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On the July 6 edition of his CNN Headline News show, Glenn Beck hosted James Taylor, a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute, who claimed that "virtually every significant assertion that [former Vice President] Al Gore makes in that movie [An Inconvenient Truth (Paramount Classics, May 2006)] has been refuted by sound science." Taylor went on to assert that there is an overall thickening of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. In fact, in its 2007 Working Group I report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that "the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are very likely shrinking," and that "[t]hickening of high-altitude, cold regions of Greenland and East Antarctica, perhaps from increased snowfall, has been more than offset by thinning in coastal regions of Greenland and West Antarctica." Indeed, in the report's Summary for Policymakers, the IPCC asserted that recent data show "that losses from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica have very likely contributed to sea level rise over 1993 to 2003."
During the program, Taylor purported to rebut assertions that "Antarctica is melting" by claiming, "[T]he truth is that Antarctica is in a prolonged cold spell and has been cooling for decades. Indeed, the Antarctic ice sheet is accumulating mass as opposed to losing mass." Beck responded that he had "read" that Antarctica "is actually accumulating ice on the interior. It's actually losing ice around the shelves, but they still don't know why." Taylor then claimed that "the vast majority of the continent, East Antarctica, is getting colder, and the ice sheet is accumulating there."
Taylor's claim that "Antarctica is in a prolonged cold spell and has been cooling for decades" greatly oversimplifies Antarctica's temperature variation. In a May 16 article, New Scientist reported that "[i]t is clear that the Antarctic Peninsula, which juts out from the mainland of Antarctica towards South America, has warmed significantly," but it also noted that a 2002 study found the continent's interior had cooled between 1966 and 2000. However, the article went on to report that the cooling of the continent's interior actually seems to be due to the strengthening of circular winds -- caused by a hole in the ozone layer:
[The stronger circular winds] prevent warmer air [from] reaching its interior. The increased wind speeds seem to be a result of cooling in the upper atmosphere, caused by the hole in the ozone layer above the pole, which is of course the result of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) pollution.
Confusingly, it appears that one human impact on the climate -- the Antarctic ozone hole -- is currently compensating for another, global warming. If the ozone layer recovers over the decades as expected, the circular winds could weaken, resulting in rapid warming.
In its 2007 report, the IPCC similarly asserted that "where the ozone hole has played a role, it has resulted in cooling over 1971 to 2000 for parts of the interior of Antarctica but large warming in the Antarctic Peninsula region and Patagonia."
The 2007 IPCC report also contradicts Taylor's claim that "the Antarctic ice sheet is accumulating mass as opposed to losing mass." The report stated: "For East Antarctica, growth of 20 ± 21 Gt [Gigaton] yr-1 was indicated, with estimated losses of 44 ± 13 Gt yr-1 from West Antarctica. The balance of the Antarctic Peninsula was not assessed," meaning that although East Antarctica ice mass may fluctuate anywhere from losing a billion tons to gaining 41 gigatons of ice per year, it is estimated that West Antarctica will lose anywhere from 31 to 57 gigatons of ice. In fact, despite Taylor's suggestion that ice thickening in East Antarctica could outweigh the effects of ice loss in the West Antarctic ice sheets, the report went on to note: "Combining the East and West Antarctic numbers yielded a loss of 24 ± 25 Gt yr-1 for the region monitored."
Taylor similarly suggested that ice loss on the edges of the Greenland ice sheet is being offset by increases in the interior mass. He stated: "[T]he interior is accumulating snow mass rather significantly, and merely the edges, most particularly along the southwest edge of the continent, are the receding glaciers. And that's where, of course, we see the stories in the major media." In fact, the IPCC wrote: "Greenland has experienced mass loss recently in response to increases in near-coastal melting and in ice flow velocity more than offsetting increases in snowfall." The report later added: "Many recent studies have addressed Greenland mass balance. They yield a broad picture (Figure 4.17) of inland thickening (Thomas et al., 2001; Johannessen et al., 2005; Thomas et al., 2006; Zwally et al., 2006), faster near-coastal thinning primarily in the south along fast-moving outlet glaciers (Abdalati et al., 2001; Rignot and Kanagaratnam, 2006), and a recent acceleration in overall shrinkage."
From the July 6 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: James Taylor is a senior fellow for the environmental policy at Heartland Institute.
James, I got to put this one right out at the very beginning. You are almost a wholly-owned subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, are you not?
TAYLOR: Well, that's what the global warming alarmists of the world would like you to believe. Actually, at the Heartland Institute, we receive less than 5 percent of our budget from energy producers, and we receive more than 95 percent of our budget from energy consumers. So, certainly --
TAYLOR: -- if we're going to skew the science, I think the energy companies better beware, but fortunately, we don't sell out for money.
BECK: OK. And you know, I have to ask that question, and I think it's a fair question. I think it's also fair to ask the people who are pushing the global warming agenda how much they receive from places like the Sierra Club, but that's a different story.
The movie came out 2005, An Inconvenient Truth. How much of that movie now is under question?
TAYLOR: Well, virtually every significant assertion that Al Gore makes in that movie has been refuted by sound science.
BECK: Give me -- give me -- give me an example.
TAYLOR: Sure. Al Gore mentions Antarctica as being a canary in the coal mine for global warming and shows us pictures of ice calving off the ice sheet, and it leads people to believe that all of Antarctica is melting.
Unfortunately for Al Gore and global warming alarmists, the truth is that Antarctica is in a prolonged cold spell and has been cooling for decades. Indeed, the Antarctic ice sheet is accumulating mass as opposed to losing mass.
So, if there is anything that can be said about, say, for example, the musicians in Antarctica this weekend for Live Earth, they're more likely to show us a picture of a Sasquatch driving an SUV around the South Pole than they are likely to show us a picture of actual global warming occurring in Antarctica.
BECK: The Antarctica thing -- 'cause I read about this just a couple of months ago -- that it is actually accumulating ice on the interior. It's actually losing ice around the shelves, but they still don't know why.
They think it's the winds that are blowing across those ice shelves right at the corner, right? And that was -- wasn't that in an Ohio study?
TAYLOR: Well, Antarctica, a small portion of the continent, western Antarctica, is getting a little bit warmer. However, the vast majority of the continent, East Antarctica, is getting colder, and the ice sheet is accumulating there.
Al Gore in his movie, of course, points out the West Antarctic Peninsula and doesn't let us know that this is a cherry-picked, small portion of the continent.
In Greenland, for example, as you mentioned, the interior is accumulating snow mass rather significantly and merely the edges, most particularly along the southwest edge of the continent, are the receding glaciers. And that's what, of course, we see the stories in the major media about.
BECK: All right, James. Now go back and call Halliburton and tell them you've done well.