back to article Antarctic glacier 'melted just as fast Long before human carbon emissions'

Top boffins from the British Antarctic Survey say that the Pine Island Glacier - famous as a possible major cause of global-warming-powered sea level rises - was melting just as fast thousands of years ago as it is melting today. “This paper [just published] is part of a wide range of international scientific efforts to …


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  1. Mtech25

    Well humans where around 8000 years ago

    So they still must be to blame.

    1. 404

      Re: Well humans where around 8000 years ago

      Don't be silly. It's well known that it was George Bush who did it...


      1. g e

        Re: Well humans where around 8000 years ago

        You'd better check with Ken Ham about that, I think. Just to be sure....

    2. Wzrd1

      Re: Well humans where around 8000 years ago

      Never fear, for a nominal fee, you too can have scientific results that meet your commercial demand.

      After all, when 100 climatologists say one thing, a few in a paid for lab can say the contrary and disprove the 100 other labs with one claim.

    3. Leslie Graham

      Re: Well humans where around 8000 years ago

      Ah yes - people died from cancer long before cigarettes were invented so smoking can't cause cancer.

      Are you people for real.

      This study just demonstrates how easy it is for us to melt the glaciers - as we are doing.

      It is already warmer now than it was 8,000 years ago and it's not going to stop here.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: Well humans where around 8000 years ago

        "This study just demonstrates how easy it is for us to melt the glaciers"

        Actually I think it gives us a hint as to how to slow down the ice-melt. If we can deploy metal spikes through the ice into the reefs below in enough places, it should slow the bugger down a bit.

        Then, when we are faced with the man-made ice-age, we can remove the spikes :)

  2. TheOtherHobbes

    Yeah, right

    Meanwhile, in the Arctic:

    Warming from Arctic Sea Ice Melting More Dramatic than Thought

    Canada’s Arctic ice caps melting rapidly since 2005, according to documents

    And in the Antarctic, only a weasel would try to claim that just because there was a natural warming around 6000BC - which is well known and much researched in climate science - any warming happening today is also 100% natural.

    Because, opinion.

    Ain't no honest climate scientist going to agree with that bit of lunchtime pub logic.

    1. Peter Storm

      Re: Yeah, right

      Yeah, those bloody weasels.


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah, right

      But heat rises so surely the north pole area would melt with more heat up there and the south pole area would freeze more with less heat down there.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Yeah, right

        But heat rises so surely the north pole area would melt with more heat up there and the south pole area would freeze more with less heat down there.

        I see what you did there.

      2. BoldMan

        Re: Yeah, right

        and then some bugger turns the map upside down...

    3. 9Rune5

      Re: Yeah, right

      I was about to write "It goes both ways", but that would not be accurate.

      Only a weasel would try to claim that today's changes are all due to man-made emissions because it has been more than a century since similar events occured.

      Funny how warmists focus on the last century only (and not even then notice the 30 year warmup prior to the 1940s which looks a lot like the 30 year period leading up to 1997).

      Bottom line is that the claim made, that trace amounts of CO2 causes (or will cause...) dramatic shifts in climate, that claim is quite bold. As such, it needs to be backed by solid evidence. The burden of proof rests with the warmists.

      That said, I am all for cheap and clean energy production. Nuclear FTW.

  3. dogged

    damn these filthy deniers and their filthy research that keeps undermining the truth of climate change!

    1. Daggerchild Silver badge

      and damn these filthy changers and their filthy research that keeps undermining the truth of climate denial

      1. g e

        Climate Atheists

        As defined in the Bible of The First Church of the Science of Warmology (disclaimer to the sarcastically-challenged: conjecture)

        Mind you, no one justified a war or massacre with Atheism (that I can think of right this second)...

        There's a bazillion faiths and gods but there's only one non-belief. Mine's the one with Origin of Species in the pocket.

        1. David Dawson

          Re: Climate Atheists

          Unfortunately, eugenics, brought to the fore by the origin of species, was used, repeatedly, as a reason for conquest, and to justify genocide.

          People can be horrible, no matter their belief system.

        2. Originone

          Re: Climate Atheists

          Soviet russia essentially justified massacres with atheism.

          Marxist ideologies espouse the elimination of religion to be replaced with universal atheism. To this end 1200 Russian orthodox priests where executed in the newly formed Soviet Union between 1922 and 1926. I'd say that counts as a massacre justified by atheism.

          I'm an atheist and I believe that atheism intellectually more defensible than believing in sky fairies. But that doesn't mean atheists can't be extremists, or that atheism can't be part of an argument for militancy and fascism.

  4. hplasm
    Thumb Up


    Can't burn them any more. What is a true believer to do?

    1. Mtech25

      Re: Heretics-

      whine, fudge the facts, set up special interest groups and hire lobbyists.

    2. P. Lee

      Re: Heretics-

      > Can't burn them any more. What is a true believer to do?

      Compost them? Oh wait, does that create more methane?

      The issue is a serious one. Even if everyone did agree that the worst-case scenario was true, what are you going to do about it?

      Hands up all those who will unilaterally give up things made in factories.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Heretics-

      Make them buy beach houses?

  5. Catweazle

    Don't worry...

    It's only the worst melting in 8000 YEARS.

    And that's enough for flat earth believer Lewis to write "it's just one of these things that happen from time to time".

    Like the worst flood in 8000 years would be nothing to worry about. Just happens from time to time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't worry...

      Well, yeah, if you say it's "THE WORST MELTING IN 8000 YEARS!!!!11!!", then we'd better ban all manufacturing, transportation, power generation, etc. etc.

      Even though the last time this happened (8000 YEARS AGO) there was no manufacturing, transportation, power generation, etc. etc and it still melted.

      I.E. humans didn't cause it to melt last time, so what's so special about this time?

      1. g e

        Re: Don't worry...

        I think possibly that Warmists and their ilk are possibly like that idea about Tacheon pulses...

        They travel backward through time so any science contrary to the beliefs of the Church of Warmology that has happened in non-warmist (e.g. 'our') past has yet to happen in Warmington-Upon-Sea and therefore doesn't exist, provoking the usual LALALALA response. QED.

        I remember 30 years ago 'people saying' that if the sea level rose just 2 inches (5cm) then the world would end. Yet it rose over 3x that last century? Clearly there's a history of Sandwichboard-Wearing Doomsaying entrenched in the 'culture'.

        P.S. Dont panic Mr Mainwaring!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't worry...

      "And that's enough for flat earth believer Lewis to write..."

      That's highly constructive criticism there Catweazle. Do you feel better for that? "Flat earth believer"... Really? Whatever's next, 'mouth breather'?

      "Like the worst flood in 8000 years would be nothing to worry about. Just happens from time to time."

      And that Sir is a fine, well balanced and detailed response to the article and it's deeper subject matter.

      I congratulate you on the way in which you manage to convey complex issues such as climate change and AGW in so succinct a manner.

      May I be so bold as to suggest that you may be well placed for taking up a public outreach position within the BBCs' science broadcast services.

      And yes, you are right in what you are thinking... My response to your post is of little or no value either ;)


    3. NomNomNom

      Re: Don't worry...

      catweazle has a point about the timing.

      What's the chance that the fastest rate of melt in 8000 years would fall in the last few decades?

      And not say 1700AD, 1000AD or 3000BC?

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: What's the chance

        Well I think the proper response to that is : we don't have a fucking clue either way.

        We're still learning this, people. We don't know everything, and the "models" we use to try and find out are flawed and incomplete.

        One day, I am confident we will have the proper data and know how to model it to divine future trends properly. At that time, if the science (not data fudging) says global warming and we are responsible, then that's the deal. Right now ? We don't know.

        Once upon a time, people thought the Earth was at the center of the Univers. Today, the same kind of people are steadfast in their belief that Humanity is at the center of everything that happens on Earth, and Earth's destiny is tied to our existence.

        Bollocks either way.

  6. Robert E A Harvey

    does it matter?

    Never mind the global warming. If we carry on burning hydrocarbons as we are we are going to run out before my Grandaughter retires. Can't we stop because of that?

    1. FlatSpot

      Re: does it matter?

      "if we carry on burning hydrocarbons as we are we are going to run out "

      So that kind of fixes itself then, market forces will make it expensive, so another source will be more attractive/viable e.g. nuclear

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: does it matter?

        Sadly only after the wars, strikes and other riots from those who fail to see the need for, or get help to, change.

    2. John Riddoch

      Re: does it matter?

      "If we carry on burning hydrocarbons as we are we are going to run out before my Grandaughter retires."

      This. Regardless of whether you believe the climate is changing or if any change is man made, making a scarce resource last a bit longer should be reason enough to minimise our usage of fossil fuels. When we add in the pollution & health impacts, it should make it a no-brainer.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: does it matter?

        "When we add in the pollution & health impacts, make it a no-brainer."

        ...which is what makes it all the more ironic that it's the people with no brains who are arguing the most vehemently against any change in behavior.

    3. david 63

      Re: does it matter?

      Every ton of hydrocarbon we don't burn China will burn for us.

  7. Richard Jones 1

    Recent Stroms Uncover Remains of Ancient Welsh Wood

    People are exploring the remain of an ancient wood that was growing thousands of years ago when the climate was much warmer. No doubt that this proves:

    a) Nothing except that climate does change and has changed.

    b) There is nothing new under the sun

    c) That even the ancients caused global warming

    d) That we still do not fully understand what is going on with climate and that taking any extreme position simply makes you an extremist, whichever side of the extreme you inhabit.

    Chose your own guess, for the moment it is still a semi free world, (in spite of the recent panorama programme on the floods).

  8. JeffyPoooh

    Logical fallacy

    Why was it melting 8000 years ago? There doesn't have to be only one single root cause of glacial melting.

    (*Root* cause, because all possible causes of melting eventually flow through the intermediate cause of temperatures above 0°C.)

    1. Canopus

      It's all the penguins fault !

      Indeed you must factor in that 8000 years ago the penguin population was enormously higher than today... and all these penguin feet tap dancing on the Antarctic ice caused it to melt at an alarming rate.

      1. Darryl

        Re: It's all the penguins fault !

        Penguins driving huge luxury SUVs

    2. Spotthelemon

      Re: Logical fallacy

      Co2 levels rose noticibly at that time, Geologist William F. Ruddiman suggested some years ago that this was due to large scale land clearance by early farmers though that view is not generally accepted, A combination of earths orbital changes & some other effects generally being considered responsible. A team led by T. Stockmann (co-chairman of IPCC Working Group I) found evidence that carbon from cleared vegetation being released into the atmosphere was not responsible though Ruddiman disputes their findings

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Logical fallacy

        But I thought only dirty humans created CO2?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    just to help understanding, here's the actual conclusion of the research article:

    "The data presented here demonstrate that thinning of PIG at a rate comparable to that over the past two decades is rare but not unprecedented in the Holocene. Moreover, in contrast to previous glacial-geological work in Antarctica which has provided average thinning rates only over millennial timescales, our data are precise enough to show that rapid thinning of PIG was sustained for at least 25 years, and most likely for much longer. In summary, these data provide a long-term context for contemporary thinning of PIG, suggesting that ongoing ocean-driven melting of PIG ice shelf can result in continued rapid thinning and grounding line retreat for several more decades or even centuries."

  10. Nigel 11

    I thought this was well-understood?

    Recent geological history reveals several very rapid thaws followed by much slower re-cooling.

    I thought the mechanism was well-understood: runaway global warming caused by methane released from methane hydrates in permafrost (and/or ocean floors).

    The warning to the human race is obvious. Cause a small amount of global warning and it could become a runaway process. There are VAST amounts of methane trapped in permafrost in the Canadian and Russian tundra. Thaw the ice around the edges of that zone and the methane escapes, which causes more global warming, which causes more thawing ... a positive feedback loop.

    When you know avalanches have happened before without human intervention, perhaps it's still best to avoid going off-piste?

    1. Bunbury

      Re: I thought this was well-understood?

      There would certainly seem to be factors which would exagerrate any increased temperature. Methane as you say, reduced average albedo due to shrinking ice surface, and so on. But the permafrost methane from areas like the Northern US were presumably released as glaciers retreated without a complete runanway effect or the permafrost would all be gone. There may also (though this always seem to involve more hand waving) be some buffering effects - more CO2 = more locking of greenouse gases into plant growth, etc.

      It's clearly possible for natural events to drive large scale climate change - they got us into our current ice age for example - and once you start higher albedo and locking in of methane into permafrost will presumably accelerate cooling. It's disconcerting that while there are various theories as to what may have started our current series of ice ages it seems there is little agreement on which cause was the most important.

  11. Thought About IT


    "Our findings reveal that Pine Island Glacier has experienced rapid thinning at least once in the past, and that, once set in motion, rapid ice sheet changes in this region can persist for centuries."

    Good to have Lewis, with his deep understanding of climate science, reassure us that we haven't triggered an irreversible change that will result in sea levels rising by metres from all that melting ice.

  12. IdeaForecasting

    And where was Man, 8000 years ago, anyone, maybe another species perhaps?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      We were busy building Jericho, as I recall.

  13. Quinnicus

    I Give Up

    And next week another report will probably be released saying the very opposite (on the pro- man made climate change)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I, for one, am totally confident in drawing conclusions from this article, because it is clear that Mr. Page is just totally unbiased and wouldn't possibly cherry-pick papers whose results he likes and ignore ones which might counter his opinion.

    Because, you know, that's the way you can tell people who are confident in the rigorousness of their opinions - they *seek out* information which challenges their own point of view, because they know that by doing so they will refine and strengthen their own arguments, and thus make a stronger point to those whom they wish to convince.

    Oh, wait, my bad - actually you're just supposed to cherry-pick and yell loudly and who the fuck cares if you've made the world less knowledgeable and more polarized; your ax is ground and that's all that matters, baby!

  15. Doug 3

    what was the cause and are we mimicking it correctly?

    I'd really like to know what caused that warming some 8000 years ago and if we are doing our best to copy it so we too can enjoy the results of such a warming.

    How do people fall for these 'it was warm before so therefore what we're doing to the env now is fine" propaganda efforts? I was at the Natural History museum a few months back and heard a father of 2 your kids say loudly something like this, "See it was very warm back then. What machines and cars did they have then to make it so warm? There's no such thing as global warming." and he said it pretty obviously to let others hear. Unfortunately those kids couldn't pick their parents because he's so ignorant he doesn't even know it. Crazy.

    1. Bunbury

      Re: what was the cause and are we mimicking it correctly?

      From the look of the abstract I don't think it suggests that there was warming (in the sense of Capital G Global) in that period, just that the glacier became rapidly thinner. In terms of why, they don't particularly comment, except to suggest that it might well be that there was less of an ice shelf to buttress the glacier. So the sea water could get at it more.

      Re the propaganda, there does seem plenty on both sides of the argument. So much so that the central questions of "how much of this is caused by us?" and "depending on the first answer, how important is it to change what we're doing, because that change will come at an enormous cost?" seem hard to answer. Or perhaps easy to answer with what the 'other side' would call 'dogma'.

      The parent you heard clearly views the answers to the questions as "not much" and "not at all". Some view it as "almost all" and "essential".

      It does seem to me that it will be really, really difficult to persuade the great majority of governments to put in place and stick to decades long programs without very clear answers to those questions.

      What strikes me as somewhat odd in these debastes is that the assumption is that the way to fix this is, e.g., to stop burning fossil fuels at such a rate. It seems highly unlikely we'll do that in any meaningful way. It might be a better strategy to put things in place to cool the planet - e.g. positive action rather than reducing negative action.

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    "You conquer fear through knowledge"

    Thumbs up for field work and conquering fear.

    Now is it the Arctic or the Antarctic that mostly sits on land?

  17. Htos1


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