Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Good Bad News

The good news in this report is bad for the credibility of the climate change community, I suppose, but the bad news in the report may actually be pretty good for the rest of the world, at least I think so. Here's the good news:
Alarming predictions that global warming could cause sea levels to rise 6ft in the next century are wrong, it has emerged. The forecast made by the influential 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which would have seen cities around the world submerged by water, now looks ‘unlikely’.

A Met Office study also rules out the shutdown of the Atlantic Ocean’s conveyor belt, which would trigger Arctic winters in Britain like those seen in the film The Day After Tomorrow.

However, the report says the IPCC was right to warn of a sea level rise of up to 2ft by 2100, and that a 3ft rise could happen.
Well, President Obama did tell us in his primary victory speech that that would be the day when the rise of the oceans would begin to slow, so maybe he was prescient.

In any case, this blow to the IPCC's credibility comes on the heels of news reports that the organization was sloppy in forecasting that the Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035, so although it's good news for us, it's perhaps not so good for the credibility of the IPCC.

The report, however, also has what the Daily Mail article calls bad news. It says there is new evidence that the Arctic will become largely free of ice during most summers sooner than the IPCC warned, and that the Greenland ice sheet is more likely to melt in centuries to come than previously thought.

Now I don't know why we should assume that the melting of the ice, particularly in Greenland, will be a bad thing. Greenland is a vast, uninhabited land mass. If the ice which covers it melts away a whole new continent-sized territory will become available for colonization. The ice-free land might also prove to be rich in natural resources, and if Greenland thaws out so, too, will much of the rest of the near-arctic (northern Canada, northern Alaska, and Siberia). The Daily Mail might think this is bad news, but it sounds more like the kind of news that could, in fact, be a boon to the entire world.