President Obama hiked to Exit Glacier in Alaska last week, with photographers in tow, to send the world a message: The glacier is melting.
Obama blames it on the increasing use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, which he wants to restrict not only in the United States but worldwide. The photo-op was designed to build support for an international climate agreement he’s pushing hard to sell, so far with little success.
Trouble is, the president needs to get his facts straight. Exit Glacier has been shrinking for 200 years — since 1815 — long before widespread industrialization and automobiles. As the president ended his trip, he sounded the alarm again: “This state’s climate is changing before our eyes.”
News flash, Mr. President: Alaska has been buffeted by cyclical swings in climate for thousands of years. That’s true for the rest of the world, too. There was a 300-year-long Medieval heat wave, followed by a Little Ice Age that began around 1300, and then the 300-year warming period we’re in now.
The Anchorage Daily Times ran a front-page story in 1922 recording the “unheard-of temperatures” in the Arctic and glaciers disappearing. “The Arctic Ocean is warming up and icebergs are growing scarcer.”
Oblivious to the history of constant climate change, Obama pointed to Exit Glacier and said: “We want to make sure our grandkids can see this.”
He may get his wish, but it won’t be because of anything he’s doing. The current warming trend appears to be over, speculates Roger Cohen, a fellow of the American Physical Society. The Alaska
Climate Research Center reports almost no evidence of warming trends in Alaska since 1977.