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Earth The Media Science

Atlas Takes Heat For Melting Glacier Claim 429

dtjohnson writes "The 'Times Atlas of the World' claims, while publicizing its newest edition, that global warming has turned 15 percent of Greenland's former ice-covered land 'green and ice-free.' Now, however, scientists from the Scott Polar Research Institute say those figures, based on data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, are wrong. 'Recent satellite images of Greenland make it clear that there are in fact still numerous glaciers and permanent ice cover where the new Times Atlas shows ice-free conditions and the emergence of new lands,' they say in a letter that has been sent to the Times. Others have pointed out that if 15 percent of Greenland ice cover had been lost, then sea levels would have risen by 1 meter... which has not happened. Perhaps yet another climate controversy is brewing." An update to the story pinpoints the probable source of the error: a 2001 map from the NSIDC illustrates Greenland's central ice sheet without showing any of the peripheral glaciers. The Atlas editors may have seen this map and misinterpreted it. Says the article, "Now glaciologists are left trying to figure out how not understate the importance of the extent glacial ice melt, while at the same time correcting the error."
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Atlas Takes Heat For Melting Glacier Claim

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday September 19, 2011 @03:46PM (#37447322)

    What started out as a well-supported observation that the earth was starting to slowly warm, followed by the suggestion that humans pumping tons of excess carbon dioxide into the atmosphere may be at least partly to blame, has turned into a goddamned politicized mess. On one side you have grant-whores and alarmists, who have taken this reasonable observation and hyped it more-and-more over the last fifteen years into some increasingly alarmist Chicken Little hyperbole. On the other side you have a bunch of bible-thumping right-wing corporatists who think that if we just let mega-corporations do whatever the fuck they want (including pumping whatever shit into the air they feel like), then we would all live in some libertarian utopia.

    Frankly, I'm sick of all the bullshit from both sides. I've got a grant-whore "environmental scientist" (when did that even become a hard science?) screaming in one ear that we're all going to die if we don't go all-solar/all-wind in the next twenty years. In the other ear, I've got Jesusy McAnnRaynd telling me that Exxon only wants to give me love and flowers, and would never, ever hurt me. And frankly, I just want to punch BOTH of them at this point.

    Both sides have taken to over-exaggerating and over-hyping every bit of evidence they touch. And I've come to distrust them both.

  • False Dichotomy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 19, 2011 @03:48PM (#37447352)
    False dichotomy. There are definitely reasonable scientists publishing papers ...
  • by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @03:56PM (#37447482)
    "Now glaciologists are left trying to figure out how not understate the importance of the extent glacial ice melt, while at the same time correcting the error."

    They wouldn't have this issue if there wasn't an opposition that will shout it to the heavens every time a mistake or revision is made in relation to global warming but every statement made in support of it is ignored, even if the two are part of the same package. "It's bad, but not as bad as this" will only be interpreted as "they've admitted they're wrong so it's all a hoax!" If we could actually have a clam and reasoned discussion about the issue without people with vested interests in it dominating the debate then this wouldn't be a concern.
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday September 19, 2011 @03:59PM (#37447552)

    Except I don't buy that "environmental science" is any more an unbiased field of science than I buy that "ethnic studies" is an unbiased field of history.

  • Just be honest? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LBArrettAnderson ( 655246 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:01PM (#37447584)

    Now glaciologists are left trying to figure out how not understate the importance of the extent glacial ice melt, while at the same time correcting the error.
    How about you just be honest in the first place? If you are right about climate change, you don't need to exaggerate your claims. They should speak for themselves.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:03PM (#37447622)

    The rich ruling class are dicks and always have been. But their bullshit doesn't explain the increasingly shrill voices from the pro side of this argument. Fifteen years ago, proponents of global warming were saying this could me a 1 or 2 degree average temperature increase over the next 100 years. Now some of them are blaming localized WEATHER patterns on it.

    If there are reasonable voices in this, they're being drowned out at this point. A 1 or 2 degree average temperature increase over the next 100 years is not causing a fucking drought in Texas.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:09PM (#37447716)

    And what is this "environmental science" but some scientists' INTERPRETATION of data? This isn't a field where the experiments can be replicated in some lab in Oslo, only where the interpretations of the data can be debated (and implications considered).

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:11PM (#37447742) Homepage Journal

    "global temperatures haven't risen since 1998"

    There is no point in making this claim. The scientists will refute it with copious data, and the deniers will bring out their own. Then everybody argues over what the data really means.

    Lost. We are lost.

  • by skids ( 119237 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:18PM (#37447882) Homepage

    Well, a few more things it is: COLLECTION or the data, CORRELATION of the data, and CONSOLIDATION of the data with physics.

    Seriously, you think these people just kibitz all day like talk-show pundits? I guess it's easy to look down on someone from miles away.

  • Re:False Dichotomy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:21PM (#37447926)

    The false dichotomy suggested is that one side consists solely of "grant-whores and alarmists" and the other side, of "bible-thumping right-wing corporatists". There are certainly people who both (a) have a "side" and (b) say things about global warming that fall under neither description.

  • by Layzej ( 1976930 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:34PM (#37448166)
    Good on the scientists for noticing the error of the Atlas company and working to publicly correct it. That is certainly above and beyond the call of duty. I'm not sure how that makes them 'grant whores' though. They are not responsible for the misstatement. They are only responsible for publicly correcting it.
  • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) * on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:51PM (#37448444) Homepage Journal

    You make many valid points, bravo!

    Any research that disagrees with exactly what Al Gore dictates causes a scientist to lose their funding and to "get kicked out of the club". Good luck ever working in your field again if you dissent.

    Extra planetary bodies are also heating up. Mars, Venus, some Jovian moons, they're all increasing in temperature meaning humans probably aren't the cause of all of what's happening here at home.

    There's tons of profit on exploiting the hype.

    I am a hard-core Libertarian, but I do believe some environmental regulation is warranted. I hate the face that the issue even has to be addressed as it is, but it does. Industrial pollution harms the environment, and by extension does harm to another, it is NOT a victimless act. My biggest personal dilemma when it comes to regulation and enforcement is exactly what is the right way to do so (who enforces) and what should the limits be. A polluted waste land is paradise to no-one.

    I don't think humans are the main cause of any temperature variances here on earth, but I think "going green" is a good thing. Any capitalist (not in the energy field) should love clean energy. There's no fuel cost (wind, solar, tidal, geothermal). I wish everyone could take a reasonable perspective like you so we could get over the fight and move towards the solutions.

  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:57PM (#37448556) Homepage Journal

    On one side you have grant-whores and alarmists... On the other side you have a bunch of bible-thumping right-wing corporatists

    Well, the important thing is that you've framed them both as equally bad so that you can feel superior to anyone who cares.

  • by hsthompson69 ( 1674722 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @06:00PM (#37449532)

    Natural climate change is the null hypothesis. Climate has always changed in the past, long before humanity ever existed, so we can safely assume that *any* observed change before humanity existed had a non-human cause. Since climate was more than able to change in the past because of non-human causes, we start with the null hypothesis that says that any observation even after the rise of humanity can similarly be explained. It then becomes incumbent on the affirmative, who want to assert that climate after the rise of humanity, or after the industrial age, or whatever marker you choose, is controlled by humanity.

    Now climate changes in pre-humanity times have had both statistically significant upward and downward trends, so the mere existence of a statistically significant trend doesn't serve to implicate humanity.

    If you really want to play the science game, though, I invite you to make a clear falsifiable hypothesis statement, specifically identifying what observations would invalidate your hypothesis.

  • by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @06:03PM (#37449578)
    How many hundred year droughts can you spot in that chart?

  • by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @06:08PM (#37449650)
    Why didn't you list any of the good things that will happen if the globe warms?
  • by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @06:12PM (#37449704)
    propaganda will never work against intelligent people.

    You say that even as you mention Hitler? There were no shortage of intellectuals and academics that embraced Nazi propaganda. Another example of gullible intelligentsia would be Communism in the early and mid 20th century.

    There was a study, and I don't recall enough info about it to cite, that found that belief in ridiculous crap (UFO's, spiritualism, etc.) was MORE common as education levels and intelligence rose... although it dropped off again at the very high end of both.

The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.