Remember all the hysteria just a few short weeks ago? You know - all that "the ice is gonna melt" the "seas will rise" and "we're all going to die". You must remember. It prompted our esteemed environment minister, Ben Bradshaw, to suggest that we might have to go back to rationing. Any excuse for a bit of state control, eh?
Anyway, just to refresh your memory - the United Nations provides a huge amount of funding for a group of scientists to indulge their passion for air travel - oops! - I mean science. The UN call this group the "IPCC" - which stands for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Personally, I don't know what government they "inter" from, but I never voted for any of them.
After several years of gallivanting around the globe this panel of scientists submit their findings to a smaller group of people who then collate the report. Is it all coming back yet? Good.
Anyway, eventually the IPCC issue another report called the SPM - Summary for Policy Makers - which is a political document that puts the required spin on the findings of the actual IPCC report. To ensure that the real report is consistent with the political summary, they hold back the real report until they've had a chance to ensure that it doesn't dissent from the political view - and if it does, they change it. The report not the SPM. that is.
So, this SPM was released in early February to a blare of trumpets and given wall to wall coverage on the BBC and the rest of the MSM. Unprecedented temperatures and heat rise, they scream. Polar bears are going to die, they lament. Cue lots of film of calving ice and stranded polar bears. They predict that rising sea levels will wipe us all out in a hundred years or so - or something like that. We must act NOW, they demand.
Now, however, a leading atmospheric scientist and a CO-CHAIR of the report has put some perspective on that. It turns out that she reckons the earth was WARMER by some 3-5 degrees 125,000 years ago, that sea levels were some 12-18 feet higher then too and that nothing much is going to happen any time soon.
"It would take centuries, if not millennia, to get a four to six meter rise" in sea levels, she said. Global temperatures would have to be raised by 1.9 to 4.6 degrees Celsius and be kept that way for several centuries, she added. (My emphasis).
So I guess the current temperature isn't quite so unprecedented then. What we are looking at - IF they are right - is a catastrophe sometime, maybe in the next 1000 years or so. At best (or worst, depending on your point of view)
Assuming the Canutists are right.
And assuming that the temperature does rise by 3-5C.
And assuming it stays like that for several centuries.
Just to remind you, Greenland is suspected of losing around 80 cubic miles of ice per year. That would chill a fair few G&Ts, but when you realise that there is still some 630,000 cubic miles of ice to go through then my estimate based on that rate of loss, would see the Greenland ice cap complete gone sometime around the year 9882. Ah, but ...
... could the melt accelerate, like some other indicators of global warming? "We just don't know," she added.
Even if it doubled in rate it would still take 2000 years, roughly.
So, what happened 125,000 years or so ago to cause this huge temperature rise? Oh yeah, the last interglacial - which polar bears managed to survive quite well enough, thank you very much. Al Gore please take note.