Curses! Fooled Again!

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of flood stays these scientists …

Um, no.

How, you might ask dear reader, do the scablands of eastern Washington relate to the Antarctic ice sheet?

Two stories from different centuries crossed my desk this morning. They don’t seem to be related but they do point us to a Truth.


Part I: Many scientists believe that Antarctica’s immense ice sheet is doomed. They have no doubt that Antarctica will melt into the sea.

That may not be entirely correct.

“A new NASA study says that an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers.”

Really? NASA’s research challenges settled science of most other studies that show Antarctica is losing land ice at a mind-boggling rate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) latched onto that factoid in their 2013 report without considering that it might not tell the whole story.

Now that the IPCC science is settled, no further reports are required.

In fact, the Washington Post last year opined that “A key climate change icon has reversed its warming trend, at least temporarily. … has been cooling, but that doesn’t disprove global warming…” (Jul 20, 2016)

There ya go. Since the net gain of Antarctic ice slowed to 82 billion tons of ice per year between 2003 and 2008, now we know why the global warming^H^H cooling^H^H climate change community can say Antarctica is melting.

Well, they can say that except for this little quibble about the facts.


Part II: Many geologists believed that the strange topography of eastern Washington State showed “geological change,” formed gradually and uniformly over thousands of years. They had no doubt.

The National Geographic reported about the Channeled Scablands, “The only possible explanation for the all the region’s features was a massive flood, perhaps the largest in the Earth’s history — ‘a debacle which swept the Columbia Plateau,’ ripping soil and rock from the landscape, carving canyons and cataracts in a matter of days. ‘All other hypotheses meet fatal objections,’ [Harley Bretz] wrote in a 1923 paper.”

The former high school teacher committed geological heresy.

The Horseshoe-Shaped Potholes Coulee along the Columbia RiverThe Flood-deniers, the geologists of the day. vehemently denied the Bretz theory. Dr. Bretz did thorough research including actually visiting the channeled scablands but the other geologists called his ideas not just “wholly inadequate” but “preposterous” and “incompetent.”

That’s a good story by itself.

But wait! There’s more!

The Geological Society of America did finally recognize Dr. Bretz’s theory. He received the Penrose Medal in 1979 but the story doesn’t end there.

Richard Waitt, a geologist with the USGS, explored the Walla Walla valley in southern Washington in 1977. He discovered that one of 40 sediment layers there contained ash from an eruption of Mt. St. Helens.

“I knew right away that there couldn’t have been just one flood,” Waitt said.

More than one flood? Why, that contradicts Dr. Bretz’s settled science!

When Mr. Waitt published his findings in 1980 that there had been at least 40 ice-age floods in the scablands, he faced such stiff resistance that he felt like Dr. Bretz himself. “Baker and his students were totally against it for years,” he said.


The science is settled, baby!

Oh. Wait…

As Glenn Hodges found in the National Geographic article, “Because scientists are first and foremost human beings, they’re loathe to change their theories or their minds because of mere data…”

 

Monuments

Sunday will be the 50th anniversary of the Detroit race riots.

“Gun battles raged in Detroit’s streets. Snipers clashed with National Guardsmen and police. Many residents huddled for safety in their homes, while others — both black and white — looted businesses. Many of the businesses were then set ablaze.

“The riots engulfed the city beginning July 23, 1967, and continued for five days — one of many to hit the U.S. that summer. The violence prompted President Lyndon Johnson to send in federal troops to quell the upheaval.

“Forty-three people — 33 blacks and 10 whites — were killed. More than 7,000 people were arrested. Over 1,400 buildings were burned. Fifty years later, Detroit is still recovering.”

We’ll see a lot of news coverage this week and next, alongside laudatory prose of how much the country is doing to remember the events and will use them to assure we never repeat those times.

U.S. Flag Flown Upside DownThe Algiers Motel incident, for example, happened one fire-lit night of the racially charged 12th Street Riot. The building itself is gone and grass grows on its lot. There has never been a monument there to the lives lost but there will be soon.

About a century earlier and some 500 miles to the southeast, we made a different kind of history.

July 21, 1861: The Civil War’s first major battle erupted at Manassas, known as Bull Run, Virginia
July 22, 1862: President Lincoln presented the Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet
July 23, 1863: A skirmish at Manassas Gap, Virginia
July 24, 1864: The second Battle of Kernstown, Virginia

Today, we are tearing down monuments to that War. I wonder how long it will be before historical revisionists tear down the new monuments in Detroit.