streams will behave in future."

Hmm … Doesn't sound like an imminent catastrophe to us despite the alarmist headlines that have been popping up.

Forbes is far more specific about what's going on at the Antarctic from a global warming standpoint. The article quoted at the beginning of this analysis continues as follows:

Global warming alarmists and their media allies are at it again …

"Irreversible collapse of Antarctic glaciers has begun, studies say" – Los Angeles Times

"How Washington coastal cities will look when the Antarctic Ice Sheet melts" – Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Catastrophic collapse of Antarctic ice sheet now underway, say scientists" – Christian Science Monitor

[But] the good news … is real-world scientific facts show Antarctic ice extent is undergoing a long-term expansion. … The Antarctic ice extent is setting record after record. It's not just the Antarctic, either. Precise satellite measurements of both polar ice caps show absolutely no decline in polar ice since the satellite instruments were launched in 1979.

Not only is total polar ice extent currently greater than the long-term average; polar ice extent has been greater than the long term average for nearly all of the past 16 months.

Winter temperatures throughout the United States are in a 20-year cooling trend, defying alarmist global warming predictions and debunking claims that warmer winters are causing environmental catastrophe.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data, presented by the International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project, reveal this winter's exceptionally cold winter was merely the continuation of a long-term cooling trend … Winters are not getting warmer; they are getting cooler.

The shrillness of the latest campaign combined with easily debunked statistics and news items reinforce what we have already observed: Those responsible for these alarmist memes are feeling increasingly insecure.

In fact, we've noted increasingly shrill calls for penalties against those who don't agree with the current warmist position. It's so bad that a prominent weather scientist recently had to sever his relationship with a mildly anti-warmist think tank because he came under pressure to recant as soon as his affiliation was announced.

In an article entitled, "Eminent Swedish scientist latest victim of Climate McCarthyism," the Financial Post elaborates on the resignation:

… Less than a month after agreeing to join the Academic Advisory Council of the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation, GWPF, one of the world's leading skeptical organizations, the eminent Swedish climatologist Lennart Bengtsson announced that he felt forced to resign. He had come under assault from supposed "colleagues" all over the world. Professor Bengtsson, who is approaching 80, said he was concerned not only for his health, but for his safety.

Described as "a kindly, mild-mannered Swedish grandfather," Professor Bengtsson has had a long and distinguished international career in meteorology and climate research. He was head of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg from 1991 to 2000. In 2000 he became a professor at the University of Reading. Since 2008, he has been Director of the International Space Science Institute in Bern, Switzerland. He has won numerous awards, is a member of many learned societies, and has over 200 publications to his name.

There is no doubt we live in a climate of increased climate fascism. The obvious – egregious – distorting of data to try to promote global warming where there is none and the frank intimidation of reputable scientists is reminiscent of the bad old days of the 20th century when certain regimes tailored facts to suit transient but authoritarian ideologies.

The encouraging element in all this is that warmist proponents are becoming more and more unhinged. This is not the behavior of a group that is winning a debate. The next step is probably the installation of some sort of formal civil or criminal sanctions for those who continue to point out "inconvenient truths" when it comes to warmist propaganda.

But even this won't help a meme failing so badly as this one.

The power elite is surely losing as many battles as it is winning in this Internet era. This is a most significant evolution. When we analyze power elite efficiencies and clout, we should be aware that many such memes are increasingly rejected.

After Thoughts

Absent a "buy-in" from the general public, the evolution of globalism – supported and galvanized by dominant social themes – is increasingly in jeopardy.

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