“While the president rages, the world melts,” keened The Washington Post in an editorial over the weekend.
As President Trump spent another week rage-tweeting, the world continued to warm, and the consequences became ever-clearer — and more alarming.
A consortium of 89 scientists released in the journal Nature on Tuesday a study showing that Greenland’s enormous ice sheet is losing seven times as much ice now as a quarter-century ago. . . .
Greenland’s melting has already driven up sea levels by more than a centimeter, with much more to come.
That certainly sounds like bad news, and the Post has plenty of company in bewailing it.
Stories about Greenland’s unprecedented level of melting ice appeared in recent days in The Guardian, Fox News, the BBC, Business Insider, and CNN — and those are from just the first page of results obtained by googling news stories for “Greenland”+ “ice” + “melt.”
All quite dire, no doubt, and apparently a phenomenon that every right-minded person should be lamenting. Greenland’s ice sheet thawed in 2019 at a scary rate? We’d all better drop everything and pay attention.
And I would — really, I would — if it wasn’t for the fact that climate alarmists and their media chorus deplored the same terrible news in 2018 (“Greenland’s ice sheet is melting at its fastest rate in centuries”).
And in 2017 (“As Greenland Melts, Where’s the Water Going?”).
And in 2016 (“Greenland is Melting”).
And in 2015 (“Greenland Is Melting Away”).
And in 2014 (“Greenland ice sheet loses its last grip”).
And in 2013 (“Why Greenland’s Melting Could Be the Biggest Climate Disaster of All”).
And in 2012 (“Rare Burst of Melting Seen in Greenland’s Ice Sheet”).
And in 2011 (“Greenland ice loss continues to accelerate”).
And in 2010 (“New melt record for Greenland ice sheet”).
And in 2009 (“Greenland’s shrinking ice hurts native tribe”).
Perhaps it is really true, as the Washington Post grieves this weekend, that Greenland’s ice melt is calamitous and the point of no return is at hand.
But while such stories appear at around this time every year, the world-ending catastrophes caused by climate change never quite seem to materialize.
Doesn’t there come a point at which the boy who so regularly cries “Wolf!” ought to be taken a little less seriously?
Maybe mankind’s dependence on fossil fuels will indeed make the world less livable and more dangerous.
Maybe Greenland’s melting ice really does presage lethal flooding and soaring numbers of climate-related deaths. But it hasn’t happened yet.
On the contrary: the rise in worldwide use of fossil fuels has led to less loss of life from floods and other natural disasters.
As climate scientist Patrick J. Michaels (past president of the American Association of State Climatologists, and contributing author of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) pointed out a few years back, the statistic that should be front and center in these discussions is “climate-related deaths.”
And on that score, the era of modern global warming has also been the era of improved livability:
In the decade from 2004 to 2013, worldwide climate-related deaths (including droughts, floods, extreme temperatures, wildfires, and storms) plummeted to a level 88.6% below that of the peak decade, 1930 to 1939.
The year 2013, with 29,404 reported deaths, had 99.4% fewer climate-related deaths than the historic record year of 1932, which had 5,073,283 reported deaths for the same category.
That reduction occurred despite more complete reporting, an incentive to declare greater damage to gain more aid, and a massively growing population, particularly in vulnerable places like coastal areas, in recent times.
In the alarmists’ view, Michaels observes, the global climate system is a naturally stable and safe place that humans make more volatile and dangerous through the reckless use of coal, oil, and natural gas.
But the opposite is true: “The global climate system is naturally volatile and dangerous. We make it livable through development and technology.”
Perhaps all this good news is on the point of being washed away by Greenland’s runoff. Perhaps our era of greater worldwide climate livability will be seen, in retrospect, as merely a benign interlude before the climate disaster erupted.
Perhaps all the climate Cassandras will have the last, bitter laugh. But on the record so far, I’m not counting on it.
I’ll make a different prediction: About 12 months from now, a spate of stories will appear in the media about the shocking amount of melting ice in Greenland in 2020, and why we’d all better drop everything and pay attention.
h/t John P.
Read more at Boston Globe
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