Friday, June 27, 2008

A Global Warming Story Analyzed

Yet another biased story on global warming appeared, this time in the Independent, a UK newspaper. There is, of course, nothing whatsoever unusual about that fact. Nevertheless, it can be instructive to look a little closer and analyze just how that bias is injected.

The story starts off with a dramatic statement (don't they usually?):
It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year.

It's unclear why this should be unthinkable. I haven't looked it up, but whether it's the first time in human history or not, so what? All that would mean is that we've finally gotten lucky vis-a-vis the Arctic, an otherwise largely useless part of the globe.

Lucky, how?

The story itself tells us (though they take a decidedly different point of view on the subject):
If it happens, it raises the prospect of the Arctic nations being able to exploit the valuable oil and mineral deposits below these a bed which have until now been impossible to extract because of the thick sea ice above.

Excellent news! That fact, if it is a fact (one can never tell with these stories), should be the occasion for cheering, especially in a world in which the price per barrel of oil has recently climbed above $140 for the first time in history.

And what is that different point of view the story takes? It quotes:

"From the viewpoint of science, the North Pole is just another point on the globe, but symbolically it is hugely important. There is supposed to be ice at the North Pole, not open water," said Mark Serreze of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado.

I see. Objectivity says that the North Pole is just another point. (In fact, owing to the angle of the Earth's axis through the poles to the sun, it isn't, but never mind that now.) But, symbolically — i.e. according to this alleged scientist's emotionally-drivcn values — the North Pole has some special ethical significance. It's "supposed" to be in a particular state. Ironic, isn't it that those to the left are so 'conservative' when it comes to climate?

Then, not much further down in the story, it provides clear evidence that the earlier text is, if not an outright lie, very misleading. It continues:
Seasoned polar scientists believe the chances of a totally ice-free North Pole this summer are greater than 50:50 because the normally thick ice formed over many years at the Pole has been blown away and replaced by huge swathes of thinner ice formed over a single year.

So, now there is only a greater than 50-50 chance the ice will melt. How much greater, it doesn't say. We do get a clue, here:
Scientists predict that at least 70 per cent of this single-year ice [ice formed the previous winter] – and perhaps all of it – will melt completely this summer, Dr Serreze said.

I'm betting that with odds like that the oil companies won't be rushing to the North Pole anytime soon, unfortunately. Then again, maybe they will. The odds of finding oil where there are known reserves that are relatively easy to extract are pretty low, as evidenced by the years of exploration required and the number of dry holes they drill. And, at least the Arctic has the advantage of not being controlled by the most powerful obstruction to finding oil in the history of the world -- the U.S. Congress of the past 50 years.

Every oil company takes huge risks, investing billions that often yield nothing, in order to make a slim percentage of profit for their heroic successful efforts. But the odds of getting the government out of the way are about equal to the North Pole melting. Maybe a little better than 50-50.

1 comment:

Marcus said...

Yes, watch the Independent it is basically a propaganda paper for Alarmists. However, even their readers aren't fooled. Read the comments to the article and most are outraged that the Indeendent publishes such pseudo-science rubbish!