FOR years we have been warned of the imminent melting of Greenland’s ice sheet. Unfortunately for the alarmists, the ice sheet refuses to do as it is told.
This summer has now finished with the surface ice mass balance (SMB) having added more than 100 billion tons above the 1981-2010 average.
This excess of ice has been solely due to reduced summer melt. The melt season began about three weeks later than usual, and cold, cloudy weather for much of the summer kept melt below average throughout.
Four of the last six years have ended up with above average SMB. Above average is ‘weather’, of course, whereas below average means ‘climate change’!
Note that these calculations exclude glacial loss from calving, which is measured separately. After allowing for this, there is a small net loss of ice, estimated to cause about 2 inches of sea level rise a century.
Greenland’s temperatures in the last couple of decades have been little different to the 1930s to 50s, except for the outlier year of 2012. There was a much colder interlude in between, lasting from the 1960s to 90s, which is associated with the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, a natural oceanic cycle which has existed for thousands of years.
Satellite monitoring of ice sheets began at the end of that cold period, so inevitably ice sheet losses appear to be accelerating. If we had had satellites in the 1930s, we would know this is not the case, and that what we are seeing is normal cyclical activity.
Going further back in time, it is well accepted scientifically that the Little Ice Age, terminating in the 19th century, was the coldest era in Greenland since the ice age. Various studies have proved that the ice sheet was much smaller than now for most of the last few thousands of years, the period known as the Holocene, and that the ice sheet and glaciers reached their maximum extent during the Little Ice Age.
The small amount of warming seen in Greenland since the 19thC, and the associated ice sheet loss, is a natural recovery from the depths of the Little Ice Age, and nothing to do with man-made global warming.
There is no evidence that ice sheet loss will suddenly increase as alarmists continue to predict.
Fracking back on the agenda
Liz Truss has announced that the moratorium on fracking has been lifted. The ban was imposed in 2019, supposedly because of concerns about earth tremors. As geologists have frequently pointed out, these tremors are tiny, typically 0.5 on the Richter scale.
The government’s own fracking tsar, former Labour MP Natascha Engel, who resigned over the issue three years ago, stated that a 0.5 tremor is much weaker than the rumble you might feel when walking above a Tube train. She pointed out that tremors of this size are so faint that detecting them requires highly sensitive equipment and that the rules applied to fracking do not apply to quarry blasting or construction piling, which can cause much bigger earth movements.
The real reason for the moratorium was that the government caved in to the tiny, but noisy, band of extreme eco-activists.
Naturally the BBC has already launched its campaign to oppose the resumption of fracking. Within hours of the PM’s announcement, our impartial national broadcaster published a ‘news’ story, headlined ‘Fracking: Lancashire reacts to PM lifting ban on hydraulic fracturing’, which was dominated by comments from anti-fracking activists, with words like ‘disgusted’, ‘demonstrations’ and ‘damage to houses’ being bandied around.
As surely as night follows day, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) was just as quick to respond, with its chairman Lord Deben, aka our old friend John Gummer, warning the government not to lift the ban. Somebody should remind Gummer that it is not the CCC’s job to campaign for its own green agenda or seek to alter government policy.
Gummer claims that utilising our own shale gas resources would have no impact on energy prices. Even if he were right, it would still create billions in revenue for the government. But he is not right, because there is no reason why licences for fracking should not be conditional on Contracts for Difference, which would guarantee a price for the gas well below current global prices.
Somehow, Gummer seems to have forgotten that the CCC’s own Sixth Carbon Budget, published just over a year ago, projected that we would still be using almost as much natural gas in 20 years as we are now.
According to the CCC, we will still need gas for generating electricity, to cover for the intermittency of wind power, albeit that carbon capture systems would have to be used. And we would still need gas to produce the massive amounts of hydrogen needed to heat our homes.
The government’s own Net Zero projections also accept that we will be consuming as much gas in 2035 as we did last year. So where does Gummer suggest we get it from?