Saturday, January 08, 2011

Russian Media Moves to Calm Junk Science Claims That Another Ice Age Is on the Way

"Diego, Manny and Sid return in this sequel to the hit Ice Age. This time around the Ice Age is over and is starting to melt, which will destroy their valley. So they must unite and warn everyone about the situation."---IMDb

Russian-language Ukrainian T.V. is currently showing an American cartoon about global warming: Ice Age 2: The Meltdown.

In November 2009, the Russian media was reporting the "Climategate" scandal and, like the conservative U.S. media, alleging that stolen e-mails proved that British and American climate scientists were fudging their research.

In December 2009, Russia's Kremlin-friendly business daily Kommersant (Businessman), which is owned by the Gazprom-affiliated mogul Alisher Usmanov, told Russians that British climate scientists were fudging the statistics from Russian weather stations. The RIA Novosti version of this dishonest article was cited by Virginia's Attorney General Cuccinelli as "proof" of scientific dishonesty in his suit against the EPA; however, Russia's government-controlled natural gas company Gazprom and the Cuccinelli family both earn their fortunes in the natural gas industry. Cuccinelli's father is a career lobbyist for the natural gas industry whose site boasts of "European" clients. One of the elder Cuccinelli's companies donated 96,000 dollars to Attorney General Cuccinelli's campaign.

Since the forest fires of summer 2010, some Russian scientists and reporters are beginning to educate people about the human and financial costs of global warming (глобальное потепление in Russian). With the Google translation tool, people who don't read Russian can get a sense of what is being reported. Sometimes the translation feature will come up with total nonsense, but usually it is not too bad.

The Russian government doesn't like for their people to get frightened about "apocalyptic" problems that the government may not be able to cope with: war, disease, nuclear accidents, global warming, or a new ice age; but it seems that Russian and Western global warming denialists like Pravda, 9-11 Truthers, and Marc Morano---who are publicizing alarmist pseudo-scientific claims that the world is heading into an ice age---may have actually frightened some poorly-informed Russian people.

A recent article from the Bashkir Republic assures people that a new ice age is not on the way, and that the earth's climate is, in fact, warming. See for example "Bashkiria awaits global warming?" in Ufa's Komsomolskaya Pravda (12-28-10). The article explains that the average annual temperature in the country increased from 2.8 to 3.6 C. Ufa's Komsomolskaya Pravda (12-28-10) observes:

What is happening with the weather [should not be confused with] global warming - the head of the Bashkir Department for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring Yuri Ferapontov explained to us. - This is the process of climate change, and it happens all over the globe. For example, when we are left to languish from the unbearable heat, fires and drought, in the southern hemisphere people died from cold.

But residents of Bashkortostan are not threatened by an "Ice Age." Our average temperature is rising, and it is very noticeable.

If you take the annual average temperature of the republic in the years 1960-70, it was 2.8 C, - says Yuri Ivanovich. - Over the past 30 years it has increased to 3.6 C. This is not the limit.

Russia's official expert on climate change, Alexander Bedritsky, also reassures Russians that a new ice age is not coming for another 10 thousand years, but that the climate is changing due to global warming "right before our eyes." Perhaps my reading of the Russian article is not perfect, but Bedritsky seems to claim in this Russian article that scientists do not yet agree whether the warming is due to natural or man-made causes, although Western climate scientists agree that the main cause of global warming is the increase of CO2 due to fossil-fuels. Bedritsky observes in Murmansk's Komsomolskaya Pravda (12-15-10):

The fight against global warming is useful in any case. It leads to an increase in technology, reducing production costs - it is not bad, but good.

UPDATE: In his official statement to the World Climate Conference (WCC-3), Bedritsky stated that man was warming the planet:

[C]limate scientists have unequivocally concluded that human activities have contributed to an increase in global temperatures over the past century.

Komsomolskaya Pravda was a standard-bearer of "new thinking" and glasnost at the end of the communist era and is Russia's top-selling paper. According to Wikipedia, the paper is "currently owned by Media Partner, which in turn is owned by ECN Group, an energy company led by Grigory Berezkin, who has close links to Gazprom." It is interesting that a Gazprom-affiliated paper is discussing climate change. Here is some information about Russian media from the BBC.

Russia's press agency Itar-Tass (1-30-10) reports:

Damage to the environment of the Earth in 2008 from global warming and air pollution can be estimated at 6.6 trillion dollars, which roughly corresponds to 11 percent of global GDP. According to ITAR-TASS, this is the conclusion made public today a group of Japanese experts involved in environmental programs of the UN.

Experts say that the culprits causing at least a third of the damage are 3 thousand of the largest corporations, especially energy, coupled with power generation, oil, gas and coal.

If the situation does not change by 2050, the damage may increase 4-fold, reaching 28.6 trillion dollars, scientists warn.

CNEWS (12-15-10) reports:

Scientists have studied the geological deposits in the deep layers of the bottom of the [Bering] sea and found out what it was the last time a truly global warming in the Pliocene...

"Evidence of Pliocene warming period is important to examine what is happening now, climate change, because it was the last time in Earth's history when the overall temperature was higher than now," - says Christina Ravelo, an oceanographer from the University of California, a senior researcher. Studying the evidence of the changes that occurred then, scientists hope to imagine what awaits us in the future, if the average temperature actually rises. And particularly they are interested in what happened to the northern regions of our planet, since the observed rate of warming, there is now higher than in the rest of the planet. Also in the north it is warming faster than it is calculated on the basis of global climate models...

Now the waters of the Bering Sea, which wash the coast of Russia and the United States, shall be exempt from restricting ice in the summer. During the Pliocene warming, the Bering Sea did not have ice year-round. Perhaps a similar fate awaits the Bering sea in the near future. The expedition, undertaken by scientists, is part of a global project in which you want to drill more than one hole in the ocean floor to find out how to change life on our planet during the historic climate shifts.

Russian scientists were mostly silent during the "Climategate" scandal, but now they are speaking up. Russia's official press agency RIA Novosti (12-1-10) reports:

Planet Earth should have been named planet Water. This popular joke among geographers contains more than a grain of truth: the world ocean covers two-thirds of the surface of our planet. Its increasingly erratic behavior is one of the topics being discussed at the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun (Mexico), which will run from November 29 through December 10. The question at the heart of the discussion sounds like an idea for a disaster film: what cities will be flooded first if the world ocean rises one meter by the end of the 21st century?
The threat of flooding will be the greatest in St. Petersburg, the Yamal Peninsula, Northern Germany, the Netherlands and the deltas of the Nile and Ganges, as well as in the world's other lowlands, predicts Sergei Dobrolyubov, head of the oceanography chair at the department of geography at Moscow State University. If sea level rises a meter and a half, nearly all of Bangladesh will be flooded, affecting 17 million people according to estimates. Florida and the Maldives are also considered high-risk zones.
A "growing" ocean
According to satellite data and coastal measurements, sea level is rising by 2 to 3 mm per year. There are two reasons for this.
First, continental glaciers are melting. According to Alexander Kislov, head of the meteorology and climatology chair at the department of geography at Moscow State University, mountain ice caps are retreating all over the planet. For example, Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa (5895 meters), recently lost its ice cap.
Second, the water in the ocean is expanding due to global warming. We all know from physics classes that heat causes a body to expand.
A one-meter rise in the world ocean by the end of the 21st century may not seem significant at first glance, especially considering that the Caspian Sea has risen by 2.5 meters since 1997. But the change in the Caspian is a local factor.
A rising world ocean, on the other hand, is a global issue affecting many countries...
St. Petersburg, which has survived 305 incidents involving rises in water level since its founding, is the most waterlogged city in Europe alongside Venice. Alexander Pushkin described St. Petersburg's worst flood of 1824 in his poem the Bronze Horseman: "...But the wind driving from the bay/ Dammed Neva back, and she receding/ Came up, in wrath and riot speeding/ And soon the islands flooded lay..."
According to Alexander Rybalko, chief researcher at the Sevmorgeo center for maritime geological exploration, even minor floods, when the water level rises by 1.5m or more, erode foundations and flood basements. Nature is on the offensive, and Rybalko believes the city needs facilities that will protect it from even the slightest changes in water level.
Valery Malinin, professor at the Russian State Hydrometeorological University, warns that the St. Petersburg Flood Prevention Complex can itself trigger a storm surge flooding vast areas of St. Petersburg and its suburbs.
This system of dams, which has been under construction since 1979, runs along the Gulf of Finland from Bronka to Sestroretsk through Kotlin Island, where Kronstadt stands. If a storm surge higher than 6 meters occurs "it would not be possible to express the damage in monetary terms," the professor says. [Read the whole text.]

Some Russian scientists are claiming that global warming may be a good thing for Russia, although other Russian scientists obviously dispute this view.

It might be premature to say that the political line has changed on the topic of global warming, but there seems to be more discussion about this topic and different views are now being aired. The fact that global warming is happening is currently being acknowledged by Russian scientists in the Russian media.

Russian officials sometimes spread "junk science" when it supports their political agenda, but the Kremlin eventually turns to real scientists when the government needs to solve national problems. For example, during the 1980s, KGB propagandists spread the lie in the world media that AIDS had been created by "crafty" Pentagon scientists in order to kill blacks; but eventually the Kremlin decided to abandon this destructive lie, and Izvestia (3-19-92) reported this KGB admission:

[KGB foreign intelligence chief Yevgeni Primakov] mentioned the well known articles printed a few years ago in our central newspapers about AIDS supposedly originating from secret Pentagon laboratories. According to Yevgeni Primakov, the articles exposing US scientists' 'crafty' plots were fabricated in KGB offices.

An American diplomat reportedly characterized Vladimir Putin as Russia's "alpha dog." Hopefully, the Kremlin's alpha dog is not too old to learn some new tricks---the real science about global warming and climate change.


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