Response to Wall Street Journal Opinion Feb 2022

Misinformation is a dangerous phenomenon, especially in an era of  global communication, when disinformation can spread so quickly to so many in an instant. 

The February 18, 2022 The Wall Street Journal Opinion article  called “Greenland’s Melting Ice is no Cause for Climate Change Panic”, by Steven E. Koonin is filled with disinformation when it argues that recent anomalous Greenland melt events should not be considered an alarm call for climate action in light of a century-long record demonstrating variability in Greenland ice loss since 1900 (based on misrepresentation of a graph by Ken Mankoff actually showing record ice mass loss over the past ten years during a 120 year record). This argument is in contrast not only to the initial figure context, yet also to numerous articles highlighting accelerated loss and rates of change in the Greenland Ice Sheet over several decades.

Specifically, Kjeldsen et al. (2015) demonstrated using aerial imagery and ice mass balance models significant spatial and temporal deterioration in the Greenland ice sheet since 2003 when considered over a 110 year long (reconstructed) record that contributed to 25 +/- 10 mm to global sea level rise in the 20th century. More recently, Van Den Broeke et al. (2016) and Bamber et al. (2019) reinforce this conclusion through studies documenting Greenland Ice Sheet contributions to global sea level rise through increasing loss rates due to surface melt. Furthermore, the Greenland ice sheet is not only losing mass to global sea-level rise through melting but also due to dynamic losses attributed to accelerated tidewater glacier discharge and iceberg calving, as Felikson et al. (2015) demonstrates. To focus only on its surface melt is to miss half the story of Greenland’s current deglaciation. Central to each of these studies is the fact that significant melt is occurring in response to anthropogenic emissions, as is global sea level rise, the impacts of which are experienced with increasing frequency by numerous communities globally.

The alarm call is in the impacts and the devastation incurred by events that underscore the urgency of establishing disaster risk reduction strategies to reduce community vulnerability and exposure to hazards (floods, coastal erosion resulting in fatalities and displacements) that are in our lifetime occurring more often.

Debates and calls to do nothing are not only counterproductive, they are irresponsible and a reflection of the mindset that has led society to its current state of instability and inequity.

Arctic Basecamp Science Team

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