Told ya so: Al Gore + Kilimanjaro = alarmist hype

English: Mt Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro - Image via Wikipedia

I’ve said many times that the claims of receding glaciers on Mt. Kilimanjaro by Al Gore in his movie “An Inconvenient Truth, and by extension, the claims of Dr. Lonnie Thompson  are nothing more than alarmist hype. The cause, deforestation leading to reduced evapotranspiration of moisture, rendering upslope winds less moisture laden, and thus depositing less precipitation on the summit. The ice then sublimates away. “Global warming” hasn’t anything to do with it.

A Climategate 2 email shows that Dr. Lonnie Thompson agrees privately, but spouts alarmism publicly. Now we have more on the story from the Miami Herald. It seems tour guides are seeing increased glacier growth now.

Excerpt:

…one of the saddest claims of some scientists and environmental activists is that those glaciers are disappearing, perhaps before the end of the decade, another victim of rising global temperatures.

Athumani Juma doesn’t believe it. A guide who’s been hiking the mountain for the past seven years, he laughed when he was asked about the likelihood that Kilimanjaro’s snowcap would disappear soon. The glaciers, he claimed, no longer are shrinking, but growing.

“Before, we were seeing glaciers melting,” he explained during a recent descent from the summit. “But from 2010 to now, we have been seeing new glaciers.”

So is one of the most popularly cited examples of the adverse effects of man-made climate change, Kilimanjaro’s great melt, a myth?

Yes and no, said Georg Kaser, a professor at Innsbruck University in Austria who’s a leading expert on low-latitude glaciers, including Kilimanjaro’s.

The glaciers atop Kilimanjaro’s highest peak, Kibo, are indeed melting, but not because of climate change, he said. They’ve been receding steadily since at least 1880.

“According to our understanding, the Kibo glaciers shrink and will disappear not because of changing climate conditions but because of conditions that are unfavorable in principle: It is simply too dry for these glaciers to exist under normal Holocene conditions,” he emailed. The Holocene is how geologists refer to the period from the last Ice Age until now.

“The much less clear question is on how the glaciers came to exist, and there are indications that a series of exceptional wet years allowed them to build up during the first half of the 19th century,” Kaser wrote.

Kilimanjaro visitors don’t need to worry about the rare tropical glaciers vanishing in the next several years, but the summit will continue to gradually lose more and more of its icy grandeur. Projections suggest that the glaciers will disappear by 2046, give or take 10 or 20 years, Kaser said.

That’s because the atmosphere around Kilimanjaro doesn’t contain enough water to sustain large ice bodies, according to Kaser’s research. Climate change might have affected the precipitation patterns in the region, but local temperatures don’t appear to be a driving factor in the glacier retreat.

A separate study published in the journal Global and Planetary Change in November 2010 suggested that deforestation in Kilimanjaro’s lower rain forests could be accelerating the glaciers’ retreat because it leads to drier air around the mountain’s peak.

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41 Responses to Told ya so: Al Gore + Kilimanjaro = alarmist hype

  1. The law of CAGW decay predicts how the number of the not-debunked claims by a given media-active warmist decreases in the course of time.

    Half-life rates vary: 2 minutes in the case of a claim appearing on Skeptical Science, 10 minutes for a Romm blog, 15 minutes for a Gore “Truth”, a day for Hansen’s and Schmidt’s remarks and up to 3 months for a Mann Finding.

    The last example’s survival ability is easily explained as the result of using obfuscatory tactics and a different physics.

    Note that the half-life of claims can approach zero, as in the case of Briffa and Jones where public statements are contradicted immediately via non-public email.

  2. Larry in Texas says:

    Enough said. Al Gore needs to put up AND shut up.

  3. Laurie says:

    This photo of Mount Kilimanjaro is courtesy of TripAdvisor

    February, 2012… it does still snow there.

  4. Lawrie Ayres says:

    Slowly, slowly the myths are being debunked and published. Thank God for the net and free speech. I do hope SOPA is dead for it does threaten our ability to freely comunicate ideas.

  5. Otter says:

    While I agree that the Kilimanjaro glacier is Not melting due to bogus AGW, I do have a question which I don’t think was answered in the article: was the clear-cutting of forest below the mountain range, discontinued? Or has there been an increase in precip the last few years?
    It would be good to know what changed. Otherwise the alarmists are going to continue their hysterics.

  6. Hoser says:

    That’s just sublime.

  7. Peter Plail says:

    So is it something that has been going on since 1880 or it it due to recent deforestation?

    What concerns me are the statements about recent deforestation changing precipitation levels. If the glaciers have indeed been receding steadily for over a century, then claims of an anthropogenic effect through cutting down trees rather than climate change would seem to be equally exaggerated and could be seen as “yet another hollow excuse” by sceptics.

    I suspect the truth (as in most things) is not black and white but consists of many shades of grey, with contributions from numerous effects which vary from place to place depending on local, regional and global conditions, both natural and human-induced.

    This is further confused by the time lag between acquisition of data and publishing of academic results. What is often being discussed is a snapshot of conditions years or decades ago, not what is happening now. Predictions are made on the basis of linear trends in circumstances where linear trends are patently absurd (does anyone truly believe that a 4K rise in a century would really be a 40K rise in a millennium?) and already invalidated by current observations.

    This is one of the drawbacks of the current scientific method as reflected in the “static” academic paper publishing approach, especially where applied to modelling. What would be more valuable would be a “dynamic” system whereby new results could be introduced into models to generate regularly updated results published on-line rather than on paper.

    There is a downside, though. It would be much more difficult to tune results “by hand” to achieve a predetermined outcome.

  8. MangoChutney says:

    movie required chronicalling errors in AIT which should be compulsory whenever AIT is screened, especially in schools

  9. John Marshall says:

    Probably there have been more written about these glaciers than any of the others. All I have read, about 6, come to the same conclusion. Summit temperatures refuse to rise above -7C so melting is not the reason for ice loss. The above post explains very well the reasons why.

    You alarmists must link to something else we are tired of this old hat about Kilimanjaro.

  10. David L says:

    I’m sorry but we should believe Athumani Juma, a tour guide? He’s not a “respected” climate professional (aka a member of the Team). His remarks are not peer reviewed in a respected climate journal so his opinion doesn’t count. Well established computer models with carefully estimated “fudge factors” say otherwise. /sarc

  11. pesadia says:

    Nothing ever happens unless there is sufficient reason for it to be thus rather than otherwise.
    Some reasons are less obvious than others and there are those amongst us who seek to hide those reasons.

  12. Harold Ambler says:

    People’s need for a non-chaotic and/or static climate system is strange. I debunk the Kilimanjaro “global warming” myth and many others in my book, which I hope that people will consider giving to those they know who still believe in AGW.

    http://amzn.to/w3FQx8

  13. polistra says:

    Bravo Kaser. I’m guessing Universität Innsbruck is “out of the loop” of government-funded grants, which makes it possible for a professor there to think and speak truth. If Kaser had any EU funding, he’d be unable to deviate from orthodoxy.

  14. definitely sounds like this is well researched compared to the climate cartoons al gore puts out!

  15. Dodgy Geezer says:

    @David L
    “I’m sorry but we should believe Athumani Juma, a tour guide? …”

    Though David L was intending to compare model predictions to on-the-ground observation (to the model’s detriment), there IS a point that needs considering. Athumani Juma’s evidence is uncorroborated, and, as a tour guide who makes his money from conducting tourists up the mountain to see the sights, he might be thought to have an interest in assuring them that the glaciers would remain.

    Equally, he might have an interest in encouraging tourists to see the ‘last remains’. So much depends on the context in which he made his reported remarks. I would be cautious about using this assertion as ‘proof’ of anything….

  16. Babsy says:

    This cannot be so! More CO2 in the atmosphere means more heat and heat melts glaciers! We’re all gonna die! The models say so! Oh, the HUMANITY!!!!

  17. Simeon Higgs says:

    well, you could still say that the shrinking glaciers are caused by climate change…. just changes in climate that happened thousands of years ago.

  18. adolfogiurfa says:

    Was it not, according to Al Gore, that all andean glaciers were going to disappear?, Watch this snow storm (SH summertime) at 11º41´53″S, 76º12´17″W (Central Highway, Ticlio, Peru, 4950 meters above sea level):
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L5Imv2Kyl0&w=420&h=315%5D

  19. Chipotle says:

    BTW, there’s an organization, Plant With Purpose, which has started a program of teaching former slash and burn farmers on Kilimanjaro how to switch to agroforestry (financing their switch through micro-loans managed by their own communtes). If this has continued success (i.e. it spreads past the first communities), there will be more and more trees.

  20. Jack Greer says:

    Not sure what your point is, Anthony, other than proverbially “beating a dead horse”. As Dr. Richard Alley said, “Individual glaciers can do interesting things. The world’s glaciers tend to listen to the climate.” Do you believe the world population of glaciers is increasing in number, extent and/or volume?

  21. Nick Shaw says:

    David L and Dodgy Geezer
    Why can’t we take the word of Athumani Juma just because he’s a tour guide?
    The railroad engineer appears to be quite comfortable taking the word of and, in fact, publishing the views of “tour guides” as fact.
    If we are going to throw stones or even bombs, at least they should be of equal weight, no? ;-)

  22. JohnWho says:

    <i.Jack Greer says:
    January 20, 2012 at 7:00 am
    Not sure what your point is, Anthony, …

    I suspect, among other things, it is to show that Gore was, and still is, incorrect in his assertion that “global warming” was, and still is, causing Mt. Kilamanjaro to lose it’s ice cap.

    Do you disagree with that?

  23. A physicist says:

    I have to join the posters who are asking “What is the point of this post?”

    When a politician (like Al Gore) comments upon the rapid melting of one single glacier (like Kilimanjaro) that’s not strong science. And similarly, criticizing that politician’s commentary, or predictions regarding one single glacier’s melting rate, is not strong skepticism.

    There are plenty of strong scientific studies that survey global glacier mass loss, and strong skepticism should focus upon that strong science … in service of a science-and-skepticism partnership by which (in the long run) everyone wins … especially our children and grandchildren, who will inherit this planet.

    That’s why building a strong-with-strong partnership is just common sense, right?

  24. G. Karst says:

    Jack Greer says:
    January 20, 2012 at 7:00 am

    Do you believe the world population of glaciers is increasing in number, extent and/or volume?

    Most ice reached it’s maximum during the recent LIA. Many (not all) have been decreasing since. What has this normalization got to do with CO2? Try to deploy your critical thinking abilities before reaching conclusions. Do you really want to return to the conditions of the LIA, just so a few glaciers will return to “growing” status. Even if YOU do… I am sure there are billions who would NOT! GK

  25. dtbronzich says:

    Maurizio Morabito (omnologos) says: etc.
    Yes, but have you taken into account the recycling of older material through on line and print sources? Through this low effort approach, everything old is made new again……..

  26. Smokey says:

    Gore globaloney gets pushback from school kids:

    http://blogs.dailymail.com/donsurber/archives/50033#more-50033

    The kids have more on the ball than ‘a physicist’ and Jack Greer!☺

  27. kwinterkorn says:

    “A Physicist” does not acknowledge that there are two major aspects of global warming, and WUWT is interested in both.

    Firstly, though still in its infancy, there is real climate science, and people interested in the real science blog here. The free flow of information on climate science here has helped advance our understanding of the Earth’s climate system.

    Secondly, there is an apocalyptic political movement dedicated to “the cause” of blaimng humans for a prophesied disatrous set of climate changes centered on positive feedback effects from anthropogenic rising atmospheric CO2 levels. This political movement is flet by most skeptics here to be destructive and anti-human, based on falsified “science”. The discussions at this site of Post Normal Science get to the heart of this political process.

    WUWT has been dedicated to exposing and countering the false political movement by doing good science. Al Gore has been a the fore of the political movement, and discrediting his phony science is important.

  28. A physicist says:

    kwinterkorn says: [excellent post]

    Kwinterkorn, you make a very good point — and it’s clearly expressed too — and yet it seems to me that criticizing Al Gore’s weak brand of politics is not strong skepticism, any more than criticizing Al Gore’s weak science is strong skepticism.

    For strong science united with a strong political vision, it’s hard to beat the videos by James Hansen and by RADM David Title, USN that are popping up on YouTube.

    And yet, I give even more respect to the ongoing scientific/political work by this planet’s senior biologists like Jane Goodall and Ed Wilson … as shown here, for example … who are persons who “See what everyone has seen, and think what no one has thought, and launch enterprises that no one has imagined” … this criterion expressing (for me) the essence of great science and great political leadership.

  29. JohnWho says:

    A physicist says:
    January 20, 2012 at 8:15 am
    When a politician (like Al Gore) comments upon the rapid melting of one single glacier (like Kilimanjaro) that’s not strong science.

    Agreed – when you are right, you are right.

    And similarly, criticizing that politician’s commentary, or predictions regarding one single glacier’s melting rate, is not strong skepticism.

    Nope – when you are wrong, you are wrong.

    The majority of the US’s main stream media will carry, emphasize, and amplify Gore’s comments. A skeptic will point out the poor science being promoted by the politician (in this case, Gore).

    Remember, Gore isn’t simply commenting on the melting of the single glacier, he is stating emphatically the cause, and he is wrong.

    What kine of person recognizes that Gore’s comments are not strong science, yet doesn’t challenge those comments with strong science based skepticism?

    Answer: one who really does not care about proper science at all.

  30. Crispin in Waterloo says:

    @JohnWho

    It is also worth mentioning that many of those who are stating emphatically the cause, stand to make or indend to make large sums of money trading solutions to the masses who they hope will believe those same emphatic statements. There is no one more personally interested in demonising CO2 than a CO2 offset vendor.

  31. Nick Kermode says:

    Anthony,
    You say “The cause”, no plural. A you suggesting deforestation is the only cause? Wouldn’t it be hard for deforestation to start shrinking the glacier decades before its commencement?

  32. Howard T. Lewis III says:

    One look at Al D. Gore’s college records would tell you much about what is going on with ‘Global warming and hype. D, Gore got a ‘D’ in his only science class in college, something called ‘Natural Science’. I suppose it did not go much further than watching ice cubes melt in daiquiris and burning their own fingers with safety matches. This carbon tax credit-global warming-reading the bones hocus pocus program was enough to convince the queen of England that such a campaign, led by Al D. Gore, the wizard, would bring in much new revenue for the fast sinking British empire, for a nominal fee, of course. Al D. Gore made his house payments and the queen has been made a doddering fool. Chaaallz and the two sons wearing the “Me First” sashes will have to take it on the chin. They are obsolete and overpaid and have a pedigree following satanism in all its negative ramifications that we have seen in the past, and we see here today, with their proxy, the Obamanation at the helm. Obama is so out of touch with reality, he MUST have been worked on.

  33. A physicist says:
    January 20, 2012 at 10:46 am

    For strong science united with a strong political vision, it’s hard to beat the videos by James Hansen and by RADM David Title, USN that are popping up on YouTube.

    I disagree vehemently. This is pure spin. Combining thinly veiled AdHom with clearly ridiculous statements about boiling oceans is neither strong science nor strong political vision. Delivered with pompous disdain towards the unwashed masses, who stand to lose the most if policy derived from this agenda comes to force.

  34. Nick Kermode says:

    Crispin in Waterloo says:
    January 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    “There is no one more personally interested in demonising CO2 than a CO2 offset vendor.”

    So what exactly do oil, gas and electric companies do Crispin?

  35. LazyTeenager says:

    John Marshall says
    Summit temperatures refuse to rise above -7C so melting is not the reason for ice loss. The above post explains very well the reasons why.
    ———-
    Well the general prediction is that glaciers will increase due to AGW, IIIFFF the temperatures on the glacier stay below freezing. The reason of course is increased atmospheric moisture at the higher temperatures.

    Therefore the claim of the summit temperature not changing is of some interest. However what would be of more relevance would be the temperature profile with altitude and whether that is changing. This profile and any changes it undergoes ,will determine the growth or loss at the ice sheet margin.

    The sublimation idea would be justifiable if the ice had disappeared from areas on the mountain where the temperature was still below zero Celcius.

    The article itself does not illuminate any of this. On the one hand we have a, possibly unreliable, tour guide saying the glacier is increasing. Then we have a contradiction from a glacier specialist claiming it is decreasing.

    Somehow these contradictory positions simultaneously are supposed to discredit Al Gore who is a not a scientist, but a communicator who simply passes on what scientists tell him.

  36. Dodgy Geezer says:

    @Nick Shaw

    “David L and Dodgy Geezer
    Why can’t we take the word of Athumani Juma just because he’s a tour guide?
    The railroad engineer appears to be quite comfortable taking the word of and, in fact, publishing the views of “tour guides” as fact.
    If we are going to throw stones or even bombs, at least they should be of equal weight, no? ;-)”

    Ah, Mr Shaw,

    I quite see your point. But I thought that Anthony had set up this blog for more-or-less scientific discussion. My problem with the ‘science’ of climate change is not so much that it is provably wrong, and has already cost humanity many billions in wasted work, but that its proponents strike at the heart of science itself by mixing it so closely with professional activism.

    I believe that they are endangering all science in this way, and that if we descend to their level we are simply becoming political activists ourselves, and adding to this damage…

  37. HenryP says:

    I notice from my tables
    http://www.letterdash.com/HenryP/henrys-pool-table-on-global-warming
    a) there is no warming in the SH
    b) humidity has been dropping globally at an average rate of -0.02% RH/annum since 1974

    Ergo, my observations confirm the conclusions of this post.

  38. Sugel says:

    Sources disagree when the glaciers will be gone due to melting. In 2002, a study led by Ohio State University ice core paleoclimatologist Lonnie Thompson predicted that ice on top of Africa’s tallest peak would be gone between 2015 and 2020. In 2007, a team of Austrian scientists from University of Innsbruck predicted that the plateau ice cap will be gone by 2040, but some ice on the slope will remain longer due to local weather conditions.Yet, another, the California Academy of Sciences, predicts that the [glaciers] will be gone by 2050. A comparison of ice core records suggests conditions today are returning to those of 11,000 years ago. A study by Philip Mote of the University of Washington in the United States and Georg Kaser of the University of Innsbruck in Austria concludes that the shrinking of Kilimanjaro’s ice cap is not directly due to rising temperature but rather to decreased precipitation. In May 2008 The Tanzanian Minister for Natural Resources, Ms Shamsa Mwangunga, said that there were indications that snow cover on the mountain was actually increasing. In January 2006, the Western Breach route was closed by the Tanzanian government following a rockslide that killed four people at Arrow Glacier Camp. On December 1, 2007 the Western Breach route was reopened for climbing.

  39. HenryP says:

    Sugel says
    that the shrinking of Kilimanjaro’s ice cap is not directly due to rising temperature but rather to decreased precipitation

    Henry@Sugel
    my observations (from the results of ca. 20 weather stations) do not confirm this (globally),
    but it IS getting drier, as reported by me, and
    as shown by the msg in this post:
    “It is simply too dry for these glaciers to exist under normal Holocene conditions,” he emailed.
    Do you understand that there is a difference between dropping RH and (very slight) increasing precipitation?

  40. Espen says:

    But the Kilimanjaro meme will live on forever.

    For instance, in today in the Montreal Gazette (illustration photo):
    http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Global+warming+Welcome/6028981/story.html

  41. HenryP says:

    Henry@Espen
    What a load of nonsense in that article in the Gazette.
    I could not get registered, to leave a comment,
    but if you are already registered there,
    tell them that man made climate change is a man made myth,
    to keep “green” jobs.
    as I found out
    http://www.letterdash.com/HenryP/more-carbon-dioxide-is-ok-ok

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