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Tilting at Windmills

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January 29, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE DEATH OF GLACIERS....For some reason, global warming skeptics are fond of claiming that glaciers aren't really shrinking. Usually they do this by cherry picking a single glacier somewhere that's been gaining mass, or by suggesting that the shrinkage is due to purely local problems. But it's not so. A broad look at glaciers throughout the world shows that not only are glaciers shrinking, but the shrinkage is accelerating:

The World Glacier Monitoring Service, which continuously studies a sample of 30 glaciers around the world, says the acceleration is down to climate change.

.... The latest survey, just released, shows accelerating decline. During 2005, this sample of 30 glaciers became, on average, 60-70cm thinner.

This figure is 1.6 times more than the average annual loss during the 1990s, and three times faster than in the 1980s.

More here on MoJo's new environment and health blog, Blue Marble.

Kevin Drum 9:32 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (39)

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Comments

Well, the Bible doesn't mention any glaciers at all, so clearly it's God's will!

Posted by: scarshapedstar on January 29, 2007 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

It is only going to get worse. White ice reflects heat and light energy back to space. Water and dark colors of topography absorb heat and light energy, raising temperatures and exacerbating melt off.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 29, 2007 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Usually they do this by cherry picking a single glacier somewhere that's been gaining mass...

The glacier that formed on the north side of Mt. St. Helens after the explosion is a wingnut favorite (hello AH!) because it's right here in the United States of Denial.

Posted by: subparsnip on January 29, 2007 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

I don't understand. Michael Crichton said it was a hoax, and he had graphs and stuff!

Posted by: Chocolate Thunder on January 29, 2007 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Crichton should stay in Hollywood where fantasy reigns supreme and STFU about science. Trauma victims everywhere should give thanks he isn't practicing emergency medicine.

There is a good shot of ice caps here, and a visual of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 29, 2007 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Global warming deniers apparently think pollution is a good thing. They should all be given the opportunity to buy a nice, cheap plot of land near a toxic landfill or petrochemical plant to build their next house on.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 29, 2007 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Ignoring global warming is a wingnut plot to eliminate coastal cities.

Actually, you'ld think that the family values crowd would care about just how totally fucked their great grandkids world is gonna be.

Terrorism might kill thousands; environmental catastrophy, a whole lot more.

Posted by: Keith G on January 29, 2007 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

A few fanatics in caves with prayer rugs and AK's can't destroy modern civilization. CO2, on the other hand, can. And will if we don't wake up and do something about it.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 29, 2007 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

What? Conservatives lie?

Tell me it ain't so Shoeless!

Posted by: Google_This on January 29, 2007 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, until a glacier needs a hip replacement. Ask the Canadian glaciers why they all come over the border. Best glacier care in the world, baby!

What?

Posted by: craigie on January 29, 2007 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Is there really a World Glacier Monitoring Service? What's the monthly rate? Can a guy go 'halfsies' with someone?

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on January 29, 2007 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

Every day
I weep
For the glaciers and for Al Gore
and for our planet, Gaia.
I hate George Bush.
Hate hate hate!
Hate hate hate!
Evil man. Evil president.
Hate hate hate!
Hate hate hate!
Kyoto!

---------------
Thank you from the collective.

Posted by: Weeping Peace Willow of the World on January 29, 2007 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.


Still trumpeting the Al Goreisms I see. This one is especially hilarious.

Glaciers are GROWING, Kevin. What's more, haven't you been paying attention to the weather developments this winter. Record lows in California earlier this month. Blizzards in the west. Calgary, Canada had a week of record low temps back in December. Negative temps in Siberia.

The lack of brain cells around here is truley astounding.

Posted by: egbert on January 29, 2007 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

Deutsche Welle had a story today entitled "Expert: Most Alpine Glaciers Gone in 30 Years."

here

Posted by: Brojo on January 29, 2007 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

egbarf,

Didja get that GROWING tidbit from one a' them glacial monitoring services, like Drummy?

Hey, wanna go 'halfsies' on a spell-chekkar? A know a 'truley' good offer on eBay.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on January 29, 2007 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck off with your "collective" bullshit, won't you? You 3% have a comet to catch, don't you? Run along now.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 29, 2007 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

Warming skeptics are full of bullshit, period.

I was at Glacier NP (the US one, not the Canadian) plus the Banff complex of parks in 2005. It's clear as hell they're shrinking, and a lot.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 29, 2007 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

Ah egbert...Do learn the difference between "climate" and "weather", won't you, before you try to converse with the big kids?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 29, 2007 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

Glaciers are GROWING, Kevin. What's more, haven't you been paying attention to the weather developments this winter. Record lows in California earlier this month. Blizzards in the west. Calgary, Canada had a week of record low temps back in December. Negative temps in Siberia.

The lack of brain cells around here is truley astounding.

Posted by: egbert on January 29, 2007 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

Truley? Trulley? Trullly? Truelly?

Idiot, idiot, idiot.

Nothing like extraordinary weather to not stir the imagination of the non-imaginative.

Glaciers are growing? Look! Pick your own glaciers, then look at the rest of them.

Weather, climate? Global temperature rise, local temperature abberation?

Why is it that there is a proportion of the nation that can totally block out facts?

Wow!

Let's call it the Bush-idiot syndrome.

Posted by: notthere on January 29, 2007 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's supposed "proof" just undermines his point! If any of you dolts actually looks at the graph, you'll see very clearly that glaciers were actually *growing* from 1981 to 1983, 1986 to 1987, 1999 to 2000... Need I continue? Come on, get serious. And have you noticed that the same people who complain about global warming are the ones who think that deforestation and species extinction are problems, too? It's basic physics -- plants and animals *use up* energy when they burn calories, making the world hotter and not colder. You can't very ring the alarm bells about global warming *and* complain about species extinctions.

(Joking!)

Posted by: Anno-nymous on January 30, 2007 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, eggface. The el nino-southern oscillation event this fall explains away about a third of your diatribe, and that lack of brain cells you truley self-identified explains the rest.

Posted by: Dave Howard on January 30, 2007 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

It seems to me that it could have something to do with all the satellite radar altimetry measurements they've been doing. Some of that radiation gets absorbed and probably accelerates melting. Don't get me started on LIDAR, all the glaciologists breathing on the ice and tracking light absorbing dirt on to them, the soot from the C130's they use to get to the south pole, or the heat exhaust from their super computers at their research stations.

Do you know what scientists use to keep their deep ice bore holes from freezing over? Several metric tons of freon. I think it's one of compounds banned by the Montreal protocol.

If all these environmental scientists would read a little physics they'd probably know about Shrowdinger's cat.

Posted by: American Buzzard on January 30, 2007 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

(joking too!) . . . well sort of . . . and not about the freon. Do you know how much exhaust an ice breaking ODP drilling vessel puts out as it crosses the arctic?

These are the types of arguments they sling out their against Gore.

Posted by: American Buzzard on January 30, 2007 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

In Munich there's a sweet little museum called the Alpine Museum--a small mansion, once the property of an ardent Alpinist, and headquarters of a mountaineering club. In the summer of 2004 they had an interesting exhibit (I don't know if it's still up): post-cards of glaciers, photos taken a century or so ago, blown up to poster size. Next to each one, a poster-sized photo taken since 2000, from the very same spot, of the very same view. It was like looking at pictures of an ocean, first with, and then without, the water. Even George Bush would notice the difference.

Posted by: helmling on January 30, 2007 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

Anal-nimbus--

Let's have a few cites here. We've already been through all the inaccurate glacier comments of the last few years,

And disregarding that, how abut global temperature change=rise. Or do you deny that, too?

Posted by: notthere on January 30, 2007 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

Anno-nymous/Anal-nimbus --

I thought not!

Posted by: notthere on January 30, 2007 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

Even George Bush would notice the difference.

Don't bet on it.

Posted by: craigie on January 30, 2007 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

Umm... I guess the wingnuts defy parody. I shouldn't have attempted it.

Posted by: Anno-nymous on January 30, 2007 at 3:14 AM | PERMALINK

eggburb: ...Glaciers are GROWING, Kevin....

Are you sure you don't mean your face hairs are GROWING? (h/t to Emily Litella)

...The lack of brain cells around here is truley astounding.

Irony! But not as hilarious as eggburb's best...

Iraq is crucial to the course of the rest of this century. THe steaks are too high to fail.
Posted by: egbert on January 10, 2007 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK
Bwaha!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 30, 2007 at 4:00 AM | PERMALINK

If you want to make an ideological stand, how about you don't also cherrypick your own graphs.

Lets see the time series from 1950 to 1980 as well.

Posted by: . on January 30, 2007 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

To cherry pick an opposite example, in the late 1970s, I ran a boat taking tourists from Valdez, Alaska, across Prince William Sound to look at the Columbia glacier. Since then, it has retreated into its inlet about 10 miles, on the order of 2000 feet a year, and it is picking up speed.

Posted by: anandine on January 30, 2007 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

What I see in the graph is that a traditional conservative like Reagan was much better for the environment than a sexed-up liberal like Clinton. As for Bush, it's not really a fair comparison. It looks like he did OK for a few months and then 9/11 changed everything.

Lets see the time series from 1950 to 1980 as well.

I looked it up in my gut. Glaciers increased by 10 mewe's during this interval.

Posted by: American Buzzard on January 30, 2007 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Here in Peru, in the Cordillera Blanca (which has a third of world's glacial ice in the tropical zone) the area covered by glaciers has diminished by 18% since 1970. Now it's natural that glaciers will be receding in the tropics, but this rate of deglaciation is striking.

Posted by: Jim Bartle on January 30, 2007 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, I get it. We verge on the new world order.
The new Republican world order.
Everything from Texas to Alaska is developed and landscaped.
Everyone has the McMansion and a 3 car garage full of large status-emitting vehicles that run on gas produced from Exxon-Iraq. There is still poor but they are ecstatic poor to be allowed to live in Bush's world.
Bugs, mountain lions, Democrats and other dangerous elements have been irradicated from US soil. This Great Country is seawalled on four sides with a satellite warning net overhead.
Rush Limbaugh now takes his ease because there is no longer any reason to perpetuate division in a consolidated America. The rest of the world, or those who would not hold the correct view, went quietly to hell.
And in the center of Washington Egbert ever polishes the bronze buttocks of a statue commemorating the best president ever, whose heroic sacrifice and stick-to-itiveness in the face of adversity brought about this stanitized single view New Republican Eden, George W. Bush. The disinfected masses bow.
From henceforth December 25 will be known as Bushmas Day. Al still lives in his mother's basement, but on all the Bush holidays he opens his little curtain to the world and smiles in happiness.

Posted by: I Too Can See The Future on January 30, 2007 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

The photos of melting glaciers have been generated in the same Hollywood studio that NASA used to stage the landings on the moon. The Bush-Cheney Regime knows that if Americans fully understood the reality of how fast the next Ice Age is descending upon us, there would be panic in the streets. That would disract everyone's attention away from the terroists that now lurk in our closets and under our beds. It's much better for Americans to wage war against phantoms than reality -- it's sort of like playing a video game. Heck, if push comes to shove, we can always nuke those glaciers before they descend upon us!

Posted by: Badgersouth on January 30, 2007 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

As someone who has been in the trenches of the global warming war (or the anti-science war as I like to call it) I find it interesting to note that there is actually very little real opposition to the science any more (although I can always find some facts in need of correcting on Free Republic and the like).

I also think it is very interesting that since Bush came out and said it is a problem the arguments have essentially stopped on boards such as these.

What this means is that the denyers were arguing from a political position all along as opposed from an understanding of the science.

Posted by: Yelling in the fog on January 30, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

The lives and livelihoods of 2.3 Billion people currently depend on glacier fed river systems.

The Amazon.

The Ganges.


'Do not fool yourselves that algae, soybeans, palm oil, corn or switchgrass can solve the runaway problem of energy consumption in the United States and, now, the world. The reason is simple, the laws of nature, specifically the First and Second Law of thermodynamics do not allow for the sustained production of energy from plants in 1 year at the same rate as we have been using fossil energy accumulated over 500,000,000 years.' - Professor Tadeusz Patzek - U. C. Berkeley

Posted by: MsNThrope on January 30, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Glaciers are GROWING, Kevin. What's more, haven't you been paying attention to the weather developments this winter. Record lows in California earlier this month. Blizzards in the west. Calgary, Canada had a week of record low temps back in December. Negative temps in Siberia.

Eggy, have I got a deal for you!

My wife, an actual, well published, Glaciologist. She has years of field and theoretical research under her belt. Why don't you put a few questions together, along with some of your own thoughts (and sources) and she would be more than happy to respond.

I'll then post the information independently as well as mail it to Kevin.

If you are so convinced of your position and you have the sources to back it up, what have you got to lose? Nothing but more exposure for your position right?

drop me an email, I'll be happy to facilitate the discussion for ya.

Posted by: Simp on January 30, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/

After I discovered this website I feel like somebody hit me over the head with a shovel. I thought I knew about Peak Oil, but I wasn't aware just how dire the situation was for all of human civilization.

Posted by: Speed on January 31, 2007 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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