Lucy Lawless, famous actress and newly-minted Greenpeace activist, claimed yesterday:
“…make no mistake, due to the harshness and remoteness of the Arctic environment, an oil spill up there will make the Gulf of Mexico look like a children’s party.”
I agree that it’s a distinct possibility, and precautions should be taken to prevent and, at need, to clean up such a spill. No doubt about it. But then our eco-warrior says boldly:
“To see the melting of the sea ice not as a warning to humanity but as an invitation to drill for more of the stuff that caused the problem in the first place is the definition of madness. What Shell is doing is climate change-profiteering.” (Emphasis added. H/T Richard Cumming)
Lucy, turn towards your Greenpeace advisers and say after me: “What is the evidence?” Because there is no reason to believe that burning oil played any part in causing the recent loss of Arctic sea ice. Proper papers put it down to favourable winds and currents blowing the stuff into the Atlantic, where it melts.
If you truly believe our emissions were responsible, then would you say they were also responsible for a similar loss of Arctic sea ice before 1920, when the surge in temperature was steeper and even shorter than today’s? And would you agree that, though our oil burning continued almost without pause, the Arctic ice returned in full force until the mid-1950s? Do you agree that, with our burning continuing and expanding the while, the Arctic ice returned yet again until the mid-1980s, when it again contracted until a few years ago? Finally, do you agree that now, with our oil burning at new, unprecedented heights, the summer ice has once again returned to the north and is recovering as we speak?
By the way, do you agree that this memorable saga is a northern one only, and that the southern continent has endured a slow but continual increase of land and sea ice for at least 30 years?
And if humanity’s burning of petroleum products caused historical and modern episodes of northern sea ice loss, why was the recent loss of ice about the same amount, even though global use of oil is at least 120 times greater than it was in the 1920s? That is, why did the vastly increased amount of atmospheric CO2 make little difference to the amount of ice that melted? Can you agree that at least much of the variation is due to natural cycles?
Do you know that the recent northern ice depletion was in the summer only? Have your advisers told you that the extent of Arctic winter ice has remained about 10 or 11 million square kilometres greater than in the summer?
It’s very important that you re-examine your beliefs about the climatic effects of CO2. To do that, I suggest you search out some facts about it.