[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version]
Exploitation of fear by environmental groups was explained well in Crichton’s book, State of Fear. He could also have written a book titled, State of Knowledge. Most people know very little about the natural world and how it works. This lack of knowledge is easily exploited and coupled with fear makes it an even more powerful manipulative tool. The idea that knowledge is power isn’t new, but that is the positive side. Lack of knowledge is the negative side and makes you very vulnerable. As Derek Bok said, “If you think education is expensive – try ignorance.” Ignorance allows presentation of natural events as unnatural or normal events as abnormal.
Arctic ice conditions are a perfect example. In 2005 we heard that an area of Arctic ice the size Texas melted more than in 2004. Horrors! Catastrophe! The polar bears will be dead very soon. But what is the reality? Well this melt is well within natural variability and a very small portion of the total annual melt. Every single summer approximately 10 million square kilometers of ice melts in about 3 months. This is an area equal to the United States. Texas is approximately 681,089 square kilometers or 6.8% of the total land area. Suddenly it is not so dramatic. It is even less so in a historic context. The same scare technique was used in the 1970s. We were told, “The ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere increased by 12 percent in 1971 – an increase equal to the combined are of England, Italy, and France. This added ice has remained.”
The pattern this year illustrates the cycle. Here, courtesy of the University of Bremen are ice conditions for April 1, August 8, and November 29, 2007 respectively. It will take a few minutes to orient yourself because the arctic ocean is usually a thin line across the top of the map, something that adds to the lack of understanding.
Notice how much ice has already formed this winter, a more rapid growth than previously in the record. It was claimed the summer ice was the smallest on record but the valid record is short and coincides with arrival of satellite data in 1980.
While the media raised alarms over Arctic ice melt, they did not report that Antarctic winter sea ice extent was the greatest on record. A similar pattern of annual freeze and melt occurs in the ocean around the continent but it changes from a summer minimum of about 2 million square kilometers to a winter maximum of about 15 million square kilometers for an annual change of some 13 million square kilometers.
Of course, all this ice is in the water, so when it melts sea level doesn’t change. So the ice is not disappearing. Annual melt and refreeze is large, and current situations are well within normal numbers. The fuss over the ice works because people don’t know. But in case lack of knowledge doesn’t work an emotional and guilt trip will persuade the rest, or at least isolate them as uncaring. Yes, the polar bears are disappearing with the ice. But the ice isn’t disappearing. Right, and neither are the polar bears. Besides, they survived much warmer periods when the ice was reduced significantly. The longest since the last Ice Age was the Holocene Optimum from 9000 to 5000 years ago; the second was the Medieval Warm Period from 900 to 1200 AD, and most recently the warm period of the 1930s and 1940s, which we now know were warmer than the 1990s in North America despite what Al Gore says.
As Marie Curie, a worthy winner of two Nobel Prizes in Chemistry and Physics said, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.”
Source: Canadian Free Press