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No Mention Of The Little Ice Age, Justin?

November 6, 2021

By Paul Homewood


Justin Rowlatt, brother of Insulate Britain loon Cordelia, has flown to Alaska now to complain about melting glaciers:



He visited the famous Portage Glacier to make his point.

It’s a pity the useless Rowlatt did not do his homework first. It is well established amongst glaciologists that glaciers in Alaska expanded massively during the Little Ice Age. Indeed, the remains of forests now being uncovered by receding glaciers, dated back to the Middle Ages, show that glaciers then were much less extensive than now.

It is also known that modern glacial retreat began in the 19thC, long before any supposed impact from AGW, which Rowlatt wants to blame.

I did a detailed analysis of the Portage Glacier two years ago, following Michael Portillo’s filming there of his series Great Railroad Journeys. I won’t copy it in full, but you can see it here. The salient points are below.

To recap, Michael Portillo’s railway journeys are based around the Appleton’s travel guides from the 19thC. There was even one for Alaska, which included this gem:

“Old residents insist that the climate is changing. That the summers are warmer and drier. The rapid retreat of all the glaciers during even 20 years is offered as another proof.”

The guide was published in 1899, so this is good evidence that glacier retreat began long before even then.

The US Geological Survey confirms that the Portage Glacier itself has been receding since at least 1914, and that the fastest retreat occurred between 1939 and 1950:


During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Portage Glacier terminated on land at the western end of Portage Lake, filling Portage Lake with ice (Photo Plate 1914). Since the early 1900s, the glacier has receded, leaving Portage Lake in the scoured basin. The initial retreat of the glacier coincides with known climate warming associated with the end of the Little Ice Age (circa mid-19th century). As the glacier receded, its land-based terminus retreated into proglacial Portage Lake and changed from its relatively stable land-based environment to an unstable calving environment. The most rapid recession of some 140 to 160 meters per year occurred between 1939 (Photo Plate, 1939) and 1950, when water depth at the terminus was at its maximum—roughly 200 meters. Recession continued through the 1970s and 1980s (Photo Plate, 1972, 1984) until by late 1999, Portage Glacier had receded almost 5 kilometers, to a more stable position at the eastern end of Portage Lake (Photo Plate, 1999). The retreat was driven primarily by calving of unstable ice at the glacier terminus into Portage Lake. Ice loss resulting from increased melting of the glacier surface during the past century-long general warming trend contributed to glacier retreat, but to a lesser extent. Today, the terminus of Portage Glacier remains close to its 1999 location.

As I wrote at the time:

Many scientists have closely measured and studied glaciers throughout Alaska, and the conclusions have always been the same. Alaskan glaciers, which grew enormously during the Little Ice Age, began rapid retreat during the 19thC.

But it is fascinating that this was all common knowledge to a writer of a tourist guidebook published in 1899.

That writer evidently knew more about Alaskan glaciers than Justin Rowlatt does now!

  1. November 6, 2021 1:10 pm

    Obviously a genetic defect in the Rowlatt family; an excessively loud voice compensating for a very small brain

  2. dearieme permalink
    November 6, 2021 1:20 pm

    Justin and Cordelia. What a hoot.

  3. November 6, 2021 1:34 pm

    “That writer evidently knew more about Alaskan glaciers than Justin Rowlatt does now!” That’s not very difficult. Rowlatt demonstrates his ignorance every time he opens his mouth on the BBC.

  4. Harry Passfield permalink
    November 6, 2021 2:24 pm

    I’d like the BBC – and Rowlatt’s boss – to explain to the public (that’s, us, BBC!) how they can employ this man as a reporter (or journalist, if he rates such a title) with such activist views when their own BBC rules say that reporters should remain neutral in their reporting.
    I should also like to know what qualifications Rowlatt has that recommended him to the BBC when he applied for the job – seeing as how the man is manifestly not qualified to talk about the subject he is employed to cover. Unless he has been employed as a propagandist with good qualifications in lying. In which case, he’s your man Tim Davie

    • November 6, 2021 2:40 pm

      He is the usual PPE, ie no useful qualifications at all. I first remember him as the BBC’s “ethical man” when he first became an environmental activist, but then he became the BBC corespondent based in India until becoming the BBC’s chief environment correspondent. So absolutely no relevant qualifications and he knows nothing about science (par for the course at the BBC “climate science” propaganda unit).

  5. November 6, 2021 2:27 pm

    Presumably Mr Rowlatt provides what is required by his thoroughly environmentalist and Climate Delusionist paymasters at the BBC. All is well.

    I am sure the fact that these glaciers retreated even more during the Holocene Optimum period would be very swiftly brushed under the carpet.

  6. November 6, 2021 2:33 pm

    Such blinkered climate obsessives don’t want to know that variable cloud cover might have more to do with the climate than their pet hate CO2.

  7. Skyman permalink
    November 6, 2021 3:57 pm

    Totally, utterly hypocritical of the bbc to fly someone and crew to promulgate their propaganda preaching against the use of fossil fuels.

  8. Mad Mike permalink
    November 6, 2021 4:11 pm

    Rowlatt’s style of journalism is confrontational in that, in his own words, he tries to get under people’s skin. He tried it out with Alan Sugar and Sugar walked out accusing him of “gutter journalism”. You could see that also with the interview, if thats what you call it, with Boris.

    He studies politics, philosophy and politics at Oxford so he is well qualified to report and opine on all things scientific.

  9. MichaelM permalink
    November 6, 2021 4:27 pm

    I wonder if he went to Davos? Oh dear me i’m slipping into conspiracy mode again.

  10. mjr permalink
    November 6, 2021 4:52 pm

    and as to the town and island he visited that is “disappearing” it is basically one of a chain of sandbars. The townsfolk first voted on moving the town in 1975. Wikipedia gives some good background if you look past the mandatory climate change passages . Maybe next tragedy that Rowlatt references will be the sad loss of Doggerland due to terrible global warming (i.e. the end of the last ice age). If this had not happened we would now be french or german

  11. mjr permalink
    November 6, 2021 5:36 pm

    just seen bbc report on the climate demos around the world (funny they never covered the Anti lockdown marches).. Interviewed a woman on glasgow march who was an “indigenous person from Philippines” who is apparently on the climate change frontline and who said that climate change is killing indigenous people all over the world.
    So if she is from an indigenous people who must therefore have lived in the same place for thousands of years, why are they still alive if climate change kills them, given that the climate has changed lots during the last couple of thousand years. ?

    • Penda100 permalink
      November 6, 2021 6:43 pm

      Mjr – I didn’t see the report. How many of the demos were in China and Russia?

      • mjr permalink
        November 6, 2021 7:59 pm

        a few places mentioned but i dont recall Beijing or Moscow being named .

  12. MrGrimNasty permalink
    November 6, 2021 5:50 pm

    And the fact that during the last Ice Age the interior of Alaska was one of the greener more hospitable places – chew on that one Justin Cowpatt.

  13. Ben Vorlich permalink
    November 6, 2021 5:51 pm

    Totally off topic but had to share this

    “Drivers of electric cars “shocked” by hidden costs of charging stations – Portugal Resident”

    Drivers of electric cars are counting the cost of their ‘green investment’. It is not simply that electric cars are expensive to buy. They can prove surprisingly expensive to run, too.

    Unless you take care to charge ONLY at home, the costs of running one of these cars exceed the costs of ‘filling up’ with petrol or diesel

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      November 6, 2021 6:09 pm

      Yes, well known, the faster the charger you use the worse it gets.

      BBC was crowing about the latest ‘development’ in EVs for people without a parking space. It was this:-

      LOL. You couldn’t make it up, it’s totally impractical. £1000s for a few dozen miles of range, hours charging the pack, another charging the car, and easily stolen presumably!

      • Mad Mike permalink
        November 7, 2021 9:54 am

        An 8KW lithium battery stored in your home. What could possibly go wrong.

      • devonblueboy permalink
        November 7, 2021 10:15 am

        Or stored in your car boot

  14. Phoenix44 permalink
    November 6, 2021 6:04 pm

    All glaciers have been in retreat since the last ice age, with some pauses and small advances in between. Its only a few tens of thousands of years since glaciers covered all of western Europe and most of North America. Why these imbeciles believe that there was some stable period where nothing on the planet changed is beyond me. Everything changes all the time for lots of reasons.

    • Jim Le Maistre permalink
      November 8, 2021 6:05 pm

      Today in what is described as ‘An Inter Glacial Period’, The Holocene, we are having a reprieve from the incessant Violence brought upon the World by Volcanoes. Planet Earth is warm for only the second time in 250 thousand years. This Warming Period permits Food Production in the Prairies, Europe and China. Places where 10 kilometers of Ice would usually stand. For little more than 10 thousand years Humanity has had it good. Life for 7 billion people is possible. A mere 25 million souls occupied Equatorial regions of the Earth when Volcanoes and Ice Ruled the World. Let us learn to give thanks to Global Warming and learn to respect Nature as the Supreme Ruler of our Climate and of true Climate Change on our Little Blue Planet.

  15. Harry Passfield permalink
    November 6, 2021 6:15 pm

    Let’s go Justin!

  16. cookers52 permalink
    November 7, 2021 7:29 am

    The BBC don’t care any more whether Justin’s “news”about climate change is factually correct.

    Our elected politicians are much the same and voted through net zero legislation almost unanimously, without the faintest idea of how to achieve such a goal.

    The climate emergency is upon us and the call for change is loudly proclaimed, but what change is being called for is somewhat illusive.

    There are 7.5 billion of our species on this 3rd rock from the sun, the planet doesn’t care about us, it’s position is totally impartial whether we are here or not.

    Religious belief is about how the planet works and how we must sacrifice ourselves to ensure the planet survives, it has always been that way since the dawn of civilisation, that’s what we are.

    Logic is absent from anything to do with climate change, predictions of disaster don’t happen, so we must destroy ourselves.

  17. Post BREXIT permalink
    November 7, 2021 7:50 am

    Yet another classic propaganda piece to suit the CC/ BBC agenda.

    The problem is there is no counter report to show what tosh Justin/BBC is spouting hence the reason the gullible are marching in their 1000s and believing every bad weather report is evidence of if bad weather never occurred in the past,

    The gullible useful idiots calling for Govt action but are never asked or are unable to tell you what they actually want the Govt to do other than ‘save the planet for our children’.

    That the politicos are knee jerking to this nonsense does not bode well for the future.

  18. Robert Jones permalink
    November 7, 2021 9:11 am

    A copy of this damning criticism of Justin Rowlatt’s dismal performance above needs to be formally presented to the BBC, because those in the BBC’s ‘quality control’ department must surely be blissfully ignorant of his shortcomings?

    • cookers52 permalink
      November 7, 2021 9:33 am

      The BBC management fully supports Justin, not much point in complaining. The UK science and political establishment supports Justin, which pretty much guarantees he is wrong

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        November 7, 2021 9:50 am

        The fact that the top of the ‘Science and Environment’ page is more often than not 100% climate related stories kind of gives it away. Interesting actual science articles in the leads are rare these days. The BBC is just a campaign/brainwashing/propaganda arm of the climate change political movement and their true agenda of global socialist governance.

      • Douglas Dragonfly permalink
        November 7, 2021 7:24 pm

        The fact this BBC presenter knows nothing about the subject he is presenting is EXACTLY why he was given the job !
        If he only had half the knowledge of weather formation of any one of the contributors on this sight he would be tagged as ‘Dangerous’.
        A heretic even.

  19. Captain Flint permalink
    November 7, 2021 11:25 am

    In the same piece, he visited an Alaskan settlement of indigenous people that was threatened by (Alleged) rising sea levels. Can you analyse this claim Paul?


  1. No Mention Of The Little Ice Age, Justin? – Watts Up With That? - News7g

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