Letter: Climate change deniers’ scripted distortions
In response to my letter about climate scientists underestimating the effects of manmade global warming, Mr. Ted Williams of Gloucester (Aug. 21 Readers Write) used the scripted distortions we see deniers using everywhere. Unfortunately for Mr. Williams, his scripts are all totally wrong. Thankfully, he gave us the deniers’ website as his source so I need say no more. Let’s go through them point by point.
Mr. Williams states: “Arctic sea ice is the highest measured in a decade.” He is skating on thin ice here. Discussions about the amount of sea ice in the Arctic often (deliberately) switch two very different measures of how much ice there is. One measure is sea-ice extent which, as the name implies, is a measure of coverage of the ocean surface. It is a two-dimensional measurement; extent does not tell us how thick the ice is. It is made up of considerable new ice and necessarily very thin. The other measure of Arctic ice, using all three dimensions, is volume, the only useful measure of how much ice there really is. If the ice is thin, extent is a misleading measure. When we consider the multi-year ice and look at the various measurements of it, we see a steep decline in this thick ice. As you might imagine, thick ice takes a lot more heat to melt, so the fact that it is disappearing so fast is of great concern.
Mr. Williams cites evidence for global warming when he mentions the growing Antarctic ice sheet. Here’s where the amateurs really get confused. The primary reason for this growth is the circulation of the Southern Ocean. Water heated in high southern latitudes is carried to the equator, to be replaced by colder waters upwelling from below, which inhibits ice loss. There really has been little change in the Antarctic in spite of this. The big effect is the loss of thick ice in the Arctic. It is all part of the same global system. The warming of the Arctic is also responsible for the meandering of the Jet Stream and our temporarily cooler temperatures locally, as I explained in my previous letter.
Mr. Williams gives no source for this outright falsehood: “There hasn’t been any notable overall temperature rise in 17 years.” The measurements available from trusted scientific sources are so many that he can’t be serious. July 2014 marked the 38th consecutive July and 353rd consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average.
It is disgraceful that we have to continue to point out the clear falsehoods put out by the sources these deniers use.
Finally, I plead guilty to trying to raise concern about a matter that is going to affect our children and future generations. I think the word “fear” as used by Mr. Williams is a loaded word. I chose concern because fear is the kind of thing we were exposed to after 9/11 and it did result in a profound change in our way of life and a loss of many of our freedoms.
Donald C. Mikulecky, PhD