November 30, 2012, 12:33 PM — That a new study showing an alarming acceleration in global ice melt was released just as NASA announced it had found water ice on the planet Mercury was somewhat ironic.
That the new study -- which confirms a global warming trend that will cause (or already is causing) massive flooding, deadly heat waves and droughts, and ecosystem disruption -- would be immediately dismissed by diehard climate-change deniers was entirely predictable.
No matter how many studies prove the Earth is getting warmer, no matter the increasingly frequent freakish weather disasters that claim lives and destroy property, no matter the overwhelming consensus among professional climatologists regarding man-made global warming, vocal deniers (and their corporate backers) will continue to cow politicians and thwart our ability to address this serious issue responsibly and effectively.
Here's a summary of the new study's findings from LiveScience's Stephanie Pappas:
Ice loss in Antarctica and Greenland has contributed nearly half an inch to the rise in sea levels in the past 20 years, according to an assessment of polar ice sheet melting that researchers are calling the most reliable yet. ...
"Greenland is losing mass at about five times the rate today as it was in the early 1990s," study researcher Erik Ivins, an earth scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a press conference about the results. ...
Ivins says different studies of the ice sheets have had different strengths and weaknesses. "People were looking at different time spans, they were looking at data sets that had great fidelity in one region and not great fidelity in another region, or they were able to capture the physics of ice-sheet change for one aspect and very poorly for another," he said.
So a team led by University of Leeds researcher Andrew Shepherd combined the methods from previous polar melt studies to offset weak data, creating what researchers are confident is the best estimate of ice-sheet losses to date.
But what do those stupid science researchers and climatologists -- those arrogant geeks! -- really know about how the world works compared to, say, Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, or some commenters on this Wall Street Journal article?
"Now global warming is evidenced by growing/shrinking ice packs in Antarctica. Isn't that just wonderful. If it snows too much, Global Warming. If it is too warm, Global Warming. Are we going through a periodic cycle of warming? Could be. In either event there is absolutely nothing that we can do to stop it."
"The climate has always been changing, back to when the earth was molten."
"Those who understand 'how the earth works' have rejected the junk science that you Liberal fascists promote."
That last one got three recommendations.
Here's a commenter offering some calming perspective at the Washington Post.
"What mere humans fail to realize is, this is a cyclical event. Yes- we contribute to the event. But, it's happened thousands of times before man was here. Because we only live less than a century for the majority of us, it appears as a disaster. We can't think in geological terms - things that happen so slowly we can't see it happening."
And here's a reader of National Geographic applying what passes for scientific methodology among climate-change deniers:
"I live at the sea, and have done so for many years. We have been threatened by impending doom and gloom for so long, and yet a simple walk to the shoreline shows a normal perfect sea exactly the same as 20 years ago."
Refute that evidence, real scientists!