Archive for December 16, 2008

It’s Melting! Panic! Run Away!

December 16, 2008

AP: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

The Associated Press has been going to town on the topic of Global Warming – um – “Climate Change”, quite a bit of late.   From Seth Borenstein

When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, global warming was a slow-moving environmental problem that was easy to ignore. Now it is a ticking time bomb that President-elect Barack Obama can’t avoid.

Since Clinton’s inauguration, summer Arctic sea ice has lost the equivalent of Alaska, California and Texas. The 10 hottest years on record have occurred since Clinton’s second inauguration. Global warming is accelerating. Time is close to running out, and Obama knows it.

He uses phrases in the article like “We’re out of time” and “Gore called the situation ‘the equivalent of a five-alarm fire that has to be addressed immediately.'” The sea level is going to rise “immediately”, and Armageddon will be happening decades sooner than “we” expected.

Oh wait.  I made that last one up.   Couldda sworn I saw it in the write-up, though.  Don’t know if that impression came from the AP or from the expertise that was quoted or a combination of both, but I couldda sworn…

Anyway, the AP continues with an article the very next day on the American Geophysical Union conference.

More than 2 trillion tons of land ice in Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska have melted since 2003, according to new NASA satellite data that show the latest signs of what scientists say is global warming.

I particularly like this quote: I believe you’ll soon find it in your Funk and Wagnall’s under the definition of the word ‘ignorance’.

“The pace of change is starting to outstrip our ability to keep up with it, in terms of our understanding of it,” said Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., a co-author of the Arctic amplification study.

Ahem.  Yes.  We’ll leave aside NASA’s political credibility problems (H/T: Rand Simberg), but it’s harder to ignore the credibility problems in their science, most especially when they intersect.

So what are we to do with this information?  Is it, for instance, confirmed by multiple sources?  How about this from National Geograghic?

With more global warming in store, researchers said, the prognosis is grim for the Arctic’s so-called perennial sea ice, which is the ice that survives through the summer.

At the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco, some scientists argued yesterday that the end of the perennial ice is near.

“If this trend persists, the Arctic would be ice-free [in the summer] by 2013,” said Wieslaw Maslowski of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Looks scary.  In fact, I had to look twice because I thought at first that this was another report from the same meeting at the AGU conference.  They report the same observed effects all right.  I have only one problem with it – look at the dates.  Ohhhhh – another problem.  Correcting Hansen’s mistaken software makes the earlier story less than credible.  Maybe I should use the word wrong.

And the press is recycling the bad information.

And it continues to amaze that they report the AGU meeting so breathlessly in the face of this.

A blast of Arctic air Tuesday morning has much of the nation — from the Great Lakes to Oregon and down to Texas — in its cold, icy grip.

The temperature at International Falls, Minnesota, was 26 below zero at 8 a.m. Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.

To the south in Minneapolis, below-zero temperatures were leaving roadways covered in black ice, sending drivers spinning into numerous accidents, CNN affiliate KARE-TV reported Tuesday.

Black ice, nearly invisible on roads, can form when car exhaust freezes on snow-covered pavement in sub-zero conditions, KARE said. Twin Cities drivers could find a little hope in the day’s forecast high — 4 degrees above zero by the afternoon.

Temperatures hovering as low as 23 below zero have parts of Montana frozen in their tracks, according to CNN affiliate KFBB-TV.

The forecast high Tuesday for Great Falls: 5 degrees.

Maybe the information has outstripped the ability of the press to deal with it.