On 6/7/2020 Chris Mitchell continued the Murdoch introduction to Michael Shillenberger, the ex-greenie who apologised for telling “climate alarmism exaggerated facts”– now promoting nuclear energy. “For him,” says Mitchell, “the scaring of children around the world with false facts was too much.”
“Much of what he tells readers has been reported in this newspaper for twenty years.”
So what does that mean? Here are 4 facts of his to think about, avoiding panic and alarmism and exhibiting “accurate and skeptic reporting.”
“The facts will eventually come become clear,” says Mitchell, “and there are early signs this is beginning to happen.”
Here are Mitchell’s 4 “facts” accompanied by facts from other sources for comparison:
1 Greenland ice sheet temperature has returned to 1930 levels and glaciers stopped melting seven years ago.
From The Guardian;Greenland’s ice sheet melting seven times faster than in 1990s:
“Greenland’s ice sheet is melting much faster than previously thought, threatening hundreds of millions of people with inundation and bringing some of the impacts of the climate emergency much closer. Ice is being lost from Greenland seven times faster than it was in the 1990s, and the scale and the speed of ice loss is much higher than was predicted in the comprehensive studies of global climate science by the IPCC, according to data.”
A description of the photograph from the article (above) shows glaciers breaking up and it tells us Greenland has lost 3.8 trillion tonnes of ice since 1992, and the rate of ice loss has risen from 33 billion tonnes per year in the 1990s to 254 billion tonnes per year in the past decade.
(A note on this report is now six months old and melt rates are higher.)
Also from The Guardian; Scientists confirm dramatic melting of Greenland ice sheet:
“Study reveals loss largely due to high pressure zone not taken into account by climate models.
There was a dramatic melting of Greenland’s ice sheet in the summer of 2019, researchers have confirmed, in a study that reveals the loss was largely down to a persistent zone of high pressure over the region.
The ice sheet melted at a near record rate in 2019, and much faster than the average of previous decades. Figures have suggested that in July alone surface ice declined by 197 gigatonnes – equivalent to about 80 million Olympic swimming pools.”
Fettweis and Tedesco of Columbia University reported that 96% of the ice sheet underwent melting at some time in 2019:
“This melt event is a good alarm signal that we urgently need to change our way of living to hold [back] global warming because it is likely that the IPCC projections could be too optimistic for the Arctic.”
And from National Geographic; Something strange is happening to Greenland’s ice sheet:
“When remnants of Europe’s second summertime heat wave migrated over Greenland in late July, more than half of the ice sheet’s surface started melting for the first time since 2012. A study published on Wednesday in Nature shows the mega-melts like that one, which are being amplified by climate change, aren’t just causing Greenland to shed billions of tonnes of ice. They’re causing remaining ice to become denser.
“Ice slabs” – solid planks of ice that can span hundreds of square miles and grow up to 50ft thick – are spreading across the porous, air pocket-filled surface of the Greenland ice sheet as it melts and refreezes more often. From 2001 to 2014, the slabs expanded in area about 25,000 square miles, forming an impermeable barrier that prevents meltwater from trickling through the ice. Instead, it becomes run off that flows overland , eventually making its way to the sea… contributing to sea level rise.”
(See Sky news, Dec 11, 2019; Greenland’s ice caps are melting 7 times faster than in the 90s. A skeptic from Friends of Science said: “a typical argument claims that Greenland ice melt is now 6 times what it was 30 years ago – which was nil. Six times nil is 0. So no argument.”)
2 The world’s coral islands, especially those of the South Pacific, are not sinking.
From NewScientist; Small atoll islands may grow, not sink, as sea levels rise:
Paul Kench of the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and colleagues found no evidence of heightened erosion … they concluded that 18 out of 29 islands have actually grown.
However, Kench’s comments do not apply to other types of island, like the volcanic main islands of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.
“Shorelines on atolls can change rapidly and islanders may need to move to more stable places. Climate change could result in bigger, more frequent storms. These could be catastrophic in the short term even if they increase the area of atolls in the long term,” says Tom Spencer from the University of Cambridge.
Team member Roger McLean of UNSW says that: “The sea levels change at Funafuti over the past century is similar to what the IPCC is projecting for the year 2100.” He notes that the atoll-building sediment comes from productive coral reefs, which face a range of threats such as warming oceans and pollution.
3 In Science Magazine, asymmetry of the Antarctic surface climate change is natural because there are no external factors – fluctuations are due to El Nino and the Southern Oscillation Index.
This claim was made in Benny Peiser’s Global Warming Policy Foundation (18/6/20). Birds of a feather flock together.
From Skeptical Science; Is Antarctica losing or gaining ice?:
“Antarctic sea ice is gaining sea ice, Antarctica is losing land ice at an accelerating rate, which has implications for sea level rise…
“This land ice is stored ocean water that once fell a precipitation. When this ice melts, the resulting water returns to the ocean, raising sea levels…
“Between 1992 and 2017 the Antarctic ice sheets lost 2,700 giga-tonnes (or 2,700,000,000,000 tonnes) into the ocean.”
Factors occur through various causes:
“Ozone levels have fallen, causing stratospheric cooling, increased winds and open waters which can freeze.
“Southern ocean freshening because of rain and snow and meltwater – changing the composition of layers in the ocean, [cooler, fresh water above; warmer, denser, salty water below] causing less mixing between warm and cool water and thus less melted sea and coastal ice.”
So what is this explanation by Mitchell about El Nino and the Southern Oscillation Index?
[The Southern Oscillation Index is also called the Walker Circulation.] The Walker Circulation is an ocean-based system of air circulation that influences weather on Earth. [It] is the result of a difference in surface pressure and temperature over the western and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean (windows2universe.org).
“The El Nino phase is when the Walker Circulation is weakened or reversed so air descends on the Australian side of the Pacific, preventing lift and resulting in warm, dry conditions for Australia” (ABC News).
Does the El Nino or the Walker Circulation also melt the snows of Canada or the Arctic? Do they heat and burn Siberia? Or the forests of California or Greece or Spain?
How Antarctica is affected by El Nino or the Walker Circulation is not made clear by Mitchell or any references found in Google. But deniers/skeptics try to make good use of any argued areas or aspects of Anthropogenic Global Warming because they provide targets for controversy, if not to completely disprove some detail, at least to blur or soften (“de-alarm”) the issue.
“… until the warming of the past few decades, major changes in temperature were preceded by or coincident with change in atmospheric circulation, suggesting that recent warming is not operating in accordance with the natural variability of the past 2000 years and that therefore, modern warming is a consequence of non-natural (anthropogenic) forcing” (p. 46).
So there it is, the warming is not natural, it is a result of human activity, including the burning of fossil fuels. That is, it is Anthropogenic Global Warming we are seeing and it is impossible that any part of the globe can escape it, despite what the denier/skeptics say, not even the Antarctic.
4 China and India moving away from fossil fuels? ABC speaks of “stranded assets.”
Nick O’Malley in The Sydney Morning Herald (26/3/2020) reports that:
“Coal power remains in global decline, despite Chinese surge.”
“The impact of the coronavirus has prompted a surge in coal-fired power plant construction permits in China, with the Chinese government issuing more permits in a couple of weeks of March than it did all of last year.
“The fifth annual survey of the coal demand [Boom and Bust 2020: The Global Plant Pipeline]… found there was a 16% drop in capacity in the past year and a 66% fall since 2015.
“… due to the Morrison government’s pro-coal Australia was second only to China in the world for proposals of new coal power stations, with 3 gigawatts proposed, ”Christine Shearer, lead author and Director of Global Energy Monitor’s Coal Program [wrote].
“Global power generation from coal fell by a record amount in 2019, as renewable energy grew and power demand slowed down.
‘Regardless, the number of new plants added to the grid accelerated, meaning that the world’s coal plants were operated a lot less – more plants generating less power. For banks and investors that continue to underwrite new coal plants, this means weakened profitability and increased risk.
“… ominously for the Australian exporters, the report found that between 2016 and 2019 construction starts [across south and south-east Asia] fell by more than 85% from 12.8GW to 1.8GW. In India the pre-construction pipeline shrank by half.
*“Tim Buckley, the Director of Energy Finance Studies at the Institute Economics and Financial Analysis, said that the report confirmed that the thermal coal industry was in terminal decline, despite the uptick in China.
“But he said that as a result of that diversion [trade war with US + coronavirus], China was no longer investing in coal plants throughout the Asia region.
“China’s coal power capacity was increasingly idle, running at below 50%.
He said that even as it built new coal-fired power plants, China was decommissioning plants built just a decade ago, or well shy of their designed life.”
David Sandalow of the Centre on Global Energy Policy, in his paper titled Guide to Chinese Climate policy 2019 notes that in:
2018 – China led the world in renewable power deployment, adding 43% of the world’s renewable power capacity
2018 – led the world in electric vehicle deployment – 45% of electric cars and 99% of electric buses in the world today are in China
Dec. 2018, the Chinese delegation played an important role in helping shape a global consensus to implement the Paris Agreement at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Conference (COP-24) in Katowice, Poland.
For those who complain about China’s emissions – and they are well aware of them, Sandalow reported that:
“China’s cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution are roughly half those of the US.”
Sites such as IEA [International Energy Agency] which launched its first in-depth review of India’s energy policy, 10 Jan. 2019, will tell us India is making great progress in developing means for increasing energy use. Demand for energy is set to double by 2040. Fuels and means for energy production include oil, coal, gas, renewables, nuclear, hydro…
And Reuters in February 2019 tells us that:
“In recent months, power supply auctions have shown that renewables can be offered at less than 3 rupees (4 US cents) per kilowatt hour, a tariff that coal-fired generators have difficulty matching.”
Though in The Brisbane Times Adani’s head bobs up:
“Adani unfazed after India signals halt to thermal coal imports.
And yet in The Australian Lucas Dow, the Chief Executive of Adani said that:
“We need coal more than ever to fire up the economy”.
“What has further confounded our opponents is Adani’s rapid expansion in renewable energy.”
Dow believes coal plus renewables will lift the poor out of poverty so they can have what we have. [Endless consumption – and cheap energy?]
Coal + renewable: sounds like a bob each way. (Lucas Dow stepped down 10/7/2020, by the way).
So when we look more closely at what Chris Mitchell says, there is more to consider than what he reveals in his four key points.
Stop making sense: why it’s time to get emotional about climate change, The Guardian, July 5,2020. (This is an edited extract from a book by Rebecca Huntley, “How to Talk About Climate Change in a Way That Makes a Difference” (Murdoch Books, 2020) )
A key quotation:
“The science behind climate change has been proven correct to the highest degree of certainty the scientific method allows. But climate change is more than just the science. It’s a social phenomenon. And the social dimensions of climate change can make the science look simple – the laws of physics are orderly and neat but people are messy.”
Huntley says she is a social scientist.
“I deal mostly with feelings, not facts… A joke I like to tell about myself is that I’m an expert in the opinions of people who do not know what they are talking about.”
It is no doubt an interesting book. But there are some points about it which arise. The Murdoch media would never make such a claim about climate change in its newspapers or in its radio media. It only ever broadcasts the opinions of those people who question the science, those who say they have the “real” science, even though what they say does not agree with other skeptic/denier naysayers.
So the words “to the highest degree of certainty the scientific method allows” could be weasel words which allow the possibility that the science is still not settled, not certain. The IPCC scientific method is suspect because so many skeptic/denier critics are suspicious of the use of computer modelling, even though some of them also use computer modelling.
Another point is that the idea of sitting down with those of alternative views must be taken with a view to understanding the background, the social background and political slant of the person.
It suits the skeptic view that climate activists are alarmist, catastrophist, apocalyptic tyrants trying to dominate the world. Activists must learn to be more gentle, more understanding, more sympathetic, otherwise they scare the children and cause panic. What Mitchell wants is more accurate and sceptic reporting, which is a messy business.
Whereas, people like Robert Hunziker, the Swiss freelance journalist, has said – as have many others – that climate warriors have been too accommodating for decades. It is time they were louder, more assertive, more direct – no pussyfooting around with what is so obviously vested interest nonsense.
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