Saturday, May 19, 2018

Mark Twain Saw

August 10, 2018, Update from Yale Climate Connections: "But now, Antarctic glaciers are losing ice faster than they are gaining it [according to Hannes Konrad, part of a University of Leeds team studying this exact issue].

"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then Success is sure." Mark Twain wrote prophesying Rep. Mo Brooks (R) Alabama. Read this article about a May 16, 2018, House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Hearing.  It was, according to Carly Cassella of, "a Circus of Absurdist Climate Denial."

Brooks' claim suggesting "rocks are causing sea levels to [significantly] rise," as titled in the CNN video, is ridiculous to mainstream scientists. Climate deniers, fronting for oil companies, must be desperate in the face of overwhelming evidence to reduce carbon and methane emissions now.

It has been widely reported if Greenland melts, seas will rise "6 meters (20 feet),"  and if the Antarctic Ice Sheet melts, "60 meters (200 feet)."  Greenland melting, in other words, is enough to qualify as a major global disaster for coastal cites, even if Antarctica were stable, which it is not, as I will show below.

Brooks' focus on Antarctic land ice and Antarctic "total ice quantity" are distractions from the Arctic/Greenland melt crisis.  However, he was only partially correct about the land ice issue, and completely wrong about recent Antarctic "total ice quantity." This is similar to the reported exchange Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the Committee, had with physicist Dr. Duffy, President of the Woods Hole Research Center and former senior adviser to the US Global Change Research Program:

"The rate of global sea-level rise has accelerated and is now four times faster than it was 100 years ago," Duffy told Smith in response to the charts.

"Is this chart inaccurate, then?" Smith asked.

"It's accurate, but it doesn't represent what's happening globally; it represents what's happening in San Francisco," Duffy said.

In fairness to Rep. Mo Brooks' Antarctic claims, he clarified, according to, "You've got to make sure you're careful in terminology [ . . .] I'm talking ice quantity. He's [Dr. Duffy's] talking about surface area. Two entirely different things. [ Brooks added] total ice quantity, which is what affects sea levels, has been increasing." also reported "[Brooks said] the ice is growing in quantity on the interior of Antarctica."

As I wrote above, the immediate concern is the Arctic/Greenland melt crisis. However, after that, what matters from a climate/sea rise perspective is the total amount of ice melting or being added in Antarctica, not just the interior. "Antarctica," according to Leeds University researcher Dr. Anna Hogg, is "still losing ice mass at a faster rate than it is gaining mass from snowfall" (see below).

According to, NASA Goddard’s chief cryospheric scientist Jay Zwally, author of the a 2015 study showing increasing Antarctic ice, has updated his research. According to this May 16, 2017 post by Eric Betz, "Zwally still stands by his 2015 study, but in an interview last week, he said nature has recently changed the equation. His team is crunching numbers from the past two years, looking at ice melting and snowfall rates in Antarctica. And they found something startling. [par break] The melt rates in West Antarctica just increased significantly. His calculations now show that the continent is in overall balance. The findings haven’t been peer reviewed yet, but he plans to present them at a science conference later this year." In the article, Zwally noted, “In our paper we said that might happen in two to three decades, [instead of what happened in two or three years . . . ]. Well, this is an unpublished result, but now we’re very close to the zero line.”

More importantly, an April 9, 2018, article by Jonathan Amos, "Big increase in Antarctic snowfall," reported "The BAS researcher [Dr. Liz Thomas] is keen to stress that the increases in snowfall do not contradict the observations of glacial retreat and thinning observed by satellites over the last 25 years. Although the extra snow since 1900 has worked to lower global sea level by about 0.04mm per decade, this is more than being countered by the ice lost to the oceans at Antarctica's margins, where warm water is melting the undersides of glaciers."

The article also cites Dr Anna Hogg, from University of Leeds, UK.  Hogg, using "radar satellites to measure the shape and mass of the ice sheet" said "Even with these large snowfall events, Antarctica is still losing ice mass at a faster rate than it is gaining mass from snowfall, mainly due to the regions of known ice dynamic instability, such as in the Amundsen Sea Embayment which includes Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers. [par break] The Antarctic 4.3mm contribution to global sea level since about 1992 is still our best estimate."

Brooks' misunderstandings may be based on an observation predicted by climate change models. Aforementioned Dr. Liz Thomas, cited in the above article, said "Theory predicts that, as Antarctica warms, the atmosphere should hold more moisture and that this should lead therefore to more snowfall. And what we're showing in this study is that this has already been happening."  However, reading in context shows this increase is negated by the aforementioned "warm water [ . . . ] melting the undersides of glaciers."  Therefore, close observation of Antarctica does not equal humans having less to worry about with sea rise, predicted by NASA to be "0.2 meters to 2.0 meters (0.66 to 6.6 feet) [ . . . .] by 2100."

The danger of Brooks' overgeneralizing into error reminds me of a paragraph in David James Duncan's book My Story As Told By Water, where a politician sees cans of Alaska salmon in stores, and doesn't understand the need to protect Idaho's genetically-different wild salmon from extinction.

With science, as with poetry, understanding is based on specifics. For example, the difference between H 2O (water) and just H (hydrogen) is the difference between a scenic alpine lake and fiery Hindenburg disaster.

I thought U. S. representatives and senators had staffs to look up basic science BEFORE hearings, but maybe not.   Alan Neuhauser reported May 10, 2018, at "The percentage of Republican voters who believe humans are driving climate change jumped by 9 points in only seven months."  After the "circus" May 16, 2018, House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Hearing, expect that number to rise.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Dahr Jamail: Abrupt Climate Disruption & Navigating An Unstable Future

August 20, 2018, Update from Dahr Jamail: "I’ve spoken to prestigious scientists both on and off the record who believe that sooner rather than later, global population will be reduced to around 1 billion humans." (at