San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Global Warming Kills Donner And Blitzen

In an article entitled "Rudolph is Shrinking:  Climate Change is Shrinking Santa's Reindeer," author Laura Geggei makes the following assertions:
  • Reindeer are shrinking, and it's not because they're on a diet for the holidays. Rather, climate change is making it difficult for them — and their gestating fetuses — to survive extreme winters, new research shows.
  • The findings are the culmination of a 16-year study on the reindeer living Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago located between Norway and the Arctic. In 1994, the adult reindeer in Svalbard weighed an average of 120 lbs. (55 kilograms), but in 2010, they weighed less than 108 lbs. (49 kg), on average — a 10- to 12-percent drop in weight.
  • The drop in weight was linked to warmer winters and summers...But warm winter temperatures have increasingly brought rain, not snow, Albon said. Then, when temperatures drop, the wet ground freezes like an ice rink, with the reindeer's tasty lichen stuck beneath the ice. Unable to get to their food, hundreds, if not thousands, of reindeer die.
  • In the winter, over the 20 years we've been working there [Svalbard], the temperature has gone up 9 degrees Celsius [16.2 degrees Fahrenheit]
  • The warmer summer adds a complication, Albon said. When Svalbard is warm and sprouting with food, reindeer are more likely to mate. That means the reindeer population is growing despite the frequent, severe ice-rink winters, he said.
Did you get all that?  I will come back to the specifics in a moment.  But first, consider this climatological data about Norway that I extracted from a global-warming friendly website:
  • For the period 1900-2008 as a whole, the annual mean temperature in Norway has increased by about 0.9°C. Dependent on geographical region, the increase in an­nual temperature varies from 0.5 to 1.1°C. The largest increase is found during spring, where the mean tem­perature has increased by 0.7-1.4°C
And this comment from another website:
  • When it comes to the normal temperature distribution in winter, two main features are evident: firstly, the mean temperature in the winter months are above freezing all along the coast from Lista (Vest-Agder) to the Lofoten area (Nordland). Secondly, the lower inland areas, both in the southern and northern part of Norway, have very low mean temperatures in winter. The Finnmark Plateau is the coldest area with mean monthly temperatures around -15 °C
The panic-stricken article prematurely announcing the deaths of Donner and Blitzen seems designed to add another voice to the cacophony of screams decrying the alleged fact that global warming is going to kill everything on the surface of the earth in the next few years.  I found the article by doing a Google search entitled, "What real harm has global warming done in 2016?"  The group of researchers who wrote the article were looking for something else when they noticed the average weight of a particular population of reindeer had dropped over the past two decades.  They conclude that the average weight has dropped due to global warming but does that conclusion make sense in light of their own observations?
They claim that the temperature in the area they are working has increased by 9 degrees C over the twenty years they have been working there but their own global-warming friendly temperature records indicate that the mean temperature in Norway has only increased by 0.7 to 1.4 degrees C in the past 108 years.  Even allowing for regional differences it is very hard to believe that a real 9 degree temperature change has occurred in their region of study.  Even granting that for some unknown reason their region has really experienced that severe of a temperature change, it is clearly limited to that region and of no value when describing conditions throughout all of Norway.
Apparently a series of ice storms in the winter that have been peculiar to that archipelago have caused the available forage to decrease, resulting in the starvation of more reindeer during the winter season than previous average starvation rates during the winter.  Yet, as the comment about temperature distribution throughout Norway indicates, coastal areas routinely experience above freezing temperatures during the winter months.  If these areas are now experiencing a higher than average incidence of freezing events it would seem to be the case that temperatures in the area have gone down rather than up.
I find it fascinating that the overall population of the reindeer in this area is increasing, despite their smaller size.  The author readily admits that the warmer summers are a "complication" but why should that be so?  Would not warmer summers allow for more biomass to grow, thus allowing the reindeer to consume even more food and grow even larger?  Why are they convinced that the smaller size is directly tied to global warming?  I believe I can make a plausible empirical argument that global warming should not only increase the population of reindeer but also their relative size.  If they are shrinking in size there must be another, localized, cause for that reality.
Ultimately, even if the arguments made by the author are true and global warming is creating a larger population of smaller reindeer in an obscure part of Norway, what difference does that make to the price of tea in China?  This is simply another example of their god in action.  I have never met a single environmentalist who was not committed to the religion of evolution.  Survival of the fittest and natural selection in light of climate change determine the direction of evolution.  Clearly the larger population of smaller reindeer are adapting to their environment better than the smaller population of larger reindeer.  Why is that a problem?  Why should that be a reason to write another article complaining about the evils of global warming?  Ultimately, why should anyone give a hoot?  I certainly don't.
By the way, I mentioned my Google search for actual harm done in 2016 by global warming above. I didn't find a single article describing any real harm done to anyone or anything living in any part of the world in 2016.  I found thousands of articles about lots of ice dying but little more than that.  Maybe global warming is actually a good thing for the living creatures that populate the earth?  I sure think so.  And now I am going to go for a drive around town for a while.  My only goal is to put more carbon emissions into the air and increase the rate of global warming.  I am tired of the cold winters around here.

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