Greenland Greens Lose Heads Over Melting Ice

In the winter, there’s lots of ice in Greenland; in the summer, some of it melts. That’s the way things have gone in good old Greenland for a long time.

An unusually fast and extreme melting process this July made the news worldwide – and touched off something of a frenzy in Climate Change Central’s hysterical wing. Banner features like the barmy splash above, from a website called Upworthy.com, encapsulate this highly unproductive phenomenon.

What actually happened:

Most summers, about half the surface ice cover of Greenland melts away. But according to satellite imaging, this July some 97% of it experienced a degree of thawing, and that over a mere three-day period.

Pretty extreme. Evocative even. But no, children: Greenland didn’t melt.

Core samples suggest that extreme melts like this have been occurring on average about every 150 years (the last was in 1889).

The Washington Post quoted Dorothy Hall of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center: If the satellite measurements show the same thing next month, and next summer, “then we’re going to start to think it is related to global warming, but at this point we can’t say.”

By “we” she means people who consider the facts before screaming bloody green murder. Headlines like Upworthy’s “In Case You Missed It, Greenland Just Melted,” or even MSNBC‘s “Rapid Greenland melt alarms scientists,” aren’t helping convince our small but loud cadre of climate change deniers that our carbon dioxide emissions are causing global warming.

From the actual MSNBC post: “Time spoke to NASA’s chief scientist Waleed Abdalati who said this kind of melt ‘makes you sit up and ask what’s happening…It’s a big signal, the meaning of which we’re going to sort out for years to come.'”

We don’t know how many of those years can go by before we reach a climatic tipping point. But as things get warmer, cooler heads really do need to prevail.