August 20, 2010

Ron Johnson: How green was my Arctic island

Or: "Sunspots" Ron Johnson meets Martin "The Glacier" Sharp

Watch the video:
"There's a reason Greenland was called Greenland," Republican candidate Ron Johnson said. "It was actually green at one point in time. And it's been, since, it's a whole lot whiter now."
Aren't we all. But actually, no, "Grønland" has always been white, it's just that Erik the Red was an early tourism board marketing flack.

However in 2007, a multi-disciplinary team of scientists inferred from genetic evidence recovered in ice cores drilled in the southern portion of the big island that the area's summer temperatures were a few degrees warmer than had been previously estimated. Except the DNA recovered was several hundreds of thousands of years old.

Which is to say, it wasn't swabbed from Leif Ericson's cheek.*

The popular press being what it is, those findings birthed tales of "lush forests" on what has much, much more recently been called Greenland. Who knows, there was probably an Amazonian jungle with full Club Med by the time word reached Steve Doocy and Dick Morris.

But if this latest claim is another of Fox News candidate Ron Johnson's denialist fantasies, it might be useful to note that Martin Sharp, a University of Alberta glaciologist and one of the authors of the 2007 Science paper that somehow got twisted into whatever point Johnson is trying to make, was a "key scientific contributor" to Melting Snow and Ice: A Call For Action, a "report commissioned by" — wait for it now — "Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Al Gore."**

So, few things would be more entertaining than for Ron Johnson to cite Professor Sharp's research in support of his comical utterances.

No wonder Johnson thinks teaching "creationism" is a great idea.

* Or from Erick Erickson's cognitively dissonant brain.

** It's here (12MB).

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