[Paleopsych] Fox news distorts global warming reports

Val Geist kendulf at shaw.ca
Mon Jan 10 07:51:01 UTC 2005

Thanks! Very nice and informative summary. Cheers, Val Geist
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Michael Christopher" <anonymous_animus at yahoo.com>
To: <Paleopsych at paleopsych.org>
Sent: Sunday, January 09, 2005 3:41 PM
Subject: [Paleopsych] Fox news distorts global warming reports

> Fox News gets it wrong
> Steven Milloy comments on a lecture by Lonnie Thompson
> at the Annual meeting of the American Geophysical
> Union in San Francisco. He uses a common ploy of
> truncating what Thompson said, to ensure that a
> quotation fits with his message. According to Milloy,
> Thompson said, "Any prudent person would agree that we
> don't yet understand the complexities with the climate
> system." But what he actually said was "Any prudent
> person would agree that we don't yet understand the
> complexities with the climate system and, since we
> don't, we should be extremely cautious in how much we
> 'tweak' the system." (see full press release here).
> Such manipulations are designed so that Milloy can't
> be accused of misquoting, but clearly, he completely
> contorts Thompson's point. Milloy also misunderstands
> the science.
> In his talk, Thompson described two samples of moss
> that are 5,000 and 50,000 years old, respectively
> (based on radiocarbon dating). These samples have been
> revealed as the Quelccaya ice cap in Peru receded over
> the last few years. Milloy argues that "the plant find
> is a strong indication that, thousands of years ago,
> the high Andean climate must have been warm enough to
> cause the glacier to be recessed and to allow for the
> plants to grow in the first place.". That is correct.
> But he goes on to say, "So if natural forces caused
> those climate changes, isn't it reasonable to conclude
> that perhaps natural forces might also be largely
> responsible for whatever climate changes may be
> occurring now?" Unfortunately, that isn't reasonable. 
> Milloy makes the common mistake of confusing (1)
> different factors that cause climates to change (see
> forcings) and (2) the rates of climate change. Warming
> in the early to mid-Holocene (the post-glacial period
> that covers the last 12,500 years) resulted from
> changes in the earth's orbit (as described by
> Milankovitch). In the western United States, many
> glaciers disappeared altogether at this time, only to
> re-form around 4500 years ago. The temperatures slowly
> changed as the earth's position altered, in relation
> to the sun, causing the distribution of energy
> received on earth to change geographically and
> seasonally. The changes observed by Thompson (since he
> started studying the Quelccaya ice cap in the late
> 1970s) have been extremely large and rapid; in fact,
> the rate of ice recession has increased over time.
> Thompson noted in a 2003 peer-reviewed article, that
> "The rate of retreat from 1983 to 1991 was three times
> that measured from 1963 to 1983." (Climatic Change,
> vol 59, p.137-159). Evidence of glacier retreat has
> been observed in almost all parts of the world in the
> 20th century, and the rate of retreat has also
> increased in the latter half of the 20th century. This
> has nothing to do with the slow changes that result
> from orbital forcing. It is a consequence of rapid
> worldwide global warming, the rate of which has
> increased in the last 20 years. As discussed elsewhere
> in these pages, there is strong evidence that
> anthropogenic effects are largely responsible for this
> warming. 
> On a more general point, uninformed commentators often
> refer to periods in the past when it was warmer, then
> claim that this somehow "proves" that contemporary
> changes are "normal". But there were countless warm
> periods in the past that resulted from quite different
> conditions than those prevailing today (see this link
> on the Medieval period, or this link on the
> "mid-Holocene" period). In some cases, these were due
> to a different orbital configuration, or different
> levels of greenhouse gases, or even different world
> geography (lower mountain ranges, ocean seaways
> altered, no polar ice sheets etc). What makes the
> recent changes stand out is that they are extremely
> rapid and global in extent. Another error commonly
> made is to pick one spot on earth where it may have
> been warm, and claim that this demonstrates that the
> earth as a whole was warm at that time. This is also
> incorrect. If it was warmer in southern Greenland when
> the Vikings arrived, this tells us nothing about
> conditions in the Pacific, or Eurasia or South
> America. To get a true picture of whether there was
> "global warming" at that time requires, not
> surprisingly, a set of data from many places around
> the globe (see this discussion on one of the popular
> "myths" regarding past climate history). Thus,
> Thompson's observation about the retreat of the
> Quelccaya ice cap would be interesting, but not that
> important, if it was the only data point we had. But
> it isn't - we observe similar things happening in
> virtually all mountainous regions of the world.
> http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=85
> __________________________________ 
> Do you Yahoo!? 
> The all-new My Yahoo! - What will yours do?
> http://my.yahoo.com 
> _______________________________________________
> paleopsych mailing list
> paleopsych at paleopsych.org
> http://lists.paleopsych.org/mailman/listinfo/paleopsych
> -- 
> No virus found in this incoming message.
> Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
> Version: 7.0.300 / Virus Database: 265.6.9 - Release Date: 1/6/2005

No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.0.300 / Virus Database: 265.6.9 - Release Date: 1/6/2005

More information about the paleopsych mailing list