Does a Polar Bear drown in the Arctic Ice Shelf?

Image by SordxMaelstrom on DeviantArt

Those who persist in doubting the strong evidence that supports climate change recently received a nice, juicy bone to chew on, in the shape of this combatively headlined article in USA Today:

Could we be wrong about global warming?

Could the best climate models — the ones used to predict global warming — all be wrong?

Maybe so, says a new study published online today in the journal Nature Geoscience. The report found that only about half of the warming that occurred during a natural climate change 55 million years ago can be explained by excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. What caused the remainder of the warming is a mystery.

With such a loaded headline typical of the US media, it’s no surprise that this article was seized by right-wing bloggers as proof positive that climate change is all just a liberal/progressive/socialist conspiracy. This camp is ably represented by Blogmocracy, answering USA Today’s question: Does a Bear Sleep in the Woods?

Blogmocracy’s blog post is full of the usual bollocks, relying on supposedly self-evident statements and dodgy science. Oh, and I should also point out that it’s based on a complete misrepresentation of the facts.

The study doesn’t cast doubt on global warming at all. As one of the scientists who worked on the research told Reuters:

…This could mean current forecasts are underestimating how hot Earth’s atmosphere will get in the future

As explained by Reuters here and here, the story behind the attention grabbing, right-wing baiting headline is that this new research, worryingly, indicates that current models of global warming may in fact be underestimating the problem.

This story is another example of typical denial nonsense. When will they simply admit that global warming and climate change are accepted by virtually every respected scientific organisation – and challenged by none.

Footnote – Science was founded on people admitting their ignorance, looking for mysteries, questioning evidence and then going out and finding the answers. Unfortunately, such (entirely beneficial) admissions of knowledge gaps on “politically sensitive” topics are seized by the anti-science, pro-personal agenda brigade and twisted in an attempt to discredit otherwise widely supported theories. Learning for the day, kids: always look deeper and always do your own research before believing anything you read or hear, online or offline!


CO2/temperature correlation over the 20th Century

CO2 cause of global warming

Carbon dioxide emissions charts


5 thoughts on “Does a Polar Bear drown in the Arctic Ice Shelf?

  1. The Author said:

    “The study doesn’t cast doubt on global warming at all. As one of the scientists who worked on the research told Reuters:

    …This could mean current forecasts are underestimating how hot Earth’s atmosphere will get in the future .”

    I wish to claim that the study DOES cast doubt on manmade global warming, aka “AGW”, aka Climate Change”.

    Why? It affirms the natural ability of Mother Nature to cause the same (and greater) magnitude of warming that has been popularly attributed to mankind’s fossil fuel emissions.

    You erred by associating manmade warming, not Mother Nature’s, with the scientist’s claim that we may have underestimated the heat of future climate.

  2. @JeffM

    Why don’t climate change contradictors do research properly? I was momentarily tempted to think that I may have erred somewhere and that the research DID in some way repudiate climate change – but then I took half a minute to check the original Reuters article again.

    Richard Zeebe (one of the researchers behind the study) said this:

    “If this additional warming which we do not really understand, was caused as a response to the CO2 warming, then there is a chance that also a future warming could be more intense than people anticipate right now.”

    Note: As a response to CO2 warming.

    He’s saying that ‘Mother Nature’, as you so carelessly anthropomorphize, could make things warmer as a result of the manmade increase in CO2.

    Yes, man-made. Further quotes from the article:

    “At present, CO2 levels have already risen from 280 parts per million to nearly 390 ppm since the Industrial Revolution and could exceed a 70 percent increase during this century, a rate much faster than the Palaeocene-Eocene event, Zeebe said.”

    Mother Nature’s a bitch, but Britannia’s the utter slag for introducing the Industrial Revolution to the world.

    To quote some more (as you obviously weren’t planning on reading the fucking article you’re arguing about):

    “While this would cause initial effects, much worse could follow in the coming decades and centuries as the oceans, land and atmosphere tried to deal with the higher CO2 levels, he said.”


    “The carbon that we put into the atmosphere right now is going to stay there for a very long time. Much of it will stay there for tens of thousands of years.”

    That WE put into the atmosphere…

    Sorry JeffM, I do speak a lot of crap but in this circumstance I communicated the message of the original article far better than the media, that crummy blog I linked to, and you.

    To summarise (as I’m recently fond of doing):

    You said I was mistaken for interpreting the scientist’s research and analysis by saying it does not cast doubt on manmade climate change.

    You think it DOES cast doubt on manmade climate change.

    The scientist himself says that we have already had an impact on climate through increased CO2 since the industrial revolution.

    The scientist clearly believes in manmade warming and that this will have a knock-on effect which could lead to far worse.

    I didn’t err by associating manmade warming with the scientist’s claim as the scientist blatantly made the association himself.

    You’re wrong in thinking the study casts doubt on manmade climate change because the study merely adds onto the impact human activity has already had on the environment – a fact that has been supported by virtually every respected scientific organisation and challenged by none (why do I even bother sourcing these links if you’re not going to click on them!?).

  3. The study said that temperatures during PETM rose by 5 to 9 oC, and that the rise in CO2 can only explain 1 to 3.5 oC of the warming. It said that unidentified processes (Mother Nature?) caused the rest of the warming. In other words, unidentified processes caused 2/3 of the PETM warming. These unidentified processes could very likely be at work to one degree or another, now, as in the past.

    What the study’s researcher says in a Reuters interview falls outside of the study’s context. The researcher was within his rights to opine that “If this additional warming which we do not really understand, was caused as a response to the CO2 warming, then there is a chance that also a future warming could be more intense than people anticipate right now.” But this is opinion, not science. IF he’s wrong, we’re back to Mother Nature as the cause. Actually, Mother Nature IS the cause unless and until these processes are identified. This opinion was not part of the study, was it? These processes remain unexplained in the study.

    The quoted researcher’s claim that much of the carbon we put into the atmosphere will stay there for tens of thousands of years seems gratuitous… sensational, but gratuitous. Statements like this support the Alarmists’ cause, not the science.

    I say again…Yes, I believe that this study DOES cast doubt on manmade climate change.

  4. There are numerous studies that show a clear increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration that correlate directly with human CO2 emissions AND global temperatures.

    I can not think of any good reason to dispute this evidence. I would also say that these studies STRONGLY suggest (if I avoid saying prove) anthropogenic global warming. I’ve seen no other convincing explanation that would explain this correlation or temperature rise.

    Scientists agree that higher CO2 concentrations increase warming. We’ve seen higher CO2 concentrations relate to higher CO2 output from man (as you would expect). Why are you looking for a potential other cause while ignoring the compelling evidence that already exists?

    The study referenced in my article suggests that other factors could contribute more to temperature increases – but these have yet to be observed. This means they can’t be considered a cause of the current spate of global warming.

    However, you say these causes could “very likely” be at work now (thus causing global warming), but what are you basing this on? Please show me what leads you to grant such a high probability.

    Basically, for this study to back up your case, you need to be able to refute the current evidence first and then use this to fill the gaps in our knowledge.

    In other words: CO2 emissions are clearly not the culprit as proved by A, what could be the cause of the warming? Hang on, this study shows in the past that B and C have increased global temperatures. There’s the answer! Brilliant!

    If you agree that global temperatures have risen, as have CO2 concentrations, as have CO2 emissions AND you understand that increased carbon dioxide contributes to the greenhouse effect, why are you so reluctant to connect the dots?

    Do you not think we should do something to lower our CO2 emissions and stop burning fossil fuels?

  5. Forget the “numerous studies” you began this comment with. I’m commenting only on the PETM study, which said that 1/3 of PETM warming could be explained by CO2, and that 2/3 of the warming (i.e. the vast majority of warming) resulted from unidentified processes.

    Based on this, it is rational to believe that natural processes which occured in the past could “very likely” be affecting global climate, even today. To the contrary, it WOULD be irrational to assume such natural processes are NOT working any more. Beyond this, there’s nothing more to show you.

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