Sunday, August 14, 2011

Comment on "Arctic 'tipping point' may not be reached"

There is a huge amount of chatter on the web about a BBC sourced article from 8/5/2011:

Right leaning web sites seem to be ecstatic, as if it confirmed their denial of global warming.

BUT a couple of quotes from the article:

I don't say that our current worries are not justified, but I think that there are factors which will work to delay the action in relation to some of the models that have been in the media.

The above quote  is pretty close to a summary of the article's overall message.  Do you even find it easy to understand?  Does it add up to "Global warming is a hoax?"  Another quote:
I think the effect of temperature and global warming may cause a change in the general wind systems which maybe will delay the effects of the rapidly rising temperatures a little bit.
Hmmm, the very author the latest refutation of Global Warming has used "global warming" in a sentence as if it were something to be taken for granted.

Frankly, I never heard of the "Arctic tipping point" before, and from the above, it must not be synonymous with "Global warming".  We could explain it as Professor Peabody (or Rocky and Bullwinkle fame) would: "arctic for arctic and tipping point for tipping point".  See? obvious, everybody can figure out what it means.

But seriously, we are observing dramatic shrinkage of the Arctic sea ice; the article doesn't deny this.  The "tipping point" in this context seems to be a point at which arctic ice melt would accelerate, due to some feedback, apparently related to something called "albedo".  I.e. the ice reflects the sunlight so the less of it there is, the more the sun warms the water, and so less ice, and so more sunlight ... in a cycle.

So, some climatologists have apparently been warning of this possibility, but I have never heard it mentioned as a necessary condition for a really bad scenario.

If you go to and type "arctic tipping point" you get 5 hits -- 5 books in their database mention this phrase.  If you type in "greenland ice cover" you get 62.

If you type "antarctic ice" "global warming" you get 7,970 instances of the 2 phrases appearing on the same page of a book.

My conclusion:  the viral passing around of pointers to this article (Google{"Arctic 'tipping point' may not be reached"} ==> 117,000 hits) is due mostly to a lot of people going off half cocked, who haven't seriously thought about what the article means.

No comments:

Post a Comment