President Obama attempted to gin up concern about global warming during his recent high-profile trip to Alaska, but he inadvertently called attention to major flaws in alarmist global warming theory. If Obama wants to use Alaska as a poster child in the global warming debate, skeptics will be all too happy to oblige.
Obama listed a litany of alleged global warming harms occurring in Alaska. He claimed warming is destabilizing permafrost, threatening homes and infrastructure. He claimed rivers are becoming warmer and more acidic, threatening tourism. He claimed sea level is receding, causing shoreline erosion. He claimed wildfire season is longer and more intense. He claimed Arctic sea ice is shrinking.
Despite all the verbal posturing, objective facts show Obama is misrepresenting the facts regarding global warming and Alaska. Let’s start by examining his claim that Alaska is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet.
Obama made this claim by singling out a time period covering the past 60 years. Since 1955, our planet has undergone three separate and distinct temperature trends. From 1955 through the late 1970s, global temperatures cooled. From the late 1970s through the late 1990s, global temperatures warmed. From the late 1990s through the present, global temperatures have flat-lined.
In Alaska, according to the Alaska Climate Research Center (ACRC), temperatures cooled from 1955 through the 1973, warmed significantly between 1973 and 1980, and have been flat ever since. There has been no global warming in Alaska since the 1970s. Claiming Alaska has been warming at twice the global average during the past 60 years is a very imprecise (at best) and misleading (at worst) way of pointing out that Alaska warmed during a brief 7-year period more than three decades ago and did not experience any warming during the rest of the 60-year period, including the past 35 years.
Alaska’s lack of recent warming is most strikingly presented in another temperature chart published by the ACRC. The ACRC compiled temperature data for 19 locations in Alaska from 1977 through 2014. In 16 of the 19 locations, as well as Alaska as a whole, temperatures have cooled over the course of these past 37 years. By just about every measure, Alaska is cooling, not warming.
Obama also claims warming temperatures are destabilizing Alaska permafrost. Yet how can permafrost be destabilizing when its necessary prerequisite – warming temperatures – is not even happening? And even if permafrost were melting, why would this be a climate catastrophe? Permafrost, by definition, is soil that is frozen solid. Frozen soil supports very little life. Soil that is not frozen supports abundant life. Sure, there may be some short-term disruptions of the frozen soil while it undergoes transformation to non-frozen soil, but the long-term benefits of soil that supports abundant life far outweigh the long-term benefits of soil that does not support abundant life.
Obama claims rivers are becoming warmer and more acidic. Again, how are rivers becoming warmer when Alaska air temperatures have not risen during the past 35 years? Obama offered no scientific evidence to support his claim, and his claim defies the objective temperature record and common sense.
The president claims sea level is receding, causing all sorts of woes. Yet, haven’t we been told over and over again that global warming is causing sea level to rise, not recede? And if rising sea levels were supposed to be such a bad thing, then why is sea level recession all of a sudden such a bad thing?
Obama claims Alaska’s wildfire season is longer and more intense. How can wildfire season be longer when temperatures are colder? And regardless of such flaws in his logic, objective data show wildfires throughout the United States are becoming less frequent as our planet modestly warms. Indeed, the past few years have been some of the fewest numbers of wildfires on record.
Obama’s final claim, that Arctic sea ice is receding, is counterbalanced by expanding Southern Hemisphere sea ice. Global warming’s impact on polar sea ice appears to not be so global after all.
Tying these objective facts together, the inescapable conclusion is Alaskans are indeed “on the front lines” of global warming – just not in the way Obama would lead us to believe.