Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Blizzard of Bad News on Global Warming

The past several days have seen in the media a veritable blizzard of bad things that have been, are being and will soon be directly caused by global warming including the death of the Loch Ness Monster, the recent cold snap in China and the coming collapse of the unique sea life around Antarctica.

Yes, you're reading this correctly, we've lost the Loch Ness Monster and we've lost her because of global warming. Robert Rines, the 85-year old legendary hunter who has been searching for the equally legendary Nessie for the past 37 years is giving up, convinced that she has died as a result of global warming. What is even more hilarious is that this breaking news appeared in a mainstream British newspaper, the Scottish Daily Record, and this "scientific" explanation for Nessie's demise appeared in the story without any additional comment. After all, who could possibly question such a hypothesis? As Lubos Motl notes in his blog: "A few years ago, this report about the scientific causes of the death of the monster would be a joke that only a tabloid could afford [to print]. Today it is a part of mainstream news."

Moving on, China's recent cold snap has been revealed to be a direct and unmistakable manifestation of global warming. As reported in the Hong Kong Standard, in a story headlined, appropriately enough, "Global warming blamed for unusual cold spell", a polar researcher (whose academic affiliation is not noted) named Rebecca Lee Lok-sze is quoted as saying that:

"This [the cold spell] is due to human activities and our style of living . . . We could see colder winters and hotter summers in the future in Hong Kong."

Since mainland Chinese likely heat their homes in the winter using low-grade coal emitting lots of carbon dioxide when burned, the Chinese can do their part to battle such cold spells by avoiding to heat their homes during the winter. In other words, by not heating their homes (and instead suffering for the good of humanity) the Chinese would help to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which would, in turn, lower average global temperatures but end up raising average global winter temperatures (which would then reduce the scale of their sacrifice). Yes, the scientists understand the earth's climate so well that they can make such utterly illogical statements with perfectly straight faces.

Since this severe cold spell in China appears to be the result of an unusually strong La Nina event, Ms. Lee, and any other scientist who contends that this unusual cold spell is a manifestation of global warming, would therefore logically agree that this unusually strong La Nina must be the direct result of human activities. The phenomenon itself is not well understood and difficult to predict in advance, but, trust the scientists, they do understand that humans are the cause of the event itself. Presumably then, we can eliminate strong La Nina's by collective human action and strong El Nino's as well.

Finally, much of the existing unique marine life living the shallow waters off the Antarctic coast may soon become a victim of global warming, according to an article posted on the BBC's website. The article, titled " Warming risks Antarctic sea life," details findings presented by researchers at a conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The researchers warn that sharks and shell-crushing bony fish that currently cannot survive under current conditions would migrate to Antarctic coastal waters and threaten existing species should warming continue. The article notes that species currently living in these waters have evolved to deal with the harsh conditions currently found there. Dr Sven Thatje of the National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton is quoted in the article as saying that these conditions have existed for the past 40 million years and that this "Antarctic cooling" long ago caused seafloor predators living there at the time to go extinct.

One can easily check the approximate conditions that existed 40 million years ago in the Antarctic. According to a figure available here in Wikipedia, the approximate ocean temperature around the Antarctic 40 million years ago was about 6 degrees Celsius warmer than current ocean temperatures. Therefore, the researchers must be arguing that the waters around the Antarctic may warm by 6 degrees Celsius, to conditions that haven't existed for 40 million years, sometime in the near future.

Buried deep in the article is the real threat to existing species:

""The researchers say urgent local and global actions are needed to protect this last pristine environment.

"We have to act now in Antarctica as elsewhere to save the diversity of the planet," said Dr Richard Aronson of Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory in Alabama.

He said measures were needed to stop alient species being broght in through ships' ballast water.

"The local actions are to control ship traffic and control dumping of ballast waters," he told the BBC. "The global actions are what we've been saying for all other environments - we have to control emissions of greenhouse gasses.""

There you have it - the real problem, to the extent that such species can even survive in their new home, are alien species being brought to these Antarctic waters through ships' ballast water. Stated concerns about global warming are just nonsense tossed in to get academic and media attention and further funding for more research. This is the tragic state of current science. All science must now be presented through the prism of global warming or else risk being ignored.

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