First Person Life

2007-09-15

The (il)logic of the "science" of Global Warming

While I haven't posted in a while, there are some things that just get under my skin. One of them is alarmist "global warming" news stories that contain significant logical inconsistencies.

I should say that when I was in grade school (late 70's early 80's), I was told that we should be preparing for the next Ice Age because the earth was cooling. Living in the Great Lakes region of the country, there were predictions that the glaciers would be bulldozing our houses at some point (ok, that might be an exaggeration, I didn't take good enough notes in 4th grade.) Now, 25 years later (wow- now I feel old), we're hearing dire predictions that the polar icecaps are melting and sea levels are going to rise and swamp our houses.

Don't get me wrong, I don't dismiss out of hand that human activity could be contributing to global climactic change. However, I haven't seen enough proof to make any sort of causal link. In fact, I regularly hear information which causes me to discount such possibilities (e.g. Discovery Channel programs about how much CO2 and other "greenhouse gasses" are spewed out by volcanos every year -- which, if my memory serves correctly exceeds man-made sources by several orders of magnitude).

One such tidbit of information comes from the latest alarmist news article, posted of all places on Fox News. No doubt in response to the new corporate policy to coddle the enviro-nuts by making a mountain over this environmental mole hill.

Anyway, in the article: Melting Arctic Opens Up Northwest Passage a big deal is made over the fact that the Northwest Passage connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans has opened up "several decades ahead of schedule" (the schedule being determined by computer models).

Yet, there are these two tidbits in the article that we are supposed to ignore:

Look at this paragraph which tries to hide the fact that the passage was open almost a century ago!

The legendary passage was first navigated with great difficulty and using a relatively small ship by explorer Roald Amundsen in 1903 to 1906. Predictions for the opening of the Northwest Passage have ranged from 2012 to 2080 at their most conservative.

Interesting, it was "first navigated" sometime between 1903 and 1906 - by a man with no satillite imagery to figure out whether it was opened or not, and probably very little evidence to assure him that it truly existed. Granted, it was navigated "with great difficulty" but the fact is IT WAS NAVIGATED without the use of any special equipment over 100 years ago!

Questions that remain unanswered are things like:

1) How long had the passage been open before the sailing by Amundsen? That is, how passable was the Northwest Passage 20,30,50,100 years before Amundsen attempted sailing it?
2) Was it just freezing up at that point, or was that a prelude to the thaw we are seeing today?
3) Just how "relatively small" was the ship? I have a mental picture of him in his sail-powered dingy with a crew of 1 or 2 - but it certainly must have been larger than that. "Relatively small" is a comparison which needs something to "relate" to - and the relation is missing. (Note: I found an article about the passage by Amundsen - the crew was a total of 8 and they had to have room for supplies.)

The subtext of the article would like us to believe that this passage has been frozen solid for "thousands of years." See how they say, "navigated with great difficulty," and "relatively small ship" as if to say it was unnavigable, but he did it - and without the aid of modern technological "advances" like GPS, satellite navigation or even a clear knowledge of where his travels would lead him.

Then, we find out that just TEN YEARS AGO the passage opened up, "for a short time." And further that, ""Through the years, it's become increasingly open." But lest we conclude that this may be a natural/normal occurance happening - oh, lets say every 100 or so years, we need to immediately follow that statement with the alarmist drivel, "...but still really had not remained open in any kind of viable way. Two thousand and seven is really the first year."

Really?!?! I thought earlier the article said it was opened in a "viable way" for a "relatively small ship" to navigate it 100 years ago! 2007 "is really the first year"?!?! Hmm.. perhaps the history books about Mr. Amundsen's trip are incorrect then, perhaps it wasn't really a "relatively small ship" after all and he actually developed the first hover-craft - or was abducted by aliens on one side of the passage - who got confused and dropped him off on the wrong side of the ocean.

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Historical note: Information about Amunsen's trip can be found here. It really was a difficult journey and not easy at all - taking many years of planning, reasearch, etc. But the fact is, it was open over 100 years ago. I guess we can give props to Fox for at least alerting us to the historical background of the Northwest Passage, but the article is still fairly one-sided - not presenting any facts about how open the passage may have been more than 30 years ago when satellites first started looking.

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