by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
One of the most sacred tenets of climate alarmism is that Greenland’s vast ice sheet is shrinking ever more rapidly because of human-induced climate change. The media and politicians warn constantly of rising sea levels that would swamp coastlines from Florida to Bangladesh. A typical headline: “Greenland ice sheet on course to lose ice at fastest rate in 12,000 years.”
With an area of 660,000 square miles and a thickness up to 1.9 miles, Greenland’s ice sheet certainly deserves attention. Its shrinking has been a major cause of recent sea-level rise, but as is often the case in climate science, the data tell quite a different story from the media coverage and the political laments. …
… Since human warming influences on the climate have grown steadily—they are now 10 times what they were in 1900— you might expect Greenland to lose more ice each year. Instead there are large swings in the annual ice loss and it is no larger today than it was in the 1930s, when human influences were much smaller. Moreover, the annual loss of ice has been decreasing in the past decade even as the globe continues to warm.
While a warming globe might eventually be the dominant cause of Greenland’s shrinking ice, natural cycles in temperatures and currents in the North Atlantic that extend for decades have been a much more important influence since 1900. Those cycles, together with the recent slowdown, make it plausible that the next few decades will see a further, perhaps dramatic slowing of ice loss. That would be inconsistent with the IPCC’s projection and wouldn’t at all support the media’s exaggerations.
Much climate reporting today highlights short-term changes when they fit the narrative of a broken climate but then ignores or plays down changes when they don’t, often dismissing them as “just weather.”