Junk Science: Kilimanjaro’s Snow Cap

Published May 1, 2005

The ice cap atop Central Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro has been slowly melting for decades, and perhaps even centuries, scientists report. Until recently, global warming was a prime suspect.

Scientists now agree, however, that the retreat of Kilimanjaro’s ice cap is due primarily to deforestation at the base of the mountain.

That conclusion has been reached by a wide variety of scientists and scientific publications. Nevertheless, the Reuters News Agency has teamed up with several extremist environmental activist groups to falsely report that global warming is causing a retreat of Kilimanjaro’s ice cap.

Below are excerpts from scientific studies reported in journals without a political axe to grind. There is even an excerpt from Nature, a left-leaning journal at the forefront of global warming alarmism. Each scientific study concludes that regional deforestation, not global warming, is the culprit for Kilimanjaro’s shrinking ice cap.

Finally, we present here the text of a March 14 Reuters News Service article trumpeting the disproven claims of extremist activist groups … without so much as mentioning scientific studies to the contrary. Are activist groups and their media allies reporting the truth about global warming, or is truth being trampled in the rush to coerce public opinion? You be the judge.
James M. Taylor

FACT: Dry Air the Kilimanjaro Culprit
International Journal of Climatology, 24, 329-339, doi: 10.1002/joc.1008, March 15, 2004 http://www.geo.umass.edu/climate/tanzania/pubs/kaser_etal_2004ijc.pdf

“A drastic drop in atmospheric moisture at the end of the 19th century and the ensuing drier climatic conditions are likely forcing glacier retreat on Kilimanjaro.”

FACT: Temperature Not the Driving Force
Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres, 109, D16104, doi:10.1029/2003JD004338, August 25, 2004 http://www.geo.umass.edu/climate/tanzania/pubs/moelg_hardy_2004jgr.pdf

“It has been speculated that general global warming is directly driving the retreat of Kilimanjaro’s glaciers. However, detailed analyses of glacier retreat in the global tropics uniformly reveal that changes in climate variables related to air humidity prevail in controlling the modern retreat. …

“In the context of modern glacier retreat on Kilimanjaro, a particular sensitivity of the summit horizontal glacier surfaces to precipitation variability (magnitude and timing) can be confirmed by this study. This fits well into the present knowledge of modern glacier retreat on Kilimanjaro and in East Africa in general, initiated by a drastic reduction in precipitation at the end of the nineteenth century.”

FACT: Temperatures Remain Consistent
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 84, S48, June 2003 http://www.geo.umass.edu/climate/tanzania/pubs/hardy_2003bams.pdf

“Kilimanjaro’s glaciers are extremely sensitive to precipitation variability, as on an annual basis, the summit climate is thermally homogeneous, with a mean annual temperature of -7.1 degrees Celsius.”

FACT: Deforestation Causing Dry Climate
Nature, November 24, 2003 http://www.usenet.com/newsgroups/talk.environment/msg05757.html

“Although it’s tempting to blame the ice loss on global warming, researchers think that deforestation of the mountain’s foothills is the more likely culprit. Without the forests’ humidity, previously moisture-laden winds blew dry. No longer replenished with water, the ice is evaporating in the strong equatorial sunshine.”

FICTION: Photos Show Climate Change as Ministers Meet in UK
March 14, 2005
Reuters News Alert

LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) — A photo of Mount Kilimanjaro stripped of its snowcap for the first time in 11,000 years will be used as dramatic testimony for action against global warming as ministers from the world’s biggest polluters meet on Tuesday.

Gathering in London for a two-day brainstorming session on the environment agenda of Britain’s presidency of the Group of Eight rich nations, the environment and energy ministers from 20 countries will be handed a book containing the stark image of Africa’s tallest mountain, among others.

“This is a wake-up call and an unequivocal message that a low-carbon global economy is necessary, achievable and affordable,” said Steve Howard of the Climate Group charity which organized the book and an associated exhibition.

“We are breaking climate change out of the environment box. This crisis affects all of us. This is a global challenge and we need real leadership to address these major problems and these ministers can give that leadership,” he told Reuters.

The pictures include one of Kilimanjaro almost bare of its icecap because of global warming, and coastal defenses in the Marshall Islands threatened with swamping from rising sea levels.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has vowed to make climate change and Africa the twin targets of Britain’s presidencies of both the G8 and European Union this year, bringing both to the fore at a summit meeting in Gleneagles in Scotland in July.

The Kyoto Protocol on cutting emissions of greenhouse gases came into force in February but is still shunned by the world’s biggest emitter, the United States, and puts scant limits on China, rising fast up the ranks.