Here is the panic piece from the The Independent in the UK:

It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year.

The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice, making it possible to reach the Pole sailing in a boat through open water, would be one of the most dramatic and worrying examples of the impact of global warming on the planet. Scientists say the ice at 90 degrees north may well have melted away by the summer. [emphasis mine - CM]

So, according to this article, the North Pole will be ice-free for the first time in human history. Here’s my question: how far back does human history go in this article? Do we start human history 10,000 years ago with the shift from hunter-gatherers to agrarians? Do we peg human history back 6,000 years with the growth of the first major states in Egypt, India, and the fertile crescent? How about starting human history with the year that President Taft became the 27th President of the U.S.? I mention the last because 1909 was also the year that Admiral Peary claimed to be the the first person to reach the North Pole. But I think that this article suggests “human history” began thirty years ago, with the advent of satellite coverage of the North Pole. I believe this because we have only had consistent information about the North Pole for the past thirty years, thanks to satellite data.

Here’s another section from the article that supports this point:

The polar regions are experiencing the most dramatic increase in average temperatures due to global warming and scientists fear that as more sea ice is lost, the darker, open ocean will absorb more heat and raise local temperatures even further. Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University, who was one of the first civilian scientists to sail underneath the Arctic sea ice in a Royal Navy submarine, said that the conditions are ripe for an unprecedented melting of the ice at the North Pole.

“Last year we saw huge areas of the ocean open up, which has never been experienced before. People are expecting this to continue this year and it is likely to extend over the North Pole. It is quite likely that the North Pole will be exposed this summer… it’s not happened before,” Professor Wadhams said.

It’s all global warming’s fault! But here’s the kicker — since the hot year of 1998, the global temperature has pretty much flatlined. So where is the horrific warming that is causing this trouble? And why does Professor Wadhams think the North Pole has never melted before? After all, the Medieval Warm Period, Roman Climate Optimum, and the Holocene Climate Optimum were all warmer than now, so how can the good professor state with any certainty that the North Pole has never melted before when we have no consistent records from more than thirty years ago? The obvious answer is that the good professor cannot state this with any certainty, unless he does so in a firm and pompous voice.

Global warming fanatics say that the North Pole has never melted before. But I would like to see the empirical data that proves their claim. Without that proof, all we have is their hot air.

UPDATE (7/14/2008 5:27:26 PM): Yep. It’s hot air. I found an article written by John Daly in 2004 to refute the “Ah! The North Pole is melting for the first time in human history!” meme. And he used a picture that is worth much more than a thousand words to refute the claim.

During an Arctic summer, the sun is in the sky 24 hours per day, giving the Arctic ocean more total sunlight than anywhere else on the planet, excepting the Antarctic during its summer season. The result is that large areas of the Arctic Ocean are ice free in summer at any one time, with large leads of open water and even larger ‘polynyas’, stretches of open water tens of miles long and miles wide. This photo of three submarines visiting the North Pole in May 1987 shows the whole area criss-crossed with open water leads before the summer had even arrived.

Water at the North Pole
HMS Superb, USS Billfish, and USS Sea Devil in a North Pole rendezvous in 1987
(U.S. Navy Photo)

John Daly link found via The Clue Batting Cage.

OK, I’ve tried really hard not to write about global warming, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. I asked my usual question about identifying the primary source of global warming to some 12- and 13-year-olds last week, and I got the standard answers of mankind, pollution, and CO2. Not one of them correctly identified the sun as the primary cause of global warming on Earth. After all, without the sun, the Earth would be a frozen ice ball drifting in space. To be fair, it’s a trick question because I asked them about global warming, and they responded as if I had asked about human-caused global warming. The two are not the same.

Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is an edifice constructed of five floors. Here is how Warren Meyer of Coyote Blog explained it:

There are a lot of reasons not to be worried about “inaction” on global warming. To justify the enormously expensive cuts in CO2 productions, on the order of 80% as supported by Obama and Clinton, one has to believe every element of a five-step logic chain:

  1. Mankind is increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere
  2. Increased atmospheric CO2 causes the world to warm (by some amount, large or small)
  3. The increases in CO2 from man will cause substantial warming, large enough to be detectable above natural climate variations
  4. The increases in world temperatures due to man’s CO2 will have catastrophic impacts on civilization
  5. These catastrophic impacts and their costs are larger than the enormous costs, in terms of poverty and lost wealth, from reducing CO2 with current technologies.

Climate alarmists have adopted a rhetorical trick that no one in the media seems willing to call them on. They like to wage the debate over global warming policy on points one and two only, skipping over the rest. Why? Because the science behind numbers one and two are pretty strong. Yes, there are a few folks who will battle them on these points, but even very strong skeptics like myself accept points one and two as proved.

I have no problem accepting #1 and #2 as being proven, but I do not accept #3 as proven. I believe that enough science has been presented to show that the fluctuations in global temperatures have more to do with seasonal variations and solar cycles and less to do with any effects by man, and I’ve written about this before.

I found a ZNet article from 2004 that appears to follow along the lines Warren points out: start with an accepted point, then build on unproven guesses from there:

Before proposing answers to these questions, let us summarize the issues explained so far:

— The world climate is getting warmer. [Depending on your definition of what is "normal temperature," I can accept that. -CM]

— Climate models show that the burning of oil, gas and coal in the industrialized countries is responsible for the climate change. [Climate models are intellectual guesswork and can only reflect reality when they are heavily tweaked after the fact. -CM]

— The expectations for the near future are very disturbing and many catastrophes are highly probable. [But these expectations are based on the guesswork of deeply flawed, and therefore useless, computer models. -CM]

— Today’s (in)action’s will have long-term consequences for the entire biosphere and the living conditions of many future generations. [Yet more guesswork. -CM]

But the uncertainties about AGW do not prevent people from reacting as if they were the gospel truth. Consider the Bishop of Stafford.

A senior bishop in the Church of England has compared people who ignore climate change to Josef Fritzl, the Austrian who kept his daughter locked in a cellar for 24 years, repeatedly raping her and fathering seven of her children.

The Bishop of Stafford, the Right Rev. Gordon Mursell, made the comparison in a parish “pastoral” newsletter and said that people who fail to act to prevent global warming are “as guilty as” Fritzl and “destroying the future of our children,” the Times of London reported Monday.

The bishop denied Monday that he was accusing those who ignore climate change of being child abusers, but said Fritzl was “the most extreme form” of a common selfish streak in humankind.

“In fact you could argue that, by our refusal to face the truth about climate change, we are as guilty as he is we are in effect locking our children and grandchildren into a world with no future and throwing away the key,” he wrote in the letter entitled “following our dream,” distributed around the Diocese of Lichfield.

He defended his comments, saying he did not wish “to shock people unnecessarily.” But he said: “I am simply trying to use an analogy to get people to wake up to the consequences of what we are failing to do, because if we don’t there won’t be a future for our children either.”

Nothing like a sermon of hellfire and global warming to scare obedience right into people. Recycle or you’re destroying the future of our children! Bow down before Saint Gore, or the Earth will burn for your ecological sins!

And if a rousing sermon isn’t sufficient to get you stirred up, how about finding out when you, the evil planet-killing human that you are, should die? This gem comes from ABC in Australia, and based on the answers you give, this Flash game tells you at what age you should die based on how fast you use up your “fair share” of the planet.

Die! You pig, DIE!

As you can see from the picture, my little piggy exploded and told me I should have died at age 2.2 since that’s the age at which I “used up [my] share of the planet.” What a nice way to spread the gospel news of Saint Gore! I know I always look to an exploding cartoon pig to tell people — especially kids — that they should just die, already. It just warms the cockles of my heart, and what’s left of the exploded pig’s heart, to spread that cheery news.

Too bad it’s all a load of tripe. The vast majority of my piggy’s CO2 was calculated based on the amount of money I make and spend, and since I don’t choose to spend my money on global warming indulgences, the Flash game made my pig swell up to a horrible size. But here’s the question — how does my spending now suggest that I should have been offed in the name of Gaia at the age of two, when I wasn’t spending a thing?

But none of that means anything to the irrational anthropogenic global warming supporters. The thing that bothers me most about this nonsense is how such people could easily use it to justify sweeping, radical changes in our society. It’s a short journey between discussions of “when you should die” and justification of when you WILL die. Unconvinced? Government-enforced euthanasia in pursuit of a society filled only with “useful people” has a terrifying historical precedent. It’s happened before, and it could happen again.