In an era when even the most outrageous claims about global warming are treated by the mainstream media as “established science,” it was refreshing to read in the New York Times over the weekend that at least some climate scientists aren’t ready to let false claims go unchallenged. Apparently, a number of researchers are complaining the most recent edition of Britain’s Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World contains misleading information about alleged melting of Greenland’s ice-capped shores.
A news release issued by the publishers and echoed in much of the media asserted that the atlas illustrates how Greenland has lost 15 percent of its permanent ice cover. Maps in the atlas show significant portions of the large island’s shores are ice-free. The only problem is, as scientists — who are not warming skeptics– point out, it isn’t true.
The error stems from a 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that has since been discredited. As the Times reports, for the claim of a 15 percent ice loss to be true that would have already raised sea levels around the world by three to five feet. In fact, Greenland has only lost one-tenth of one percent of its ice.
This latest scandal involving warming alarmists comes after we learned last year a report issued by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the group that shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore) that said glaciers in the Himalayas would melt by 2030 was erroneous.
The publishers of the atlas initially claimed they stood by their data but are now said to be studying the problem and thinking about a revision. But their effort to correct this error seems, as the article pointed out, to be as slow as the actual rate of melting in Greenland.
The problem here is not just that a publisher made an error. There is a strong suspicion every time something like this happens it is the result of a deliberate effort to exaggerate the extent of warming so as to scare the public into backing measures that global warming activists support. That was the lesson of the Climategate e-mails. That story revealed the cynical efforts by some in the scientific community to fudge data in order to come up with results that might exploit the public’s fears about warming. Many researchers now understand the tendency by some to hype this issue with implausible and unsubstantiated claims of imminent catastrophe, such as those put forward in Al Gore’s lamentable film “An Inconvenient Truth,” do more to damage the credibility of climate science than anything else.
As Jeff Jacoby pointed out in a brilliant recent column in the Boston Globe, the debate about global warming is not being driven by skeptics questioning science, as it is by the irresponsible claims made by some activists. As Jacoby writes, many scientists are speaking out about the exaggerations and unproven theories that are routinely treated by the mainstream media as proven facts.
The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World simply erased hundreds of huge glaciers from their maps, substituting the white of the ice with the green of a mythical unfrozen shoreline. Most people were willing to accept this preposterous assertion because the public has been conditioned by the media and popular culture to believe virtually anything claimed by warming alarmists. This incident again shows rather than merely repeat such nonsense, it’s time for journalists who treat all questions about global warming orthodoxy as if they came from the Flat Earth Society to start exhibiting some healthy skepticism. The public should do the same.