Thursday, May 13, 2010

How Doomsday Types Turn Possible Good News into Bad

The last gray whale seen int eh Atlantic was in the 18th century. According to
There are, in fact, no gray whales in the Atlantic—–have not been, for that matter, since the eighteenth century, when the species was possibly exterminated from the hemisphere by commercial whalers.

Today, gray whales exist in two populations, both in the Pacific: a critically endangered western Pacific population believed to number fewer than 200 individuals, and an eastern Pacific population of approximately 20,000. Members of the latter breed in the lagoons of Baja California; swim north along the coasts of Mexico, the United States and Canada to feed in the Arctic waters north of Alaska and northeastern Siberia; and then return south.
But, and this is a big but, a gray whale was spotted and photographed off the cost of Israel in the Mediterranean. So is this good news? Nope, the doomsday types say that good news is unlikely——but it always is with this crowd.

Instead of being good news that a whale was spotted back in this hemisphere, for the first time in centuries, it is proof that global warming is destroying the planet.

They argue that the whale took "advantage of ice-free conditions" and swam into the Atlantic. First, there was never ice-free conditions in the Northwest Passage, just reduced ice. Every summer the ice in the passage retreats and grows back in the winter. Watch this time lapse of the retreat and growth of the ice since 1978, which when such records were first kept. You will see that for most summers the ice retreats sufficiently to allow a whale to make this journey, if it so chooses. The Northwest Passage has been navigable to man for well over a century and certainly would be navigable to whales during that same period.

It is true that in recent years wind patterns in the Arctic have blown ice out of the region and into warmer waters where it melted, so the Passage was more easily navigated in the past. Using data collected by NASA a team of researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory found that "the rapid decline in winter perennial ices the past two years was caused by unusual winds." And the winds, they said, were due to " unusual atmospheric conditions [that] set up wind patterns that compressed the sea ice, loaded it into the Transpolar Drift Stream and then sped its flow out of the Arctic." You can information on other NASA studies which "confirms many changes seen in upper Arctic Ocean circulation in the 1990s were mostly decadal in nature, rather than trends caused by global warming." These ice changes are not due to global warming.

The Northwest Passage has been navigable multiples times over the last century as the records clearly show—in spite of the false claims in the media that this has been a recent occurrence.

You may remember that when dolphins were spotted in the Baltic we had some people crowing that this proves global warming. Spiegel claimed the appearance was the "the result of warmer temperatures due to global warming. I debunked that nonsense by showing that dolphins were spotted in the Baltic centuries ago and that numerous reputable sources list the Baltic as one area where dolphins are regularly spotted and have been for many, many years. Yet this rather usual sighting was reported by numerous media outlets as another ominous sign of global warming.

There are two possible stories with this whale. One is that a small number of whales survived and were never spotted in the past. This is dismissed as impossible. Of course the coelacanth, which is a rather large fish, was believed have gone extinct during the Cretaceous period, almost 66 million years ago. But one was found again in 1938, millions of years after it was believed to have vanished. Since then many more have been caught. And, quite by coincidence, a hiker in Sweden found an oar fish that had died, on the beach. This fish, which can grow to 39 feet long, was last seen in Sweden around 130 years ago, though two were seen on English beaches last year.

Another story is that a lone whale got lost, took advantage of one the multiple times that Northwest Passage was navigable, and is stuck. The first story is a tremendously good one, the second a sad one for this whale but relatively inconsequential to the fate of the planet. But what this isn't, is a story about global warming and impeding disaster.

But these days global warming theory seems to come down to this: everything causes global warming, global warming causes everything, everything is evil. So everything should be banned, restricted, regulated, controlled or taxed.