More ice problems

new ice island four times the size of Manhattan has broken off of the Petermann Glacier in Greenland.  The Petermann Glacier is on the northwestern end of Greenland, and the new ice island will eventually drift out to the Atlantic Ocean by way of Baffin Bay.  Wikipedia has a satellite photo from NASA of the glacier.

Beautiful isn't it?

One of the concerns associated with global warming is the release of freshwater into the norther Atlantic as sea ice and glaciers from the Arctic melt.  There is real concern that this deluge of fresh water may upset the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation.  If the movement of warm water north and cold water south is disrupted, winters could become much more severe for people living in the northern latitudes of Europe and the USA whose climates are moderated by the ocean and its transportation of equatorial warmth north.

As the signs continue to mount that global warming is a dangerous reality, some people continue to deny that there is anything wrong.  I classify the denialists into three basic types.

1. The people who believe nothing is going on.  This group includes the imbeciles who say such ridiculous things as “It’s cold right now, so global warming can’t be real.”  Among this group are people who lack an understanding of the difference between weather and climate.  In 2009 many places experienced record low temperature maximums (this means the high temperatures were lower than they ever had been).  Denialists of the first kind took this as evidence that global warming, which, of course, should be called climate change, isn’t happening.  I wonder if these people are related to the “microevolution happens, but macroevolution can’t” type of creationist.  Other manifestations of this kind of denial include references to scientists who thought we would be entering an ice age, and questioning the credibility of climate scientists.  A favorite tactic of the leaders in this group is to call Al Gore fat.  This group of people needs more information.  Also, they’re idiots (and probably Republicans).

2. The people who believe something is going on, but it is not caused by humans nor can it be mitigated by humans.  These people are the kind to say it’s all solar flares or natural changes in the climate.  They cannot read a simple graph (and probably call themselves Independents while voting Republican).

3. The people who believe that global warming is real, caused by human activity, and could be mitigated through changes in human behaviour, but who cynically manipulate the public to oppose any regulations that may hurt the profitability of their businesses.  These people are known as corporate executives of fossil fuel companies.  They are jackasses (and also Republicans).

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6 responses to this post.

  1. “I wonder if these people are related to the “microevolution happens, but macroevolution can’t” type of creationist. ”

    Yes. Most YEC’s I know are also denialist. I think it has something to do with the idea that they inherit the earth an can use it the way they want, so there’s no possible way AGW is real. I’ve seen Rapture Ready claim that God gave us oil as a gift.

  2. Yeah, I’ve got a lot of family that sees the world this way. Apparently, when we run out of oil and the planet is cooking, god will provide something new to fix it all. It makes me so mad. The biggest reason I don’t want creationists in positions that affect policy is that the idea that the earth is only 10,000 years old means that their perspective is severely screwed up. How can we think that someone like that even understands problems that depend on geological timescales (like releasing the carbon stored in oil millions of years ago)? Makes me sad.

  3. One thing I do not want to hear is “winters getting worse”. No, thank you. As for the denialists, I’ve run into all three types, unfortunately. Around here, it’s mostly the first type, who says such witty things as “Well, the winters have been getting worse every year! Things can’t be warming up!” Yeah, you’ve got real understanding there, genius. It’s upsetting that so many people don’t have a clue at all because they have so little understanding of science basics in the first place.

  4. Caine,

    I hate that, too. Basic understanding of science is abysmal here, and denialists of all types are actively making it worse. Another big factor, IMHO, is the idea that there’s always two (valid) sides to an issue. Somethings are facts. They’re not opinions, and even opinions can be flat out wrong. My go to example is always racism, which is an opinion, and factually incorrect. It’s really frightening how bad things are getting.

  5. You won’t get an argument out of me. You put your finger right on it – some things are fact. Full stop. It’s gotten to a point in the U.S. anymore that *everything* is considered to be an opinion and to make it worse, the whole PC biz ran amok, so that everyone keeps trying to be “fair” about “representing all sides”. That’s what people use to cram creationism into schools. It’s a bloody mess.

  6. Posted by David Marjanović on September 29, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    Shameful confession first: I hadn’t even noticed you have a blog. Usually when a name appears as a link on Pharyngula, it only leads to a profile page, so I don’t usually bother even mousing over it.

    There are people who go through the first two types, and more, within the same blog thread: “It’s not happening, and it’s not our fault, and it’ll actually be good for us, and it’s too late to do anything about it anyway, at least without ruining the economy”.

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