Summary: We have the first newspaper headlines announcing global cooling. Does this herald the news media yo-yo swinging from one extreme to another, after a few months in the middle? Here will look at the latest story, and show the rest of the story not told well by activists on either side. There is a sensible foundation for public policy action in here, somewhere. Let’s see if we can find it.
Graphic showing Global Cooling
- Why we know so little: we read newspapers
- For the rest of the story
- A few key things to remember about global warming!
- For More Information
- Links to research about effects of soot and wind
- Science gives us adequate tools to plan, if only we’d use them
(1) Why we know so little: we read the news
This is why we know so little: we rely on the newspapers. After a decade of some exaggerating the effects of warming and forecasts about the future, we get an exaggerated backlash. Like this from Daily Mail, David Rose, 7 September 2013:
Daily Mail by David Rose, 7 September 2013
Other newspapers, similar theme:
All three quote climate scientists, who describe current research. Just like the pro-alarmist news media cites scientists about warming. Just as alarmists did about global cooling during the 1970s (see section 4b below). It’s the headlines, context, and exaggerated conclusions that mislead.
The centerpiece of his article is this data, quite a shock to those expecting a rapid collapse of arctic sea ice extent from the 2012 lows. Those overconfident predictions were based on lightly-tested models and a short baseline of data (full coverage began only with satellites in 1979; see this page for a longer perspective — click its graph to enlarge).
Graph from NSIDC website, only last 7 years shown
The AlaskaDispatch quotes Ted Scambos (Lead Scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center) in rebuttal:
“It was very irresponsible reporting on their part. … They know what they’re saying and how they are saying it, and to say what they said they had to cherry pick facts. … You’d have to have a very unusual perspective to describe things the way they did and it’s clear they do have that different perspective.”
So America’s opinion on this vital issue goes up and down like a yo-yo, unable to make the public policy machinery run in a coherent manner. Unable to take even the easy obvious steps, such as better funding and supervision for climate research and massive funding to further develop alternative energy sources. An unnecessarily problem, in my opinion, as there are many scientists who provide clear and accurate guidance — and they run websites.
Why is the news media coverage so unreliable? There are probably many reasons. One is that journalists get simple powerful stories from activists, who craft narratives by ignoring the parts that don’t fit. Activists give the brief, exciting, unqualified (ie, without qualifiers) quotes that make headlines. Too bad they are wrong far more often than the mild, nuanced, complex explanations of sober scientists.
(2) For the rest of the story
What are the key elements of the sea ice story?