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And it's... worse than we thought

10 Jun 2020 | OP ED Watch

Guess what? Climate change is worse than we thought and we’re all going to… well, you know. Including another chorus of “here comes the flood”. Seems “the faster melting of polar ice sheets than projected earlier may lead to a nearly 1.3 m rise in the ocean levels by 2100.” Yeah. If temperature rises by 4.5 °. Under what the story delicately calls “a high-emission condition”. A.k.a. the discredited RPC8.5? Oh yeah. What else?

This study even gives the business to the IPCC, that famed haven of bourgeois climate complacency and denialism. And the lead author deals off the bottom of the deck by combining this weird theoretical modelling meltdown with the supposed empirical finding that the Greenland ice sheet is melting at an unprecedented rate (“For example, Greenland's glaciers went from dumping only about 51 billion tonnes of ice into the ocean between 1980 and 1990, to losing 286 billion tonnes between 2010 and 2018”) which, as we’ve already noted, has been slowing down since 2013 which is very hard to explain if you believe the last half-decade has been the hottest since the invention of heat and that there’s a direct linear relationship running from CO2 through temperature to ice melting and rising seas. (If so you’re also going to struggle with the Greenland ice cap having been around the same size it is today in 1850 after thousands of years of growth driven by global cooling.)

Never mind. See, experts say. As in “According to Andrea Dutton, a professor in the geoscience department of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the research is vital as it depends on the best estimates of sea level rise by several experts.” And what has Dr. Dutton to do with the study? Oh, nothing. The authors of the news story in AZO Cleantech just happened to pick her out of the thousands of people they might have contacted because she’s willing to claim “several experts” think RPC8.5 gives “the best estimates of sea level rise”.

Well, we went to Judith Curry. Specifically her November 2018 “Special Report” on “Sea Level and Climate Change”. Which tells us that the situation is complex without being alarming. For instance, she writes “At least in some regions, sea level was higher than present around 5000 to 7000 years ago. After several centuries of sea level decline following the Medieval Warm Period, sea levels began to rise in the mid 19th century. Rates of global mean sea level rise between 1920 and 1950 were comparable to recent rates. It is concluded that recent change is within the range of natural sea level variability over the past several thousand years.” And, moreover, “The slow emergence of fossil fuel emissions prior to 1950 did not contribute significantly to 19th and early 20th century sea level rise. Identifying a potential human fingerprint on recent sea level rise is confounded by the large magnitude of natural internal variability associated with ocean circulation patterns. There is not yet any convincing evidence of such a fingerprint on sea level rise associated with human-caused global warming.”

There’s a lot more in her report, which runs to 72 pages plus references. But we will note one part: the acceleration in melting in Greenland after about 1995 is not unprecedented. Greenland was also melting fast in the 1930s, when it was as warm there as today, so that any studies that point to conditions unprecedented since the 1960s are deliberately distorting the picture. Unless you are going to blame Greenland’s significant negative ice-mass balance from 1925-40 on human beings, finding a human fingerprint in the melting since 1995 is skullduggery. And using a discredited computer simulation to project a ludicrously unrealistic future to scare people is worse.

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