Climate Change, Antarctic Ice Sheets, Honesty, and News

I get very frustrated with climate change news stories. Don’t get me wrong, I believe climate change is real, and I think we are causing it. Nonetheless, the reason people reject news of climate change so vehemently is because the news really is extremely inaccurate and overblown.

Here’s what’s true:

  • There are only three places on earth that have enough land-locked ice to raise sea levels.
  • Only land-locked ice can raise sea levels.
  • The arctic is indeed melting, and if we caused it, this is not good. However, melting arctic ice cannot raise sea levels because it was floating in the sea already.
  • The three places with land-locked ice are Greenland, West Antarctica, and East Antarctica.
  • Greenland started melting around 2000 or 2001, about ten years after the media was telling us it was already melting. I suspect scientists were warning us of the possibility of melting, and the media turned it into actual melting.
  • West Antarctica has been melting for a while. This melting is caused by an increase in sea temperature.
  • East Antarctica is not melting … yet.
  • East Antarctica has 75% of the world’s landlocked ice. West Antarctice has 15%. Greenland has 10%.
  • Thus 75% of the landlocked ice is not melting, and doesn’t really look like it’s going to. However, if it starts, that’s a very, very scary thought.

Now, why did I tell you all this?

Because this week the media is full of false reports of doomsday news about the melting of the Antarctic ice sheets.

Here’s the Yahoo! search results page for “melting antarctic ice sheets.” That will give you 10 news reports, most of them ridiculous.

Here’s how the report should read: “The West Antarctic ice sheet, approximately 15% of the world’s land-locked ice, is melting faster than expected, scientists have discovered. It will still take centuries for it to completely melt, but no increase in melting bodes well for us.”

A headline like “Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting Rapidly: Could Put Miami and New York Underwater” is misleading.

With all the things we US citizens hear in the news, with all the careful analysis of weather and high pressure and low pressure areas, with our interest in forensics through TV shows, are you really going tell me that distinguishing between the West and East Antarctica ice sheets is too much for us to comprehend? It certainly is not lacking in importance. The distinction is hugely important.

My concern is never politics or climate change. My concern is honesty among Christians. We should be an honest, truth-loving people, but how many times have we issued statements much like the misleading headlines on that Yahoo! search page?

It’s one thing for the world to create parties fortified by dishonesty, partisanship, and constant bickering and dissension. It is entirely another for Christians to live like that. We do, though. We do it with politics, with science, and with our pet doctrines.

Time to man up. If our fierce political opinions make us rude or obnoxious, we have lost the path, no matter what you think of Christians’ involvement in politics. If we slander perfectly honest scientists over scientific subjects we are actually quite ignorant about, then we are not doing Jesus a favor. Worst of all, anything that we do that divides disciples from one another is treason to the purposes of God and Jesus, who taught that our love and unity—lived out in obedience to him (2 Tim. 2:19)—were his main testimony to the world (Jn. 13:34-35; 17:20-23).

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One Response to Climate Change, Antarctic Ice Sheets, Honesty, and News

  1. Tara says:

    Without getting into the politics of climate change, which I could go on about for too long, I did find an article I thought would be of interest here. Below are some excerpts:

    “‘UNSTOPPABLE COLLAPSE’ OF THE WEST ANTARCTIC ICE SHEET IS NOT HAPPENING
    Dr. Don J. Easterbrook, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA
    May 19, 2014
    A New York Times headline reads “Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans From Polar Melt” and goes on to say: “A large section of the mighty West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable, two groups of scientists reported on Monday. If the findings hold up, they suggest that the melting could destabilize neighboring parts of the ice sheet and a rise in sea level of 10 feet or more may be unavoidable in coming centuries.” The story, based on studies of the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers in West Antarctica, went ballistic in the news media with dire predictions of the ‘unstoppable’ catastrophe about to unfold.”

    “WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW
    Since last week’s press releases, thousands of Antarctic photos and text items on the internet have been relabeled, and you can scarcely find any mention of Antarctica now without reference to ‘the unstoppable, collapsing Antarctic ice sheet.’ From all of the media hype, you would think that the West Antarctic ice sheet is presently in the process of collapsing and drastic sea level rise is imminent. THE WEST ANTARCTIC ICE SHEET IS NOT COLLAPSING! The retreat of the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers is NOT caused by global warming, and sea level is NOT going to rise 10 feet.
    The two papers predict that it could collapse in several hundred years, based on retreat of two outlet glaciers that drain part of the ice sheet. The authors contend that recent retreat of the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers has occurred because warm ocean water has caused melting of ice on the underside of the glaciers, causing them to thin and calve more rapidly. Because the base of most of the West Antarctic ice sheet lies below sea level, the authors contend that ocean water will melt its way up several small embayments under the ice sheet, which is more than 1000 miles across, and cause it to collapse abruptly. They refer to this as “unstoppable” because the glacier base is below sea level and they claim that there is nowhere that the glacier can ground so it will all collapse into the sea.”

    “CONCLUSIONS
    The evidence above shows that:
    1. The Pine Island and Thwaites outlet glaciers drain less than half of the West Antarctic ice sheet, so it is not apparent how they could cause collapse of the entire ice sheet.
    2. The Pine Island and Thwaites outlet glaciers are only about 30 miles across so draining 2.2 million km3 of ice through their narrow channels or sending sea water 1,000 miles under the ice sheet doesn’t seem plausible.
    3. Most of the ice sheet is much thicker (2,500 m (8,000 ft) than the depth of the subglacial floor below sea level (1,000 m (3,300 ft) so the ice will not float and sea water will not extend under the ice.
    4. Even if the ice sheet were to recede significantly, there are at least half a dozen potential grounding lines at which the glacier would stabilize.
    5. The West Antarctic ice sheet isn’t NOT collapsing, the retreat of these small glaciers is NOT caused by global warming, and sea level is NOT going to rise 10 feet.”

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