So Neil Cavuto had me on Fox Business News a second time to talk about climate change. Here’s the video:
My return visit to Fox headquarters in New York was triggered by another seeming assault on the fortress that is climate science, this one also relating to Antarctica but about sea-level rise. A paper in the May 15 issue of Science, co-authored by Jonathan Bamber of the Bristol Glaciology Center in England, predicted that in the event of a total and cataclysmic meltdown of the West Antarctic ice sheet, seas would rise 10 feet instead of the previously assumed 20 feet.
Now let’s get this straight: The Science paper did not say that sea-level rise itself would be half what scientists had previously said (though some misleading headlines implied this). It relates only to the contribution by the West Antarctic ice sheet, and it said that all the ice would likely not collapse into the ocean—parts would remain grounded on the continent. That collapse should not be underestimated—West Antarctica holds 90 percent of the world’s ice—but it is hardly imminent. Our children and their children will probably have other things to worry about.
When and if the sheet does collapse, the effects will be most strongly felt in the southern Indian Ocean and the coastal U.S.—much of Southern Florida could disappear, says a University of Toronto/Oregon State study cited in Science Daily—but how it would unfold and when are still the subject of much debate. As the New York Times’ Andrew Revkin (who wrote a May 15 story on Bamber’s study) put it to me in an email, “This study was expressly a thought experiment about the worst-case, long-term outcome. The big question remains totally unanswered.” There’s a lively debate on all this at Revkin’s blog here.
Climate skeptics are not going to find a smoking gun that will “prove” that global warming is (to quote Senator James Inhofe) “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”) but absent that they want to just make climate scientists look like flip-floppers. But this study is probably not the best vehicle for such a mission.