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back to article Ice sheets may stabilise for centuries, regardless of warming

Ice sheets retreating due to global warming often suddenly stabilise for "decades to centuries" no matter that the warming is still going on, scientists have found. The new research would seem likely to have an impact on forecasts seeking to predict sea-level rise in coming times. Boffins at Cambridge, Durham and Sheffield …

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So Lewis Page is telling us that ice sheets may stop retreating despite the climate change that Lewis Page doesn't think is happening?

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It is unfortunate that we have a one-sided bias on the articles about this on hear, but have you ever heard a lawyer in court?

"My client did not kill Mr Smith as he was in another country. But *IF* he had, there could have been no motive. There was also evidence that he bore no malice to Mr Smith. There was also no weapons found . Even if Mr Smith had the knife that the learned gentleman says was present, there was no way the injuries were consistent, and Mr Smith was also left-handed, and had provably damaged his hand bowling the night before. And even if my client *had* killed Mr Smith, by Mr Smith's own admission he was holding a gun, so it would have been self-defence."

If you want to defeat someone's argument, the true scientist (not claiming Mr Page is one!) will approach things from all angles and cover every point, several times over. "I don't believe climate change is happening, but let's ASSUME it is - look, the ice sheets still don't just disappear as predicted" is perfectly valid and non-hypocritical.

That's what actually makes me read the Page articles - I'm sure what started me off was one on wind-farms where a bunch of people broke down the costs of them and went to EXTREMES like assuming wind-turbines were 100% efficient, and we could plant millions of them for free, and we could blanket the whole of the UK, and we had no cable losses, and we have seven centuries of gale-force winds, and... and... and... still it wasn't practical to deploy them. That's how you do it.

Resting your argument SOLELY on "I don't believe climate change happens" is silly. What you do is hold an opinion on each piece of the puzzle - I don't believe climate change is happening, I don't believe it's man-made, if it is I don't believe we can do much to prevent it that isn't WORSE for humanity, if it happens it won't be as bad as predicted, if the temperature rises we won't see sea-level rises, if the sea-level rises we won't necessarily turn into Waterworld, even if we do the consequences may not be as dire as we think, etc. etc. etc.

Only a fool bases their argument against something on a singly-held belief when there's no unanimously accepted evidence either way, because if they are wrong their whole belief collapses. Whereas if the person above was wrong, say, in JUST that temperature rises won't cause sea-level rises (for instance), the rest of his argument (and beliefs) are still perfectly valid and STILL need to be countered in order to say he's an idiot.

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*here, obviously.

I have a tendency to type a word that my brain has lined up for later in the sentence if it sounds similar to the one I'm actually typing.

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@spoddyhalfwit

my reading of a multitude of Lewis Page articles isn't that warming isn't happening, it's that the warming is not accelerating uncontrollably, and that the consequences of warming might be neither imminent nor catastrophic as is claimed by some theories.

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Re: @spoddyhalfwit

That's the impression I came with after reading them too.

But still the most important question in my mind is "What is the impact of the FIX that you're proposing?" If we're all about to drown, what do you want to do about it and what impact will THAT have (i.e. stop using oil = millions die, or what?).

Everyone focuses on the first few parts of the equation but should equally be looking at solutions NOW as if those nutters with no evidence are right. Because it might just be the case that one day we say "Okay, you were right and we were wrong. What are we going to do about it?" and there's lots of blank faces and realisation that 50+ years of arguing about it has completely failed to come up with a solution that's less drastic than the thing we're supposed to be preventing.

Which is another reason that nobody should focus on "Is the climate warming?" (which is a hugely loaded question open to lots of interpretation) when in fact it is, it's synthetic, it's measurable, it's detrimental, the knock-on effects are huge and STILL we don't know what to do about it.

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FAIL

"Ice sheets retreating due to global warming often suddenly stabilise"

"It would seem that current predictions of sea level rises to be expected on a given timescale with a given amount of global warming will need to be revised - downwards."

You appear to have got from "often" to "will".

Please give it a rest, before you bleed dry dry the rest of this publication's journalistic integrity for the sake of a personal crusade.

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The more we know...

The more we realise how much we didn't know when dire predictions for the immanent heat death of the planet were being forecast and taken seriously during the 90s and the early part of this century. No snow in winter in the UK, warmer drier summers in the UK, sea level rise measured in meters, *both* polar ice caps melting away, glaciers vanishing (Kilimanjaro as the poster child), even the original predictions of century scale 4-6c rise in temps is currently thought to have been wildly inaccurate.

Global warming is happening, and we need to do something about our CO2 emissions, but, frankly, both sides in this debate have their fair share of extremists, and *none* of them have done us any favours in working out what we should be doing, and over what sort of timescales.

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Holmes

The Strange Case of the Effect-Less Cause?

"Ice sheets retreating due to global warming often suddenly stabilise for "decades to centuries" no matter that the warming is still going on, scientists have found. "

Oh. So basically what we are hearing is that global warming is still really really happening, its very scary and will destroy the planet if we don't plant more windmills but it wont actually have any effect on anything?

Elementary my dear Watson...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Strange Case of the Effect-Less Cause?

Sherlock needs to do a little more deducing...the study showed that one particular ice stream slowed under particular circumstances 13000 years ago, Lewis is extrapolating this to mean that most or all will do the same over the next 100, it's a hopeless logic fail that simply doesn't support his conclusion.

in this case it's all alimentary my dear Watson...

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Coat

Re: The Strange Case of the Effect-Less Cause?

Sherlock and Watson approach a locked door, without pausing Sherlock squirts the door with weak citric acid and the door is unlocked!

Watson asks "how did you do that Holmes?"

Holmes replies "Lemon-entry, my dear Watson"

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The Strange Case of the End Of The World As We Know It

Were there any more of these?

Watson: 1 Across. A simple source of citrus fruit, 1, 5, 4.

Holmes: A lemon tree, my dear Watson.

Watson: 2 Down. Conservative pays ex-wife maintenance. 7, 5.

Holmes: Alimony...alimony Tory, my dear Watson.

Watson: 2 Down. Southern California style. 1, 2, 8.

Holmes: A la Monterrey, my dear Watson.

Watson: 4 Down. Burglar's entrance

Holmes: Alarm entry, my dear Watson

Watson: That's rather poor, isn't it, Holmes? Right. One to go. A kind of fish with a sting in its tail.

Holmes: Yellow manta ray, my dear Watson

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Unhappy

I don't care if the sea level goes up or down but I do care if the oceans become a toxic soup.

The oceans are finite, see: http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/2010/gallery/global-water-volume.html

When you add the contents of several nuclear reactors, nuclear weapons, chemical weapons*, toxic waste products and loads of other crap the outlook is not good.

All we need now is for some daft scientist to pour his/her "artificial life" experiment down the plug hole like they did at the Pirbright laboratory site and we will be totally screwed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_United_Kingdom_foot-and-mouth_outbreak

*(PDF) http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/77CEDBCA-813A-4A6C-8E59-16B9E260E27A/0/ic_munitions_seabed_rep.pdf

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Happy

You forget all the pollution of the air, and the electromagnetic spectrum. We are DOOMED!!

Let me lend you a tinfoil hat

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Anonymous Coward

I wish people would do a bit of calculation before they start to panic. In seawater one can findall sorts of elements, from gold to radioactive potassium. Once I calculated the weight of the different elements in seawater and worked out how much each inhabitans of the world could get if we removed them from the sea.

Googling for different materials in the sea, one can repeat the following calculations:

Total amount of seawater: 1.3 x 10E18 m3

potassium in seawater 0.04% of this K40 (radiactive) 0.012% = 4.8x10E-8

from this comes 6.24xE10 tonnes of radioactive potassium, which means that each person is "entitled" to about 10 tonnes of radioactive material from the sea. In the soil the concentration of radioactive materials are much higher.

Forget the tin hats, get lead underpants :-)

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Limited aluminium resources ?

It's just this ridiculous over-use of (highly polluting to extract from the ore) aluminium foil in the hat industry that is leading to our certain doom.........

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It's funny...

... How global warming sceptics only believe in computer simulations when they agree with them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's funny...

... How cult believers only believe in computer simulations when they agree with them.

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Re: It's funny...

As opposed to the claims of Cherrypicking the AGW-alarmists apply to Lewis' posts?

A model is only as good as the match it gives to the observed data. In this case the model seems to fit the observed data, so it looks viable enough to use.

The minor issue that it doesn't agree with what the current political agenda would have us believe: that the current global rise in temperature will make the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet scoot off into the ocean at a sneeze, is unfortunate, but doesn't make it any less valid.

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Anonymous Coward

I like these articles

I appreciate lewis posting as he does and I laugh when people get upset by it. Lewis seemed to start his articles with balance but has now pretty much shifted to an exclusive view of only the elements and research that counters the MMCC position which now produces uproar against his postings.

I can only assume he is doing this due to the cult position of the other side. Think about all the arguments thrown against lewis's articles and they apply with equal measure to the articles from the pro cult believers. So we have a cult of the MMCC and a cult of the 'it wont happen'.

I would agree that this makes lewis no better than the pro cult nutters but the question becomes why did this happen? Early on in these debates the pro lobby were ignored as nuts because they are. Then they produced a graph, hoodwinked the hippies and shafted politics to become the cult with power. Suddenly they had statistics that most people believed something was happening and so they must be supporters of the cult. Every balanced article could be perverted and cherry picked to say the balanced scientist/reporter actually believed in the doomsday prophecy.

So of course this polarises debate. Those who dont believe the dodgy science and lies cant post balanced articles in fear of their work being perverted by the believers, and so lewis must only post the negative view. And this breeds a cult of the non-believer. Attracting nutters as bad as the believers.

So instead of attacking the believers/non-believer camps surely we should be looking for the truth and facts only.

The casualty of the climate debate is science. Mutilated and twisted while the balance is beheaded. But while people keep shouting we cant hear facts. If we could we wouldnt have the windfarms or an approaching energy problem. Nor would we be paying higher prices for less. I wonder if we are heading into a new dark ages.

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Boffin

Re: I like these articles

"I can only assume he is doing this due to the cult position of the other side."

I can only presume that he wants to piss off long standing readers to the point where they jump ship and find something less shit and more IT related to read, so that he can turn El Reg into a simply denialist's blog.

"Think about all the arguments thrown against lewis's articles and they apply with equal measure to the articles from the pro cult believers. So we have a cult of the MMCC and a cult of the 'it wont happen'.

I would agree that this makes lewis no better than the pro cult nutters..."

But Lewis (and people like him in BOTH camps) is so extreme that he's not adding to the debate. Anyone who supports his opinion is just going to read it and take it on board as positive reinforcement regardless of factual merit. It's so hostile to any people who don't believe his message that they won't bother to read it, and it's so sodding partisan for those of us in the middle in search of valid information that it becomes essentially valueless.

What's it going to achieve, apart from acting as ego crutch for those in the Page camp?

Sod all.

It's about as good as journalism and as much of a wank-fest as hardcore porn.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I like these articles

@Psyx

I sort of agree with you but know I cant go to many news sources without the same problem. Louis's articles have become severely against the idea of MMCC and its consequences where I do miss the more balanced view. But I will compare this to the rest of my day. Every day I am consistently told that the cult of the MMCC has the answer and its the end. My money is taken in tax to push the propaganda including a cartoon of a drowning dog. Adverts telling me of how good the energy supplier is now the price has shot up because of its green sources (market manipulation). I live near a uni so I get to listen to the liberal unknowing children tell me how it is worth returning to the mud huts because it will save the world. We are told of a looming energy shortage because of our co2 commitments. Like the rest of the UK I have been signed up to a cult against my will and I dont believe in it. But I am told it is the right way every day, many times a day, regardless of the facts.

On the odd few days a week that louis may put up an article it is the single moment of another view. And while I preferred his balanced views I still read the rantings of the cults of believers/non-believers.

I urge louis to get back to a more balanced view (which believers still hated) but for some of us he gives the occasional break from the cult of the believer. Just as most other news sources too seem to be polarised to the same extent.

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Lordy people

You get all het up about Lewis' articles when it's patently obvious to anyone that's read quite a lot of them that he's the journalistic equivalent of a troll, I have a mental image of him sitting there reading these comments laughing his posterior off.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lordy people

It's pretty sad when a publication feels the need to troll their readers, presumably in order to generate ad-revenue from people f5-ing on the comments page.

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Re: Lordy people

"It's pretty sad when a publication feels the need to troll their readers, presumably in order to generate ad-revenue from people f5-ing on the comments page."

It's worked as a business model for both the Daily Hitler and the Guardian.

Sad times when El Reg is seeking to emulate either of them.

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Rob
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Go

Re: Lordy people

"It's worked as a business model for both the Daily Hitler and the Guardian."

Can I claim Godwin's law on that?

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Re: Lordy people..Can I claim Godwin's law on that?

nope apple patented it

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Rob
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Unhappy

Re: Lordy people..Can I claim Godwin's law on that?

Damn, I'll see them in court shortly no doubt.

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There he goes again

Only someone with a preconceived agenda could extrapolate from "The problem here is that we do not know if something is suddenly going to turn them up or even turn them off" to "It would seem that current predictions of sea level rises to be expected on a given timescale with a given amount of global warming will need to be revised - downwards".

Stop cherry picking, Lewis, it makes you look ridiculous!

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WTF?

"Boffins"? Seriously?

This is supposed to be a website for scientific and techno literate people. Do we really need tabloid copy like "Boffins" FFS? I know page is basically a luddite in web author clothing but even so...

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Re: "Boffins"? Seriously?

You're new here, aren't you?

Actually, I see your 4th anniversary was this week, so congratulations. Haven't you read any of the articles before? If you want a science digest without the light-hearted linguistic and technical spin typical of ElReg, there's no shortage of sites for you.

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FAIL

Re: "Boffins"? Seriously?

"Actually, I see your 4th anniversary was this week, so congratulations. Haven't you read any of the articles before? If you want a science digest without the light-hearted linguistic and technical spin typical of ElReg, there's no shortage of sites for you."

Don't patronise me you prick. This is supposed to be a site for the techno literate, not tabloid hacks in disguise like Page.

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Trollface

Re: "Boffins"? Seriously?

Ok, so you're not new here but apparently you are unable to pick up on the style of the articles on this site.

I don't really see what else can be done but patronise you my little cherub.

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Re: "Boffins"? Seriously?

Don't patronize him you boffin...I mean prick

sorry for calling you a boffin

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Anonymous Coward

The only thing...

... to threaten Earth is the Sun (and a small assortment of space boulders) so run along and play puny Humans, you are nowhere near as important as you like to think you are.

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Pint

Re: The only thing...

It's not Earth that's under threat. Give it a million years and it'll be just fine.

It's more that the over-breeding, consumerist little parasites living on it that are going to be screwed.

Course: The best answer is a universal one-child policy for three or four generations. We'd be fine then.

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Flame

Re: The only thing...

No, what we need is another black death plague thing to get rid of most of the idiots on this planet. Unfortunately, who's going to want to bury all the dead bodies?

Perhaps whoever is left will simply burn them?

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Re: The only thing...

If the only problem in your life is how to get rid of all the dead bodies then you must...wait what?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The only thing...

Oh how bloody tedious, someone on the Internet saying that mankind should die out a bit and that'll solve problems. Or, that a simple one child policy will sort everything out - (where does the money to support the elderly come from?)

The fact that mankind has expanded so much is a tribute to our technological progress, a technological progress you're using to say we should die off. I presume you'd like to keep the Internet so that you can comment when the (presumably) other people far away from you die out a bit.

Or, you know, we could take a look at how we can stop using as many resources and make better use of those that we do use.

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Stop

Re: The only thing...

"(where does the money to support the elderly come from?)"

From the existing pool of it. If we're talking about a global policy, there is no economic reason why there shouldn't be enough money. It'll be more than compensated for by the reversal of conventional inflation, caused by reduction in demand. You're just repeating a hacknied phrase without thinking about the actual economics.

"The fact that mankind has expanded so much is a tribute to our technological progress"

So every over-population of species in the world is because they technologically advanced themselves? I think not: It's due to a surplus of resources. Sadly, that's good for us, but bad for the species down-the-line.

"a technological progress you're using to say we should die off."

Logical fallacy. A reduction in population in no way links to a reduction in technology levels or innovation. In fact it'd be easy to argue: Lesser population = more resources to go around and less requirement for infighting and further resource waste caused by squabbling over them = better standard of living for all = better education = more innovation.

"I presume you'd like to keep the Internet so that you can comment when the (presumably) other people far away from you die out a bit."

Apples are apples, so fishingboat-tuesday-moonwalk-gibber!

You just linked a decrease in population with going back to the stone age. Just pause and THINK about what you're saying for a moment: There's no link between the two at all. Or y'know... let's take a quick lesson from history and look at what happened in the wake of a third of Europe dying to plague... oh, it was the Renaissance.

"Or, you know, we could take a look at how we can stop using as many resources and make better use of those that we do use."

Great. Brilliant. That'd be great. Except we never do, because that involves compromising our consumerist lifestyles. We'd rather figure out a way of raping another environmental area and stalling the problem for five years. During which time we get more population growth. It all continuing to work is reliant on:

a) Us never running out of stuff

b) Our ability to keep producing enough to keep pace with exponential population growth.

And when I say "continuing to work", I mean for us here at the top of the tree, of course. Most of humanity is already living is squalor.

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Anonymous Coward

Meanwhile, in Scientific American

The latest edition of Scientific American features a gloom and doom article about how AGW is melting ice world-wide, juxtaposed neatly with an article on the threat to penguins from global warming. This, despite the fact that ice sheets in the home of the penguin are at record size and still growing!

With prestigious and believable groups like the BAS and the British Meteorological Society saying that warming isn't anywhere near the levels that the warming enthusiasts are reporting, it would seem we are in a propaganda war, with big business, politicians, journalists and pop scientists clouding the real facts.

We need to get past this and look at the true situation, Governments around the world are spending our money, and it may be the biggest boondoggle since the Millenium Bug!

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WTF?

@Anon coward

"the biggest boondoggle since the Millenium Bug!"

If by "boondoggle" you mean con then you're wrong. The reason not much happened at the turn of the millenium is because thousands of people in IT around the world spent years going through millions of lines of code to make sure it wouldn't. It does amuse me the way some people think because they don't see the consequences of an issue that the issue never existed.

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Anonymous Coward

corrected for you...

The reason not much happened at the turn of the millenium is because thousands of people in IT around the world spent years filling out reams of paper certifying that 'no the clock on the canteen microwave won't blow up and destroy the accounts computer' .

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Anon coward

"...It does amuse me the way some people think because they don't see the consequences of an issue that the issue never existed...."

As one of those who worked a fuckton of overtime before the millennium, it doesn't amuse me, it gets right on my tits

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Re: corrected for you...

Very droll. In reality, there were two types of millennium bug. On one hand there were millions of lines of Cobol using PIC 99 to represent the year that, without attention, would have resulted in financial systems failing. The boondoggle was related to PC clocks, with used car salesmen going round visiting PHBs (for some reason they always liked to bypass the techies) and telling them that their thousands of PCs would all stop working on 1/1/2000 unless they bought their magic program at £16 a copy.

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Re: @Anon coward

fuckton

another for ElReg units team

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Re: @Anon coward

"fuckton

another for ElReg units team"

Yes, but metric or imperial?

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Coat

> "... sea level rises just aren't that big a worry, over say the next century anyway"

... by which time most of the current generation would be long dead anyway. Mine's the one with the keys of the gas guzzler.

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Angel

MrCymatics

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Quick question

Has Lewis actually read the paper in question, or just the abstract or various digests?

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