Given how 2020 went, there’s no particular reason 2021 should not begin with a giant surge of blazing hot liquid rock melting the Greenland ice cap. Which is precisely what a team of researchers from Tohoku University recently announced in the Journal of Geophysical Research. It seems not just one but two giant plumes of lava welling up from the core-mantle boundary nearly 3000 km beneath the surface branch out to form three hot spots near eastern Greenland and, well, when lava meets ice there’s a lot of melting. Which ought not to be surprising, not because 2020 was a cursed year but because the Earth is a very large and complex object with complicated internal processes. But since the simplistic version of science promoted by warming alarmists depicts it as more or less an inert billiard ball being sprayed with warming CO2, it seems to startle people when things turn out to be less straightforward.
Image © Tohoku University.
If lava were to melt the ice cap it would be a bad thing, for humans at least, as it would create a sudden sea level rise of perhaps 6 metres. As coauthor Genti Toyokuni rightly said, “Knowledge about the Greenland plume will bolster our understanding of volcanic activities in these regions and the problematic issue of global sea-level rising caused by the melting of the Greenland ice sheet”. But here it is crucial to recognize that to the extent that any melting of the Greenland ice sheet is due to lava it cannot also be due to carbon dioxide.
The same point applies of course to overall global warming. Any that is natural cannot also be man-made; any that is due to solar activity cannot also be due to CO2 and so forth. The point seems pretty basic but in the polarized and politicized context of climate debates it has to be made anyway.
With specific reference to the Greenland ice sheet, we should add that it has been perplexing and annoying alarmists because in the early part of the 21st century it seemed to be melting with grimly satisfactory rapidity. But just as they were gotcha-ing us, the melt slowed down and reversed. A more robust theory of climate change could have taken complex behaviour into account including a complex mix of causes not all necessarily pushing in the same direction at the same time and just possibly, dare we say it, even predicted this outcome. But a monocausal, even monomaniacal theory cannot.
So instead they said well, just you wait, never mind what it’s actually doing, it will melt. It’s got to. But even if it does, if it can be shown that much of any resurgence in melting is due to volcanic activity then, however disagreeable any resulting sea level rise might be, there’s no tying the bell to CO2.
As the university’s release on the study says, “The North Atlantic region is awash with geothermal activity. Iceland and Jan Mayen contain active volcanoes with their own distinct mantle plumes, whilst Svalbard - a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean - is a geothermal area. However, the origin of these activities and their interconnectedness has largely been unexplored.” The real question is why we have forgotten such things, and look only to man-made CO2 for any type of warming.