A Cooling Ice Sheet in Antarctica? Which part?
It is not entirely clear where Taylor wants to go with this one. It seems as if he is claiming that Gore was wrong to be talking about melting in the Antarctic at all. He disputes Gore on three fronts: that Antarctica is melting, that it has warmed, and that it will melt much in the future. But, in fact, Gore kept most of his discussion to the West Antarctic ice sheet, and not Antarctica as a whole (which has indeed cooled somewhat). The Western ice sheet is indeed melting in certain parts. Any foray into the data will show you that, while most of Antarctica has cooled (or has not warmed), the West ice sheet has experienced warming. Taylor cites the IPCC’s statement that it does not expect Antarctica to melt much in the 21st century, in hopes (I think) of showing that Gore was wrong to say that it would melt quite a bit in the 21st century. The only point to keep in mind, of course, is that Gore did not give any predictions as to how much or when the ice would melt in Antarctica.
Growing glaciers in the Himalayas?
Onto the point about the Himalayas. Taylor simply gets wrong the main conclusions of the Journal of Climate paper he cites, and I fear (although I don’t know) he may have made up the last quote he claims to have taken from it. Whereas Taylor implies that this research shows that glacier growth in the Himalayas refutes claims that they are shrinking. The Journal of Climate paper, instead of showing that all of the Himalayan glaciers are growing - and much less than refuting global warming claims - said this:
“The observed downward trend in summer temperature and runoff is consistent with the observed thickening and expansion of Karakoram glaciers, in contrast to widespread decay and retreat in the eastern Himalayas. This suggests that the western Himalayas are showing a different response to global warming than other parts of the globe.” (Abstract)
If I remember correctly, Gore kept his discussion to the eastern glaciers located closer to China and India; it was around this point in Gore’s discussion that he turned to the potential effects of lowering glacial water runoff in these regions. It probably would have been important for him to include the western glaciers in order to illustrate that climate change is complex. But insofar Taylor is concerned, global warming claims are thrown into question by this research. My question – and indeed every skeptic’s question – should be: how?
I’ll write a little more on this article later, but what I have presented so far is, I hope, enough to show you that careful reading and fact checking are indispensable parts of any critical appraisal of an article – especially an article reporting on a very complicated and nuanced scientific issue such as climate change. However, Gore is not squeaky clean on this issue. Yet, I think that we can diagnose, with increasing confidence, that this article as just another symptom of the “decline of reason” that Gore talks about in Reason.
Look out for Part 2 of this post, which will be put up shortly.