I am not a GW skeptic I am a GW atheist!
The Fiery Face of the Arctic Deep
Results from a German-American Arctic expedition to the Gakkel Ridge have implications for the understanding of the generation of new seafloor
The Gakkel ridge is a gigantic volcanic mountain chain stretching beneath the Arctic Ocean. With its deep valleys 5,500 meter beneath the sea surface and its 5,000 meter high summits, Gakkel ridge is far mightier than the Alps. This is the site of seafloor spreading that is actively separating Europe from North America, and was the goal of the international expedition AMORE (Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge Expedition) with two research icebreakers, the "USCGC Healy" from USA and the German "PFS Polarstern". Aboard were scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and other international institutions. The scientists had expected that the Gakkel ridge would exhibit "anemic" magmatism. Instead, surprisingly strong magmatic activity in the West and the East of the ridge and one of the strongest hydrothermal activities ever seen at mid-ocean ridges were found. These results require a fundamental rethinking of the mechanisms of seafloor generation at midocean ridges (Nature, January 16 and June 26).
The Gakkel ridge extends about 1800 kilometers beneath the Arctic Ocean from north of Greenland to Siberia. It is the northernmost portion of the mid-ocean ridge system, the global 75,000 kilometer long volcanic chain where the ocean crust is generated by erupting magma. Because of its extremely slow spreading rate of about one centimeter per year, the slowest rate of any mid-ocean ridge and 20 times slower than the better explored East Pacific ridge, Gakkel ridge is of particular interest for scientists. It shows a number of unique phenomena that could give more information about the generation of new oceanic crust.
Current theories of oceanic crustal production predict that volcanic activity deminishes as the spreading rate of the tectonic plates decreases and only little or no hydrothermal activity. Instead, the scientists found high levels of volcanic activity. "We expected the volcanic activity to gradually decrease from West to East as the magmatic systems shut down. Instead, approximately in the middle of the survey area, the magmatism shut down completely, then dramatically increased," says Dr. Jonathan Snow, the leader of the research group from the Max Planck Institute. This group was responsible for the petrological and geochemical investigations.
Hydrothermal hot springs on the seafloor were also far more abundant than predicted. "We expected this to be a hydrothermally dead ridge, and almost every time our water measurement instrument came up, they showed evidence of hydrothermal activity, and once we even 'saw' an active hot spring on the sea floor," noted Jonathan Snow. The biologists on the expedition theorize that Arctic hydrothermal vent communities have been cut off from the rest of the worlds oceans for long periods of time, and may have conserved archaic forms.
The central region without magmatic activity is unique in the worlds mid-ocean ridges, having no volcanic crust whatsoever. Here, scientists can directly sample rocks belonging to the Earths upper mantle, which is covered on every other part of the globe by thousands of meters of crustal rocks. Some of these mantle rocks were unusually well preserved, "I just about fell off my chair the first time I saw them in the microscope," says Jonathan Snow, "some of these samples looked just as if they had been brought right from the upper mantle by magic, not even a trace of alteration by seawater."
The observations made at the Gakkel ridge demonstrate that volcanic activity in certain regions is not only dependant on the spreading rate. Other factors such as the chemical composition and the temperature of the mantle at depth must be taken into account when describing the behavior of mid-oceans ridges.
The project was supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Beware the politician posing as a scientist
One of the fond delusions of our age is that scientists are a breed apart from ordinary mortals, white-coated custodians of a mystery with authority to pronounce on any scientific issue, however remote it may be from their own field of expertise. A shining example was the status given to Sir David King, who has just retired after seven years as the government Chief Scientist. In 2001, when he was appointed by Tony Blair at the height of the foot-and-mouth crisis, Professor King’s speciality was ‘surface chemistry’. Yet immediately top of his agenda was the need to fight an animal disease. The man he called in to tackle the epidemic was Professor Roy Anderson, a computer modeller specialising in the epidemiology of human diseases but without any experience in veterinary matters. Shutting their ears to the pleas of the world’s leading veterinary experts on foot-and-mouth that the only effective way to stop the spread of the epidemic was vaccination, the two men flouted the law by launching their ‘pre-emptive cull’, the mass-slaughter of animals which never had any contact with the disease. As many as eight million healthy animals were unnecessarily destroyed, at a colossal social and financial cost which vaccination might have reduced to a fraction. The next big issue to put King in the headlines was global warming, which in 2004 he described as ‘a far greater threat to the world than international terrorism’. At a press conference with Blair, he claimed that global temperatures were higher than they had been for 60 million years, predicting that by the end of the 21st century Antarctica would be the only habitable continent left on earth. Top of the politicians’ global warming agenda at that time was the need to win ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by Russia, which would at last bring the treaty into force. On behalf of the EU, King led a team to a key international conference in Moscow, where their behaviour astonished those present. They demanded that scientists critical of Kyoto should not be allowed to speak. They frequently interrupted other speakers, or overran their own time at the rostrum. When King was floored by evidence from the tropical disease expert Professor Paul Reiter that the melting of the ice on Kilimanjaro was not caused by global warming, he stormed out. At the end Alexander Illarionov, President Putin’s chief economic adviser, was withering about the EU team’s conduct. Their pressure on Russia to ratify Kyoto, he said, ‘was equivalent to a war on truth, science and human welfare’. Russian scientists could not accept the link between CO2 levels and global warming, or that present temperatures were higher than those during the mediaeval and Roman warmings. When, in a startling U-turn, Putin then agreed to ratify Kyoto, this did not reflect any change in Russia’s scientific position. As King himself now confirms, it was merely the result of a political deal, whereby the EU agreed to support Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organisation on favourable terms. King then remained fairly quiet on the public stage until he recently used his status as retiring Chief Scientist to help the government by supporting various of its new policies, ranging from the need for a nuclear power programme to that for a mass cull of TB-infected badgers to combat the epidemic raging through our cattle herds. And now, in conjunction with a popular journalist, Gabrielle Walker, he has published a mass-market paperback entitled The Hot Topic: How To Tackle Global Warming and Still Keep the Lights on (Bloomsbury, £9.99). As might be expected from the polar bears on the cover, beneath a glowing tribute from Al Gore, the book yet again rehearses the familiar global warming orthodoxy, set out in a somewhat coy, Janet-and-John style which one suspects owes more to King’s co-author than himself. On those famous polar bears it naturally ignores the studies which show that their numbers have in most areas actually been increasing. An even bigger giveaway is a two-page temperature graph adapted from the notorious ‘hockey stick’. This is the now wholly discredited rewriting of history which became the warmists’ supreme icon because, Winston Smith-like, it suppressed the evidence that in the Middle Ages global temperatures were higher than they are today — showing temperatures running in a flattish line for 1,000 years before suddenly curving exponentially upwards. It might seem odd that the text goes on to say ‘we haven’t seen warming like this for at least 1,000 years’, because this seems to concede that temperatures might have been as high as they are now a millennium ago — although what makes this even more startling is to recall how, a while back, King himself was claiming that the world is now hotter than it has been at any time for 60 million years. In this respect, although it ticks off most of the familiar articles in the warmist litany, this book is careful to downplay some of the crazier excesses of Al Gore’s celebrated disaster movie, as when it concedes that global warming cannot be blamed for those vanishing snows of Kilimanjaro (obviously, after being caught out in Moscow, King must have done some homework). Again and again the book suc***s in the reader with some extreme claim, but then cleverly throws in a qualification — as when, like Gore, it uses Hurricane Katrina as evidence of global warming, but then admits later that a part was played in that disaster by the collapsing levees (failing to mention, however, that hurricane activity was more extreme in the 1950s than since). Similarly it exploits the 35,000 deaths caused by the 2003 European heatwave, while later conceding that extreme cold causes more deaths than heat (though even here it cannot resist adding that this may not be of ‘much comfort for those affected by heat’). As is usual with warmist propaganda, there is scarcely a paragraph where the clued-up reader will not notice some key piece of evidence being omitted, as when, like Gore, the authors refer to the increasing number of times the Thames Flood Barrier has had to be closed, while omitting to tell us that this is because both London and Britain’s east coast are sinking (and that in the droughts of recent years the barrier has had to be closed more often to keep river water in than to keep the sea out). As also with Gore, however, unwittingly the most comical part of the authors’ argument comes when, having painted as lurid a picture as they dare of the looming apocalypse, they move on, as their subtitle suggests, to outline the steps we must take to avert catastrophe. Yet again we are plunged into thudding bathos, as we are solemnly told that, in order to cut our carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, to ensure that global temperatures rise by no more than two degrees, we must learn not to leave our TVs on stand-by, switch to low-energy light bulbs, use trains rather than cars and build more wind turbines. One obvious problem with global warming is that, if the threat it poses is really as serious as the politicians and ‘consensus’ scientists say it is — and if they are also right in their diagnosis of its cause — then mere tinkering about with light bulbs and windmills will not have the slightest effect in preventing it. We should all, including the Chinese who are building two coal-fired power stations a week, have to abandon pretty well everything modern industrial civilisation stands for. The only possible source of comfort is that the much-vaunted ‘consensus’, carefully manufactured with the aid of skewed computer models and shameless political manipulation, is nothing like so securely based on hard evidence as the politicians and highly politicised scientists like to believe. As a ‘surface chemist’, Professor King may be a genuine scientist. When he turns his attention to other matters, however, he becomes merely another politician, as the woolly ragbag of unsupported assertions trotted out in this book confirms. It might seem appropriate that, having begun his career as Chief Scientist supporting one immense blunder based on the unreal projections of computer modelling, the good professor should end it on another. Like many another scientist who strays out of his field of expertise, he ends up speaking with no more authority than a man sounding off in the pub. http://www.spectator.co.uk/print/the-magazine/features/540061/beware-the-politician-posing-as-a-scientist.thtml