Many news articles and reports about global warming around the Internet are simply misleading, for they only give you half the picture. Take the following leader from a recent MSN page as an example:-
” Warming to Cause Catastrophic Rise in Sea Level?
A recent Nature study suggested that Greenland’s ice sheet will begin to melt if the temperature there rises by 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit). That is something many scientists think is likely to happen in another hundred years. The complete melting of Greenland would raise sea levels by 7 metres (23 feet). But even a partial melting would cause a one-metre (three-foot) rise. Such a rise would have a devastating impact on low-lying island countries, such as the Indian Ocean’s Maldives, which would be entirely submerged. Densely populated areas like the Nile Delta and parts of Bangladesh would become uninhabitable, potentially driving hundreds of millions of people from their land.”
As it stands, the leader has one fatal flaw – it makes no mention of the Antarctic!
We cannot simply divorce the Arctic (Greenland) from the Antarctic, and speak of them as completely separate entities. They are both on the same planet – ours – are both affected by global warming, and are melting at approximately the same rate.
This means that any figures you see that refer to Greenland alone, you should automatically double to get the real picture.
Now lets take a more detailed look at the article to see how it stands up in other respects.
“A recent Nature study suggested”
The word “suggest” is commonly used in reporting to indicate a lack of certainty, for this is some legal protection for the article’s publisher. However, as it was published in “Nature”, it is quite likely to have been peer reviewed, and the author must have had convincing reasons for writing it in the first place. We should therefore take the content of the article seriously.
“Ice sheet will begin to melt”
Glaciers are on the move already, and their rate of movement is increasing. It is unclear where the demarcation line between ‘glaciers’ and ‘ice sheet’ lies. We could reasonably infer that the ice sheet is melting already.
“In another hundred years”
Only a year ago, the phrase being used was slightly different – ‘in another thousand years’. In a very short space of time, it has shrunk to 1/10th of its former value. While it is clear that nobody knows exactly how long it will take, the timescale will continue to shrink, as we are still doing the same things that caused the problem in the first place, and more of them.
“Even a partial melting”
Partial means anything less than the whole, and could mean a rise in sea levels of from 1 cm to 6m 99cm, and still be true. The chosen example of 1 metre appears to be random, and don’t forget that it should be doubled to 2 metres anyway, and our actual maximum within this timescale should be 14 metres (46 ft), and not 7 metres.
A 14-metre rise in sea levels will cause worldwide devastation, with many major population centres completely submerged, low-lying countries and islands either submerged or severely reduced in area, huge tracts of arable land taken out of circulation, and a massive refugee problem of unheard-of proportions!
The second aspect of the problem with no mention of the Antarctic, is that the amount of water stored there as ice is considerably more than that stored in Greenland. If all of that ice melts, and we must assume that by this time all mountain glaciers have long since disappeared, we will be confronted with a total sea-level rise of about 75 metres.
As always, we need to read every article on this matter very critically.
The foregoing may appear to be unduly pessimistic to some readers. However, we know that the IPCC reports are deliberately tailored to produce an outcome that is “acceptable” to governments, and thus in all probability do not represent the full danger of our situation. The same is true of the media to a great extent, but for different reasons, and anything we read should be suspected of not revealing the whole truth. Furthermore, we know that some governments deliberately suppress accurate information, and feed us watered-down versions with the intention to mislead.
My own interpretation is that the whole truth will be a global catastrophe, and that the devastation will come faster than anybody is expecting. I just hope that there is somebody out there that can prove me wrong!