By R.S. Bailey
Photo Credits: Ecoclear.net; Greenlifestyle.com
Some things just seem obvious, like global warming. For some people there is no dispute. It is real, the proof is bigger and better hurricanes, a longer tornado season in the U.S., tornados in Russia where they’ve never had them before, wild changes in “normal weather patterns”, and the summer melting of the Arctic ice cap.
Others point to supposed discrepancies in evidence presented. Early on one such discrepancy was that there was no evidence for global warming in the Antarctic, where the ice cap was on land and if melted would definitely cause a rise in the oceans. But the most significant argument was that data set from the Global Histological Climatology Network which was the basis of numerous studies was simply too small to be accurate.
The late scifi/thriller writer Michael Chrichton reportedly spent three years researching his book “State of Fear” which dealt with Antarctica climatology research and accused scientists of terrorist action in trying to sell global warming as fact. Crichton knew how to sell books. He was all the rage in 2004 when ABC’s “20/20” interviewed him to promote his point of view and his book. Of course the Union of Concerned Scientists tried to set the record straight and was roundly ignored. We have learned since that a sophisticated government disinformation campaign, championed by President Bush and seemingly carried on today by President Obama, was squashing climatology studies.
Stories of South American glaciers melting and partially draining freshwater lakes into the Atlantic, and Antarctic ice sheets developing summer layers of water underneath raising a real danger of shearing into the Atlantic were reported by news agencies like UPI, but were routinely ignored by their subscribing newspapers and media outlets. The news media was quick to report the closure of the Antarctic ozone hole but has been slow to tell anyone of the ozone hole that has opened over the Arctic. One has to think that if the news media is so liberal, they would be jumping all over these stories.
There are numerous bit and pieces that have slipped by the way side. Another under-reported story is that the Siberian permafrost now melts during the summer months. The melting is so deep that a flourishing business in wooly mammoth ivory has developed. Anyone who doubts it just has to go online to see that the market is saturated. The permafrost melting is so deep that mammoth meat is being fed to dogs.
Back in the 70s a politically conservative friend told me that there are two kinds of history; the political/economic variety and the military variety. He said the most trustworthy was the military. With that in mind I took interest in 2006 when a friend who was a naval officer told me he had just returned from a summer trip to the North Pole. He was smiling ear to ear as he told me there was a three foot layer of slush there. When I expressed my concern, as a former Alaskan who knew bush pilots who regularly flew to the pole in the summer and that it had always been solid ice, he grinned wider and said, “But it’s summer.”
In 2009 I met the owner of the Alaska Shipyard which is headquartered in southern Alaska on Ketchikan. He was producing an instructional video. I asked him what was bringing on the new business. He told me the U.S. Navy had been building a base for ten years in Barrow, the northernmost point in Alaska, and he had to train new workers, fast, for a shipyard he was building there. The northern waterway was opening up in the summer. This coordinated neatly with the 2007 UPI article I read in their science section that said the Canadians were going to build more that a dozen ships, newly designed for use in the Arctic. It also explained the naval officer’s grin. At least to me. This summer, the North Pole was under water.
Still, there was a curmudgeonly group of scientists who remained steadfastly skeptical. This group was led by Richard A. Muller ,a physics professor at UC/Berkeley, author of the 2008 book “Physics for Future Presidents”. Muller’s skepticism has become the rallying point for the current crop of Republican presidential hopefuls. Muller maintained that the sampling procedure of the Global Histological Climatology Network was too small. The GHCN only used a sampling 7,280 stations worldwide. Muller founded the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Group and undertook a study of 39,000 unique stations. A peer review process to confirm or deny earlier findings. On Nov. 5 the findings were announced. Now Muller says, “You should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer.” He admitted his groups findings showed “a temperature increase similar to that found by other groups.”
I saw the story in “Physics Today”. Muller wrote about it and gave it to the “Wall Street Journal” who published it online in “Opinion Europe” but not in their print issue. The so-called liberal “Washington Post” opinion writer Eugene Robinson wrote a column about it. The Post did not report it as hard news. The admittedly conservative “Washington Times” called for a peer review process of what was already a peer review process. It has been studiously reported in the U.K. American newspapers and all the TV networks have ignored it.
President Obama and his Republican presidential opponent hopefuls have ignored it.
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