‘No Extinctions’: Polar Bears Survived Periods When The Arctic Had No Ice

ideologyFormer Vice President Al Gore shocked Americans in “An Inconvenient Truth” when he said polar bears were drowning because global warming was melting Arctic sea ice, but now a new study shows that polar bears did just fine even when there was no ice covering the Arctic. Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks released a study claiming the “stratigraphic record of the last 1.5 [million years] indicates that no marine species’ extinction events occurred despite major climate oscillations,” including periods where the Arctic was completely ice-free in summertime. “Some species thought to be dependent on summer sea ice (e.g., polar bears) survived through these periods,” write Thomas Cronin of the USGS and Matthew Cronin of the University of Alaska in their new study. –Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller News Foundation, 11 January 2016

The authors are all at Stanford University, one of the world’s most prestigious academic institutions. Rajaratnam is an Assistant Professor of Statistics and of Environmental Earth System Science. Romano is a Professor of Statistics and of Economics. Diffenbaugh is an Associate Professor of Earth System Science. Tsiang is a PhD student. Climatic Change appears to be a reputable refereed journal, which is published by Springer, and which is cited in the latest IPCC report. The paper was touted in popular accounts as showing that the whole hiatus thing was mistaken — for instance, by Stanford University itself. You might therefore be surprised that, as I will discuss below, this paper is completely wrong. Nothing in it is correct. It fails in every imaginable respect. —Radford Neal, 10 January 2016

As soon as the Met Office rushed to proclaim that 230mm of rain (9in) had made it “the wettest December on record” (and the “wettest calendar month”) ‚Äì predictably echoed by the BBC and the Prime Minister ‚Äì we knew it might be wise to examine the small print behind its claims. We know how eager these people are to seize on any “extreme weather event” as a sign of unprecedented “climate change.” Sure enough, the Met Office’s longest rainfall record, covering England and Wales (thus including two of the areas most affected) showed, with its 145.1mm (5.7in), that December ranked as only the 20th wettest since 1766. –Christopher Booker, The Sunday Telegraph, 10 January 2016

Contrary to various misleading claims, last year was not “one of the wettest” on record. In fact it only ranked 84th wettest since 1766, according to the England & Wales Precipitation Series, with 969mm, only marginally above the average of 918mm. As the 10-Year average shows, there have been wetter periods than the last 10 years in the past. The wettest such period was 1874-83. The 1770’s and 1920’s were also exceptionally wet. The Met Office often likes to claim that most of the wettest years have occurred in the last decade or two, but again the facts show this not to be true. –Paul Homewood, Not A Lot Of People Know That, 8 January 2016