Mendenhall Glacier’s Retreat and Obama

President Obama made some remarkable statements about CO2 being the cause of global warming and the retreat of the Mendenhall Glacier on his visit to Alaska.

In viewing the glaciers retreat, Mr. Obama said, “It sends a message about the urgency we’re going to need to have when it comes to dealing with this,” referring to his efforts to cut CO2 emissions.

Several articles have been written about the Mendenhall Glacier. One stood out in particular as it described the glacier’s yearly retreat since the early 1800s. The article asked, why would CO2 be the cause of the glaciers retreat before the industrial revolution with increased atmospheric CO2 levels?

I have been fortunate to visit the Mendenhall Glacier, as well as hiking to the face of the Fox Glacier in New Zealand, and cruising past nearly a dozen Chilean glaciers on my trip around the Horn of South America.

All of the glaciers had one thing in common, they were all retreating.

D. Dears on Mendenhall Glacier
D. Dears on Mendenhall Glacier

It would be a simple matter to jump to the conclusion that CO2 emissions were the cause of global warming and the retreat of glaciers.

But that would be a big, unscientific jump.

Why did the glaciers retreat before the industrial revolution when atmospheric CO2 levels were still around 280 pm?

Mendenhall Glacier Retreat. From Roanoke Slant by L.B. Hagen
Mendenhall Glacier Retreat. From Roanoke Slant by L.B. Hagen

This diagram shows the reach of Mendenhall Glacier 11 years before the American revolution in 1776, and nearly a century before the industrial revolution, which is often cited as beginning around the mid 1800s and sometimes as beginning around the turn of the twentieth century, and the rise in atmospheric CO2 levels.

Clearly the retreat was not due to CO2 levels in the atmosphere, even though it could be attributed to global warming as the earth exited the Little Ice Age.

As reported elsewhere, “Between 1767 and 1909, as the world was thawing out from the Little Ice Age, the glacier’s terminus retreated nearly a mile.”

Attributing the retreat of glaciers to atmospheric CO2 levels defies logic, as well as science.

President Obama’s call for action to cut CO2 emissions to save glaciers is misguided at best. It’s also bad science.

It demonstrates, once again, that the hysteria over CO2 emissions could lead to a bad agreement this December at COP 21 in Paris … an agreement that will curtail the use of fossil fuels and harm Americans.


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