Which of these would be accurate in showing the insanity, but not so sharp as to raise the hackles of the climate contrarians?
- “Contrarians think Antarctic unworthy of protection”
- “Denialists criticize efforts to keep Antarctic clean”
- “Climate change critics’ brains have left the building”
Read these stories, and tell me.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted the delicate condition of the Antarctic with regard to its two main industries, fishing and tourism. IPCC AR4 noted that the tourism industry takes steps to protect Antarctic environments made more vulnerable by melting. (Footnote here; actual flyer here, assessment document here in Microsoft Word .doc format)
It’s clear that the contrarians don’t have much experience in heavy documentation. If you follow the links they provide, you quickly get to the paper provided by the tourist industry noting their precautions to prevent contamination, provided to meet a request by scientists from the Australian team, and based on information well vetted to the point that it includes substantial excerpts from what appears to be a peer-reviewed journal on the types of solutions suitable for decontaminating foreign boots in the Antarctic (Polar Record, vol. 41, no. 216, Jan. 2005, p. 39-45; it is actually the official journal of the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge, UK). There is astounding and commendable attention to detail, much more than the contrarians can grok, it appears.
More troubling to the Boy Scout in me is the contrarians’ contempt for what is, really, Leave No Trace Camping carried to an Antarctic tourist stop. This is part of the environment protection credo of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and it is sound policy that everyone should be teaching their children.
What is wrong with that? Why do the contrarians mock wise policies? Why do they make false claims against what amounts to good Scouting?
One implicit complaint is that the footnote does not provide evidence of damage from climate change, in the Antarctic. It’s clear that the critics have not followed the footnote path to see why the boot cleaning poster and directive were issued, nor to see what is the research or official government action that prompted the tourist companies to implement the procedure.
It appears in a section of the IPCC reports on effects of warming on industries in affected areas. Only two industries are noted in the Antarctic, fishing and tourism. After establishing the increased chance of problem organisms, including micro-organisms, showing up in Arctic and Antarctic areas as the areas warm, and after noting two plagues that killed penguins recently, from micro-organisms, the IPCC paper notes that concern to prevent such tragedies have so far required only boot decontamination, and it offers a link to the flyer provided by an Antarctic tour operators group.
Got that? To show that the tour operators are affected, IPCC cited the flyer put out by the tour operators showing how and why they were changing their operations. It’s a minor, almost trivial point.
At no point did IPCC’s report claim this procedure as evidence of warming, or the effects of warming. So the claims of the contrarians and denialists are completely off base, as they’d recognize except for their own shouting for the lynching of science to proceed.
Criticism of IPCC for noting the good stewardship techniques used in the Antarctic comprises more political smear than scientific enlightenment, by a huge factor. Voodoo science from the contrarians begets voodoo criticism.
Contrarians lack wisdom in posing this complaint of theirs. This is one more point IPCC got right, factually and ethically. IPCC should be commended for that.
Wall of Shame (update added on February 7)
Outlets that cite the boot reference, falsely or stupidly, as some sort of flaw in the IPCC report, and thereby demonstrate malevolent intentions, and not scientific (“malice” for you Times v. Sullivan fans):
- At the continuing Wattsgate, “Gate du Jour: IPCC gets the boot (cleaned)” at Watts Up With That
- Climate Audit, “IPCC and the Antarctic boot cleaning manual”
- George Spellwin’s Elite Fitness Forums
- Moonbattery (oh, the irony just never ends at that site)
- Google group, rec.bicycles.tech, with the even more offense-provoking headline, “IPCC authority on Antarctica is bootblacking instruction pamphlet” (still wonder if these guys have any science as a concern?)