Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Globalony Goes Postal

The overheated frenzy decried by Daniel Botkin captures most of page A10 in Monday's WaPo, under the byline of the aptly-named Doug Struck. The article is headlined At the Poles, Melting Occurring at Alarming Rate; remember the plural object ("Poles") of the first phrase. The piece opens in full Chicken-Little mode:
For scientists, global warming is a disaster movie, its opening scenes set at the poles of Earth. The epic already has started. And it's not fiction.

The scenes are playing, at the start, in slow motion: The relentless grip of the Arctic Ocean that defied man for centuries is melting away. The sea ice reaches only half as far as it did 50 years ago. In the summer of 2006, it shrank to a record low; this summer the ice pulled back even more, by an area nearly the size of Alaska. Where explorer Robert Peary just 102 years ago saw "a great white disk stretching away apparently infinitely" from Ellesmere Island, there is often nothing now but open water. Glaciers race into the sea from the island of Greenland, beginning an inevitable rise in the oceans.

Animals are on the move. Polar bears, kings of the Arctic, now search for ice on which to hunt and bear young. Seals, walrus and fish adapted to the cold are retreating north. New species -- salmon, crabs, even crows -- are coming from the south. The Inuit, who have lived on the frozen land for millennia, are seeing their houses sink into once-frozen mud, and their hunting trails on the ice are pocked with sinkholes.

"It affects everyone," said Carin Ashjian, a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute scientist who spent early September with native Inupiats in Barrow, the northernmost town of Alaska. "The only ice I saw this year was in my cup at the cafeteria."
Accompanying the articles are maps of the Arctic and Antarctic regions showing the recent late-summer "ice minimum" compared to the "normal" minimum, sourced to NASA and NOAA data. The Arctic image is similar to this:

source: NOAA via University of Illinois Polar Research Group Cryosphere blog

This accurately reflects a record retreat in the extent of the ice cover in the Arctic summer. Swimming with the rest of the mainstream media, the Post blames global warming--without mentioning that NASA doesn't:
Nghiem [Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory] said the rapid decline in winter perennial ice the past two years was caused by unusual winds. "Unusual atmospheric conditions set up wind patterns that compressed the sea ice, loaded it into the Transpolar Drift Stream and then sped its flow out of the Arctic," he said. When that sea ice reached lower latitudes, it rapidly melted in the warmer waters.

"The winds causing this trend in ice reduction were set up by an unusual pattern of atmospheric pressure that began at the beginning of this century," Nghiem said.
Typically, the media quotes NASA only when the agency is pro-doomsday.

That's only half the WaPo's error. The headline encompasses both North and South "Poles," as noted above, and the article trills Antarctic "taps" :
At the South Pole, ancient ice shelves have abruptly crumbled. The air over the western Antarctic peninsula has warmed by nearly 6 degrees since 1950. The sea there is heating as well, further melting edges of the ice cap. Green grass and beech trees are taking root on the ice fringes.

Antarctica's signature Adelie penguins are moving inland, seeking the cold of their ancestors, replaced by chinstrap and Gentoo penguins, which prefer open water. Krill, the massive smorgasbord for a food chain reaching to the whales, are disappearing from traditional spawning grounds.
But Struck's piece never refers to the story's chart of Antarctic summer ice which shows that 2007 exceeded the normal minimum. Indeed Antarctic ice coverage actually set a record this year, according to an October 1 report by the University of Illinois:
The Southern Hemisphere sea ice area narrowly surpassed the previous historic maximum of 16.03 million sq. km to 16.17 million sq. km. The observed sea ice record in the Southern Hemisphere (1979-present) is not as long as the Northern Hemisphere. [NOfP note: i.e., data from the South Pole begins more recently than the North Pole] Prior to the satellite era, direct observations of the Southern Hemisphere sea ice edge were sporadic.
The current Antarctic view is:

source: NOAA via University of Illinois Polar Research Group Cryosphere blog

This doesn't seem so bad--despite the plural headline.

Conclusion: Global warming didn't necessarily melt Arctic ice, and the Antarctic is more ice-bound than ever. I'm not arguing the events offset each other--ranked by ice area, the North Pole melt outweighs the Southern freeze. But the Post's failure even to mention contrary data renders Struck's entire article suspect--Struck's stuck on doomsday.

What turns supposedly objective reporters into charter members of "The Order Of The Sky Is Falling"? Listen to Jimmie at Sundries Shack:
That’s what’s really wrong, aside from the hysteria posing as news, in articles like this. We live on a planet that’s existed for longer than we can really comprehend. Its climate operates on a cycle the length of which we can only guess, mostly because evidence of those cycles has a limited lifespan. We base much of what we know on what the human experience has been (see the reference to Robert Peary at the beginning of the article) frequently ignoring that what we have seen is only part of the story. Climate Science is growing in leaps and bounds but, folks, there is no way in the universe that we can say right now whether what happened to the Ross Ice Shelf is natural or not. We can’t say whether the receding ice in the Arctic is a natural phenomenon or whether we’re making it happen. We simply can’t say most of what the global warming alarmists claim with any large degree of scientific certitude. Heck, we can’t even predict the weather in your home town more than three days in advance with any real degree of accuracy. It’s incredibly arrogant to say that we can explain hundreds of millions of years of climate based on a couple hundred years of observation. That’s a level of arrogance that makes me very uncomfortable, especially since those who are making the bold pronouncements of doom want to slave most of the world’s economy to slowing down a freight train whose size we can barely guess.

The most any reasonable scientist can say is that the climate that we have known for the past few centuries is changing. We may well wish to keep the climate just the way it is. That’s certainly a discussion we should have, with wide open eyes and full awareness of the likelihood of success, the cost of the attempt, and the chance and possible outcomes of failure. That’s far from the discussion we’re having, if discussion there is. Most MSM outlets treat manmade global warming as a fait accompli and completely ignore the legitimate scientists who have cast doubt on the theory all along the way (or worse, denigrate those scientists with smears and innuendo).


Ronald 'More-More' Moshki said...

Holocaust-denying is a victimless crime.

These pro-Global Warming, pro-destruction comedians are doing a lot of real damage.

Carl said...

Don't agree with the first, and can't tell what's your position on the second.

Jimmie said...

Carl, thank you very much for the link and the extensive quote!

Carl said...


You are quite welcome; I encourage readers to check-out his excellent Sundries Shack blog.

Ronald 'More-More' Moshki said...

Carl is denying Global Warming, Global Deforestation even though they are obvious to the objective eye.

This is killing, albiet slowly, everything and everyone. if a person is in favor of these things, he is a nihilist. He hates his own home.

Holocaust-denial is an intellectual, elitist 'problem'.

The Islamo-Fasci are the issue, not Nazi Germany.

Carl said...

Ronald: I'm saying the supposed proof of Global Warming flubs the scientific method, is married to long-refuted Malthusianism, often ignores contrary data and avoids realistic comparison of the costs of warming with the benefits of warming, and of the cost of warming abatement with the effectiveness of any abatement, as compared to other urgent projects.

De-forestation exists, but mostly in the poor parts of the world--in many other spots, rainforests are expanding. Improve the lives of those living in the developing world; draw them from poverty via the introduction of property rights--that's the most effective policy to promote rainforests.

Whatever merit to the view that Holocaust-denial by individuals is harmless because it will be trumped by truth, that argument does not extend to the crazed chief of terrorist-supporting government who denies the mid-20th Century holocaust while planning a 21st Century version with atomic weapons.

Apart from that, I've no idea what you're trying to say.

Ronald 'More-More' Moshki said...

The fact that anyone would say: "...rainforests are expanding..." clearly frames the anti-Earth (everyone's home) agenda of the ultra-capitalist.

It's not possible to have a legitimate debate.
Mr. Ahmadinejad may be a large-mouthed cartoon character, but he and the ayatollahs are not masochists.

The Izlamo-fasci talk big vs Israel but they do not want to get rid of it. Israel is good for their business, essential for their business.

Folq who want to attack Iran, opening up a three-front war, are just kidding.

Carl said...


Do you EVER f-ing read anything? Do you EVER f-ing click the hyperlinks that support the facts and my arguments? Should you see the light, let this be the first. It's the same link used my comment above where I said "mostly in the poor parts of the world." Page 22 addresses de-forestization, which was my point, and it shows a recent modest increase in forest area in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

I agree "It's not possible to have a legitimate debate"--but that's because you're stuck on stupid and know no facts.