Andrew Bolt goes quote mining

In his latest column, which is about polar bears or something, Andrew Bolt quote mines the NSIDC:

And ssshhh. Don’t mention that the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre says the extent of Arctic ice is in fact “greater than this time last year”.

That quote was brutally ripped from its context on this page, which says:

Arctic sea ice still on track for extreme melt

Although ice extent is slightly greater than this time last year, the average decline rate through the month of May was 8,000 square kilometers per day (3,000 square miles per day) faster than last May. Ice extent as the month closed approached last May’s value.

And this month it’s been running neck and neck with last year’s melt.

i-086aee207e5ed53e815e0505ace1be6b-N_timeseries.png

And this page at the NSIDC gives you an idea of just how extraordinary the melt was last year. Just look at the graph:

i-a088304d5b06ad5ad88b52091feda965-20071001_septembertrend.png

And the NSIDC reckons were on track to beat the 2007 melt. Did Bolt’s quote fairly represent the NSIDC’s view on Arctic ice?

And I think we can be sure that Bolt will never tell his readers what NSIDC scientists think of An Inconvenient Truth:

[NSIDC scientist Ted Scambos]: I think An Inconvenient Truth does an excellent job of outlining the science behind global warming and the challenges society faces in the coming century because of it.

Comments

  1. #1 Dano
    June 19, 2008

    A denialist having to quote mine/cherry-pick to support their argument?!?

    Shocking, I say. Shocking.

    Surely this is an isolated incident and the next time he’ll draw on the vast denialist literature, datasets, analyses, empirical evidence, models, equations, testable hypotheses, journal…um…er…snork.

    HAHAHAhahahahahahaha!

    Ha!

    Heh.

    I crack me up sometimes.

    Best,

    D

  2. #2 JB
    June 19, 2008

    It will be interesting to see what happens to the ice now that summer is almost here.

    You can see that the beginning of summer last year marked a significant acceleration in ice melting (same with the average, although the change in slope is less dramatic in that case)

    Actually, all the talk about single years is a bit tiring. Some people are even now tracking what happens month by month to the global temperature anomaly as if that means something profound.

    It’s idiotic.

  3. #3 PSC
    June 20, 2008

    The polar bear thing is tedious as well. They were hunted to tiny numbers (5,000 odd iirc, down from the hundreds of thousands) before hunting was banned in the 1960s. Since then the total population has recovered to about 25,000, but many of the individual sub-populations are now falling, surmised through lack of ice but I’ve read bio-accumulation of TBT anti-foul (now banned) is also a problem.

    All the blather about “polar bear numbers increasing” says is that if you cherry-pick the start date of your analysis, cherry-pick a subset of the data to study and ignore any externalities (like the cessation of hunting) you can come up with any conclusion you like.

  4. #4 Peter Mc
    June 21, 2008

    Just to wind them up, that second graph looks like the hockey stick turned upside down.

  5. #5 JB
    June 21, 2008

    that second graph looks like the hockey stick turned upside down.

    Yes, and we can call it the “ice hockey stick” so people know which one we’re talking about.

    BTW, looks like the Medieval Warm Period on the ice hockey stick happened in about 1990. I wonder what that means.

  6. #6 Sean Egan
    June 21, 2008

    Clearly a few months is too short to analyse. To have more ice now than 12 months ago, there has to have been months in which the build up was better than 2007. It may be consistant with an extreme melt, but not what I would call “on track for”.

    So it would be nice have on record what would need to happen to be able to say “Arctic Sea ice still on track for extreme melt” was no-longer true.
    If ice cover in 2008 remained greater or equal to 2007 (to within measurement error) be enough? What if every month of 2008,2009 and 2010 all were greater or equal to 2007. Would we then see 2007 as a high water mark?

    If you guys are going to end up saying “on track for extreme melt” is all about the the ice depth or ice type, or soot, or clouds it would only be fair to put it in the table now.

  7. #7 Sean Egan
    June 21, 2008

    Clearly a few months is too short to analyse. To have more ice now than 12 months ago, there has to have been months in which the build up was better than 2007. It may be consistant with an extreme melt, but not what I would call “on track for”.

    So it would be nice have on record what would need to happen to be able to say “Arctic Sea ice still on track for extreme melt” was no-longer true.
    If ice cover in 2008 remained greater or equal to 2007 (to within measurement error) be enough? What if every month of 2008,2009 and 2010 all were greater or equal to 2007. Would we then see 2007 as a high water mark?

    If you guys are going to end up saying “on track for extreme melt” is all about the the ice depth or ice type, or soot, or clouds it would only be fair to put it in the table now.

  8. #8 sod
    June 22, 2008

    Clearly a few months is too short to analyse.

    the second graph shows the long term trend since 1978. what more do you want?

    To have more ice now than 12 months ago, there has to have been months in which the build up was better than 2007.

    yes, there was more ice last winter. the denilaist took this as a sign of a new ice age. but now ice is very low again, as it was last year!

    It may be consistant with an extreme melt, but not what I would call “on track for”.

    it has been below the extend that it had last year. what wouild you call “on track”, if not this?

    If ice cover in 2008 remained greater or equal to 2007 (to within measurement error) be enough?

    please, educate yourself a little, before posting complete nonsense. 2007 was the EXTREME low point in ice extend.
    thee is plenty of room for this year to be above 2007 but still second lowest ice extend since measurement began.

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/

  9. #9 Ian Gould
    June 22, 2008

    PSc, it’s even worse than that.

    The argument that polar bear numbers are increasing goes something like this:

    More polar bear subpopulations are growing in numbers than are declining in numbers.

    There’s two problems with that argument:

    1. The majority of polar bears are actually in the Siberian populations and there’s no data either way on whether they’re declining or increasing.

    2. The subpopulations are of unequal sizes and the total number of bears in the subpopulations that are reported ot be growing is actually lower than in the subpopulations that are reported to be declining.

    There’s simply no robust evidence to indicate whether total numbers are increasing or decreasing.

    I have a suspicion, and it is only a suspicion, that the Siberian populations are in decline due to to poaching which probably (and its by no means certain) means the total population is in decline.

  10. #10 dhogaza
    June 22, 2008

    Clearly a few months is too short to analyse. To have more ice now than 12 months ago…

    There’s no evidence that there was a greater VOLUME of ice at any point this winter than there was at an equivalent point in time 12 months earlier.

    If you guys are going to end up saying “on track for extreme melt” is all about the the ice depth or ice type, or soot, or clouds it would only be fair to put it in the table now.

    They’re talking about ice extent, but if it makes you feel better, you can look at ice volume trends, rather than ice extent trends. *that* will make you feel all warm and fuzzy about the situation. After all, we’ve only lost ONE HALF of the volume of arctic ice since US submarines started taking detailed measurement 50 years ago. That’s all. Just FIFTY PERCENT in FIFTY YEARS. Obviously proves that no warming is going on …

  11. #11 sean egan
    June 23, 2008

    OK sod, let’s keep the tone correct. As dhogaza pointed out thickness is said to be much reduced in 50 years, so it is clear 2008 would have lower volume than 1978. That is not the same as 2008 would be less than 2007. If the key measure is ice volume, we should be looking at a volume graph. Do you have a URL for 2007 and 2008 graph or do you have a paper showing how to derive volume from surface area?

    Imagine for a minute that sea ice volume stabilized around a new level near the current “EXTREME”levels with the current lower depth. No Hensen’s tipping points. There is no general will to take tough measures to return to a colder world. The problem is, is it going to stabilize at around current levels? The modeler and the IPCC say no. But some folks are wondering, as the TLT satellite data for the last 10 years is consistent with a stop in the rise. Where it gets messy is the data can be claimed to consistent with rising and claimed to be consistent with not rising at the same time. It all depends on how you treat error limits and how you smooth the data.

    Karl Popper said a theory should be considered scientific if and only if it is falsifiable. So basically asking what would need to happen for the proposition to be false is a legitimate question. If we can not say, it is climate science, or something else?

  12. #12 bi -- IJI
    June 23, 2008

    Sean Egan:

    So basically asking what would need to happen for the proposition to be false

    …and then ignoring all the answers. We know the schtick all too well.

    Imagine for a minute that sea ice volume stabilized around a new level near the current “EXTREME”levels with the current lower depth.

    You know, you’re supposed to falsify a theory using real data, not data which you just made up with your head.

  13. #13 bi -- IJI
    June 23, 2008

    And, the fact remains:

    Andrew Bolt engaged in quote-mining.

    Now try falsifying that

  14. #14 bi -- IJI
    June 23, 2008

    Sean Egan:

    Where it gets messy is the data can be claimed to consistent with rising and claimed to be consistent with not rising at the same time. It all depends on how you treat error limits and how you smooth the data.

    Well, “it all depends” whether the “analysis” is being done by Roger Pielke Jr., who can massage the data to fit any result he wants and call it a “falsification” of the AGW theory — where his “falsification” has nothing to do with the theories actually proposed by climatologists.

    Then again, what else can one say about someone who writes an entire blog post about a specific climate prediction bet, and right after that pretends he’s not seen any falsifiable predictions?

  15. #15 Sean Egan
    June 30, 2008

    Does anyone have a graph of Arctic ice volume or depth covering the last 10 years including 2008? Is it up or down on this time last year?

  16. #16 Sean Egan
    July 3, 2008

    Most people reading “Arctic sea ice still on track for extreme melt” would see it as confirmation that Arctic ice cover is still declining, year on year and probably that the Hensen tipping points are being confirmed. Thats how Steve Connor Science Editor of the Independent saw it Friday, 27 June 2008. The has been a decline but 2008 is not the confirmation it is continuing, at least up the first week of July. First week of July, and still more ice extent than 2007 and the gap widening.
    The main reason people believe there is Arctic issue is that there is less ice than before. There are nice dramatic graphics based on the satellites record. However if you look back over a 100 years it is not so clear, at least for Polyakov et al 2003b. Looking at the 1920s there would appear to be the same or maybe less ice than now. The antarctic is growing or is at least stable in extent.
    “You know, you’re supposed to falsify a theory using real data, not data which you just made up with your head.”
    Absolutely, I am seeing the same graph as you. I am not claiming to falsify any theory. One of two good years would not disprove a downward trend. However, I am just having trouble finding a graph showing more ice as a confirmation we are on track of less lce. Tim, I think you are seeing what you want to see.
    If Bi-IJI has replied we would need 5 good years no worst than 2007 to question if Polyakov was right and Rothrock that would have been a more reasonable reply. Not necessarily the right answer, but right form for the answer.
    I see it is argueble that volume is more important than extent. However, so far I have not found current Arctic thickness figures. Can anyone point to a source showing thickness in 2008 being less than 2007?

  17. #17 Sean Egan
    July 4, 2008

    I see that going back to NSICD site above today that June 2008 has more, less, and the same ice as 2007. It depends on how you/they do the calculation. The next 10 days is the peak melt time, so it should be clearer in 30 days.

  18. #18 Sean Egan
    July 18, 2008

    I see at NSICD we have had a new pass of ICESAT and so thickness can be estimated. ICESAT does not measure all the time as there is a technical issue with the ranging lasers. To produce draft figures, you need to estimate what is snow and what is ice. Extent still about 900,000 Km/s greater than last years, and we are past the usual peak melt. NSICD are estimating it is thin and could have a rapid melt late in the year. Of course assuming they are estimating what is ice and what is snow correctly.

    If you are watching NSICD, you could n’t do us a volume estimate 2007/2008 in the normal monthly report.

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