To say that Science Magazine is not all that friendly to those who challenge the climate apocalypse is an understatement. H. Holden Thorp, Editor-in-Chief of the Science family of journals, neatly bundled climate contrarians with this bigoted and ignorant statement:
“Support for climate science has been steadily undermined by politicians catering to businesses dependent on fossil fuels and by religious conservatives suspicious of science because it argues for evolution.”
Well, one religious conservative believes he has witnessed a miracle. A recent issue of Science (18 June 2021) includes two articles saying, that at least on a couple of dimensions, climate change seems to be a slightly less existentially-threatening, cataclysmic catastrophe.
A feature by Gabriel Popkin on “one of the world’s most respected coastal experts” had this in the subtitle, “Coastal ecologist Matt Kirwan is optimistic that coastal wetlands can outrun rising seas.” Here are some excerpts:
“Through his research, Kirwan has developed a view of coastal wetlands as dynamic, resilient ecosystems that have danced an eons long tango with the rising and falling ocean. And some of his findings have challenged conventional thinking about how future sea level rise could change the planet’s coastlines.”
“’Marsh vulnerability tends to be overstated,’ Kirwan and colleagues wrote in a 2016 paper in Nature Climate Change, concluding that sea level rise does not pose ‘an immediate, catastrophic threat to many marshes.’”
“[I]n an influential 2013 paper published in Nature, Kirwan and Patrick Megonigal of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center expanded on those findings to argue that most wetlands globally were keeping up with sea level rise just fine.”
“Using models, they predicted that, through 2100, coastal wetlands globally could suffer little or no net loss at all, and under some assumptions could even increase their area by up to 60%.”
“One group of researchers, for example, used data from Kirwan and others to predict that thanks to their ability to build vertically, tidal wetlands in the United States will pull carbon dioxide from the air at faster rates as oceans rise.”
However, this is Science and we are talking a regular-type miracle, not the Second Coming, so the second part of the subtitle was, “But some question that rosy picture.” Indeed, the article was peppered with counter quotes from those wearing their cloud-finding goggles. Nevertheless, overall, the prominent piece was supportive of Kirwan’s good news.
The second piece was a shorter story reviewing new research on ice loss at the glacier-ocean interface. The title in its entirety is, “Is the marine ice-cliff hypothesis collapsing? An improved rheologic model shows that glacier retreat may not always be quite so quick.” No backsliding or second-guessing in the subtitle.
Here is what they had to say:
“The authors find that resistive forces at the ice front, caused either by sea ice or the calved debris that typically chokes narrow fjords during winter months, can slow or even completely prevent the retreat of an ice cliff. But even without this kind of buttressing, Bassis et al. conclude that ice cliffs may be inherently stable if the speed of ice flow or slope of the bed underlying the ice are within certain bounds.”
Those “certain bounds” were kind of particular. My superstitious, religion-pickled brain half expected the alignment of the planets to have an impact as well, but it did not. Anyway, it was a climate-might-not-be-so-bad article in Science.
This double whammy was amazing, but here is the reality check: They were published in an issue whose theme (with dramatic cover photo) was “planning for climate induced relocation.” At this point, we will take what we can get. Alleluia!