Global Warming and Mythmaking Follies
The UK’s right wing machinery, i.e., Mail Online in conjunction with its reliable mythmaker author David Rose, posted an article about global warming just in time for the Drudge Report, and similar sites, to pick up their seemingly devastating article about the “myth of Arctic meltdown” for the long Labor Day weekend, thus, assuring maximum exposure. Globally, Mail Online is the most visited newspaper website.
The headline of the article even goes so far as to use all caps in the middle of a sentence: “…despite Al Gore’s prediction it would be ICE-FREE by now.” Of course, that is not exactly how respected newspapers write headlines, is it, or isn’t it? It seems kind of cheesy, and the headline, in and of itself, is a tipoff that clueless creativity is behind the scoop.
Here’s the headline in full: “Myth of arctic meltdown: Stunning satellite images show summer ice cap is thicker and covers 1.7 million square kilometres MORE than 2 years ago… despite Al Gore’s prediction it would be ICE-FREE by now,” David Rose, Mail Online, Aug. 30, 2014.
The headline is true, except for everything beyond two years.
Just for starters, Al Gore is not a scientist. So, why bother to quote him? Yeah, so he won an Academy Award for a film about global warming, but that’s all about entertainment and Hollywood.
But, that’s not all, as Rose meanders into the science, he positions the facts just cleverly enough to achieve his preconceived result, more on that later. Nevertheless, Rose’s article is correct in many respects, but it’s the “when things happen” and the “dimensions of what happens” where he strays into a pit of pretense, similar to David Copperfield’s sleight of hand, sawing somebody in half. We all know the feet and the head are not really severed. There’s no blood.
Similar to Copperfield’s sleight of hand, Rose’s article states the Arctic ice has recovered over the past two years, and this is true. It really has recovered, but it is also true that trends in nature are never based upon two years, which is not a complete body of evidence. Trends are multi-decadal events, not two years. And, it is indisputable that the trend with ice melt is down, down, down for 50 years.
It is also an established fact that nature trends up and down fluctuations over long-term cycles, similar to stock markets, e.g., secular bull markets in stocks experience corrections down along the way up. Likewise, the 50-year secular downtrend in Arctic ice experiences bumps up along the way. Like Copperfield’s lack of blood, Rose’s Arctic article lacks ice, not nearly enough to change the trend. Not even close!
Using one of the same sources, NSIDC (National Snow and Ice Date Center, Boulder, CO), as Rose used, here is the latest, as of August 19, 2014: “Ice is low, but record unlikely: Arctic sea ice extent is well below average… By mid-August, extent was similar to this time last year, which makes it unlikely that this year’s minimum extent will approach the record low observed in September 2012.”
Here’s more from the same source: “On August 17, sea ice extent was 1.03 million square kilometers (398,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 long-term average.”
As such, the same source that Rose quoted uses a long-term trend, not just two years like Rose does.
Ice Extent, according to NSIDC: (ice extent= two-dimensional measurement)
Arctic sea ice extent in 1950 was 8.25 million square miles.
Arctic sea ice extent in 2011 was 4.61 million square miles.
Arctic sea ice extent August 2014 is 5.7 million square miles.
Ice extent means ice that is anywhere between a few inches thick to several feet thick.
However, for complete accuracy, using both ice “extent and thickness,” which is volume (three dimensions rather than two dimensions), here is how Arctic sea ice has fared on a long-term basis, as follows:
Arctic Sea Ice Volume
Source: PIOMAS (Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington- the most respected dataset on Arctic sea ice volume)
Arctic sea ice volume in 1979 was 16.9 thousand cubic kilometers.
Arctic sea ice volume in 2011 was 4.0 thousand cubic kilometers.
Conclusion: Arctic sea ice volume has fallen off a cliff.
Even though he is not a scientist, it looks like Al Gore’s statement, as quoted in Rose’s article, is correct after all, but Rose made fun of the frequently lambasted former VP. Here’s the quote attributed to Al Gore from Rose’s article: “The North Polar ice cap is falling off a cliff.”
The record shows that over the past 30 years sea ice volume dropped by 76%. That’s “falling off a cliff.”
And, the current number, up to, and including 2014, shows the fall off in volume is 67.5%. That’s also “falling off a cliff.”
Current Arctic Sea Ice Volume (PIOMAS)
“Sea ice volume is an important climate indicator. It depends on both ice thickness and extent and therefore more directly tied to climate forcing than extent alone.”
“Monthly averaged ice volume for September 2013 was 5,500 km3. This value is 52% lower than the mean over this period, 67% lower than the maximum in 1979, and 0.6 standard deviations below the 1979-2013 trend. September ice volume was about 1600 km3 larger than in September of 2012 and within 700 km3 of the 2010 September ice volume.”
As can be seen by the last sentence from PIOMAS, it proves Rose’s two-year assessment is correct.
And, kudos to David Rose for including this quote by one of his sources: “Dr. Ed Hawkins, who leads an Arctic ice research team at Reading University… Dr. Hawkins warned against reading too much into ice increase over the past two years on the grounds that 2012 was an ‘extreme low’, triggered by freak weather. ‘I’m uncomfortable with the idea of people saying the ice has bounced back,’ he said.”
Even though David Rose’s recent story could have been cherry-picked out of any number of two-year periods over the past 50 years, and/but giving credit where credit is due, his article in Mail Online has enough balance to give it the “appearance of credibility”… as far as two-year studies go.
The only problem is he left out 50 years of data.
Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.