Arctic Climate

Gore says “There are two places on Earth that serve as canaries in the coal mine—regions that are especially sensitive to the effects of global warming,” i.e. the Arctic and the Antarctic. In the Arctic, “Temperatures are shooting upward there faster than at any other place on the planet.”

The hobgoblin is one of overstatement because there is nothing odd in this and nothing to get excited about either. It is to be expected since it is the nature of the Arctic and Antarctic to be more sensitive to swings in temperature however they are caused.

As Gore himself explains, polar ice is white and reflects incoming short-wave radiation from the sun whereas sea water is dark and absorbs it; consequently, when sea ice melts, the Arctic ocean absorbs more radiant energy, amplifying the initial warming.  Conversely, cooling expands sea ice, producing more cooling. Arctic climate swings are bigger than elsewhere – entirely normal.

Gore says, “In Alaska these are called ‘drunken trees’ because they are leaning every which way. And this is caused neither by wind damage nor alcohol consumption. These trees put their roots deep into the frozen tundra decades—even centuries—ago and now as the tundra melts they lose their anchor, causing them to sway in all directions.”

The hobgoblin here is one of bias toward blaming global warming. Between 1949 to 2005 there has been no warming trend in Alaska but there were two minor cooling trends from 1949 to 1975 and from 1977 to 2001.  These were broken up by a step change known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).  The PDO shifted from a cooler phase to a warmer phase and so Alaska warmed up.  Since there was no long-term warming trend doesn’t it seems more likely that the drunken trees are a result of the PDO shift rather than global warming?

See Hartmann, B. and G. Wendler. 2005. On the significance of the 1976 Pacific climate shift in the climatology of Alaska. Journal of Climate, 18: 4824-4839.

Or perhaps they were due to an earthquake?  We must not forget either that in Alaska in 1964 there occurred “ The second largest earthquake of the 20th century and the largest ever recorded in the northern hemisphere,…..”. And to show how large “ Local tsunami waves triggered by this earthquake were extremely destructive in Prince William Sound and other areas of Alaska. A Pacific-wide tsunami was generated which was destructive in Western Canada, Oregon, California and the Hawaiian islands.” Also “The earthquake caused vertical displacements which ranged from about 15 meters of uplift to 2.3 meters of subsidence relative to sea level. Patterns of uplift and subsidence which had been slowly developing prior to the earthquake were suddenly reversed.” Vast areas were “reorganized” and it is entirely reasonable to conclude that there would be many “drunken Trees” as Gore calls them.

See George Pararas-Carayannis, The March 27, 1964, Great Alaska Earthquake

Gore says “In Siberia, approximately 1 million square km of land frozen since the last ice age is expected to thaw. This tundra contains 70 billion tons of stored carbon, which is becoming unstable as the permafrost melts. The carbon in these Siberian soils is 10 times the amount emitted annually from man-made sources.”

Again the hobgoblin of bias, this time toward the negative effects of global warming. The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change in a wide-ranging review of the literature comes to the opposite conclusion than Gore. That is that permafrost melting will allow more vegetation to absorb more CO2

See Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, “Arctic Tundra Eco-Systems: Will They Gain or Lose Carbon if Arctic Temperatures Rise Substantially in the Future?” 20 July 200

Gore says, “At present, the Arctic ice cap plays a crucial role in cooling the Earth. Preventing its disappearance must be one of our highest priorities.”

He does not give any evidence as to why this should be one of our highest priorities. Perhaps we would be better off without it - after all it a pretty inhospitable place.

Polar Bears

Refer to court ruling 5

Gore says, “A new scientific study shows that, for the first time, polar bears have been drowning in significant numbers.”

This implies that there have been ongoing studies to determine this and that a lot of bears have drowned. Again there is no reference given for this study. Perhaps Gore was referring to reports that in September 2004, “4 dead bears were seen floating far offshore,” apparently drowned by “an abrupt wind storm.”

See Monnett, C., J.S. Gleason, and L.M. Rotterman. 2005. Potential effects of diminished sea ice on open-water swimming, mortality, and distribution of polar bears during fall in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea. Minerals Management Service,

An analysis of World Wildlife Fund data, found that polar bear populations are increasing in Arctic areas where it is warming and declining in areas where it is cooling.  There is no reason to believe that Polar Bears will not adapt to rising temperatures as they have in the past.

See Patrick Michaels, Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media (Washington, D.C.: Cato Books, 2004), pp. 95-96.

And a leading Canadian bear biologist wrote recently, “Climate change is having an effect on the West Hudson population of polar bears, but really, there is no need to panic. Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present.”Also he says “It is entirely appropriate to be concerned about climate change, but it is just silly to predict the demise of polar bears in 25 years based on media-assisted hysteria.”

See Dr. Mitchell Taylor, Department of Environment, Government of Nunavut, May 2006