Dissecting a Climate Change Calamity
How does an “unprecendented” climate change catastrophe happen? Let’s see…
Three weeks ago, 7/23/2013, livescience.com shocked the world by reporting that a lake formed at the North Pole. It was in a small 214-word news brief.
The next day Canada.com – Canada’s largest English language newspaper service – picked up on the story. They took it to the next level. They added a “stunning” before/after display and a time-lapse video showing the “arctic winter turning to summer”.
Within two days it went viral. CBS News, MS-NBC, USA Today, Fox News, The Huffington Post, The Atlantic Wire and the UK’s Sky News and Orange News all picked up the story.
Even The Colbert Report got in on the act.
Each spun their version a little different, pinning it on global warming without validation.
Media Made Catastrophe
The summer ice is melting away at unprecedented rates…
The North Pole, that great bastion of eternal cold and barren ice, is a lake
– Canada.com, “The North Pole is now a Lake“, 7/24/2013
Quoting livescience.com who quoted the NSIDC website, Canada.com said:
“In early July, temperatures were 2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit (1 to 3 degrees Celsius) higher than average over much of the Arctic Ocean”
Canada.com added a NSIDC graph showing the decline of sea ice extent since 1979.
USA Today, quotes from both Canada.com and Livescience.com and then quips that “Santa Claus now has his own swimming pool”.
The Atlantic Wire said, “The continued heating of the seas and melting near the ice caps does not bode well for ice cover in the arctic” and suggested naming it “Lake North Pole”.
CBS News adds, “An Arctic cyclone is forecast for this week. Arctic cyclones can quicken the summer melt by churning up ocean water and further fracturing the ice.”
Not to be outdone, MS-NBC headlined that the image “seems to show what looks like open water for as far as the eye can see”. It was corrected later in the story, but the intended effect was achieved.
Each new story fed off the others in a media-driven feeding frenzy.
In the end, virtually every news agency had to issue corrections.
Pesky Little Details
- The lake was NOT at the North Pole.
- The lake was not a lake.
- The meltwater event was perfectly normal.
Whoops! Journalists, apparently, didn’t bother interviewing any scientists.
If so, they’d have learned that arctic sea ice drifts around a lot and that the buoy pictured above was never at the North Pole. It drifted 325 miles away by event time.
They’d have also learned that the “lake” was a shallow freshwater pond. They’d have learned arctic ponds commonly form every summer. They’d have learned that a wide-angled camera made the pond look bigger than it really was.
The images that made international headlines were captured by a webcam operated by the North Pole Environmental Observatory (NPEO).
In response to all the misinformation generated by their webcam images, NPEO issued a public statement explaining what happened is normal:
The formation of melt ponds has always been a key feature of the summer season on sea ice. Each summer, solar radiation melts the snow cover and 10-50 cm of the sea ice upper surface
– North Pole Environmental Observatory, Public Statement, 8/1/2013
Dr. James Morrison – chief NPEO investigator – added, “Every summer when the sun melts the surface, the water has to go someplace, so it accumulates in these ponds. This doesn’t look particularly extreme.”
What’s Happening at the North Pole Now?
The meltwater pond refroze by July 28th.
The Danish Meteorological Institute Centre for Ocean and Ice monitors temperatures of the acrtic region above 80°N.
Their latest measurements show that temperatures have already fallen below freezing and that end of summer cooling appears to be about two weeks ahead of schedule.
It has been done countless times before. The world press takes a perfectly natural and normal weather phenomena and turns it into a catastrophic effect of global warming.
That is not to say global warming is a hoax. It isn’t. It’s real. Earth’s temperature is up +0.9°C since about 1880. Atmospheric CO2 levels are the highest in thousands of years and human activity is responsible for it.
The loss of arctic sea ice over the last 30 years is scary. 2012 had the lowest sea ice extent since the satellite era began.
2013 is different. Last fall, sea ice extent grew the fastest on record. This year, it looks like the north pole is cooling off a couple weeks early.
You won’t see headlines about that. It doesn’t fit the global warming narrative. And therein lies the problem – unbalanced, inaccurate reporting exaggerating the effects of climate change.
You can only cry wolf so often before people stop listening.