NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Climate Trend is One of Cooling -- Not Warming

March 25, 2002

Last week's demise of the Rhode Island-size Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica was embraced by environmentalists and media commentators as evidence of human-induced "global warming." But glaciologists see nothing of the sort.

They point out, in fact, that Antarctica has many climates and that cooling -- not warming -- is afoot in many areas.

Here are some of their observations:

  • Contrary to sensational stories that such break-ups as Larsen B will raise ocean levels and imperil coastal areas world-wide, it must be understood that as an ice shelf -- a floating part of an ice sheet -- it does not raise sea levels upon melting.
  • Research on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the ice sheet in the Ross Sea show them growing and getting thicker -- rather than growing thinner and melting.
  • University of Illinois researchers report "a net cooling on the Antarctic continent between 1966 and 2000."
  • In some regions, like the McMurdo Dry Valleys, temperatures cooled between 1986 and 1999 by as much as two degrees centigrade per decade.

In fact, while extreme environmentalists talk about global warming, experts note our current interglacial period is already 10,000 years old. No such period during the last half-million years has lasted more than 12,000 years. Statistically, therefore, we're due to slither into the next glacial period.

Source: Philip Stott (London University), "Cold Comfort for 'Global Warming,'" Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2002.


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