Friday, 7 December 2012

Permafrost - when does bullshit become lies?

It's easy to answer that question - when it's published by the Los Angeles Times, as in "Thawing permafrost may amplify global warming, U.N. reports". At least the title of the article is entirely truthful, but crap soon emerges from the frozen wastes of the author's mind. That mind is engaging itself with the just-released UNEP report Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost. The journalist Kenneth R. Weiss doesn't mess about - he's straight on the bullshit bandwagon with his first paragraph.
Think of broccoli that you’ve got in the freezer. As long as it’s frozen, it will remain stable for years. As soon as you pull it out, it’ll go mushy and soon begin to unleash the stench of decay.
That’s one way Kevin Schaefer likes to describe what’s happening to all the leaves and roots and other plant material locked in the frozen soils of the arctic tundra and forests since the last Ice Age.
"All the leaves and roots and other plant material"? No, just some of it, possibly - even probably.
As the planet warms, this permafrost is thawing, releasing huge amounts of carbon and methane, Schaefer explains in a new report. The United Nations Environment Program released the report Thursday to prod negotiators gathered in Doha, Qatar, to come up with a new international treaty to rein in rising greenhouse gases warming the planet.
"This permafrost is thawing, releasing huge amounts of carbon and methane"? No it isn't, as the report details and concludes. As "Schaefer explains in a new report"? No, he doesn't - the report's first conclusion states:
Permafrost around the world has begun to change, with TSP network observations indicating that permafrost temperatures have risen over the past few decades. CALM network observations are less conclusive, but show increases in active layer thickness at many sites. Overall, these observations indicate that large-scale thawing of permafrost may already have started.
"May already have started", and the report says nothing about the relatively small amount of existing thaw "releasing huge amounts of carbon and methane". Mr. Weiss is just making it up as he goes along. I'm not even going to display my bullshit button - this is waay beyond bullshit.

All this fuss is of course due to the assumption (which has merit, don't get me wrong) that the greenhouse gases released by decomposing organic matter in thawed permafrost would accelerate global warming, or whatever the fashionable term is nowadays.

I'm currently microbially digesting the organic matter of the UNEP report and will post on it ASAP, sans bullshit and lies of course. I'll end on a lighter note with a priceless quote from the report's lead author Kevin Schaefer.
“Once the organic matter thaws and decays away, there is no way to put it back into the permafrost,” said Schaefer, a scientist at the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center.
That's like saying that once you've spent your money there's no way to get it back. D'you mean the permafrost that's melted Kev? Gerraway.


  1. Kenneth Weiss is described as an investigative reporter in Wikipedia, but from his output - from articles on things like population ("Beyond 7 billion", "Fertility rates fall, but global population explosion goes on", "Runaway population growth often fuels youth-driven uprisings", etc.) to climatic and ecological alarms ("Oceans' rising acidity a threat to shellfish - and humans", etc.) - it is difficult not to draw the conclusion that his investigations are not so much into what is happening in the world, as into just how catastrophically bad he thinks the world is soon going to get.

    1. I just discovered I had a bookmark link to an article of his from October "Oceans' rising acidity a threat to shellfish — and humans",0,7494056.story
      I collect such garbage for possible posts, and I have a draft version still awaiting my finding of some data on the area of Oregon he's writing about. A sample - "Slide after slide, the results were the same. The entire batch of 100 million larvae at the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery had perished.".
      Anthropogenic CO2 is blamed but the report he cites says the CO2-rich water came from the deep ocean, so it's ancient and nothing to do with us, and the larvacide (?) likely nothing to do with "acidification" either - the same hatchery had a serious problem with a virus some years ago. Acidification was initially blamed then, too, though from pollution and runoff.