The Age Of Embarrassment

I have neither the time nor the energy to scout out all the topics discussed on this blog. I rely on a network of friends, and some not so friendly, to remind me which way the earth rotates. Much thanks to all.

Here is something forwarded by a classmate from high school:

From: Tom Vittrup

Sent: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 8:27 AM

The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consulate, at Bergen , Norway.

Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone.Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds. Within a few years it is predicted that due to the ice melt the sea will rise and make most coastal cities uninhabitable.

* * * * * * * * *

I must apologize.

I neglected to mention that this report was from November 2, 1922, as reported by the AP and published in The Washington Post – 93 years ago.

This must have been caused by the Model T Ford’s emissions or possibly from horse and cattle flatulence?

I don’t know who Tom Vittrup is, but I suspect his motive for forwarding this. It’s a dig at anybody who accepts the science behind anthropogenic global warming. Tom Vittrup believes, and he wants others to believe, that the science is flawed. The reasoning goes like this:

  • Scientists have been sounding the alarm over global warming for only the past 50 years.
  • Although the Industrial revolution of the 19th century kicked off use of fossil fuels on a grand scale, their use did not shift into high gear until the advent of the automobile, little more than 100 years ago.
  • Symptoms of global warming were beginning to be manifest as far back as 1922, well before Saudi Arabia tapped into its vast oil reserves.
  • Conclusion: If global warming is happening now, it must be due to something that has been going on for more than 100 years.

Setting aside for the moment whether this argument has a leg to stand on, it’s interesting to note a number of other things.

First, there was such a news item in The Washington Post. Here is a clipping.

globalwarming

Second, Tom neglected to put the Post article into perspective. The article is based on an item in Monthly Weather Review, a publication of the American Meteorological Society. Here is the original article from the AMS:

THE CHANGING ARCTIC.

By GEORGE NICOLAS IFFT.

[Under date of October 10 1922, the American consul at Bergan Norway, submitted the following report to the State Department, Washington, D.C.]

The Arctic seems to be warming up. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers who sail the seas about Spitzbergen and the eastern Arctic, all point to a radical change in climatic conditions, and hitherto unheard-of high temperatures in that part of the earth’s surface.

In August, 1922, the Norwegian Department of Commerce sent an expedition to Spitzbergen and Bear island under the leadership of Dr. Adolf Hoel, lecturer on geology at the University of Christiania. Its purpose was to survey and chart the lands adjacent to the Norwegian mines on those islands, take soundings of the adjacent waters, and make other oceanographic investigations.

Dr. Hoel, who has just returned, reports the location of hitherto unknown coal deposits on the eastern shores of Advent Bay—deposits of vast extent and superior quality. This is regarded as of first importance, as so far most of the coal mined by the Norwegian companies on those islands has not been of the best quality.

The oceanographic observations have, however, been even more interesting. Ice conditions were exceptional. In fact, so little ice has never before been noted. The expedition all but established a record, sailing as far north as 81° 29′ in ice-free water. This is the farthest north ever reached with modern oceanographic apparatus.

the character of the waters of the great polar basin has heretofore been practically unknown. Dr. Hoel reports that he made a section of the Gulf Stream at 81° north latitude and took soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters. These show the Gulf Stream very warm, and it could be traced as a surface current till beyond the 81st parallel. The warmth of the waters makes it probable that the favorable ice conditions will continue for some time.

Later a section was taken of the Gulf Stream off Bear Island and off the Isfjord, as well as a section of the cold current that comes down along the west coast of Spitzbergen off the south cape.

In connection with Dr. Hoel’s report, it is of interest to note the unusually warm summer in Arctic Norway and the observations of Capt. Martin Ingebrigtsen, who has sailed the eastern Arctic for 54 years past. He says he first noted warmer conditions in 1918, that since that time it has steadily gotten warmer, and to-day the Arctic of that region is not recognizable as the same region of 1868 to 1917.

Many old landmarks are so changed as to be unrecognizable. Where formerly great masses of ice were found, there are now often moraines, accumulations of earth and stones. At many points where glaciers formerly extended far into the sea they have entirely disappeared.

The change in temperature, says Captain Ingebrigtsen, has also brought about great change in the flora and fauna of the Arctic. This summer he sought for white fish in Spitzbergen waters. Formerly great shoals of them were found there. This year he saw none, although he visited all the old fishing grounds.

There were few seal in Spitzbergen waters this year, the catch being far under the average. This, however, did not surprise the captain. He pointed out that formerly the waters about Spitzbergen held an even summer temperature of about 3° Celsius; this year recorded temperatures up to 15°, and last winter the ocean did not freeze over even on the north coast of Spitzbergen.

With the disappearance of white fish and seal has come other life in these waters. This year herring in great shoals were found along the west coast of Spitzbergen, all the way from the fry to the veritable great herring. Shoals of smelt were also met with.

The Snopes site provides additional information.

As interesting as this nearly century-old article might be from a modern perspective, however, it isn’t substantive evidence either for or against the concept of anthropogenic global warming. As documented elsewhere, the warming phenomena observed in 1922 proved to be indicative only of a local event in Spitzbergen, not a trend applicable to the Arctic as a whole.

The link is to an article by Tom Goreau from 8 January 2010 titled Long Term Arctic Ice Trends and Global Warming:

Those who seek to deny global warming constantly use transparently obvious tricks, selecting data from a single time, a single place, or both, to deny the larger long-term global patterns. This is easily done as climate is constantly fluctuating, so picking out the mean patterns and trends requires that one integrates the data over the largest time and space scales possible. So if one dishonestly wants to misrepresent the larger patterns, one can always find a particular place at a particular time that does not agree with the all the rest averaged together. This is sometimes referred to as the “It’s a cold day in Wagga Wagga” approach, and is repeatedly used by the climate change deniers to fool people who haven’t looked at the data themselves. The changes in Arctic Ice are no exception!

Good data mapping the entire Arctic Ice Cap from space satellites is fairly recent, only since 1979, but the trends are absolutely clear:

Tom Goreau provides the following chart:

ArcticIce

He further states:

But note that there are year to year fluctuations of about 1 million square kilometers, due to annual weather variations. These spatial variations have been used by deniers who simply look at changes since 2007, an exceptionally warm year in the Arctic, to suggest that the Arctic is cooling down! In other words they are simply picking ONE point that falls a bit off the trend of ALL the data to deny the long-term trend.

Another good example of this is a recent posting of the newspaper version of a report made in 1922, that there was much less sea ice than normal at a few places in that year:

And he cites the example of the 1922 MWR report. Tom Goreau’s report contains additional data charts, and I have retained a copy in case the original ever gets moved. Readers are encouraged to read the report and to do their own fact checking.

Snopes concludes:

As interesting as this nearly century-old article might be from a modern perspective, however, it isn’t substantive evidence either for or against the concept of anthropogenic global warming. As documentedelsewhere, the warming phenomena observed in 1922 proved to be indicative only of a local event in Spitzbergen, not a trend applicable to the Arctic as a whole.

All of this is fairly recent. Trying to run this story to its source I came across a reference in the Washington Times from 2007:

Inside the Beltway

– The Washington Times – Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Before Gore

D.C. resident John Lockwood was conducting research at the Library of Congress and came across an intriguing Page 2 headline in the Nov. 2, 1922 edition of The Washington Post: “Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt.”

The 1922 article, obtained by Inside the Beltway, goes on to mention “great masses of
ice have now been replaced by moraines of earth and stones,” and “at many points
well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared.”

“This was one of several such articles I have found at the Library of Congress for the
1920s and 1930s,” says Mr. Lockwood. “I had read of the just-released NASA estimates,
that four of the 10 hottest years in the U.S. were actually in the 1930s, with 1934 the
hottest of all.”

Worth pondering

Reacting yesterday to word that certain European governments and officials are
suddenly trying to abandon their costly “global warming” policies, Royal Astronomical
Society fellow Benny Peiser, of the science faculty at Liverpool John Moores University
in Great Britain, recalls the teachings of Marcus Aurelius: “The object of life is not to be
on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

The Washington Times is not to be confused with The Washington Post. The Post publishes Pulitzer-winning journalism, while the Times is an organ of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon:

The Washington Times is a daily broadsheet published at 3600 New York Avenue NE, Washington, D.C., United States. It was founded in 1982 by the founder of the Unification Church, Sun Myung Moon and was owned by News World Communications, an international media conglomerate associated with the church, until 2010 when it was purchased directly by a group led by Moon.

The paper is noted for supporting conservative causes, including creationism and denial of climate science.

What, then, to make of this thinly-disguised gem of propaganda? A bigger question is why does a considerable element in American society put forward items like this in opposition to some basic science? My answer is this means of persuasion is all there is. If a legitimate argument opposed to global warming were available, then that would be put forward. To date, none has—a compelling indication that none exists.

Andrew Breitbart (1969 – 2012) was a writer for The Washington Times. He founded the conservative Breitbart News Network, Breitbart.com, which carries on Breitbart’s cause. One such cause is opposition to climate science. The conversation is concerted and strident:

Global Warming ‘Fabricated’ by NASA and NOAA

by JAMES DELINGPOLE 23 Jun 2014

Scientists at two of the world’s leading climate centres – NASA and NOAA – have been caught out manipulating temperature data to overstate the extent of the 20th century “global warming”.

The evidence of their tinkering can clearly be seen at Real Science, where blogger Steven Goddard has posted a series of graphs which show “climate change” before and after the adjustments.

When the raw data is used, there is little if any evidence of global warming and some evidence of global cooling. However, once the data has been adjusted – ie fabricated by computer models –  20th century ‘global warming’ suddenly looks much more dramatic.

This is especially noticeable on the US temperature records. Before 2000, it was generally accepted – even by climate activists like NASA’s James Hansen – that the hottest decade in the US was the 1930s.

As Hansen himself said in a 1989 report:

In the U.S. there has been little temperature change in the past 50 years, the time of rapidly increasing greenhouse gases — in fact, there was a slight cooling throughout much of the country.

However, Hansen subsequently changed his tune when, sometime after 2000, the temperatures were adjusted to accord with the climate alarmists’ fashionable “global warming” narrative. By cooling the record-breaking year of 1934, and promoting 1998 as the hottest year in US history, the scientists who made the adjustments were able suddenly to show 20th century temperatures shooting up – where before they looked either flat or declining.

But as Goddard notes, the Environmental Protection Agency’s heatwave record makes a mockery of these adjustments. It quite clearly shows that the US heat waves of the 1930s were of an order of magnitude greater than anything experienced at any other time during the century – far more severe than those in the 1980s or 1990s which were no worse than those in the 1950s.

For some reason this headline-shattering news from Breitbart failed to clear the fold in such publications as The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. It could be these front-line news sources are part of the global conspiracy of scientists promoting global warming for the sake of sucking up grant money. Or it could be these publications are concerned with printing what is true rather than what is sensational. One publication that is not holding back is The Washington Times. The headline reads:

And there is more.

The preceding excerpts depict an ongoing campaign to mine fringes of the global warming story and to paint a picture at odds with the facts. A coarse reading of various such references finds little in substance of fact. The adversaries of climate science bring to mind the creationist movement of the past 90 years. Lacking any valid supporting research, the creationists manufacture controversies without basis and generate more thunder than lightning. And they wage a constant war of fanciful pleadings and anecdotal irrelevancies.

It’s a world foreign to real science. It’s a world of purported intrigue and imagined motives. It’s a world of pronouncing baldly what is obviously untrue. And—like schoolboys kept after class—passing amusing stories around the Internet.

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3 thoughts on “The Age Of Embarrassment

  1. Pingback: The Age Of Embarrassment | Skeptical Analysis

  2. Pingback: The Comical Conservative | Skeptical Analysis

  3. Pingback: A New Report On Climate Change – Starboard Tack

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