Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

denying glacial recession

Expand Messages
  • erickrieg@verizon.net
    as a rule of thumb it seems anything observed by science ends up spawning and evil irrational dopleganger crack pot group to deny it:
    Message 1 of 1 , May 15, 2005
    • 0 Attachment
      as a rule of thumb it seems anything observed by science ends up spawning and evil irrational dopleganger crack pot group to deny it:

      YOU AWARE OF?! ?
      By George Monbiot, Published in the Guardian, Saturday, May 14, 2005

      For the past three weeks, a set of figures has been working a hole in my
      mind. On April 16th, New Scientist published a letter from the famous
      botanist David Bellamy. Many of the world's glaciers, he claimed, "are
      not shrinking but in fact are growing. ... 555 of all the 625 glaciers
      under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich,
      Switzerland, have been growing since 1980." (1) His letter was instantly
      taken up by climate change deniers. And it began to worry me.
      What if Bellamy was right?

      He is a scientist, formerly a senior lecturer at the University of
      Durham. He knows, in other words, that you cannot credibly cite data
      unless it is well-sourced. Could it be that one of the main lines of
      evidence of the impacts of global warming ? the retreat of the world's
      glaciers ? was wrong?

      The question could scarcely be more important. If man-made climate
      change is happening, as the great majority of the world's climatologists
      claim, it could destroy the conditions which allow human beings to
      remain on the planet. The effort to cut greenhouse gases must come
      before everything else.

      This won't happen unless we can be confident that the science is right.
      Because Bellamy is president of the Conservation Foundation, the
      Wildlife Trusts, Plantlife International and the British Naturalists'
      Association, his statements carry a great deal of weight.

      When, for example, I challenged the Society of Motor Manufacturers and
      Traders over climate change, its spokesman cited Bellamy's position as a
      reason for remaining sceptical. (2)
      So last week I telephoned the World Glacier Monitoring Service and read
      out Bellamy's letter. I don't think the response would have been
      published in Nature, but it had the scientific virtue of clarity. "This
      is complete bullshit." (3) A few hours later, they sent me an e-mail.

      "Despite his scientific reputation, he makes all the mistakes that are
      possible." He had cited data which was simply false, failed to provide
      references, completely misunderstood the scientific context and
      neglected current scientific literature. (4) The latest studies show
      unequivocally that most of the world's glaciers are retreating. (5)

      But I still couldn't put the question out of my mind. The figures
      Bellamy cited must have come from somewhere. I emailed him to ask for
      his source. After several requests, he replied to me at the end of last
      week. The data, he said, came from a website called:


      Iceagenow.com was constructed by a man called Robert W. Felix to promote
      his self-published book about "the coming ice age". It claims that sea
      levels are falling, not rising; that the Asian tsunami was caused by the
      "ice age cycle"; and that "underwater volcanic activity ? not human
      activity ? is heating the seas."

      Is Felix a climatologist, a vulcanologist, or an oceanographer? Er, none
      of the above. His biography describes him as a "former architect". (6)
      His website is so bonkers that I thought at first it was a spoof. Sadly,
      he appears to believe what he says. But there indeed was all the
      material Bellamy cited in his letter, including the figures ? or
      something resembling the figures ? he quoted.

      "Since 1980, there has been an advance of more than 55% of the 625
      mountain glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring
      group in Zurich." (7) The source, which Bellamy also cited in his email
      to me, was given as "the latest issue of 21st Century Science and

      21st Century Science and Technology? It sounds impressive, until you
      discover that it is published by Lyndon Larouche. Lyndon Larouche is the
      American demagogue who in 1989 received a 15-year sentence for
      conspiracy, mail fraud and tax code violations. (8) He has claimed that
      the British royal family is running an international drugs syndicate,
      (9) that Henry Kissinger is a communist agent, (10) that the British
      government is controlled by Jewish bankers, (11) and that modern science
      is a conspiracy against human potential. (12)

      It wasn't hard to find out that this is one of his vehicles: Larouche is
      named on the front page of the magazine's website, and the edition
      Bellamy cites contains an article beginning with the words "We in
      LaRouche's Youth Movement find ourselves in combat with an old enemy
      that destroys human beings, it is empiricism." (13)

      Oh well, at least there is a source for Bellamy's figures. But where did
      21st Century Science and Technology get them from? It doesn't say. But I
      think we can make an informed guess, for the same data can be found all
      over the internet.

      They were first published online by Professor Fred Singer, one of the
      very few climate change deniers who has a vaguely relevant qualification
      (he is, or was, an environmental scientist). He posted them on his
      website www.sepp.org, and they were then reproduced by the appropriately
      named junkscience.com, by the Cooler Heads Coalition, the National
      Center for Public Policy Research and countless others. (14)

      They have even found their way into the Washington Post. (15) They are
      constantly quoted as evidence that manmade climate change is not
      happening. But where did they come from? Singer cites half a source: "a
      paper published in Science in 1989". (16) Well, the paper might be 16
      years old, but at least, and at last, there is one. Surely?

      I went through every edition of Science published in 1989, both manually
      and electronically. Not only did it contain nothing resembling those
      figures; throughout that year there was no paper published in this
      journal about glacial advance or retreat.

      So it wasn't looking too good for Bellamy, or Singer, or any of the
      deniers who have cited these figures. But there was still one mystery to
      clear up. While Bellamy's source claimed that 55% of 625 glaciers are
      advancing, Bellamy claimed that 555 of them ? or 89% ? are
      advancing. This figure appears to exist nowhere else. But on the
      standard English keyboard, 5 and % occupy the same key. If you try to
      hit %, but fail to press shift, you get 555, instead of 55%. This is the
      only explanation I can produce for his figure. When I challenged him, he
      admitted that there had been "a glitch of the electronics". (17)

      So, in Bellamy's poor typing, we have the basis for a whole new front in
      the war against climate science. The 555 figure is now being cited as
      definitive evidence that global warming is a "fraud", a "scam", a "lie."
      I phoned New Scientist to ask if he had requested a correction. He had
      not been in touch.(18)

      It is hard to convey just how selective you have to be to dismiss the
      evidence for climate change. You must climb over a mountain of evidence
      to pick up a crumb: a crumb which then disintegrates in your palm. You
      must ignore an entire canon of science, the statements of the world's
      most eminent scientific institutions, and thousands of papers published
      in the foremost scientific journals.

      You must, if you are David Bellamy, embrace instead the claims of an
      eccentric former architect, which are based on what appears to be a
      non-existent data set. And you must do all this while calling yourself a

      1. David Bellamy, 16th April 2005. Glaciers are cool. New Scientist,

      2. Conversation with Nigel Wonnacott, press officer at the Society of
      Motor Manufacturers and Traders, 2nd July 2004. This part of the
      conversation is reproduced at:


      3. Conversation with Dr Frank Paul, WGMS, 5th May 2005.

      4. Email from Dr Frank Paul, WGMS, 5th May 2005.

      5. He cited Frank Paul etc al, 12th November 2004. Rapid Disintegration
      of Alpine Glaciers Observed with Satellite Data. Geophysical Research
      Letters, Vol 31, L21402; and WGMS, 1998. Fluctuations of Glaciers
      1990-1995 Vol. VII.


      A fuller list of recent publications on glacial movements and mass
      balance is available at:


      6. http://www.coasttocoastam.com/guests/225.html

      7. http://www.iceagenow.com/Growing_Glaciers.htm

      8. Eg Terry Kirby, 21st July 2004. The Cult and the Candidate. The
      Independent; Chip Bertlet, 20th December 1990.


      9. eg Roger Boyes, 7th November 2003. Blame the Jews. The Times; David
      Bamford, 30th July 1987, Turkish Officials Carpeted. The Guardian;
      Michael White, 3rd May 1986. Will the Democrats wear this Whig? The

      10. Francis Wheen, 21st August 1996. Branded: Lord Rees-Mogg,
      international terrorist. The Guardian.

      11. Extract from Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons, 2000. Right-Wing
      Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort Guilford Press, New York,
      republsihed at:


      12. This is the constant theme of 21st Century Science and Technology.


      14. http://www.junkscience.com/nov98/moore.htm



      15. John K. Carlise, 17th November 1998. Global Warming: Watch the
      Glaciers. The Washington Post.

      16. http://www.sepp.org/controv/glaciers.html

      17. E-mail from David Bellamy ? Bellamyca@... ? 5th May 2005.

      18. Conversation with Mike Holderness, deputy letters editor, 5th May

    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.