An Open Letter to a Fearmonger

Amundsens transit of the Northwest Passage would almost certainly have been possible during the Holocene Optimum, the Roman Optimum, and the Medieval Warm Period (during which Vikings settled Greenland and raised crops there).

Amundsen's transit of the Northwest Passage would almost certainly have been possible during the Holocene Optimum, the Roman Optimum, and the Medieval Warm Period (during which Vikings settled Greenland and raised crops there).

The Canadian geologist Dr. David Barber has been getting some attention recently for his claim that the Arctic , despite recent ice gains, is likely to be ice-free by 2015. “The ice that has covered the Arctic basin for a million years will be gone in little more than six years because of global warming, a University of Manitoba geoscientist said,” reported the Canadian newspaper The Province. What follows is an open letter to the good doctor, which I also made sure to send a copy of to the man himself. 

Dear Professor Barber: 

I am distressed that you, some of your fellow scientists, and the media are misleading the public about the Arctic. One suggestion of that distortion is in the name of your research vessel, The Amundsen. As you well know, Amundsen’s transit of the Northwest Passage in 1903 is proof of the cyclical nature of melting in the Arctic basin! To communicate to the public that any molecule of ice in the Arctic basin was a million years old prior to the melting of 2007 and 2008 is, simply put, to prevaricate. If you want to say that ice that was 3 meters thick was kept in perfect stasis for a million years, never melted from above or below, then God bless you! There is no evidence to support you! It is in the nature of the Arctic ice to cyclically melt and re-freeze. 

How likely is it that Amundsen’s 1903 voyage was only possible then for the first time, even in the Holocene? Not very! Between the Holocene Optimum, the Roman Optimum, and the Medieval Warm Period, I will tell you with near certainty that the conditions of 1903, or 2007 are simply a repeat of past meltings. You and I both know that the Viking settlement of Greenland was done during a period of considerable warmth — they raised crops there, including grain, for more than 300 years! 

There are many proofs of the cyclical nature of Arctic melting, but the most obvious is the thinness of the ice. Had it been accumulating for a million years, it would be miles thick! I know, in case you’re wondering, what multi-year ice and single-year ice are. For the most part, they are distinctions promulgated by alarmists in the past three years to hold onto funding in the face of mounting evidence that manmade global warming is based on flawed science!

It is very, very easy to give people the wrong idea about C02 and the polar ice caps — and hard to set them straight after they have been frightened by you and your peers. For instance, how many top scientists gave major press conferences in 2007 about the record sea ice maximum in the Antarctic? If your theory that C02 has led to the record melt in the Arctic that year, then you have to account for the record-setting sea ice around Antarctica, too. 

As I write you this note, the global sea ice anomaly is sitting very close to zero, not that the planet knows anything of these very recently derived “anomalies.” If the anomaly figures had been developed during the Little Ice Age, not all that long ago, then they might be set a little higher, yes? If the anomaly figures had been developed during the Holocene Optimum, not all that long ago, either, in terms of geologic time, they might be set a little lower, yes? Maybe a lot lower! 

It is fully possible that the lion’s share of the C02 surge of the past century is attributable to past warming, by the way. Considering that the ice core record shows an 800-year lag between temperature and carbon dioxide spikes, it stands to reason that the largest producer of C02 on Earth, the ocean, is increasing the atmospheric value in this way. By the way, there is every possibility that the ice core data showing no previous C02 levels in the high 300s during the past 20,000 years are corrupted by trace liquid water created by the high pressure of the ice. Look for a slew of papers on that in the next few years! 

Your warning concerning an “ice free” arctic by 2015 is precisely the kind to stir maximum fear in the public and gain maximum research dollars from government, science foundations, and universities. You seem oblivious in the face of the newly negative PDO and the Grand Solar Minimum we are entering. Perhaps we could have a public debate about these matters? Perhaps, at that debate, we could bet $1,000 Canadian that Arctic sea ice in September of 2015 will be more extensive, and thicker, than it was in 2008?

I just debated a professor here in Austin from St. Edward’s University, and the event was a huge success. 

Whether or not you would accept my challenges, I hope you will remember that episodes of cooling have always stressed society in the past, and always will. Warm is always better! There has been no runaway warming — water vapor is well-controlled by precipitation feedback! 

As a scientist, I wonder if you are truly looking at the entire climate system, which includes the Sun and Jupiter! Ten years from now, you’re going to wonder how you had the temerity to warn the public about warming when you had already been warned yourself that the pendulum had started to swing in the opposite way. 

Between the solar minimum, the rise of Svensmark clouds, the switchover of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and the approaching switchover of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, those of you who make your living off scaring the public about anthropogenic global warming will remember the early 2000s as the good old days! 

So, what do you say? Are we on for that debate and the wager?

Sincerely yours,
Harold Ambler

About Harold Ambler

I am a lifelong environmentalist. I started my journalism career at The New Yorker, where I worked as a copy editor. Since then, my own work has appeared in The New York Daily News, The National Review Online, The Atlantic Wire, The Huffington Post, The Berkeley Daily Planet, The Providence Journal, Brown Alumni Monthly, The Narragansett Times, Rhode Island Monthly, and Providence Business News.
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6 Responses to An Open Letter to a Fearmonger

  1. Quietman says:

    Re: “To communicate to the public that any molecule of ice in the Arctic basin was a million years old prior to the melting of 2007 and 2008 is, simply put, to prevaricate.”

    This is an interesting point which gad escaped my attention. I know they use ancient cores from glaciers in greenland and antarctica nut has anyone ever dated a core taken at the north pole itself? I would really like to know if the “old ice” is all that old.

  2. Bill in Vigo says:

    Quietman, I wonder if there is any ice that old at the north pole in that the ice is over water not land. I would think that the ice is melting from the bottom up all the time as the water I would think would be at a temp above freezing. I think that at the pole the ice is grown on the top and melted from the bottom. It would truly be interesting to see how a core would be dated at the pole. It seems that I remember a news article some years ago about a U. S. Nuclear submarine surfacing at the pole and the ice was only a few feet thick then. Since it hasn’t melted completely from that time to this it seems to be continually growing from the surface.

    Then again I could be wrong as I am not a climate scientist.

    Bill Derryberry

  3. Ron de Haan says:


    This is a very good strategy.

    Your approach should be a standard treatment for all the scientists that have sold their sole and their scientific integrity to politics and funding.

    0aybe you could put the screws on and scare them for a change by pointing to the fact that thanks to the Internet and some very good blogs the public awareness for the AGW scare is on the rise and we are listing the scare mongers for publicly display for their misuse of public trust in the AGW Scare Monger Who is Who.

    As the warmist are listing “deniers” this “Who is Who of scare mongers could be an interesting counter measure. Especially if the statements of the scientists are “corrected” with hard scientific data.

    We could do the same with journalists and media that publish AGW BS.

    In the mean time I would like to wish you good luck with your Blog and your writing career.

    You’re doing a fine job.

  4. Cindy says:


    I saw you on Red Eye. Thanks for doing such a great job! It’s hard for conservatives such as myself to get much traction in this debate – even though I’m a scientist. True, I’m not a climatologist, but I am a biologist. I think a lot of people truly don’t understand how carbon makes its way through various life forms – circulating between the air, the water and the earth. To me this has always been a chicken or the egg arguement. Do increasing CO2 levels lead to global warming or does global warming lead to increases in CO2 levels? Everything I know about biology leads me to believe the latter. And I believe our climate would have swung wildly out of control long before cars and factories were introduced to the planet if the global warming theorists were correct. The fact that life exists on our planet today pretty much negates their arguements in my mind. A climatalogical system so sensitive to changes in CO2 levels would have been not be able to respond so well to changes in populations over time or even additions of carbon to the system through volcanic eruptions. I would love to see them run their computer models using information from the begining of the Medieval Warm period and run it with all of their assumptions. Would we even be here today in those models?

    I also have to say that it’s a little upsetting that people don’t even want to hear the opposing arguement. Scientific advancement is based on critical thinking, not dogma. Any theory that cannot withstand normal scientific discussion is inherently flawed. And those who think that you have to have the correct credentials to have an opinion haven’t really looked at the scientists and inventors of the past. Many would not pass today’s litmus test. Where would that leave us?

  5. Dave Kanevsky says:


    I just became aware of this site from Red Eye last night. Although my background is in physics, there are a few simple scientific principles involved that the average American is not interested in studying, and you do not need a PhD in Climatology to understand.

    The trouble is, people want to cling to the attention getting sound bites, and have no interest in discussing partial gas pressures, equilibrium in a chemical process, etc. Something much easier to get a grasp on is computer modeling.

    I have been in technical sales for thirty years, but computer modeling has been something I have been aware of and involved with for over 30 years. What people do not realize, and are typically too apathetic to understand, is that if you generate a computer model with even tiny inaccurate assumptions, by the time it extrapolates to the end result, the data predicted are hopelessly skewed. Think of shooting a bullet at a target ten feet away. If your aim is off 1/16th of an inch you will still hit the target. If you move the target a mile away, you will be so far off that the result is completely missing the target. The same holds true for computer modeling. The longer a simulation runs, the more impact of putting in incorrect initial conditions occurs. Horner covers this quite well in his Politically Incorrect Guide, and I ask anyone in doubt to read this book.

    The IPCC studies used proxies that were heavily weighted to achieve the hockey stick Al Gore was so keen to demonstrate. When I try to explain this to people their eyes glaze over. The problem is, there is no simple one sentence sound bite that can be used to convey these points. To just say the models used bad starting points resulting in useless data does not usually impress.

    I wonder how many of this global warming hysterics think that the little ice age was a worthwhile period to live in, and would trade it for today’s conditions. The hockey stick, of course shows neither that or the warming period when the vikings were growing grapes in Vinland (Newfoundland for those who forgot), although to be fair, history is not 100% clear on this.

    What amazes me is the number of scientists who sell their integrity for generous research grants. The prevailing state of affairs in funding makes it much easier to get pro global warming funding than anti.

    Keep up the good work on your website. I will add it to my favorites, and occasionally chime in.

    Dave K

  6. Phil Loqw says:

    “The trouble is, people want to cling to the attention getting sound bites, and have no interest in discussing partial gas pressures, equilibrium in a chemical process, etc. Something much easier to get a grasp on is computer modeling.”

    And it’s visual, too. People too dim or lazy to read can more easily be swayed by scary looking pictures! But as you rightly assert, computer models, by their very nature, are only as good as the data they’re fed. Garbage In-Garbage Out.

    Being an SCUBA diver with several advanced certificates, I have spent many hours in classroom work studying the effects of partial pressures (Charles’ Law, Boyle’s law, Dalton’s Law, Amonton’s Law, etc.), yet when I mentioned this once on a web site discussing water’s propensity to “off-gas” when super-saturated (as can happen when it sufficiently warms), I was practically laughed off the site, even though every single individual that had mocked me for merely being a diver had never heard of such a thing.

    The blind adherence to a lie (anthropogenic global warming) that threatens the lives and well-being of every human on this planet is not just zealotry on a religious scale, it borders on fanaticism with a distinct cult-like fervor, as anyone who speaks out against is finding.

    Thanks for your comments.

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