Sunday, August 8, 2010

Humungous Ice Island Breaks From Greenland (But Don't Be Too Quick To Blame Global Warming)

Reuters reports that an "ice island four times the size of Manhattan broke off from one of Greenland's two main glaciers, scientists said on Friday, in the biggest such event in the Arctic in nearly 50 years." The ice island has been named "Petermann Ice Island." The knee-jerk reaction by many will be to blame global warming. But hold on. Reuters goes on to give us this caveat (my emphasis added):
"The freshwater stored in this ice island could keep the Delaware or Hudson Rivers flowing for more than two years," said Muenchow, whose research in the area is supported by the National Science Foundation.... He said it was hard to judge whether the event occurred due to global warming because records on the sea water around the glacier have only been kept since 2003. The flow of sea water below the glaciers is one of the main causes of ice calvings off Greenland. "Nobody can claim this was caused by global warming. On the other hand nobody can claim that it wasn't," Muenchow said.
So there. Maybe it's global warming, maybe not. Muenchow, a top scientist, admits that nobody can really know for certain if global warming is a factor in the ice island breaking off of Greenland. Contrary to what Al Gore preaches, the science of all of this is not over. Inquiry - and open minds - must prevail. Environmentalists area already having spasms, however, as their knees jerk uncontrollably. The New American notes this with some humor, but gives a serious explanation of just why it's foolish to rush to the conclusion that global warming is the cause of this calving of the ice: ...calving is not the same as melting. Calving happens when a section of ice breaks off a glacier, iceberg, or ice shelf, which may have nothing to do with melting. Obama's chief science advisor, John Holdren, described calving caused by too much ice in a 1971 essay warning of the dangers of a coming ice age: "Even more dramatic results are possible, however; for instance, a sudden outward slumping of the Antarctic ice cap, induced by added weight, could generate a tidal wave of proportions unprecedented in recorded history." Admittedly, such an outlandish prediction does undermine Holdren's credibility, but it is true that calving is just as likely to be caused by buildup of ice as by melting. In the case of the Petermann Glacier, it is more likely because the Greenland ice sheet increased by two inches per year from 1993 through 2003, and "radar stations in northern Greenland are rapidly being surrounded by the growing ice sheet," reports [Science and Public Policy Institute] (SPPI). - The New American... The New American also reports that, “...even though the Petermann Glacier calving can hardly be classified as a threat to the environment or a portent of impending disaster, depend upon major media to warn otherwise. Just remember, Greenland didn't get its name by being covered with ice as it is today. And as SPPI noted, 'the Greenland ice sheet was entirely absent 850,000 years ago: therefore, even if Greenland's ice were to melt, its disappearance would be entirely within the natural variability of the climate'." RELATED: 35 Inconvenient Truths - The Errors In Al Gore's Movie SPPI Fallacies About Global Warming SPPI