Lonnie G. Thompson's Kilimanjaro Fallacies

Is the Kilimanjaro losing ice because of man-made global warming? Now, that would be a challenging thing to properly demonstrate (never mind it would run against the gist of the IPCC work for example, where no particular weather-related occurrence can be attributed to “Global Warming”, let alone of the anthropogenic variety).

Little wonder then if scientists publishing a study “Glacier loss on Kilimanjaro continues unabated” have “reached no consensus on whether the melting could be attributed mainly to humanity’s role in warming the global climate“.

Regardless…step forward lead author Lonnie G. Thompson, concluding “that the melting of recent years is unique” (in the sense of unseen for “over the last 11,700 years“). And how does he know that AGW got anything to do with it?

Dr. Thompson emphasized that the melting of ice atop Mount Kilimanjaro was paralleled by retreats in ice fields elsewhere in Africa as well as in South America, Indonesia and the Himalayas. “It’s when you put those together that the evidence becomes very compelling,” he said.

This quote from somebody that has just published an article containing the following texts:

  • An energy balance study (7) concluded that mass loss from the upper (horizontal) surfaces of the ice fields has been dominated by sublimation although there is physical evidence of melting as well
  • The limited satellite observations have yet to confirm any unambiguous trend toward drier atmospheric conditions (1979–1995) and the lack of radiosonde observations over less-developed countries has limited the accuracy of tropical water vapor trends
  • Over recent decades there has been a continual transformation of the landscape surrounding Kilimanjaro into agricultural land, thus, unraveling large-scale climate forcing from regional forcing caused in part by landscape changes is difficult.

Oh well.

Let’s have a look at how many logical fallacies can be found in statements like the below:

Regardless of the relative importance of the multiple drivers responsible for the loss of Kilimanjaro’s summit ice fields, [the] widespread glacier mass loss, shrinkage, and retreat at high elevations (>5,000 m above sea level) in lower latitudes (30° N to 30° S), particularly in the thermally homogeneous tropics, suggests the likelihood of an underlying common driver on which more localized factors such as changes in land use, precipitation, cloudiness, and humidity are superimposed.

This is my list so far:

I am sure there’s more.

As every hammer knows, the world is made of nails…