Quote of the Day

“We are cooling. We are not warming. The warming you see out there, the supposed warming, and I am using my finger quotation marks here, is part of the cooling process. Greenland, which is now covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right?”

Michael Steele, discussing global warming. (Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan who ran this with the title Dumb and Dumber).


  1. 1
    Eclectic Radical says:

    I am forced to resist the urge to cover my face with my hands as I read this. I always thought Michael Steele was one of the intelligent voices the GOP should listen to more closely. I thought he might be better educated.

    I write this for his benefit and for the benefit of anyone who might be reading who might enjoy random, but useless, historical trivia:

    Greenland and Iceland were discovered in the late Middle Ages by the vikings, specifically by famous explorer and pirate Eric Thorvaldson (best known as ‘Eric the Red’). Eric discovered and settled Greenland first, which was then as it is now: a big, rocky island covered with ice and snow. He told wild stories of ‘Greenland’ to get settlers to sail to the place, knowing no one would go to ‘Iceland.’

    Later, he and a smaller expedition discovered what is now Iceland: a fertile island kept warm by geothermic energy and hot springs. Partly as an ironic joke and partly to keep the best farm land and the great hot springs for their own friends and families, they named the smaller island ‘Iceland.’

    So yes, Greenland was named for a reason, just not the one Michael Steele thinks.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Greenland might have been the greatest real estate hoax in history.

  3. 3
    Eclectic Radical says:

    It just proves one stereotype: never trust a white person trying to sell you something.

  4. 4
    Fritz says:

    Eric the Red was quite the salesman.

    However there are some interesting new climate modeling proposals going on: 


  5. 5
    Robert L. www.neolibertarian.com says:

    “The Norse arrived during a particularly warm and green period in human history, an era called the Medieval Climate Optimum between the 8th and 13th centuries. The weather got less cooperative for farming and livestock rearing later during what’s known as the Little Ice Age (from the 16th to the early 19th century)” from Putting The Green Back In Greenland

    or if you prefer, from wikipedia:

    ” . . .  the inner regions of the long fjords where the settlements were located were very different from today . . . the central area of the Eastern settlement, and the hills were grown with grass and willow brushes. This was due to the medieval climate optimum.  . . The climate in Greenland was much warmer during the first centuries of settlement but became increasingly colder in the 14th and 15th centuries with the approaching period of colder weather known as the Little Ice Age.”

    Both these references take the Eric the Red “give it a good name” story as true but go on to say that never the less the climate was very different from today.

  6. 6
    nomoreGOP says:

    …”Both these references take the Eric the Red “give it a good name” story as true but go on to say that never the less the climate was very different from today.”

    Thank you captain obvious.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    The more important question is whether any natural climate changes in Greenland has any bearing on whether warming in the past century is secondary to human activity or if it is a consequence of natural fluctuations.

    I would prefer Fritz’s proposal turns out to be true, but it is dangerous to interpret science based upon what you wish for as opposed to what the data shows. Skimming the actual article gives a quite different impression from the newspaper account. From the conclusion:

    Finally, it is vital to note that there is no comfort to be gained by having a climate with a significant degree of internal variability, even if it results in a near-term cessation of global warming. It is straightforward to argue that a climate with significant internal variability is a climate that is very sensitive to applied anthropogenic radiative anomalies (c.f. Roe [2009]). If the role of internal variability in the climate system is as large as this analysis would seem to suggest, warming over the 21st century may well be larger than that predicted by the current generation of models, given the propensity of those models to underestimate climate internal variability [Kravtsov and Spannagle 2008].

  8. 8
    Eclectic Radical says:

    Has Greenland’s climate changed? Yes. Are there times of year when Greenland is green? Also yes.

    That said, the bulk of Greenland has always been one it is today: an uninhabitable chunk of icy rock. All of the quoted texts describe the habitable portion of the island, which is by far a tiny minority of the landmass and was not larger in the past than today. Even historically, when the fjords were more temperate when they are now, Greenland was inhospitable enough that people used to living in Norway and Denmark decamped to go back to Europe because of the harsh conditions during the winter and the extremely short spring and summer.

  9. 9
    Fritz says:

    My major beef with the “global warming” people is that they are basing a lot (and they want the world to bet trillions of dollars) on the predictive ability of their computer models — when we know that the models are crude, the computer horsepower inadequate, and the input data coarse. 

    The last people to put so much money on computer models were Wall Street financial houses — and we know how well that has worked.   Even though a Nobel Prize in Economics came out the 1990’s version (followed shortly by collapse and government bailout of the hedge fund founded by the Nobel Prize winners).

    I am comforted by the fact that life on Earth has flourished with a wide range of CO2 levels — sometimes many times the current levels.

    I would, however, be really interested in knowing what causes O2 swings — it has sometimes been 10% and sometimes 30% of the atmosphere.  Halving the O2 concentration could get a bit unpleasant.

  10. 10
    Eclectic Radical says:

    I don’t totally disagree with you, Fritz, and there are reasons to be partially skeptical about the environmentalist movement (if less because the problem is not real than because there may not be anything meaningful we can do about it) or at least parts of the most radically ‘green’ elements of it. I have to do a little of arguing all the same, purely because of the demands of logic.

    Wall Street is dependent on subjective factors. Computer models can predict tendencies, but they cannot predict a subjective human panic. Nor can a computer model of Wall Street predict a stock market crash resultant from factors in other economic markets which the model does not cover. If the model does not have the data to predict the credit crash, it cannot predict a stock market crash resultant from same.

    Climatology is more of a ‘hard’ science than economics, and there is more ‘hard’ data for the construction of a computer model. Computer models are dependent on data, and economics is a ‘soft’ science full of unscientific ‘soft’ data.

    Don’t be too comfortable. If the studies you are taking comfort from are not worth the paper they are printed on, they won’t help very much. The best science on the subject right now favors the liberal definition of the problem, but suggests the liberal cure may be a pipe dream. If this more fatalist material is correct, then we may be going the way of the dinosaurs like it or not.

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    Climate change is not purely based upon computer models. The actual effects of climate change are being seen, such as in the polar ice caps. Arnold Schwarzenegger has discussed seeing the changes in California. It is more difficult when we go from descriptions of what is occurring to predicting the future, but it is discouraging when climate scientists are now finding that global warming is progressing at a faster rate than previously predicted.

    Life on earth might flourish under different CO2 levels, but will it be human life? Even if human existence isn’t jeopardized, there are still serious consequences such as loss of coastal cities, water shortages, and wars as a consequence of drought.

    As Eclectic points out, there is little similarity between the Wall Street computer models and climate science.

  12. 12
    Robert L. www.neolibertarian.com says:

    I think there is a difference between climate change and accepting AGW.  We all know things like ice coverage in the North in particular has been through some major changes: the question is what is the root cause.

    It could be the green house effect, it could be natural cycles, it could be influenced by old fashioned pollutants  (one study found the latter two to have a huge impact on recent ice loss) and it could be a complex interaction of all of these factors.

    It is possible to accept, and react to, climate change without accepting the green house gas theory.

    As for computer modeling, the global warming models seem to be simultaneously not predicting as much change as we are seeing and  not predicting the way the earth’s temperature has leveled off and is even exhibiting at least short term cooling.

    This indicates serious issues with the computer models being used but again the question is whether the models’ fundamental assumptions about AGW are correct (right theory, wrong details) or whether the models are fundamentally incorrect about the causes of change.

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