Tom Fuller’s climate misdirection at WattsUpWithThat, Part II

Previously, Tom Fuller demonstrated why he isn’t a serious journalist by making a fool of himself on the issue of polar bears.Today, Fuller mixes it up with a little sea level rise (SLR) malarkey. I do love the little “Reality Wikipedia has a liberal climate alarmist bias” preface:

Wikipedia, which doesn’t always play fair when climate issues are discussed, has the chart everyone needs to see to provide perspective on sea level rise. Titled ‘Post Glacial Sea Level Rise, it shows a dramatic rise in sea levels that stopped dead 6,000 years ago and a very flat line since. You could balance a glass of water on the last 6,000 years of that graph.

So what? This means nothing without looking at the drivers of SLR over the same period. Assuming the best of Fuller and choosing to believe that he isn’t trying to be deliberately misleading, this is just a shocking demonstration of laziness or ignorance. SLR doesn’t just magically happen. The clear implication of Fuller’s reference in light of the rest of the post is: “SLR has basically flatlined since we melted out of the Last Glacial Maximum- what’s the big deal?” Of course, the big deal is that radiative forcing isn’t (and certainly won’t in the near future be) flat enough to “balance a glass of water on”. There is no reason to expect SLR to be either.

This hasn’t stopped the marketing gurus from trying to play to our ancestral horror stories and modern fears of flooding. Because there’s still enough ice left in Antarctica and Greenland to cause dramatic sea level rises, all they have to do is say that global warming will melt that ice and we’re in trouble. And so they do.

Fuller would have us believe that there is no actual basis for concern that the WAIS and GrIS could contribute to dramatic sea level rise. Any such claims are “hype” and not science:

Again, we are forced to separate the hype from the science. Remember that the IPCC projects sea level rise this century of 18-59 cm, unless dramatic loss of Greenland and/or Antarctic ice occurs. That’s from their AR4 report.

This isn’t actually what the AR4 says, though it’s not as screamingly wrong as some of Fuller’s other claims. The 18-59 cm range excludes any contribution from the GrIS and WAIS above the observed rate during 1993-2003. It doesn’t even assume a linear increase in their contribution alongside temperature increase- something that would increase the upper bound to 0.8m all by itself.

From the minute that AR4 was published, a string of papers, conferences, publicity events (such as parliamentary cabinet meetings held underwater) have been screaming from the headlines and news reports, drumming into us the message that dramatic loss of Greenland and/or Antarctic ice will in fact occur.

The audacity of researchers to continue working after the AR4! How dare they try to reduce the acknowledged uncertainty with regard to SLR by having conferences and publishing papers (a string of them even)? Have they no shame at all? And who do they think they’re fooling saying “that dramatic loss of Greenland and/or Antarctic ice will in fact occur”? Because this wasn’t explicitly included in the AR4 projections, we know that it can’t possibly occur- Q.E.D., no take-backs. Jeez!

Climate theory predicts that increased precipitation in the much larger middle of these ice caps will be in the form of snow, which will turn into ice and counterbalance some, most or all of the melt around the edges.

The “most or all” part is obviously where Fuller gets into trouble. This is a claim that he has made and failed to back up over at Michael Tobis’s, because a comprehensive look at the primary literature refutes it. There is a grain of truth to it, however. It was/is believed that Antarctica would accumulate snow in the interior due to increased precipitation. However, the possibility that Antarctica would still be a net source of SLR was certainly not ruled out. And moreover, the assertion that increased precipitation would result in an offset of “all” ice-sheet-related melt is simply, flatly unfounded.

It would take millenia [sic] to melt it all

Fuller picks up the goalposts of “dramatic loss of Greenland and/or Antarctic ice” and runs with them. Now we’re discussing melting every last bit of ice! My, oh my.

In the real world, nonlinear decay of ice sheets contributing to rapid, multimeter sea level rise on sub-millennial timescales is not only possible, it has already happened. Meltwater Pulse 1A (MWP-1A) is an event that took place ~14.6 thousand years ago involving sea level rise of ~20m in less than 500 years, with several meters of SLR coming from the Northern Hemisphere’s Laurentide Ice Sheet and the remainder from the Antarctic. The paleoclimatic evidence is unambiguous: dynamic ice sheet collapse is not a purely theoretical concern- it can and has happened. We have provisional observational evidence of the mechanisms that make such rapid collapses possible. As such they must be considered in any policy or economic analysis of mitigation. This isn’t environmentalist fearmongering, it’s how CBAs are done.

But even excluding hyper-abrupt events like MWP-1A, concern over 1 meter or more sea level rise is well-justified by the scientific evidence. Using a semiempirical approach to derive the relationship between SLR and temperature change, Vermeer and Rahmstorf find more realistic current (and in turn higher future) values than the IPCC numbers:

Projection of sea-level rise from 1990 to 2100, based on IPCC temperature projections for three different emission scenarios. The sea-level range projected in the IPCC AR4 for these scenarios is shown for comparison in the bars on the bottom right. Also shown is the observations-based annual global sea-level data (red) including artificial reservoir correction.

Fuller continues:

But, in a scenario that many will find sadly familiar, those with a political agenda have grabbed on to some straws, such as the GRACE studies we looked at yesterday, and are busy hyping possible mechanical changes to the ice sheets (which do happen) and are simultaneously trying to blame those mechanical changes on global warming. They hijacked the science and spun it. (It’s not the scientists–not in this case.)

Here Fuller refers to recent GRACE satellite studies showing that not only are the GrIS and WAIS showing net losses of ice, but that these losses are in fact accelerating- exhibiting exactly the kind of behavior that gives you SLR higher than the 18-59cm Fuller “believes in”. Predictably, Fuller doesn’t accept that evidence, despite its agreement with other sources of data, such as ICESat.

(While there has been no shortage of denialist keystrokes spent hyping a recent paper revising the net losses downward due to a revision in isostatic rebound numbers, the existence of the net negative mass balances and acceleration themselves remain unchallenged.)

In short, Fuller ignores the paleoclimatic and observational evidence that tells us that sea level rise under unchecked warming can receive significant contributions from the nonlinear decay of the Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheets- and exceed 1m or more- on sub-millennial timescales without either collapsing entirely.

When the evidence is alarming, to the uninformed those describing that evidence sound like alarmists.

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81 responses to “Tom Fuller’s climate misdirection at WattsUpWithThat, Part II

  1. Fuller misrepresenting the science…I’m shocked! ;)

    Did he point out to readers the range of the vertical scale in that Wikipedia SL graphic, or the time range on the horizontal axis for that matter? I’m guessing no…..

    FWIW ThingsBreak, thanks for the effort.

  2. “The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, it’s that they know so many things that just aren’t so.” — Mark Twain

    Fuller should take note because this quote is from a fellow writer. :)

  3. I was particularly struck by the fact that the previous post discussed warmth at the Eemian, without once mentioning that sea level was some 4 to 6 meters higher at the time. And then Fuller comes along and assures them that sea level can’t possibly rise in any bothersome way at all. Oh dear.

  4. Great post, Things, but you should amend it to make the distinction between the WAIS and EAIS. They have different histories, different current behavior and different expectations for future behavior. In his various discussions Fuller conflates the hell out of them.

  5. Bah. You say I’m screamingly wrong and don’t show the errors. You just don’t like my interpretations. If I thought for a minute you wouldn’t moderate me out of existence, I’d engage you on this. But I don’t trust you.

    Typical crap hatchet job. He’s screamingly wrong! Oh. Well, we don’t like him, that’s why.

    • Um…

      You sound- how can I put this politely?- a little predisposed to exaggerating criticism of your errors to a personal level.

      What would you like me to follow up on, exactly? Your pedestrian polar bear denialism? Your AR4 SLR bollocksing? Your misdirection WRT recent paleo-SLR vs. what it actually implies for the future? And on, and on, and on…

      Persecution-complex is a little old as a look. You took some stupid swings and you got called on some whiffs. Don’t confuse swinging the bat with making contact, let alone getting a hit.

  6. The point ignored by the denialists is that the ice in Greenland and Antarctica doesn’t have to melt in place like the land based ice does. All it has to do is slide into the sea and melt at leisure. It appears to be doing just that.

  7. On the new JPL/TU Delft paper about GRACE and melt, THIS COMMENT by Zinfan94, and THIS COMMENT by Robert at Tamino’s are very interesting.

  8. Let us be reminded that the mechanics of the Pine Island Glacier were understood 30 years ago, and the developments since have confirmed this understanding. This suggest that it is the climate change that has hijacked the glacier not that scientists have hijacked anything. We can also observe that our understanding of other glaciers Jakobshavn and Petermann have proved correct.

  9. Take a look in the conclusions of this paper of mine from 20 years ago. You will note some key thoughts on the mechanisms at work on Jakobshavn and now how it has played out, that meltwater is not the key to acceleration that it is the changing in backforce at the calving front. This is elaborated upon for Jakobshavn more recently.

  10. thingsbreak, why are you suddenly concerned with politeness now? Is it because this is your forum and so you feel the need to quit with the ad hominems and insults you so merrily participate in flinging around with your buddies dhogaza, sod and Steve Bloom? And where is Dano these days?

    And your characterization of what I write as ‘pedestrian’ or ‘swinging and missing’ is your own opinion, and the voices of shrill commenters who share your opinion just don’t make it so.

    I don’t feel persecuted. That would be attributing credibility and power to cretins. You people are ankle biters, that’s all.

  11. Polar bear populations have recovered somewhat from past lows thanks to international regulation of hunting. This fact has nothing to do with the danger presented to Polar Bears by loss of sea ice due to AGW. Anyone who conflates these two things is not honest.

    AR4 specifically excludes rapid dynamic losses of land ice because there were no credible estimates available at the time it was written. Since the, there have have been several studies estimating total SLR due to past warmings, and they all point to SLR of about 1 m by 2100, and continued rapid increases after that. Regardless of what the models predict, GRACE and IceSat have shown that ice loss around the edges of both Greenland and Antarctica have far exceeded snow accumulation in the center. Now, perhaps this is just due to the short period of time examined and not indicative of future trends, but I always find it curious that despite “skeptics” interest in invalidating model results based on insufficient or poor quality data, this fact conveniently misses their radar.

  12. Sorry that should be “rapid dynamic losses of (land) ice,” not sea ice.

    [Fixed. - TB]

  13. Yes. And as a journalist, I look for trusted sources with expertise that exceeds mine. I am not a scientist and although I have read a lot on the subject of climate change, I will never be a scientist.

    So it is critical for me to find sources who have a better understanding of the science, can communicate it to me, and are willing to engage in constructive back and forth to help me shape the messages I write for a general public.

    Which makes it a mortal pity that when I try and engage with people who claim such knowledge that I get sworn at, insulted and lied to, with people twisting what I write to make a political point. Because that sort of removes them from the candidate pool of people I will try and have a serious discussion with in the future.

    And that includes you.

    • Yes. And as a journalist, I look for trusted sources with expertise that exceeds mine.

      Really? So which experts on sea level rise, ice sheet dynamics, and polar bear biology/ecology did you contact for these “news articles”, Tom?

      If I were to consult with the leading experts in these fields, would they agree with your “news articles” that polar bears are not threatened by anthropogenic warming and that significant SLR (with dynamic ice sheet decay) is not a concern?

      when I try and engage with people who claim such knowledge that I get sworn at, insulted and lied to, with people twisting what I write to make a political point. Because that sort of removes them from the candidate pool of people I will try and have a serious discussion with in the future.

      And that includes you.

      Where have I “sworn at, insulted and lied to, …twist[ed] what [you] write to make a political point”, Tom? Pointing out that you just wrote two egregiously misleading “articles” is only an insult if you were trying to be accurate in the first place, no?

    • “So it is critical for me to find sources who have a better understanding of the science, can communicate it to me, and are willing to engage in constructive back and forth to help me shape the messages I write for a general public.”

      Mr. Fuller, this is exactly the point.

      So I did. And you turned around and wrote a top level article on WUWT which totally ignored everything I had just said on the exact subject. So this time it’s personal. I really did try to help you get some sense of where the community is on these things. You totally ignored it. That is not just gobsmackingly rude to me; it’s just as irresponsible to your readers. What’s more, I can’t see how it can be an honest mistake, since you replied to that piece several times, albeit with nitpicking. How can you write an article that same week that takes no account of it at all?

      On another occasion, you asked me to direct my readers to a poll of yours. I said I’d have to see it first. You sent it, and I saw that on the lead question my opinion could not be represented. (The only non-denial positions on offer were “I believe global warming is the crisis of this generation, and should be the highest priority for policy makers right now.” and “I think global warming is undoubtedly real and a serious problem, but I think it has been ‘overplayed’ by the press, politicians and some organisations.” neither of which represents my opinion.) I replied that the poll needed work, and you ignored me.

      So basically, you want people to feed you information, but then you filter it based on what is convenient for your immediate purposes. So you come up with a somewhat convincing position that, well, doesn’t seem entirely honest.

      Therefore, I am better off spending my time feeding whatever expert information I might have to my cat. At least she won’t abuse it; she’ll ignore all of it equally, which I find a better use of my efforts. And she won’t use the occasion to accuse me of being a PR agent of some political extremists or something.

  14. You people are ankle biters, that’s all.

    Absolutely, my dear sir! Especially those silly glaciologists, like Dr Pelto, who “just don’t like your interpretations” for the laughable reason that mechanisms of glacial dynamics they proposed decades ago have been borne out by subsequent observations. Science, they say! Humbug! Mr Fuller, we salute you; we’d be proud to have you write for us at Friends of Gin & Tonic.

  15. But okay, I will make a try here.

    CCE, you write that polar bears have recovered somewhat because of international regulation of hunting.

    Polar bears appear to have recovered spectacularly, quintupling their population (from a very hazy inferred census in the 60′s, no question about it).

    You say it is because of regulation of international hunting. And yet 1,000 polar bears are killed annually by hunting. The Nunavuk have called for the lifting of all hunting restrictions. People up there believe that the population has recovered–not is recovering.

    I looked at GRACE results recently. My takeaway (as a non-scientist who has not examined the Antarctic ice cap in any great detail) is this:

    GRACE reported ice loss from Eastern Antarctica of 57 GT per annum, with a margin of error of 52 GT. This to me is a red flag–not that they report an ice loss, but that the margin of error is as great as the result.

    The ice loss is extremely small. It amounts to less than 0.5% of the annual ice melt.

    Gravimeters from satellites are relatively new. We have already seen adjustments to ice calculations from satellite data collection. It seems to me that more studies of this sort are required, as well as better modeling of the land mass below the Antarctic ice cap.

    Okay, so fire away about how anti-science I am. …two, three, four…

    • The only thing I learned from Ross Perot is this: if you have a penny and make a penny, you’ve doubled your income. If you quintuple 5000 bears, you get 25,000 bears, which is, not a lot of bears. It also happens to be the low estimate of bears in the ’50s and ’60s compared to the high estimate today. Nice trick.

      Eastern Antarctica is not supposed to be losing any ice. It is supposed to be gaining ice. The new “reduced” estimates from Wu et al. shows 104, 101, and 64 GT annual losses per for Greenland, Alaska/Yukon, and West Antarctica annually. No East Antarctica figures are given in the abstract, but if it is half previous estimates, then that would be another 28 GT or so. Why don’t you check AR4 to see what they are “supposed” to be doing?

      http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v3/n9/full/ngeo938.html

      As an aside, if Wu et al’s numbers are accurate, that spells trouble for the “Argo shows no warming” crowd.

  16. Okay, we see how that went. So far, the only person on my go to list from your side of the fence is Verheggen. Have fun with your puppet shows for the converted.

    • Making references to climate science being a religions is not constructive Tom.

      And I strongly suspect that Bart does not approve of your latest ‘efforts’ at WUWT.

      Re your GRACE numbers, why single out the EAIS? Cherry pick much? Here is the full abstract from Chen et al. (2009):

      “Accurate quantification of Antarctic ice-sheet mass balance and its contribution to global sea-level rise remains challenging, because in situ measurements over both space and time are sparse. Satellite remote-sensing data of ice elevations and ice motion show significant ice loss in the range of −31 to −196 Gt yr−1 in West Antarctica in recent years1, 2, 3, 4, whereas East Antarctica seems to remain in balance or slightly gain mass1, 2, 4, with estimated rates of mass change in the range of −4 to 22 Gt yr−1. The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment5 (GRACE) offers the opportunity of quantifying polar ice-sheet mass balance from a different perspective6, 7. Here we use an extended record of GRACE data spanning the period April 2002 to January 2009 to quantify the rates of Antarctic ice loss. In agreement with an independent earlier assessment4, we estimate a total loss of 190±77 Gt yr−1, with 132±26 Gt yr−1 coming from West Antarctica. However, in contrast with previous GRACE estimates, our data suggest that East Antarctica is losing mass, mostly in coastal regions, at a rate of −57±52 Gt yr−1, apparently caused by increased ice loss since the year 2006.”

      The latest paper in Nature (Wu et al., 2010) has improve on the estimates for Greenland and WAIS by applying (allegedly) superior glacial isostatic adjustments to the data (time will tell if they got it right).

      Event the lower estimates of ice loss by Wu et al. (2010) for Greenland (-104 Gt/yr) are still greater than those reported ion AR4 for Greenland (-50 to -100 Gt/yr).

  17. Dear Tom,

    Please promise that if anyone disagrees with you at WFUWT or if they are “mean” to you or “insult” you, that you will no longer to post there or try to engage them.

    This is clearly a game for you to score points and get readership for xxx.examiner.xxx, nothing more; you have no interest in the real science. So please do not try and spin this tale that you are interested in informing the public. If you are honestly attempting to do so may I point out that you are failing hopelessly, and I would advise you to engage some real scientists and repeat verbatim what they say (no spin please) and in the correct context, and have them sign off on what you wrote before going to press….you know, like a good and honorable reporter would do.

    Then again, why would any reputable scientists want to try have a ‘serious’ discussion with someone like you who is so ignorant of the science, who is disinterested in the science, who distorts the science, who misinforms on the science.

    TB and others have made some valid scientific critique of your articles at WUWT here, yet you ignore it on the juvenile premise that “they are mean to me, so I am not going to listen”. And please, do not lecture us or “morals”, your track record clearly makes that laughable coming from you of all people.

    By your bizarre logic, because all my supervisors have been “mean” to me (they were not always polite and had the gaul to sometimes even say that I was wrong damnit!), and because some of the reviewers of my papers have been “mean” to me (change this, do that, add this, take that out– nag nag nag), I should not engage them or take their critique seriously.

    In reality, I have learnt a hell of a lot about science and research from those (sometimes) terse exchanges and I would have been a fool to sulk and walk away and say, “I am only going to listen and/or do what they ask if they are nice”.

    By God, you honestly do have no bloody idea how science works mate.

    Now run off and post this somewhere else out of context of course to show people just how “mean” we scientists are.

  18. Maple Leaf, I’m not your mate. If you don’t want people to talk about global warming as a religion, quit acting like an acolyte.

    Blah, blah, Fuller’s a bad guy, WUWT is actually WFUWT, Fuller’s ignorant, and not… one… word… of anything wrong in my comment to CCE.

    Typical, Maple Leaf. Typical.

    • and not… one… word… of anything wrong in my comment to CCE.

      Oh, I’ll get to that eventually if no one else does. But I’m still waiting for your answers to my questions:

      So which experts on sea level rise, ice sheet dynamics, and polar bear biology/ecology did you contact for these “news articles”, Tom?

      If I were to consult with the leading experts in these fields, would they agree with your “news articles” that polar bears are not threatened by anthropogenic warming and that significant SLR (with dynamic ice sheet decay) is not a concern?

    • “If you don’t want people to talk about global warming as a religion…”

      Tom, here’s an elevation map of the Greenland bedrock (the one to the right).

      You said, “The bulk of Greenland’s ice cap sits in a basin that the ice itself helped to create. It isn’t going anywhere.”

      The ice is 2.5km thick on average. Sure you’re not the one showing the faith? Looks to me like an awful lot of ice, in fact the vast majority, could be going somewhere indeed.

  19. Let me get this straight; I’m a layman so bear with me. Nature Geoscience, one of the top scientific journals on the planet, publishes a paper saying there is accelerated ice mass loss from the Anarctic. “….we estimate a total loss of 190plusminus77 Gt yr-1.” Because the journal is Nature we can assume that the authors were fully qualified and vetted and the statistical math used was also triple checked and vetted.

    Tom Fuller, based upon his degree in what, his biography is not available, is somehow qualified to dispute the findings of a Nature article with a few sentences on a blog? If Tom has the bones he should write his own journal article, submit it to Nature and other relevant journals and throw them down. Of course, he won’t do that because, like Anthony Watts, his real goal is to sow doubt and distrust of the scientific process.

    That’s not reporting; that’s advertising.

  20. Dear Thomas Fuller,

    We are note mates? Thank God for that….

    Please read my posts made on GRACE etc. following the post you predictably took offense to.

    And if you think WUWT does real, honest science, then it is clear why we have an issue communicating.

    As for me allegedly being an “acolyte” (hmm, you sound remarkably like McIntyre referring to “James Hansen and his disciples have a more jihadist approach”)– that is laughable Tom. I question and critique the science every day, it is part of my job. Now I can see that that may seem an extreme position to someone like you who believes that climate scientists behave badly.

    If you want to see people behaving like acolytes, then just peruse the comments at WUWT. Surely you are not so blinded by your bias as to be incapable of seeing that?

    Anyhow, could you please elaborate on exactly how I am , in your eyes at least, an ‘acolyte’. It may help you to know that I do not cater to any ‘religion’ whether it be perceived or real.

    Have a delightful weekend.

  21. TB,

    What are your thoughts on the information provided on the Polar Bear here:

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/09/11/nissan-leaf-polar-bear-ad-global-warming/#more-33025

    As for the ad, not sure how I feel about that….

    • Just skimming, it mostly tracks what I’ve read- though some of it is news to me. I think the last estimate on population trends I read was from ’06, which basically showed a wash (some expanding, some shrinking, others without enough data).

      The entire concept of comparing A) a severe overharvesting and regrowth from that due to regulation to B) projected impacts on population due to deteriorating environmental factors in the future is simply asinine. It’s not even apples to oranges- it’s apples to some non-fruit entirely. Perhaps equally idiotic is to claim that a group that harvests an animal is a reliable expert on their population dynamics. Canadian cod and bluefin tuna fishermen denied (and some still do) there was ever a need to have limits/moratoria on their catches, despite all evidence to the contrary.

  22. Re polar bears, I am no expert. But could one hypothesis be for the “increase in numbers” be that given the clear trend towards longer ice free seasons in the Arctic that more bears are gravitating towards human settlements for food, thereby creating the impression amongst people in the North that the numbers are up. You know “We see more bears now than we did X years ago?”.

    Just wondering….

  23. If in doubt , go to the experts:

    http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/22823/0

    I quote:

    “Polar bears rely almost entirely on the marine sea ice environment for their survival so that large scale changes in their habitat will impact the population (Derocher et al. 2004). Global climate change posses a substantial threat to the habitat of polar bears. Recent modeling of the trends for sea ice extent, thickness and timing of coverage predicts dramatic reductions in sea ice coverage over the next 50?100 years (Hassol 2004). Sea ice has declined considerably over the past half century. Additional declines of roughly 10?50% of annual sea ice are predicted by 2100. The summer sea ice is projected to decrease by 50?100% during the same period. In addition the quality of the remaining ice will decline. This change may also have a negative effect on the population size (Derocher et al. 2004). The effects of sea ice change are likely to show large differences and variability by geographic location and periods of time, although the long term trends clearly reveal substantial global reductions of the extent of ice coverage in the Arctic and the annual time frames when ice is present.

    While all bear species have shown adaptability in coping with their surroundings and environment, polar bears are highly specialized for life in the Arctic marine environment. Polar bears exhibit low reproductive rates with long generational spans. These factors make facultative adaptation by polar bears to significantly reduced ice coverage scenarios unlikely. Polar bears did adapt to warmer climate periods of the past. Due to their long generation time and the current greater speed of global warming, it seems unlikely that polar bear will be able to adapt to the current warming trend in the Arctic. If climatic trends continue polar bears may become extirpated from most of their range within 100 years.

    There is little doubt that polar bears will have a lesser AOO, EOO and habitat quality in the future. However, no direct relation exists between these measures and the abundance of polar bears. While some have speculated that polar bears might become extinct within 100 years from now, which would indicate a population decrease of >50% in 45 years based on a precautionary approach due to data uncertainty. A more realistic evaluation of the risk involved in the assessment makes it fair to suspect population reduction of >30%.

    Other population stress factors that may also operate to impact recruitment or survival include toxic contaminants, shipping, recreational viewing, oil and gas exploration and development. In addition to this comes a potential risk of over-harvest due to increased quotas, excessive quotas or no quotas in Canada and Greenland and poaching in Russia.”

    Nope , no reason to be concerned folks, please do move on ‘alarmists’…..(sarc).

  24. More hand waving. Bjorn Lomborg has been right about polar bears for over a decade. If you are concerned about them, quit shooting them.

    And I’m sure it really must bug you that Lomborg was right. But you know? I don’t care. He was.

    • Still waiting on those answers, Tom. You seem to have plenty of time to answer other posts.

      So which experts on sea level rise, ice sheet dynamics, and polar bear biology/ecology did you contact for these “news articles”, Tom?

      If I were to consult with the leading experts in these fields, would they agree with your “news articles” that polar bears are not threatened by anthropogenic warming and that significant SLR (with dynamic ice sheet decay) is not a concern?

      Edited to add: And really? Lomborg was “right”? Lomborg used selective quotations from reports that actually concluded the opposite of what he did. He took the passage: “It is difficult to envisage the survival of polar bears as a species given a zero summer sea-ice scenario. Their only option would be a terrestrial summer lifestyle similar to that of brown bears, from which they evolved. In such a case, competition, risk of hybridization with brown bears and grizzly bears, and increased interactions with people would then number among the threats to polar bears.” And claimed that polar bears would be fine because they could simply live like brown bears: “The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment finds it likely that disappearing ice will make polar bears take up ‘a terrestrial summer lifestyle similar to that of brown bears, from which they evolved.’” He completely removed the context that this change would present further threats to polar bears, rather than a happy alternative as he contended.

      Please. Using fake or pseudo-experts- like Lomborg on polar bears instead of the relevant experts in the field- is a hallmark of science denialism, Tom.

    • So you disagree with the IUCN’s assessment. Why am I not surprised….

    • Tom Fuller’s not interested in knowledge, but for those who are …

      More hand waving. Bjorn Lomborg has been right about polar bears for over a decade. If you are concerned about them, quit shooting them.

      Yes, they are still hunted, however hunting has been strongly regulated.

      It’s the same story with cougars in the western US. For decades they were subjected to unregulated hunting and organized efforts to kill them out of most of their range. Numbers got extremely low.

      Then, with a change in understanding of the role of predators in ecosystems, and a corresponding change in attitude, cougars were reclassified and unregulated hunting and predator control efforts were replaced with a regulated hunt regime designed to allow their numbers to rebound.

      And rebound they did.

      Same with polar bears. Where habitat is adequate, a controlled hunt can be maintained and used to increase, stabilize, or decrease numbers as biologists who set quotas choose.

      However, the point that Lomborg and Fuller miss, is that if habitat disappears, bears disappear.

      The fact that 1000 bears a year are harvested is meaningless.

      I can harvest timber sustainably as long as the land remains in timber. Replace a timber stand with a shopping megamall, and no timber is left for harvest.

      It’s as simple as that. Fuller, of course, is blind to it.

      Mapleleaf:

      Re polar bears, I am no expert. But could one hypothesis be for the “increase in numbers” be that given the clear trend towards longer ice free seasons in the Arctic that more bears are gravitating towards human settlements for food, thereby creating the impression amongst people in the North that the numbers are up. You know “We see more bears now than we did X years ago?”.

      Just wondering….</blockquote

      No, the increase is real.

  25. thingsbreak, why should I engage with you? You have not given any hint of honesty or good intentions. I admit, neither has Maple Leaf, but even so. What possible reason have you given me to engage with you?

    • These are simple questions, Tom:

      So which experts on sea level rise, ice sheet dynamics, and polar bear biology/ecology did you contact for these “news articles”, Tom?

      If I were to consult with the leading experts in these fields, would they agree with your “news articles” that polar bears are not threatened by anthropogenic warming and that significant SLR (with dynamic ice sheet decay) is not a concern?

    • Fuller, “thingsbreak, why should I engage with you?”

      For the same reasons I and others engage people who critique our science. Stop making lame excuses Tom.

      Also, can I point out the blatant hypocrisy of you accusing others of not having honorable intentions (unsubstantiated accusation I might add)– doing so is also a red herring and straw man argument.

      Just answer the questions Tom, otherwise people will rightly assume that you did not consult polar bear experts or experts on sea-level rise. You have been given a fair opportunity to do so…yet you refuse. Truly bizarre.

  26. I agree with you. Those are simple questions. So is mine.

    • Those are simple questions

      I’m so glad you agree. I’ll restate them at the end of this response then.

      So is mine.

      What possible reason have you given me to engage with you?

      Sure- it’s in your best interests to answer the questions, because otherwise people will assume that your failure to answer is an answer in the negative. The only possible reason not to answer is that your answer will contradict your earlier characterization of what it is you do, and everyone knows that. So there’s no benefit in hiding from the questions- doing so is an answer all its own. But I like to think the best of people, so I assume that you will answer, and will do so in a way that reassures everyone that you’re a genuine journalist, who seeks to inform his readers as accurately as possible, and who does so by contacting relevant experts.

      So which experts on sea level rise, ice sheet dynamics, and polar bear biology/ecology did you contact for these “news articles”, Tom?

      If I were to consult with the leading experts in these fields, would they agree with your “news articles” that polar bears are not threatened by anthropogenic warming and that significant SLR (with dynamic ice sheet decay) is not a concern?

    • Because there are enough of us who can post the same questions onto every climate blog on earth when you start your advertising and prevarication act.

  27. It’s rather odd that Tom Fuller doesn’t have any citations to scientific papers backing his claim when a simple Google:Scholar search on the string “polar bears climate” returns 16,500 results. Try it yourself.

    Instead there is some hand waving claim that Bjorn Lomborg covers that when a) Bjorn Lomborg is noted for making a recent 180 degree reversal on climate change and b) Lomborg’s claims about polar bears were thoroughly debunked, with cites, on Climate Progress as well as elsewhere.

    Tom Fuller apparently has no ammunition except a very tired gish gallop.

  28. Sorry, folks–massive fail. People who have already insulted and harangued me will insult and harangue me if I don’t play their game? Never mind.

    • Seriously? Tom, I believe that you have enough integrity not to take the coward’s way out. You can do it. You’re a journalist, aren’t you? Your goal is to inform your audience and be accurate, right? And to do this, you contact relevant experts rather than just regurgitate half- and non-truths that anyone off the street could write, yes? Just two, extremely simple questions that arose directly from claims you made about yourself and your work.

      So which experts on sea level rise, ice sheet dynamics, and polar bear biology/ecology did you contact for these “news articles”, Tom?

      If I were to consult with the leading experts in these fields, would they agree with your “news articles” that polar bears are not threatened by anthropogenic warming and that significant SLR (with dynamic ice sheet decay) is not a concern?

      • Tom, I believe that you have enough integrity not to take the coward’s way out. You can do it. You’re a journalist, aren’t you?

        What evidence is there that Tom Fuller is a trained journalist?

        This reminds me of people talking about “Dr. Watts” until it was discovered he only has a high school diploma …

  29. Fuller’s game: f3 e5 g4 Qh4.

  30. ThingsBreak,

    I’m going to call this– Tom has had ample opportunity to answer your fair and reasonable questions.

    Tom did not consult with experts on SLR and polar bears…talk about playing games and loose with the facts. That said, he is probably now frantically trying to find an expert who does support his point of view (opinion).

    Yet another massive fail for Thomas. It is no wonder that the “skeptics” have a massive credibility problem.

    You know Watts had to find someone to fill Goddard’s shoes, and I honestly didn’t think anyone else was up to the task of mangling the science and facts like Goddard does…well, I was wrong. Congrats Tom.

    • I’m not jumping to conclusions. Tom has the opportunity to show his integrity. He’ll do the right thing, because he has nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not like he passed himself off as something he’s not. It’s not like he believes that his “reporting” would be refuted by the experts of the very subjects he’s “informing” his readers about. That’s why he’ll answer in a way that completely validates his claims about what exactly it is that he does as a “journalist”. I’m sure that my confidence in Tom is justified, which is why he’s going to answer these questions instead of hiding like a child who has been caught in a fib:

      So which experts on sea level rise, ice sheet dynamics, and polar bear biology/ecology did you contact for these “news articles”, Tom?

      If I were to consult with the leading experts in these fields, would they agree with your “news articles” that polar bears are not threatened by anthropogenic warming and that significant SLR (with dynamic ice sheet decay) is not a concern?

  31. It’s interesting that Fuller claims that he will still engage with Bart (of whom I have a very favorable opinion), yet when presented with the opportunity in the thread in question, appears not to. If he answered the question, “On the basis of what exactly do you dismiss the multiple recent studies that point to likely rates of sea level rise of one meter (+/- 0.5 or so) up to 2100 (and continuing thereafter btw)?” could someone please let me know? I didn’t see anything. Thanks.

  32. “You know Watts had to find someone to fill Goddard’s shoes, and I honestly didn’t think anyone else was up to the task of mangling the science and facts like Goddard does…well, I was wrong. Congrats Tom.”

    Great big clown shoes.

  33. Thingsbreak – I like your approach. It is sharply focused and ignores the ‘noise’. I recall Arthur Smith using the same approach with Kramm on Revkins blog a while back. It is very effective and, to my way of thinking, reflects the scientific approach. Hopefully Tom will calm down, think about this, and learn.

  34. Did Fuller ever actually write that he personally had contacted experts recently on this particular question?

    Often when I look up some detail it turns out he’s asserted his memory of his impression of something he gathered second hand from somewhere that claimed it was based on what some expert said, often years ago.

    He may be sincere in his “click me, click me now” misinformation.

  35. Well, well…the plot thickens. This from Michael Tobis:

    “The point is not only that Fuller is wrong, which he is, and woefully so. The point is that I made an honest effort to communicate. Fuller demonstrably had enough information to write an article based on evidence, as he had read up on the actual evidence here.

    It’s well known that people will see what they want to see and disregard the rest. It’s a shame when someone decides to make doing that their life’s work, though. A real, crying shame.”

  36. And then Fuller accuses MT of censoring his posts. Ron Broberg then explains to Fuller what happened, nothing nefarious or censorship of course….but no apology or retraction from Fuller…yet.

    Fuller remains a man without honor.

  37. PS, I’d suggest that if Mr. Fuller doesn’t come up with sources, and people do “post the same questions onto every climate blog on earth when you start your advertising and prevarication” — do include a link back to this topic so people know what “news articles” are lacking citations, and if Mr. Fuller does post good sources, they will be easy to find.

    “Opposition is true friendship.”
    — William Blake

    • Pretty much anything Fuller posts is subject to the same two questions:

      So which experts on INSERT SUBJECT did you contact for these “news articles”, Tom?

      If I were to consult with the leading experts in these fields, would they agree with your “news articles” INSERT FULLER CLAIM HERE.

  38. Petermann Ice Island – Now There Are Two
    http://www.science20.com/chatter_box/petermann_ice_island_now_there_are_two

    “Petermann Ice Island (2010) has now broken into two parts.
    [...]
    The importance of the Petermann Glacier calving to climate science is not so much that it happened, but that it was predicted to happen. Quite a few predictions were made by people working independently as individuals or groups and using different techniques for prediction.
    [...]
    The incontestable fact that the calving was predicted using the scientific method – and that it happened – is a public demonstration of the power of science to predict the future. This evidence of the validity of the scientific method should be enough to convince any rational person that when climate scientists from the world’s nations agree that the world’s climate is changing, then it is changing.”

  39. In case you haven’t noticed: You are dealing with Homo S “Sapiens”. Many, if not most, employ their reasoning skills to evade reason and sapience. What counts is Ego, not some theoretic reality outside the head. Cogito ergo sum…

  40. So is one of them now Mann Ice Island? Don’t tell the denialists! :)

  41. Tom Fuller:

    What possible reason have you given me to engage with you?

    I give you three now: A) we are your audience as much as those reading your paid work. B) Your reputation is at stake here, once the question has been asked. C) Your silence will be interpreted as concession.

  42. Just so everyone is clear on these points, I’ll take this opportunity to lay out in a non-confrontational manner my understanding of the basic ice sheet issues:

    1) There really isn’t much in the way of “theory” in terms of decadal expectations of ice sheet behavior. What we have are projections of behavior based on observations. If we had a theory, we’d have a working model, although lots of people are working hard on this problem and there may be useful results in the next few years.

    2) As Mauri says, acceleration of ice discharge from the WAIS and GIS were expected with warming temperatures, although the pace at which this process has accelerated has been an unpleasant surprise.

    3) There was no expectation of a significant ice discharge from the EAIS, to say nothing of an overall negative mass balance. There is no longer an expectation that the EAIS will remain largely intact in the near term no matter what happens to the GIS and WAIS.

    4) The obvious process by which warmer air carries more moisture and thus generates more snow on the ice sheets has long been known, and in the absence of data about accelerating ice discharge was for many years the basis for assuming that the ice sheets would not contribute significantly to sea level rise in the near future, and more likely would gain mass. In the face of the evidence, no qualified person thinks this any more (although perhaps this is the “theory” to which Fuller refers).

    5) Looking at the net contributions from the ice sheets is confusing. The thing to focus on is the rapid rate of increase of ice discharge, as it can overwhelm any increase of snow accumulation. This is why the situation with the EAIS is so alarming even though one study’s mass balance upper error bar is still close to zero.

    6) Re the GIS, it’s not so much that it’s sitting in a basin that keeps it from a rapid collapse as that it is constrained narrow outlets. Even so, it’s been calculated to be capable of ~2 meters of discharge this century.

    7) Much of the WAIS is vulnerable to a fast collapse due to being grounded below sea level where warm water can undermine it. This process has already begun, and it’s unknown is how quickly it will proceed. A paper published last week provided proof that at least the below-grade portions are vulnerable to loss in interglacial conditions. This means that a collapse can proceed very quickly indeed.

    8) The forcing being applied to the ice sheets is completely unnatural, i.e. there’s no paleoclimatic analog. Lacking any observations of how ice sheets behave under that degree of stress, it’s not clear that the forthcoming models will be able to accurately capture their behavior. As they say in the business world, doubling it and adding one is probably the safe way to estimate.

    9) Given the lags in the system, the ice sheets will still be largely intact well after they’re committed to collapse. Maybe there will be time to save at least part of the EAIS after it becomes obvious that the GIS and WAIS are going, but maybe not. I don’t know that our descendants will appreciate us having taken that gamble.

    Fuller can choose to benefit from this, or not.

    Mauri, please correct any errors.

  43. TB – I’m impressed by your consistent desire to treat Mr Fuller as a reasonable journalist who engages in reasonable journalistic activities. It is disappointing that so far Mr Fuller has not responded in kind.

    What evidence is there that Tom Fuller is a trained journalist?
    It seems as though Mr Fuller began a degree in journalism and anthropology but did not complete it.

  44. I’m just a layman who avidly follows global warming news and blogs like RC, Climate Progress, etc. Haven’t been to Things Break before but I will definitely be back. Just spent the last hour or so reading several of the posts, including this one, and the quality of the content and comments are very very high. Feel like I got a lot of up-to-date, useful information. And the take-down of Fuller in the comments was positively entertaining. I was actually laughing as I read how things were unfolding. Great blog, keep up the good work.

  45. From the quality of Fuller’s output I am forced to conclude that he is not competent in sourcing real, professional scientific reference material. I also find his prose mundane, at best, considering that he is a paid journalist.

    From the petulant demeanour and the evasive responses that Fuller evidences here, and on other sites where his pseudoscience has been challenged, I also believe that Fuller is possessed of a glass jaw.

    He might think that he is a player on the central stage of climatology, but all I see is an usher who shines the torch into the eyes of the audience as he leads them to knock their shins on every row of seats past which he ‘guides’ them.

    These are my own simple observations, based on the best evidence that is the curiously assinine basket of Fuller’s offerings here and elsewhere.

    Of course, Fuller could instantly prove my assessment wrong by pointing to the primary scientific data upon which he bases his various claims about anthropogenic global warming.

  46. I don’t think the science comprehension of the denialists is enough to even explain why once land-based ice breaks off and is floating, the sea level rise is already occurring – in the sense that you won’t get any more rise out of the phase change.

    Hint: it’s the thing the self-proclaimed climatologist Tim Ball got wrong.

  47. MapleLeaf: Fuller’s on record that checking quotes with sources is not how the journalism game is played.

    Bernard J.: Which is why he’s not a journalist at all in my book.

    None of our professional societies have any teeth though (I’ve been in SPJ and IRE and a couple of state and specialty societies). Journalists aren’t professionals in the same sense lawyers, doctors, etc. are – they don’t mostly pick their clients, they’re not mostly peer-regulated or certified – what they are in the modern context is employees, by and large. Freelancers are contractors. Nothing like decertification or disbarment exists and there are no tests to pass. Even J-School, often renamed “Communications” nowadays, doesn’t help much, though it’s one more thing to check off.

    Therefore, all you can really do about a bad apple is distance yourself from them. And an entire rotten barrel like, e.g., Pajamas Media or xxx.examiner.com, ditto.

  48. Steve: Good list -There has been an expectation that the EAIS would lose volume due to its connection with the WAIS particularly via the Foundation Ice Stream feeding into the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf. If that ice shelf is lost reduced buttressing can drawdone that sector of the EAIS. There is an area just past the end of the Transantarctic Mountains where the grounded portion of the WAIS and the EAIS meet, any lowering of the WAIS in this area lowers the divide and would lower the EAIS. In addition it has long been felt that the Amery Ice Shelf drainage would also respond.

  49. Pingback: Website News « Wott's Up With That?

  50. Pingback: Tom Fuller and Malaria – A Case Study of Denialism and the Backfire Effect | The Way Things Break

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