Stages of Denial: ‘Glaciers have always grown and receded’–A few glaciers melting does not mean global warming

Objection: A few glaciers receding today is not proof of global warming. Glaciers have grown and receded differently in many times and places.

Answer: Firstly, it is more than “a few glaciers” that are receding; it is a pervasive, sustained, and accelerating global trend. The National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) maintains a chart of global glacier mass balance, and for as far back as their data allows us to look, all but a few years have shown a loss in ice volume of subpolar and mountain glaciers. Further, annual losses are increasing.

Global Glacier Mass Balance

But no one claims that melting glaciers are proof of global warming. Proof is a mathematical concept. In climate science one needs to look at the balance of evidence. The above data is just one piece of evidence that is consistent with global warming.

So what do we find if we look to the other aspects of the cryosphere? It turns out what we find is lots more evidence indicative of world-wide and sustained temperature increases:

And of course, this is all consistent with all the other evidence of warming out there. Clearly we are dealing with much more than a few receding glaciers.


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4 Responses to Stages of Denial: ‘Glaciers have always grown and receded’–A few glaciers melting does not mean global warming

  1. klem says:

    Yes it’s true the planet is warming and the glaciers are receding. This has been happening for the last 20k years, since the end of the last glaciation. There have been periods of rapid warming and rapid cooling during that time, but overall it is warmer today than 20k years ago. And it will likely continue to warm for centuries more before turning around and marching back to glacial times again. Surely you’re not suggesting that because we see warming today means there was not warming in the past. Or that somehow the pace of warming today has never happened before (often referred to as ‘unprecedented warming’). You know that neither of those are true.

    But you are implying that humans are responsible for today’s warming, and the evidence you provide is melting glaciers. However, you know full well that melting glaciers are merely evidence the earth’s climate changes only, they are not evidence that CO2 is the cause. That might have to be your next post.

  2. Citizen Harry says:

    Sigh, on the very most foundational level, there’s a thing called “Inferential Cognizing”. That means if you look down on a valley and see a cabin with smoke coming out of the chimney, you can “infer” that there is a 99.9% chance that there is a fire in the hearth without having to actually be inside. That being said, if you look at data concerning Co2 in the atmosphere in the Earth’s past, periodically you’ll see a correlation to global warming and then very shortly thereafter, an ice age.

    And in the past few articles, it’s pretty obvious that warming and cooling trends happen. As a matter of fact, I mentioned that in my last comment. However, what happens is that glaciers melt, perennial Arctic sea ice retreats (which since the satellite record started in 1978 is between 9 and 14% each decade) fresh water is returned to the oceans, currents in the ocean are disturbed, or worse yet, eventually completely halted. This causes a brief period of extreme heating, more precipitation, more fresh water in the oceans, followed by a dramatic shift to an ice age, and an extreme cooling that has happened in the past. We have evidence of that with tree ring research, fossils, and ice cores.

    So warming is the beginnings of a shift to an ice age. It seems that mother nature has her own way of making sure that the ice returns to stay.

    Of course humans are not solely responsible for warming or cooling trends. But Co2 is, through inferential cognizing, a red flag in a warming trend. Large natural levels can come from volcanoes, and mother nature balances it all back pretty darn quick with an ice age.

    The problem here, is that fossil fuels are polluting our environment with heavy metals, poisons, and atmospheric pollution such as high Co2 levels, sulpher dioxide, etc. Whether the planet is warming or not, it’s something that is killing us. Rather than picking apart the warning signs as being insignificant, we should take a look at the whole, and realize that we must live in harmony with nature. Then we will be more able to survive within the normal fluctuations in the natural world, and not add to them through our ignorance and greed.

    • klem says:

      “Rather than picking apart the warning signs as being insignificant, we should take a look at the whole, and realize that we must live in harmony with nature. ”

      But how do we do that, how do we live in harmony with nature?

      Nature is dangerous. The fact that we require shelter means that we must shut nature out in order to survive it. Living too close to nature will kill us in only a few days, so we build houses and build villages/cities. This shuts nature out and allows us to survive nature. So how do we live in harmony with nature when we need houses/villages to protect us from it?

  3. Citizen Harry says:

    Here’s a good example of western thinking. Klem says “We must shut nature out to survive it”… Are you completely unaware that simply the air you breathe makes you “part of nature”? Human beings like to think that they have some sort of inherent existence. That they are the center of the universe, and somehow apart from it. A house is built of natural elements, and is a part of nature also. Trees are an extension of your lungs. They create oxygen and absorb Co2. Your lungs absorb oxygen and emit Co2. It’s a simpatico relationship.

    So you see, we are already living in harmony with nature by the “nature” of our existence. Why anyone would be so ignorant as to consider themselves “outside” of nature is a shame. It’s just that sort of naive, or worse… coldhearted thinking that allows the less enlightened, more greedy and self-centered portion of the human race to shrug off pollution and things like Mountain Top Removal as being ok.

    In reality, the thing we need to protect ourselves from is not nature, but self-centered, greedy, usery by the uglier side of human beings. MTR is a crime scene.

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