In the sweltering, triple-digit Washington, D.C. heat, the climate change group 350.org planned to mock global warming skeptics on Capitol Hill Saturday morning by melting an ice sculpture shaped into the word “Hoax?”
Early Saturday, however, group founder and “Fight Global Warming Now” author Bill McKibben sent a cancellation notice to participants, claiming he was calling off the stunt out of sensitivity to those suffering in the heat wave — especially people in West Virginia.
“I think I screwed up,” McKibben began, explaining that while melting a statue was a good way to draw attention to global warming, it could also have offended those suffering in tough times.
“The idea was simple enough: if this epic heatwave gripping the nation has one small silver lining, it’s that its reminding people that global warming is very very real,” he wrote. “And the response was strong — we raised the $5000 it would have taken to pull off the event, and far more than that for relief efforts.”
“But we also heard from old friends, especially in nearby West Virginia, who asked us not to do it. The sight of ice melting while they sweltered would be too hard to take; their region, they pointed out, is as hard hit as any in the country by the heat wave, and it would make people feel like their plight wasn’t being taken seriously.”
Others are not so sure McKibben’s explanation holds water.
Former meteorologist and climate change skeptic Anthony Watts pointed out that the stunt would have backfired, given the slow rate at which the ice was likely to melt.
“[T]he sculpture may have lasted past sunset … [and] into the cooler next day given it was to be 6′ x 12′, a darned big sculpture,” Watts wrote on his blog. He encouraged readers to look online for information about tabletop ice sculptures. One source points out that typical ice sculptures generally last about 6 hours indoors, but outside will melt at a rate of 1/4-inch per hour, depending on the temperature.
“The possibility the ice would not melt fast enough for a convincing photo-op loomed large,” Watts added. “A 6×12 foot block of ice doesn’t melt in an hour, and we are dealing with ‘short attention span theatre’ when it comes to photo ops.”
Asked for further comment, 350.org pointed The Daily Caller to McKibben’s notice and, citing privacy concerns, would not provide further details about the West Virginians who claimed to be offended by the protest’s concept.
The organization also would not acknowledge that there is another side to the global warming debate.
“As to the message from the ‘other side of the global warning [sic] debate’ — there really isn’t another side,” 350.org spokesman Daniel Kessler wrote in an email to TheDC. “Every scientific academy in the world accepts man-made climate change as fact. That includes NASA and NOAA. So I’d take the other side’s words with a whole shaker of salt!”
Nevertheless, skeptics — including a U.S. senator, had thoughts to share.
“These far-left global warming alarmist stunts have a way of always backfiring. I am not surprised this one did as well. I have witnessed many attempts over the years only to see them end in complete failure,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe told TheDC.
Inhofe added that lack of interest may have played a role, along with pressure from Democrats who do not want to discuss the issue publicly.
Marc Morano, publisher of Climate Depot, said McKibben’s explanation does not pass the smell test.
“Something does not add up,” Morano wrote to TheDC. “Perhaps they thought the ice would not melt enough and cause embarrassment similar to what happened to ABC News when they tried to fry an egg on sidewalk. McKibben’s explanation makes no sense. Maybe they realized that a heatwave is just a heatwave after all.”
According to 350.org, the melting rate of ice sculptures did not factor into its decision to cancel Saturday’s planned protest.
“We are not experts in the physical properties of water but are confident that ice melts quickly when it’s 106!” Kessler wrote in an email to TheDC. Friday, he said, marked the ninth straight day of temperatures above 95 degrees in Washington, D.C.
Nevertheless, the latest no-go is more evidence for Inhofe and others that global warming advocates are losing ground.
“Bottom line: the American public has rejected global warming alarmism and these groups will only become more desperate as they seek to gain attention,” the senator said. “But the more they try, the more they will lose relevance.”
350.org said it will donate the money it raised to heat and drought relief organizations. Donors can also request refunds if they choose.