Free Markets, Free People

Ice melt in Greenland exposes different ways media treats the story (Update)

According to the Atlantic’s Rebecca Rosen, Greenland is in the middle of an “extreme ice melt”.  You can read the article and consider the point.  I’ll give her credit.  She reports it pretty objectively including this as a reason for the melt:

NASA says that it is normal for Greenland’s ice to melt a bit in the summer; what is abnormal is the extent. Normally, only about half of the ice sheet’s surface sees any melting. This year, that proportion just about doubled. NASA additionally said that its satellites were recording uncharacteristically high temperatures over the island. Those warmer temperatures were brought by a bubble of warm air (a "heat dome"), the latest in a series of such ridges that have moved over Greenland this year.

In other words, a regional event.

She also mentions:

The last such melt event occurred in 1889, according to data from ice cores, and scientists say they would expect such an event about every 150 years. They’ll be monitoring the ice closely in the years ahead to see if this turns out to be a regular aberration, or an irregular one.

Got it.  Thanks for noting the event which appears to have a history (I’ll cover how much of a history below).

The UK’s Guardian kicks it up a notch with the use of the word “unprecedented” in their title.

“Greenland ice sheet melted at unprecedented rate during July”

No.  It didn’t. As we see from the Atlantic’s treatment,  this event isn’t at all “unprecedented.”  In fact, if I have any gripe about the Atlantic’s coverage is it stopped short of noting a longer history of Greenland’s ice melts:



Greenland, as you can see, has seen periods as warm or warmer than now in its history. One could logically assume then that it would have had the same sorts of weather events during those periods as it experienced during the recent week in early July. 

BTW, here’s an explanation of the numbers you see above:

greenland temp history

“Unprecedented” is obviously a incorrect characterization of the event.  Why did the Guardian seize on the word?
Because some scientist conveniently used it:

However, scientists were still coming to grips with the shocking images on Tuesday. "I think it’s fair to say that this is unprecedented," Jay Zwally, a glaciologist at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center, told the Guardian.

Again, no, it isn’t “unprecedented”.  And obviously the Guardian didn’t take the time to find out if it really was.  A simple Wikipedia check would have produced the above graph.

So why the acceptance of the scientist’s characterization without checking?  I think that too is obvious – it’s scarier than admitting it has a long history of occurring,  many times prior to the industrial revolution.  It lends more immediacy to the story.   The fact that throughout its history Greenland has seen a cycle of warmer and colder weather is “inconvenient” to the scare factor related to AGW.  Certainly the Guardian is careful not to come right out and scream global warming, but by noting this “unprecedented” event, it certainly is clear that global warming, and specifically AGW,  is the dot to which they want you to connect this to.

The NY Times, on the other hand, notes the melt and takes a different approach.  While noting the melt and the high pressure ridge, the Times throws this into the mix:

Nonetheless, the scientists said, the melt was significant because Greenland’s ice sheet is unequivocally shrinking as a result of the warming of the world’s oceans, and the event could help broaden their insights into climate change and earth systems.

While they don’t claim that AGW is the cause for warming oceans (don’t worry, there are plenty of others out there that do), they don’t endeavor to explain why oceans have been warming for the past 100 years.

Here’s a pretty significant clue.  It’s a 2,300 year Hallstatt solar variation cycles graph:


Anyone notice what has been rising for the last 1,000 or so years?

In fact, says Sami Solanki, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany

The sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures… the brighter sun and higher levels of so-called "greenhouse gases" both contributed to the change in the Earth’s temperature, but it was impossible to say which had the greater impact.

As it is turning out, it appears it may be the Sun.  CO2 has always been a lagging indicator in warming history until it was recently elevated by some “scientists” to a leading cause.  It has not shown the effect on temperature predicted by warmist models, however.  In fact, it hasn’t even been close even while the ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere has continued to rise. 

The point of all of this?  It appears that those traditionally associated with the AGW scaremongering are toning down their rhetoric even while still attempting, through half-truths, incomplete reporting and implication, to push the AGW agenda, albeit much more subtly now. 

Don’t let them get away with it.

UPDATE: And then, of course, there are those who don’t have a clue and don’t care, especially when they can use this to club the GOP.


Twitter: @McQandO

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35 Responses to Ice melt in Greenland exposes different ways media treats the story (Update)

  • 1.  I have not seen a single quotation attribution to a scientist that links this event with global warming.  In fact, with uniformity, they have said this is one that seems to occur with regularity every 150 years.  They then say it will not be concerning at all unless it starts happening with regularity.
    2.  The “unprecedented” quote refers to the rate at which this occurred.  They have been observing the phenomenon for 30 years, and have never seen a nearly 60% reduction in just five days.  In no way and at no time does that statement refer to global warming.  It simply says it was a total surprise to them, and was so unusual as to make them disbelieve their own data.  In other words, the don’t have a precedent for this rate of melt.
    In my cursory review of the Guardian article, I do not find the phrases “global warming” or “climate change” once.  In the Atlantic article, I do not find those phrases either.  Yet you have tagged this post with “AGW” and “global warming.”

    • The implications, at least to me, are clear, and if you read the post, that’s what I try to point out. You may disagree, but the purpose was clearly stated.

      Additionally, I noted that I thought the Atlantic article was pretty objective. And I then used it to contrast the other articles. Again, clearly stated in the post.

      Finally – there was as much left out of the other articles as included. There was a reason for that. Either sloppy journalism or an agenda. Knowing the publications and their history, I opt for the agenda they’ve consistently pushed over the past few years.

      • I do see that you pointed out the objectivity in the Atlantic article, that’s for sure.  I just read the implication to be that a link is being drawn between climate change and the Greenland ice melt.  I know I have not seen anyone with the requisite scientific credentials draw any such link.  So my only point is that it doesn’t really support or detract from the AGW theory, because it really has nothing to do with it.
        Please don’t make us own Rachel Maddow.  I see that in the update.  It’s not fair.

        • It wasn’t about anyone with the requisite scientific credentials – read the title of the post. It was about how the MEDIA
          handled the story. Maddow, btw, is a member of the media.

          • But…but…but… Maddow is an elite SCHOLAR.
            Okay, she is entirely CLUELESS.

    • Assume for the moment that you’re right.
      Tell us, WHAT will stop the warming.  And don’t go throwing darts and guessing what might fix it – tell us what will fix it.  I mean, you’re certain we’re causing it, tell us what we need to do to stop it.
      Perhaps you can explain how having the western countries cut their CO2 output, while not restricting India, China, South America and Africa WILL fix it.
      Perhaps you can explain how taxing the western countries and sending the money to third world countries WILL fix it.
      Perhaps you can outline what the US standard of living, or the European standard of living, will be when we cut back on all the CO2 emissions.
      You know tell us what the new world will look like after we agree to your plan.

    • Question – do you think the Atlantic, the Guardian etc, are posting an article in reference to the Ice Sheet thaw out of the blue?
      You don’t think the choice to publish this has something to do with the great global warming debate?  Just coincidence? They were looking for fillers for empty page?

    • There is more and better evidence that more CO2 and higher temperatures are more beneficial to agriculture, specifically, and for living things, in general, than cooler temperatures and less CO2.
      Besides, if you had bothered to ask me, I would have told you I prefer it warmer. 😉
      This is all moot, of course. The Sun will warm and chill our little blue marble of it’s own accord, regardless of which V-8 powered pickup truck and skiboat I drive, so, we might as well make the best of it and enjoy. -Cheers.

    • I have not seen a single quotation attribution to a scientist that links this event with global warming.

      Take a gander at the RealClimate website. Real Climate – Fake Scientists.

    • 1. The Guardian article said the melt was confirmed by climatologist Thomas Mote, and later states:
      “But he said the event, while exceptional, should be viewed alongside other compelling evidence of climate change, including on the ground in Greenland.”
      2. The second paragraph ends “It has stunned and alarmed scientists, and deepened fears about the pace and future consequences of climate change.” The term ‘climate change’ is highlighted and linked to “More from on Climate change”.

  • The spokesperson from the Max Planck institute seems to be suggest global warming exists along side with the highest solar temperatures in 60 years—though we don’t know the extent of one or the other.  In other words, instead of a negation of one theory by the other, we may be seeing a double whammy.

    • The spokesperson from the Max Planck institute seems to be suggest global warming exists along side with the highest solar temperatures in 60 years…


      • Get a job, get a clue, and get the ability to argue with facts, as opposed to resorting to one-line personal attacks.

        • Have a job.  Have a lot of clues.  Screw you.

          • If your job title is “keyboard cowboy,” I believe you.

          • My job title is “attorney at law”.  Sucks to be you, and Sooooo butt-hurt.

          • Ha!  It’s fun to have an internet persona, isn’t it?  I’m King of Prussia!  Are all your clients internet commenters?  Is this your forum for giving advice, or do you have no clients and are therefore able to spend each and every day perusing the internet while making assinine comments?
            Hilarious.  And if you really were an attorney, I wouldn’t tell people that.  Everyone hates you.

          • I understand from the commercials that Preparation-H could give you some relief.

          • ?
            Preparation-H gets rid of Prussian Kings?
            I couldn’t resist.

          • ” Everyone hates you.”

            LOL. Thanks, I can always use a good laugh. I must say you type and spell well for a six year old, and I hope you can come back after your nap.

          • “I understand from the commercials that Preparation-H could give you some relief.”

            I am sure his dentist has already recommended it.

        • Oh, my gawd…the irony! THE IRONY!
          Sounds like one of those postmodernists from the “facts exist in your head” or other such dredge.

    • Well yes Tad, of course warming is occurring ONLY because of us, and has nothing to do with the increased solar activity. No, they are two completely unique and independent activities – Which gives you your double Whammy.   Wow.
      The volcano erupts not because it’s time to erupt based on magma chambers filling etc, it erupts because the tribe hasn’t fed the volcano god a virgin this month.  There’s a nice little witch doctor, run along now.

  • I recall seeing a photographic array of pictures taken by Roald Amundsen during one of his Arctic trips, showing bare rock where normally all you’d see was ice and snow.

    • Leftest/Progressives have no shame when it comes to excuses for running your life and raiding your wallet.
      Follow the money.

    • Recall a few years back someone found a bunch of pictures from Yellowstone, taken in the 1880s, with some pretty impressive glaciers. The put them side-by-side with current pictures showing the glaciers had declined greatly. The LOUD, shrill alarm, naturally, commenced.
      The someone dug out pictures of the same region, with the glaciers in similarly declined state, taken around 1905-1910.
      Naturally, the crickets began chirping LOUDLY.
      No shame, and no brains, just a statist agenda.

  • So what was the temperature of this “heat dome”, and how much warmer than usual is it, and just how much ice actually melted? All that talk of rates and areas is interenting, but  I also like to know actual numbers and be able to compare it to other actual numbers. That must be what happens if you take all those useless science & engineering courses instead of relevant and important ‘American Studies’ or Political ‘Science’ courses.

    • I mean, other than leading people to believe the entire ice sheet melted over 4 days, there was nothing wrong with their article….heh….

    • …instead of relevant and important ‘American Studies’ or Political ‘Science’ courses.

      And don’t forget those “Spirituality Of String-theory” and “Crystal Harmonics” courses…

  • Dwight Eisenhower was right