Sunday, July 13, 2008

How to Analyze A Global Warming Story

The latest from the Global Warming front:
The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the waters too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from the [American] Consul at Bergen, Norway.

Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers, he declared, all point to a radical change in climatic conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met with as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3.100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm.

Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are being found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.

Latest? Oops, my error. This text is actually from an AP story published in the Washington Post in 1922.

But there's more here than simply evidence (as if we didn't have enough already) that climate naturally varies, or that ice in the North has been freezing and melting for eons. Observe how the story exhibits the same alarmist tone and, worse, the same absence of objectivity as contemporary stories.

For example, note that when it says "icebergs are growing scarcer," the story doesn't say by how much, nor in comparison to earlier periods. "[W]ell known glaciers have entirely disappeared." Forever? For the first time in history? Do we have any reason to care?

The story says "seals are finding the waters too hot." How hot is too hot? Too hot for what? Worst, perhaps, is the statement: "Soundings...showed the gulf stream still very warm." Er, "very warm"? Is that a lot? Warm, compared to what? Is that bad?

Note, overall, the complete lack of specificity, and the absence of any recognition of the climate history of the area (apart from the vague "hitherto unheard of" bombast). There is no way for scientist or layman to evaluate the seriousness, or lack, of the information provided. It's safe to conclude, then, that the only purpose of the story was to alarm the reader.

Just like today.

[Hat tip to Power Line.]

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