Disappearing Polar Bears?

It is, apparently, official.  The last decade was ‘the warmest on record’.  That, at least, is what the BBC’s newsreader informed me the other day (though anyone who has read Robin Aitken’s excellent book, ‘The Noble Liar’, is allowed to take an item of BBC news with a large pinch of salt).

Now, what are these records, I wonder.  Sometimes, I suspect, these same experts refer to the ‘fossil record’ to back up various claims.  Some of the fossils on Greenland are of tropical plants; I’m not aware that there are any of these growing wild on Greenland today so presumably that is not the sort of record they are interested in!

Then what about the records found in tree rings?  The Bristlecone pine, which can live for up to 4,000 years, has been studied for many years by dendrochronologists, and its rings show clear evidence of what is known as the Medieval Warm Period, when there is thought to have been very little, if any, snow on the Alps, when grapes grew in England and the Vikings settled on the lush island they named ‘Greenland’.  Sadly, a few generations later the cold returned and the settlers starved to death as it became impossible to cultivate the frozen soil.

Perhaps the records of archaeological remains might help?  Up in the hills behind the village, about a mile from my house, is a cave.  When it was excavated in 1876, layers of animal bones were found.  The lower layers contained bones identified as those of lion, hyena, elephant, rhinoceros and hippopotamus; the upper layers bones of grizzly bears and reindeer.  None of those would find the climate of the Yorkshire Dales suitable today!

But, you may say, that was all before the Industrial Revolution.  Things are different now.  So I’ve been looking up weather reports covering the last century.  These are mostly from American newspapers, of which there is a comprehensive collection in the National Archives; I acknowledge gratefully the work of scientist Tony Heller in making them available on his website, realclimatescience.com.  Here are some of them, referring particularly to Arctic ice, which the BBC recently informed us is melting.

  • 1922: Arctic Ocean warming up.  Icebergs becoming scarce.  A radical change in climatic conditions and hitherto unheard of temperatures.

  • 1939: Glaciers melting over Greenland.

  • 1955: Melting Arctic ice warming up the world.

  • 1958: Arctic ice only 7 feet (2m) thick.  Expected to disappear by 2015.  ‘Say goodbye to polar bears.’  The water will soon be too hot for seals.

    But then:

  • 1970: ‘Dawn of New Ice Age.’  Forty-two top US and European ‘investigators dealing with past and future changes in climate’ write to US President warning of the likely increase in floods, snowstorms, and killing frosts, and urging him to instruct the Pentagon to make plans to deal with the Siberian conditions which would cover Europe and Britain by 2015.  (They did.)

  • 1975: Climatologists’ suggestions for melting the increasing Arctic ice include covering it with soot.

  • 1980: ‘New Ice Age may soon grip cooling earth.’

     Strangely, so short are our memories, it was not long before Vice-President Al Gore could confidently assert that all Arctic ice would disappear by 2012; President Obama was a little more cautious and said 2015 would be the date.  And here we are in 2020 and the ice is still there.  I haven’t noticed either gentleman admitting they were mistaken.

    The Danish Meteorological Institute is responsible for monitoring the extent of ice in the Arctic, and has done so using satellite images since the early 1970s.  According to them, the ice is still 2m thick; the current winter temperatures at the North Pole are 5-10°C cooler than in 2016; last summer’s temperatures were below the 1968-2002 mean; the sea ice edge at present is close to the 1981-2010 median.  Or to put it another way, there has been no trend in ice increasing or decreasing in the Arctic over the past few decades. 

    And the polar bears?  They are thriving, though the Australian scientist who recently carried out that piece of research was sacked by her university when it was published, on the grounds that it was contrary to current opinion.

    Confused?  Annoyed?  Fearful?  Here is something you may rely upon:

    He sends out His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly.  He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes; He casts out His hail like morsels; who can stand before His cold?  He sends out His word and melts them; He causes the wind to blow, and the waters flow.

                                                                                                    Psalm 147:15-18

    C H Spurgeon, commenting on this psalm, writes: I rejoice as I read these words, to find how present God is in the world.  It is not written, “the laws of nature produce snow,” but “HE giveth snow,” as if every flake came directly from the palm of His hand. We are not told that certain natural regulations form moisture into frost, but “HE scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.”  It is not said that the Eternal has set the world going, and by the operation of its machinery ice is produced.  Oh no, “HE casteth His ice like morsels.”  The ice is called, you observe, His ice; and in the next sentence we read of His cold.  When the thaw comes, see how the text speaks of it - “He sendeth out His word.”  He does not leave it to certain forces of nature, but like a king, “He sendeth out His word and melteth them; He causeth HIS wind to blow.”  Learn to see the Lord in all scenes of the visible universe, for truly He worketh all things.

    May we always remember that the God who created this world is also the One who upholds and sustains it according to His will, His purpose, and His timetable!