NPR Frets ‘Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Both Underway And Irreversible’

NPR’s weekday All Things Considered news program has followed the ranks of liberal news outlets promoting the latest global warming alarming on its airwaves. Following a new report released by NASA, NPR was in panic mode over the dire situation facing our planet in the coming centuries. 

During a Monday, May 12 segment, NPR co-host Melissa Block worried that “Antarctica is covered with the biggest mass of ice on Earth. The part of the ice sheath that's over West Antarctica is thought to be especially vulnerable to climate change. Scientists now say a slow collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is both underway and irreversible.” [Listen to the MP3 audio here.]  

Nell Greenfieldboyce (Not a misspelling of her name, via NPR), a science and technology reporter for NPR, continued the alarmist tone set by Block and began the report by declaring “ For decades, scientists have worried about the West Antarctic ice sheet.”

The NPR reporter then proceeded to hype that the climate is “past the point of no return”: 

IAN JOUGHIN: Well, the West Antarctic ice sheet, people have speculated that it's unstable since the '70s.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Ian Joughin is a glaciologist at the University of Washington's Polar Science Center in Seattle. He says this ice sheet is exposed to the ocean.

JOUGHIN: It's what's called a marine ice sheet, which means much of it’s sitting on the ocean floor instead of on land above sea level.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: He says there are particular weak points. Take Thwaites Glacier. It's been thinning as warm water has eaten away at it from underneath.

IAN JOUGHIN: If this glacier were to completely sort of disintegrate, it would kind of create a vacuum of ice to which the rest of the ice sheet would sort of flow into and largely destabilize much of the rest of the ice sheet and that has enough ice to raise sea level by about 10 feet.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Today, researchers announced that it looks like that disintegration has started and it appears to be unstoppable.

ERIC RENAULT: It has past the point of no return.

Rather than provide any soundbites from critics of the NASA report, Greenfieldboyce doubled-down on NPR’s climate change agenda: 

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Now, sea levels are already rising. Last year, an expert panel on climate change convened by the United Nations estimated a global sea level rise of up to about three feet by the end of the century. The loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet is going to mean a lot more water, but over a longer time frame. Ian Joughin at the University of Washington has a new study coming out in the journal, Science, that uses computer modeling to make some predictions about when this will happen.

IAN JOUGHIN: It's not like a building collapse that, you know, would occur over seconds. It's a collapse that's going to occur over centuries.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE: He can't say how many centuries.

IAN JOUGHIN: Our worst case scenario had the rapid onset of the collapse occurring in just over a couple hundred years.

NPR concluded its uncritical global warming freak out by providing one final warning: “The best case took over 900 years. Still, the pace of change in West Antarctica is faster than scientists had expected. That means researchers will have to reconsider how much this is going to contribute to sea level rise in the coming decades.” 

NPR is no stranger to providing uncritical coverage of its climate change agenda. Going back as far as January 2007, NPR showed their narrow range of climate change guests, rarely if ever giving air time to skeptics of global warming. In November of 2011, NPR was embarrassed that America was the “only major country” that still had climate change deniers. Furthermore, in March of 2013, NPR lamented that some schools were pushing to have both sides of the climate change debate taught in schools  

Read full transcript below. 


NPR

All Things Considered 

May 12, 2014

MELISSA BLOCK: Antarctica is covered with the biggest mass of ice on Earth. The part of the ice sheath that's over West Antarctica is thought to be especially vulnerable to climate change. Scientists now say a slow collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is both underway and irreversible. And as NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports, this could eventually raise sea levels more than 10 feet.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE: For decades, scientists have worried about the West Antarctic ice sheet.

IAN JOUGHIN: Well, the West Antarctic ice sheet, people have speculated that it's unstable since the '70s.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE: Ian Joughin is a glaciologist at the University of Washington's Polar Science Center in Seattle. He says this ice sheet is exposed to the ocean.

IAN JOUGHIN: It's what's called a marine ice sheet, which means much of it’s sitting on the ocean floor instead of on land above sea level.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE: He says there are particular weak points. Take Thwaites Glacier. It's been thinning as warm water has eaten away at it from underneath.

IAN JOUGHIN: If this glacier were to completely sort of disintegrate, it would kind of create a vacuum of ice to which the rest of the ice sheet would sort of flow into and largely destabilize much of the rest of the ice sheet and that has enough ice to raise sea level by about 10 feet.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE: Today, researchers announced that it looks like that disintegration has started and it appears to be unstoppable.

ERIC RENAULT: It has past the point of no return.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE: Eric Renault (ph) is a researcher at the University of California Irvine. He's just completed a careful study of 40 years of observations about the West Antarctic glaciers. It will soon appear in the journal, Geophysical Research Letters. He says the breakdown of these glaciers will continue even if the ocean doesn't get any warmer.

ERIC RENAULT: The system is in sort of a chain reaction that is unstoppable.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE: He says his team has looked to see if there's anything that would prevent more and more ice from sliding down into the ocean waters.

ERIC RENAULT: But we find no mountains or large hills along the way that could act as a barrier to all these glaciers back.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE: Now, sea levels are already rising. Last year, an expert panel on climate change convened by the United Nations estimated a global sea level rise of up to about three feet by the end of the century. The loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet is going to mean a lot more water, but over a longer time frame. Ian Joughin at the University of Washington has a new study coming out in the journal, Science, that uses computer modeling to make some predictions about when this will happen.

IAN JOUGHIN: It's not like a building collapse that, you know, would occur over seconds. It's a collapse that's going to occur over centuries.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE: He can't say how many centuries.

IAN JOUGHIN: Our worst case scenario had the rapid onset of the collapse occurring in just over a couple hundred years.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE: The best case took over 900 years. Still, the pace of change in West Antarctica is faster than scientists had expected. That means researchers will have to reconsider how much this is going to contribute to sea level rise in the coming decades. Nell Greenfieldboyce, NPR News.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.