Summary: Obama journeys to Alaska and says things. Our journalist-stenographers reprint this as news. They do not consult local experts, and so miss an important part of the story. This post gives you the rest of the news.
The great oddity of the climate change campaign is the disinterest of journalists in reporting it well. Stories about our certain doom often omit vital context (e.g., burning off the world’s fossil fuels means the 21st century relies on coal for energy, like the 19thC), forget to mention the IPCC when it disagrees with alarmists (e.g., about the danger of a methane apocalypse), and ignore the host of research facilities studying relevant aspects of our changing world.
We see that last factor at work in journalists’ reporting about Obama’s climate campaign tour of Alaska. Google News shows no stories in the mainstream news mentioning the findings of the Alaska Climate Research Center. I have posted their work in response to previous panicky stories about Alaska melting in 2009, in 2013, and again here.
Here is their Temperature Changes in Alaska page (updated annually; red emphasis added). It’s quite clear.
“This page features the trends in mean annual and seasonal temperatures for Alaska’s first-order observing stations since 1949, the time period for which the most reliable meteorological data are available. The temperature change varies from one climatic zone to another as well as for different seasons. If a linear trend is taken through mean annual temperatures, the average change over the last 6 decades is 3.0°F.
“… Considering just a linear trend can mask some important variability characteristics in the time series. The figure at right shows clearly that this trend is non-linear: a linear trend might have been expected from the fairly steady observed increase of CO2 during this time period. The figure shows the temperature departure from the long-term mean (1949-2009) for all stations. It can be seen that there are large variations from year to year and the 5-year moving average demonstrates large increase in 1976.
“The period 1949 to 1975 was substantially colder than the period from 1977 to 2009, however since 1977 little additional warming has occurred in Alaska with the exception of Barrow and a few other locations. The stepwise shift appearing in the temperature data in 1976 corresponds to a phase shift of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation from a negative phase to a positive phase. Synoptic conditions with the positive phase tend to consist of increased southerly flow and warm air advection into Alaska during the winter, resulting in positive temperature anomalies.”
Being scientists, they published their research in a peer-reviewed journal: “The First Decade of the New Century: A Cooling Trend for Most of Alaska“, G. Wendler, L. Chen and B. Moore, Open Atmospheric Science Journal, 2012 — Abstract (red emphasis added):
“During the first decade of the 21st century most of Alaska experienced a cooling shift, modifying the long-term warming trend, which has been about twice the global change up to this time. All of Alaska cooled with the exception of Northern Regions. This trend was caused by a change in sign of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), which became dominantly negative, weakening the Aleutian Low. This weakening results in less relatively warm air being advected from the Northern Pacific.
“This transport is especially important in winter when the solar radiation is weak. It is during this period that the strongest cooling was observed. In addition, the cooling was especially pronounced in Western Alaska, closest to the area of the center of the Aleutian Low. The changes seen in the reanalyzed data were confirmed from surface observations, both in the decrease of the North-South atmospheric pressure gradient, as well as the decrease in the mean wind speeds for stations located in the Bering Sea area.”
The price paid for this sloppy or biased reporting
Journalists pay for this in lost credulity. Publishers of the news pay in lost credibility. We all pay, as these repeated cries of “wolf“ diminish our ability to respond to serious warnings.
Update: Another example
Obama used Alaska’s melting glaciers as tangible evidence of anthropogenic climate change. As with Lyell glacier in Yosemite, the actual story is more complex — with melting beginning when the Little Ice Age ended, long before anthropogenic CO2 levels surged after WWII. As shown in this table from an article by Susan Huse, a biologist for the Alaskan Support Office of the National Park Service.
For More Information
Please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and post your comments — because we value your participation. For more information about this vital issue see The keys to understanding climate change and My posts about climate change. Especially see these posts about the future of climate change…
- Mother Jones sounds the alarm about global warming! This time about the north pole.
- A powerful story about global warming in Alaska that’s set Twitter aflame,
- The North Pole is now a lake! Are you afraid yet?
- Nine years after Katrina, climate activists have earned their reward. We might pay dearly for it,
- 90% of the biggest Yosemite glacier has melted. Did we do it?
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To learn more about the state of climate change see The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change by Roger Pielke Jr. (Prof of Environmental Studies at U of CO-Boulder, and Director of their Center for Science and Technology Policy Research).