High Praise

An Unusual Piece of Work

It’s not very often you come across such a paean of praise for an actor, movie, or TV production as appeared recently in The Guardian.  It is even more remarkable since  the production deals with Christian doctrines and themes. 

A Love letter to Sean Bean

 – The Most Heartbreakingly Mesmerising of Actors

It sometimes seems as though Jimmy McGovern named his latest show Broken because his aim is to break his viewers into pieces every week. We are now halfway through this series about Catholic priest Father Michael Kerrigan and the small flock he attempts to bring succour to in the north west of England – and every week has ended with me blubbering incoherently on the sofa.

Now no one does anger and pain and misery quite like McGovern, and with Broken he has plumbed new depths of social despair – but what makes it not just bearable but utterly gripping to watch is his dark, dry humour and the magnificent performance of his leading man, Sean Bean.

Bean’s Father Michael is quiet and conflicted, haunted by his past and battling a sadness that has seeped deep into his soul. He commands the screen, his pain flitting across that gaunt, ravaged face reminding us that some of the best actors say most when speaking least.

Thus we watch transfixed as Father Michael acts almost more as social worker than priest, trying to solve problems that are beyond prayer. We cheer as he attempts to rally his sparse congregation with a controversial attack on the “old men” who run the Catholic church and their “contempt for the bodies of women”, and smile as he goofily sings his sick mother to sleep with a full-throated rendition of Glenn Miller’s Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Throughout it all Bean slowly, carefully builds up a portrait of a man who is both a part of this community and yet somehow apart from it, who gives freely of himself yet sits alone at the local bar, donning his sadness just as he puts on his chasuble for mass. As a study of loneliness it is thoughtful, subtle and ultimately mesmerising: a picture of a man on the verge of breakdown who is holding himself together through sheer faith and a desperate desire to atone.

It is not the most obvious of roles for Bean, now 58, who built a name for himself as a swashbuckler and sword-swinger, famous mostly for his many glorious on-screen deaths. He’s been shot, stabbed, pulled apart by horses, chased off a cliff by cows, thrown off a giant satellite dish, blown up, beheaded and turned into a human pin-cushion by Orc arrows. . . .

It was Game of Thrones that cemented his reputation for dying well. Games of Thrones was also the show that reminded people that behind the menace lurked an actor of great subtlety. His Ned Stark was both weary commander and good man fatally out of his depth; a lesser actor might have struggled to sell the often naive decisions that sealed Ned’s fate, but Bean’s authority and ability to say more with one frustrated look than a thousand speeches is what kept fans rooting for him to the bitter end. . . .

Yet this performance as Father Michael is something else again: interior, considered, filled with emotional heft. In this week’s episode, Michael finally confronted the priest whose actions destroyed his childhood and have hung heavy over his life. In a lesser drama, there would have been something cathartic in that moment. Instead, McGovern and Bean played it low-key and true as Michael pushed for answers only to find that his abuser simply didn’t care. It was a moment made all the more devastating by Bean’s quiet rage and the gut-wrenching brokenness at its core.

There are few actors capable of bringing that weight to a role. Of allowing you to see how a person can be both good but heartbreakingly, perhaps fatally, flawed. Of convincing you that a man so betrayed by the Catholic church as a child might return to that church thanks to a faith deeper than those betrayals and, crucially, of making you believe in every aspect of his character’s life from the good-natured interventions into his parishioners’ lives to those moments when, terribly, he ignores them out of a desire to be off-duty for once, to put down the candle, to be alone.

McGovern has noted that he never considered anyone else for the role: “I always go back to Sean – I just think he’s world class,” he said. “People know he’s good, but I know he’s great.” And, thanks to Broken, we all do now.
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Daily Meditation

Accepting Graduated Responsibility

There is an oft-neglected principle taught in the New Testament. I call it the principle of “graduated responsibility.” This principle is taught by Jesus in Luke 12:48: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded” (NIV). 
This saying is part of the parable of the faithful steward. It underscores the terms of the judgment the lord in the parable renders to his servants. The punishment meted out is given in direct proportion to the prior knowledge each servant had:
That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.” (vv. 47-48, NIV)
Here we see that judgment and punishment are rendered according to knowledge as well as action. The greater the knowledge, the greater the accountability.

Coram Deo

Are you a faithful steward over all that God has entrusted to you?

Passages for Further Study

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Back To the Bad Old Days

Dumb and Dumber
There is nothing more ludicrous than the re-emergence in New Zealand of  what economic historians call Muldoonism.  For our overseas readers, Robert Muldoon was a dominant Prime Minister in New Zealand in the late sixties and seventies.  Muldoon commenced with a self-stated belief in free markets, only to end up with an economy more controlled and regulated than Poland and Hungary, which at that time were Communist states.  

Ironically, it was an incoming Labour government which stripped away Muldoonism’s  awful costly failures and re-committed the country to free markets.  Now, however, the present government is acting more and more like Muldoon and actively returning the country to centralist control.  If allowed to continue, this will wreak a terrible price. 

Here is the latest example of economic distortion, waste, and inefficiency championed by our political masters.  As is always the case, it “picks winner” which means that the government now queers the pitch in favour of its specially favoured flavours-of-the-month.  Here is where the high cost of government meddling stamps inefficiency and rising prices upon society.

The bill stopping foreigners from buying houses in NZ has emerged from select  committee study with   significant   amendments.  Associate  Finance  Minister  David Parker   says the  new law will ensure the  market  for homes  is a  “NZ  market  not  an international  one”.  He  contends  Kiwis  should not be outbid by  “wealthier  foreign buyers”.

But the same bill now includes a move to encourage  “foreign direct  investment”  in forestry.   Forestry Minister Shane Jones says the legislation –  by bringing forestry rights into the overseas investment regime – will help promote high-quality foreign investment  which puts more emphasis on genuine benefits for New Zealanders.

So – foreign money  for  NZ homes  is  dirty but  foreign money for  NZ  trees is clean?  Well, not  quite.  Jones  says  for forestry  the foreign money has to be  “high quality” investment.  To some NZers – probably most – a  dollar is a  dollar and the difference  between a  “high  quality”  dollar  and  an  ordinary dollar is hard to spot.  If a mate told them  the difference is obvious, he  would be in danger of  being accused  of  displaying undue  hubris.

But as the ministers see it, the proposed legislation, as it is now written, “rationalises”  forestry  investment.  [Point of Order]

Note the word “rationalises”.  By this, the Government means an industry which conforms to its peculiar view of reality.  Only then does it become rationalized.  But what it actually represents is  bias and prejudice on the part of government.  It involves the government in “picking winners” just like Muldoon attempted, to the eventual detriment of all but the owners of Muldoon’s “think big” projects.  [Incidentally, minister Shane Jones represents an eerie recrudescence of Muldoon in his bullying, blustering, big-noting, and empty pontificating.  Jones represents “think big” in all the worst ways.]

One of the “winners” enjoying government largesse and favour is telecommunications. 

The opposition MPs also found fault with the arbitrary way exemptions and amendments have been introduced.  They cite the exemptions for telecommunications, gas and electricity lines companies – which often have more than 25% foreign ownership – but not for retirement village developers.

When locally owned, NZ sharemarket listed retirement development companies want to buy land to build retirement service complexes, it must go cap and hand to the State for special permission.  Why?  Because some of the shareholders are furreigners.  But not if you manufacture and supply electricity to the national grid.  Go figure. 
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lost among the Greeks

marmsky June 2018 (21)

lost among the Greeks

Devotions by Jefferson Vann # 2419

John 7:30-36

Joh 7:30 Then they tried to arrest him. Yet no one laid a hand on him because his hour had not yet come.
Joh 7:31 But many from the crowd believed in him and were saying, “The Messiah when he comes won’t do more signs than this one has done, will he?”
Joh 7:32 The Pharisees heard the crowd grumbling these things about him, and so the chief priests and the Pharisees sent servants to arrest him.
Joh 7:33 Then Jesus said, “I am only with you for a short time. Then I’m departing to my sender.
Joh 7:34 You will look for me, and not find me; and where I am, you are not able to come.”
Joh 7:35 Then the Jews said to one another, “Where is he about to go so we will not find him? He doesn’t intend to go to the diaspora among the Greeks and teach the Greeks, is he?
Joh 7:36 What is this word he said: ‘You will look for me, and not find me; and where I am, you are not able to come’?”

lost among the Greeks

The Jewish officials thought Jesus was referring to his getting lost among the Greek speaking Jews of the diaspora. They misread Jesus when he predicted that very soon they would be looking for their Messiah but he would be gone. He was, of course, referring to his returning to his sender, his Father in heaven.

If you have been looking for the one missing piece to the puzzle of your life, and have not found it, maybe you have felt like it is lost among the Greeks. Perhaps you think your answer is where you never intend to go. Just look up. It is cliché to say that Jesus is the answer, and the only way to the Father. But it is also true.

LORD, whatever we get in life, may we never lose you.


Canadian PM More and More Despised by Canadians

Trudeau is Making Canada a ‘Totalitarian State’

Doctors’ Group Speaks Up


NEWFOUNDLAND, June 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An international doctors’ group has asked Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stop persecuting doctors for their religious beliefs.

Trudeau’s policies are transforming Canada into a “totalitarian state” and corrupting the integrity of its medical profession, MaterCare International executive director Dr. Robert Walley told the prime minister in a June 8 open letter.  The Newfoundland-based MaterCare is an international association of obstetricians and gynaecologists working to improve maternal health in developing countries, presently in Kenya. 

Walley’s letter castigated Trudeau for his “overbearing attitude against religious people and their employment in our country.”  It urged the prime minister to “end the discrimination of religious people and support equality in the workforce” in Canada.  “We want Trudeau to lift the lid on this pressure cooker he has created around our profession,” Walley elaborated in an email to LifeSiteNews.  “We are asking that he, at the very minimum, not actively pursue and persecute people who have religious beliefs and live them.”

Walley told Trudeau in his letter that the prime minister’s “dictatorial policies” have led to active discrimination against doctors who believe in the sanctity of human life.
  “Medical students, residents, and physicians have begun to experience discrimination through denial of their right to practice according to their consciences if they do not accept your government’s dictatorial policies,” he wrote.

As a consequence, “fewer young doctors are entering certain specialties and others sadly compromise their moral integrity in order to sustain their careers,” wrote Walley.  “The covenant relationship that used to exist between doctor and patient, second only to religious advisors, is being corrupted such that doctors are now becoming simply technicians with contractual agreements as service providers.”  And Trudeau is responsible for this state of affairs, having “created a climate in this country that encourages discrimination of those with open religious beliefs,” Walley told LifeSiteNews.  Canada is “quickly becoming, ethically and morally, a totalitarian state, created in the image of Justin Trudeau,” he contended.

The prime minister has also “transformed the Liberal Party into something of a hate group that deliberately targets, among other faiths, the practice of Christianity,” added Walley.  That began with Trudeau’s 2014 edict as Liberal leader that all party candidates must support abortion. It continued with the Liberal policy denying Canada Summer Job funding to groups that refused to sign an attestation supporting abortion, as well as gender ideology.

“Organizations across the country are following his lead, coercing professionals to cooperate with his ideals and, in essence, renounce their faith or fear loss of their livelihood,” Walley told LifeSiteNews.  Notably, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) issued a policy requiring physicians and surgeons make “effective” referrals to an accessible colleague willing to do the act “when their consciences will not allow them to cooperate with a particular procedure or treatment.”

A group of Christian doctors challenged the CPSO policy, but Ontario Superior Court upheld it, ruling that although the policy infringed Charter rights, it was justified to allow equal access to healthcare “services.” The doctors’ groups are appealing the ruling.

“Healthcare workers will either become initiated into this climate through the process of gradualization, or they will leave to find somewhere where they can practice their faith and medicine freely. Healthcare will lose its credibility among patients,” Walley observed.

“Justin Trudeau is trying to change our profession, which he knows little or nothing about, including the practice of abortion. He simply has no legitimate authority to speak to these issues,” Walley told LifeSiteNews.

“It is a profession that some feel called to take on because they want to help people and save lives.”
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There are not many times when my sermons are recorded. But When I preached at Glendowie Presbyterian Church earlier in this month they did record the sermon and put it on the internet. In our tradition when a church is vacant a minister in a neighbouring parish becomes the interim moderator and looks after the church. That sunday we had six people becoming members of the Church so I chose to preach about the logo of the Presbyterian church. This may seem a bit egotistical but I know some of you regularly read my sermons but have never heard me preach  so  here is the link if you want to listen… the text and the images that go with this sermon are also on my blog…. here’s the link
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Daily Meditation

How to Plead for Unbelievers

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. (Romans 10:1)

John Piper

Paul prays that God would convert Israel. He prays for her salvation! He does not pray for ineffectual influences, but for effectual influences. And that is how we should pray too.

We should take the new covenant promises of God and plead with God to bring them to pass in our children and our neighbors and on all the mission fields of the world.

God, take out of their flesh the heart of stone and give them a new heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). Circumcise their heart so that they love you (Deuteronomy 30:6)! Father, put your Spirit within them and cause them to walk in your statutes (Ezekiel 36:27). Grant them repentance and a knowledge of the truth that they may escape from the snare of the devil (2 Timothy 2:25–26). Open their hearts so that they believe the gospel (Acts 16:14)!

When we believe in the sovereignty of God — in the right and power of God to elect and then bring hardened sinners to faith and salvation — then we will be able to pray with no inconsistency, and with great biblical promises for the conversion of the lost.

Thus God has pleasure in this kind of praying because it ascribes to him the right and honor to be the free and sovereign God that he is in election and salvation.
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"Made in China 2025"

Free Trade With China is an Oxymoron

Trump’s looming trade war with China begs an interesting question: is it possible for a Communist government to enter into a meaningful and genuine free trade agreement?  It’s arguable that no communist government, such as China, can meaningfully participate in free trade when the economy is at the command and control of the state.

This is the argument being pushed now by the Trump administration and it is one which demands careful thought.  Much of the Chinese economy represents command and control: the price of money is set by the state; mass production of favoured goods is heavily subsidised by the state; the state controls the demand for goods and services; and the state substantially controls the labour market.  When a non-statist government enters into a free trade agreement with a communist state, the price signals of goods and services are inevitably distorted and of little use.  There is nothing “fair” about them.  They are certainly not “free”.  Therefore, free trade with a communist state (or a strongly fabian socialist state) is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms from the outset.

Western nations by-and-large understand that state subsidies and state picked “winners” are an immediate contradiction against free trade.  However, the recent push by Western nations to enter into global and regional multi-national talks in an attempt to secure global free trade agreements is both short sighted and contradictory.  When it involves agreements with communist command-and-control economies it is even more the case. 

President Donald Trump announced on June 15 that he would go ahead with the proposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, doubling down on his promise to level the playing field and defend against improper intellectual property theft by China.

China retaliated hours later by announcing its own 25-percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of U.S. products. The implementation timeline largely mirrors the United States,’ with tariffs focusing on agricultural imports.  The Trump administration vowed that the United States would pursue additional tariffs once China retaliates in kind.  The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) described the goods subject to the 25 percent tariffs as “Chinese imports containing industrially significant technologies, including those related to China’s ‘Made in China 2025’ industrial policy.”

The new tariffs will be implemented in two stages. The first list contains 818 products worth $34 billion which will go into effect on July 6, with another round of goods worth $16 billion to be implemented after a period of public consultation. . . . [Epoch Times]

The “Made in China 2025” policy is a deliberate attempt by the Chinese Communist state to become technologically self-sufficient.
  The key strategy is to steal by fair means or foul technology from the West and incorporate it into the Chinese economy.  It’s long term goal is to become autarkic–self sufficient and not dependent upon any other nation for anything.  Because the Middle Kingdom, don’t you know, is superior to all, and will eventually rule the world.  Participating in “free trade” is merely the means to that end.  From the Chinese government’s perspective, the rest of the world is as dumb as a sackful of hammers, but that’s its problem.  If the world wants to trade freely with China, it must give up its intellectual property to the Chinese state.  If other nations are prepared to do that, more fool them. 

Somewhat lost in the prevailing narrative—which misguidedly has focused on free trade vs. protectionism—is Trump’s real concerns over technology theft.

The latest tariffs were framed specifically in response to theft of U.S. intellectual property (IP) by the Chinese Communist regime. According to an IP Commission report released earlier this year by the National Bureau of Asian Research, the annual cost of IP theft to the U.S. economy could be as high as $600 billion. The IP Commission estimated China as the top infringer, responsible for 50 to 80 percent of the damage.  And outside of terse denials or calling the allegations “groundless,” the Chinese regime hasn’t produced ample evidence to mitigate such concerns.

China’s “Made In China 2025” program has been cited by the USTR as a driving force behind increasing investment and acquisition of foreign technology companies, and subsequent forced IP transfers, according to a recent investigative report by the USTR.

U.S. companies have been raising concerns for years, mostly through private channels with U.S. government agencies for fear of retaliation by Beijing. This is a key reason why Trump’s broader trade dispute with China has taken on increased importance. It hasn’t been about trade; it’s a fight to protect the nation’s status as a technology leader.

To the Chinese Communist regime, the West’s conception of free-trade is more fool them.  It is something to be exploited to the Communist regime’s advantage.  The West’s ideological bent and triumphalism and sense of overweening superiority has led it to view China through a think myopic lens of condescension.  China, however, bears the insult.  Its time is coming (or so the regime believes.)  Until, that is, Trump came along.
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what we think we know

marmsky June 2018 (20)

what we think we know

Devotions by Jefferson Vann # 2418

John 7:25-30

Joh 7:25 Then some of the Jerusalemites were saying, “Isn’t this the man they are looking for to kill?
Joh 7:26 Yet, look, he’s speaking publicly and they’re saying nothing to him. Can it be true that the authorities know he is the Messiah?
Joh 7:27 But we know where this one is from. When the Messiah comes, nobody will know where he is from.”
Joh 7:28 While teaching in the temple, Jesus cried out, “You know me and you know where I am from. Yet I have not come on my own, but the one who sent me is true. You don’t know him;
Joh 7:29 I know him because I am from him, that one sent me.”
Joh 7:30 Then they tried to arrest him. Yet no one laid a hand on him because his hour had not yet come.

what we think we know

What strikes me as I read this is the misinformation that the Jerusalemites thought they knew about the coming Messiah. It makes me wonder how much of the Christology that we hold to has come from the biblical text, and how much is a product of our history and culture. If the Jerusalemites had really known who Jesus was, and why he had come, they would not have tried to arrest him. If there is one part of my life that I will never regret no matter how it turns out, it is my biblical studies. I want to really know what’s there. I also want to know him because he is my sender.

LORD, we want to know you as our Savior and sender.


More Sensationalist Codswallop

Shock! Antarctica Still Doing Just Great

James Delingpole

Antarctic melting faster than evah!

This has been the global warming scare story of the week, heavily promoted by the usual suspects, including Time, CBS, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the New York Timesand, inevitably, the BBC.
Here is the BBC version:
Antarctica is shedding ice at an accelerating rate.
Satellites monitoring the state of the White Continent indicate some 200 billion tonnes a year are now being lost to the ocean as a result of melting.
This is pushing up global sea levels by 0.6mm annually – a three-fold increase since 2012 when the last such assessment was undertaken.
Scientists report the new numbers in the journal Nature.
Governments will need to take account of the information and its accelerating trend as they plan future defences to protect low-lying coastal communities.
The researchers say the losses are occurring predominantly in the West of the continent, where warm waters are getting under and melting the fronts of glaciers that terminate in the ocean.
“We can’t say when it started – we didn’t collect measurements in the sea back then,” explained Prof Andrew Shepherd, who leads the Ice sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (Imbie).
“But what we can say is that it’s too warm for Antarctica today. It’s about half a degree Celsius warmer than the continent can withstand and it’s melting about five metres of ice from its base each year, and that’s what’s triggering the sea-level contribution that we’re seeing,” he told BBC News.
So it’s over, right? The Warmunists were right, the deniers were wrong and global warming is a super serial crisis we need to deal with NOW not the day after tomorrow…
Actually no.

The first thing to note is that the study is published in Nature, which is alarmist central and therefore to be treated with a degree of skepticism.
If you read the abstract, it’s actually pretty dry and unexciting.
The Antarctic Ice Sheet is an important indicator of climate change and driver of sea-level rise. Here we combine satellite observations of its changing volume, flow and gravitational attraction with modelling of its surface mass balance to show that it lost 2,720 ± 1,390 billion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2017, which corresponds to an increase in mean sea level of 7.6 ± 3.9 millimetres (errors are one standard deviation). Over this period, ocean-driven melting has caused rates of ice loss from West Antarctica to increase from 53 ± 29 billion to 159 ± 26 billion tonnes per year; ice-shelf collapse has increased the rate of ice loss from the Antarctic Peninsula from 7 ± 13 billion to 33 ± 16 billion tonnes per year. We find large variations in and among model estimates of surface mass balance and glacial isostatic adjustment for East Antarctica, with its average rate of mass gain over the period 1992–2017 (5 ± 46 billion tonnes per year) being the least certain.
But such is the way of climate alarmism is that the scientists involved have to talk up their findings and make them sound scary. Then the mainstream media adds its spin to make them scarier still.
The reality is more prosaic.
Those dramatic sea level rises, for example.
Here is what they have actually been doing for the last few thousand years.

I prepared this chart to help people understand the difference between natural sea level rise and man-made sea level rise.
As Paul Homewood notes:
Despite the apocalyptic headline, ice loss has only been contributing about 0.3mm a year to sea level rise, about an inch per century. Given that sea levels have been rising at around 8 inches a century since the 19thC, there is no evidence that this is not a long term phenomenon we are seeing.
Then, again per Homewood, there’s the issue of reliability.
Then there is the question of the accuracy of measurements. A major study by NASA in 2015 discovered that Antarctic ice mass has actually been increasing since 1992, basically because of greater snowfall, and not decreasing as this new study claims.
In reality, measurements of ice mass are not exact and are subject to huge margins of error.
And it’s not as though scientists have records going back long enough (Antarctica is a big, inhospitable place: remember Captain Scott?) to get any proper historical perspective:
Indeed as Shephard himself is forced to admit, we did not start collecting data until 1992. This sort of melting could have been going on for centuries or longer. In fact, another paper published this month by Kingslake et al finds that there has been  extensive retreat and re-advance of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet during the Holocene.
As Shephard also remarks, the melting in West Antarctica is due to the intrusion of warmer water, and therefore nothing at all to do with GHGs or “global warming”. It is highly unlikely that such changes in ocean currents have not happened many times before.
Just to repeat that key point: scientists only been collecting data since the year REM released Automatic for the People. Not really that long ago in the great scheme of things.
Finally, there’s the awkward matter – awkward if you’re a warmist trying to generate climate alarm, that is – of context.
“Antarctica loses three trillion tonnes of ice in 25 years” sounds like a serious problem.
Until you realize how big Antarctica is.
As David Middleton has calculated at Watts Up With That? three trillion metric tons is something the Antarctic can lose quite comfortably.
Area (km2) Volume (km3)  Mass (Gt) Significance of 3 trillion metric tons
East Antarctica   10,153,170 75%     26,039,200 86%   23,870,135 0.013%
West Antarctica    1,918,170 14%       3,262,000 11%    2,990,275 0.100%
Antarctic Peninsula       446,690 3%         227,100 1%       208,183 1.441%
Ross Ice Shelf       536,070 4%         229,600 1%       210,474 1.425%
Ronne-Filchner ice shelves       532,200 4%         351,900 1%       322,587 0.930%
Antarctic ice sheet   13,586,400 100%     30,109,800 100%   27,601,654 0.011%
In a story headlined ‘Good News! 99.989% of the Antarctic Ice Sheet Didn’t Melt!’, Middleton reminds us that most of the Antarctic is still there.
One of his readers below has done the math on what three trillion metric tons of ice-melt-caused sea rise looks like.
3 Trillion Metric Tons of mass equates to 7.6mm Sea Level Rise. (2.54mm per inch is 7.62 for 3″)
3T Tons sounds like a lot but reality is, 1 trillion tons equates to 1″ of sea level rise.
Not very much.
Big global warming scare story over.

Until they come up with a new one next week.

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