June 12, 2007

A Kilimanjaro We-told-you-so

File this one under “we been telling you this for years.”

The headline of the University of Washington press release reads “The woes of Kilimanjaro: Don’t blame global warming.” The press release was prepared to announce an article in an upcoming issue of American Scientist magazine (linked to by the press release), by Phil Mote (University of Washington research scientist and State Climatologist of Washington) and Georg Kaser (glaciologist at the University of Insbruck, Austria)

The press release begins:

The “snows” of Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro inspired the title of an iconic American short story, but now its dwindling icecap is being cited as proof for human-induced global warming.

However, two researchers writing in the July-August edition of American Scientist magazine say global warming has nothing to do with the decline of Kilimanjaro’s ice, and using the mountain in northern Tanzania as a “poster child” for climate change is simply inaccurate.

Now we have been writing this very same things for years. We started way back in March 2002, when, in our Virtual Climate Report series (not currently available on-line), we debunked the Kilimanjaro-is-melting-because-of-anthropogenic-global-warming idea as an “urban legend.” We followed that up six months later with an even more in depth analysis showing that the observed changes of the ice fields atop Mt. Kilimanjaro bore no resemblance whatsoever to global temperatures—in fact, the ice atop Kilimanjaro continue to shrink even during a period of global cooling from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s.

Our more recent World Climate Report writings include March 2004’s “’Snow Fooling!” and last October’s “Kilimanjaro Glaciers Exit The Debate.”

But no matter how often that we point out that the hard evidence and scientific literature do not support blaming anthropogenic global warming on the declining snows of Kilimanjaro, it never seems to get through the true believers. Evidence the four page spread in Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth dedicated to pictures of the diminishing ice fields of the mountain, including a picture of Gore’s glacier guru Dr. Lonnie Thompson standing next to the “pitiful last remnants of one of its [Kilimanjaro’s] great glaciers.”

(For what it is worth, it was Dr. Thompson who brought prominence this nonsense about Mt. Kilimanjaro and global warming in the first place during a 2001 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Thompson’s presentation was made February 18, 2001. The New York Times ran an article about it the next day.)

The longer folks (or should we say “alarmists”) like Gore continue to rely on desire instead of the actual facts, the more their credibility is eroded among the voting populace at large. But some stories, no matter how inaccurate they are, are apparently just too good to pass up.

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