Shoddy journalism from Stephen Sackur

Read this passage (from a Greenpeace news story):

A recent NASA study has shown that the ice cap is not only getting smaller, it’s getting thinner and younger. Sea ice has dramatically thinned between 2004 and 2008. Old ice (over 2 years old) takes longer to melt, and is also much harder to replace. As permanent ice decreases, we are looking at ice-free summers in the Arctic as early as 2030.

They say you can’t be too thin or too young, but this unfortunately doesn’t apply to the Arctic sea ice. Polar bears are the first to suffer from it, but many other species could be affected as well.

Is this passage about:

A: the Greenland ice sheet

or

B: Arctic sea ice

If you answered “A”, then you may be Stephen Sackur, presenter of the BBC’s HARDtalk, who, despite the repeated references to “sea ice”, decided that Greenpeace was saying that the Greenland ice sheet would melt by 2030. He then ambushed Greenpeace’s Gerd Leipold in an interview, claiming that the passage was “plainly misleading” (See Youtube video). Sackur compounded his error by only reading out one sentence from the passage: “As permanent ice decreases, we are looking at ice-free summers in the Arctic as early as 2030.”, thus not giving Leipold a chance to explain what the passage was about. Leipold agreed that Greenland wasn’t going to melt by 2030 and that if that is what the Greenpeace story had said, then it was a mistake.

Needless to say, the global warming denial community seized on this with numerous stories on how Greenpeace admitted to being big fat liars — Michael Tobis has compiled a list along with more details.

I emailed both Sackur and HARDtalk four days ago, asking if they would make a correction and I have received no response. Nor has HARDtalk posted my comment left here. In the meantime Greenpeace has added this clarification to their story.


UPDATE August 20, 2009: The phrase “ice-free summers” in the article above was cited innaccurately on BBC’s HardTalk as suggesting the complete loss of land ice as well as sea ice from the Arctic. The phrase is used, exactly as it is in the NASA report from which it is taken, to refer to ice-free waters. Click here for further clarification.

The BBC editorial guidelines state:

We should normally acknowledge serious factual errors and correct mistakes quickly and clearly. Inaccuracy may lead to a complaint of unfairness. An effective way of correcting a mistake is saying what was wrong as well as putting it right. Where we may have broadcast a defamatory inaccuracy Programme Legal Advice should be consulted about the wording of a correction.

The BBC complaints page is here.

Comments

  1. #1 Dave Andrews
    August 23, 2009

    This is obviously Greenpeace pique at Sackur’s recent going over of the outgoing head of GP International Gerd Leipold.

    Like so many environmental groups GP can’t take criticism of any kind, it destroys their fragile ‘self belief’.

  2. #2 dhogaza
    August 23, 2009

    Gerd’s left GP international? I nailed him once with a Super Soaker in GP Intl’s old HQ on Kaisergracht back in 2002, as he was walking up the central staircase and me and my squirtgun armed “troops” were marching down … we managed to soak much of the management staff, funnier than hell.

    Like so many environmental groups GP can’t take criticism of any kind, it destroys their fragile ‘self belief’.

    Sackur’s quote-mine of the GP piece is an outright lie, Dave Andrews. You’re suggesting that environmental organizations shouldn’t get peeved at any kind of criticism, including outright lies?

  3. #3 Peter H
    August 23, 2009

    It’s obvious that Greenpeace were talking about sea ice not the Greenland ice sheet. You’d have to be playing politics (or grossly ill informed) not to know that…

    Thus it’s a great pity the beeb and Sackur behaved as they did.

  4. #4 Robert
    August 23, 2009

    When you read about the Arctic and the ice cap, and nowhere previous in the article was there a specific reference to the Arctic Ocean, then you assume Arctic refers to the region north of the Arctic Circle. The mention of sea ice does NOT limit the story to the ocean only.

    Greenpeace was shoddy at best, and maybe intentionally misleading, and maybe even they lied.

    You are forgetting that the ice cap is the entire region covered by ice, which includes both land and sea. Therefore, you can’t blame the reader for thinking it’s about the region north of the Arctic Circle.

    There is junk science and distortion on both sides. The scientists are guilty too.

  5. #5 Eric L
    August 23, 2009

    Dave,

    Anyone has the right to correct dishonest slanders. It does not prove you cannot take criticism, and it does not prove those committing the slander must have a point or otherwise why would they be reacting defensively? — That is nonsense, why shouldn’t they want the record to be set straight?

    I honestly don’t think that highly of Greenpeace; I think some of their activities have given environmentalism a bad name. But I will be submitting a complaint to the BBC because I do care about honesty in journalism and so much BS gets thrown around on the whole Global Warming issue that new pieces of BS need to be stomped on quickly (not that they ever die completely anyway — have you heard that all the scientists believed in Global Cooling in the 70s? — but it helps). It should not take much reading comprehension to see that Greenpeace was not claiming that Greenland would melt by 2030, as the BBC claimed they did. And I don’t think you fail to see that because you can’t read; I think you fail to see that because you want to be told lies about Greenpeace. You need to not let your feelings about individuals or organizations cloud your judgement about the facts in specific episodes involving said individuals/organizations, or you will fall for all kinds of nonsense.

  6. #6 Lucas McCarty
    August 23, 2009

    The BBC has been getting a lot of stick lately. The news reader/journalist Peter Sissions recently retired and claimed in an interview with one of our more bottom-feeding newspapers that the BBC took the ‘politically correct’ view on climate change and tolerated no ‘scepticism’.

    So this is basically the BBC suffering from the common journalist malady where they think not being biased means treating two opposite sides as equal. The problem is the only way this can be done in regards to AGW is to lower standards. They clearly didn’t get any of their science editors to check the researchers work.

  7. #7 dhogaza
    August 23, 2009

    Greenpeace was shoddy at best, and maybe intentionally misleading, and maybe even they lied.

    Bullshit.

  8. #8 Boris
    August 23, 2009

    Greenpeace was shoddy at best, and maybe intentionally misleading, and maybe even they lied.

    They mention “sea ice” explicitly twice. Greenland isn’t even mentioned. If they were trying to be misleading, they are really, really bad at misleading people and should probably take a course from Anthony Watts, Steve McIntyre and the Pielkes.

  9. #9 Robert
    August 23, 2009

    The dictionary definition of Arctic as a noun is the region above the Arctic Circle and nothing else. The dictionary definition of ice cap is the land and sea near a pole covered by ice. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary.)

    The article describes sea ice thinning in the recent past and present, and permanent Arctic ice melting in the future. It sounds like two different things with the possibility of the future event covering a much larger area.

    The common practice is to write out the full name of something the first time it’s mentioned, then you can abbreviate it for the rest of the article. So you say Arctic Ocean the first time, then when you say Arctic by itself people can assume it’s the ocean.

    What’s the excuse for not writing Arctic Ocean when you mean to say Arctic Ocean? One simple word would resolve any possible ambiguity.

  10. #10 Grendel
    August 23, 2009

    Robert, perhaps you misunderstand the term ‘sea ice’. It is actually a specific term that refers to the phenonmenon of the sea freezing into a crust – salt water has a lower freezing point than fresh water and thus is much more sensitive to temperature increases.

    When NASA refer to Sea Ice they actually mean that ice that has formed on the sea and not any land borne ice mass.

    The scientists were precise, the journalist was sloppy.

  11. #11 Robert
    August 23, 2009

    So a miscommunication between the scientist and the layman, when the scientist who should know better says Arctic when he means Arctic Ocean, makes the layman shoddy?

  12. #12 Brian D
    August 23, 2009

    Having only barely caught wind of this (I’ve been away from the feed reader for a while), I hunted down the original release (quoted above). The ONLY way you can read that and conclude “Greenland” is if you ONLY selectively read the “cap” lines and ignore the multiple instances of “sea ice”.

    Who’s done the worse journalism here: Greenpeace for using common parlance, or Sackur for presenting a misleading reading as a gotcha?

  13. #13 Janet Akerman
    August 23, 2009

    Robert writes:

    >”*Greenpeace was shoddy at best, and maybe intentionally misleading, and maybe even they lied*.”

    Robert, how exactly are you proposing that GreenPeace might have lied?

    The term ice-free-artic is in [general use](http://www.google.com/search?q=%22ice+free+summer%22&rls=com.microsoft:en-au&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&startIndex=&startPage=1) and in this context is understood to be free of sea-ice. The uninformed can educate themselve of this terminology like they can educate themselves on the terms “*carbon emissions*”.

    Or perhaps you should join Ian Plimer in condemning the use of “carbon emissions” as misleading, since as Plimer argues, if we were emitting carbon we wouldn’t be able to see.

    Robert, why aren’t questioning people’s honesty when they describe CO2 as carbon emissions?

  14. #14 pough
    August 23, 2009

    I’m not sure if this is something that can be voted on, but I’d like to cast my vote for some denialists who are either smarter or funnier. This latest batch is neither. They’re just tedious.

  15. #15 dhogaza
    August 23, 2009

    Robert is neither smart nor funny, and boringly tedious.

    What’s the excuse for not writing Arctic Ocean when you mean to say Arctic Ocean? One simple word would resolve any possible ambiguity.

    Yes, they should add redundancy of the sort any competent editor will then strike out in order to protect themselves from misleading quote-mining lying sacks of shit like yourself.

    Unfortunately. They should. They must. Because people like you don’t miss any opportunity to lie, do you?

  16. #16 Dappled Water
    August 23, 2009

    Maybe it should be renamed “Hard to Talk”, because that Slackur is continually interrupting. Watching the interview, I was disappointed that Leipold didn’t twig onto Slackur’s mislead early and simply cut him off at the pass, by pointing out the quote most likely was referring to Arctic sea ice.

  17. #17 Gaz
    August 23, 2009

    The mention of sea ice does NOT limit the story to the ocean only.

    Robert (#4), did you have to grit your teeth as you typed that, or have you no shame whatsoever?

  18. #18 Fran Barlow
    August 23, 2009

    This piece of puerile gotcha is very disappointing as I’ve hitherto had a lot of respect for Sackur, who more than anyone else I hear regularly, really does ask tyhe tough questions.

    Sadly, on this occasion, the attack depended for its force on a meme being run by those wanting to trash the planet for profit that Greenpeace are lying zealots, when of courser, it is the filth merchant advocates that deserve this label.

    I do hope Sackur apologises.

  19. #19 Robert
    August 23, 2009

    It’s not redundancy that any competent editor will strike out, you fucking moron.

    The New York Times ALWAYS puts the word “Ocean” in the lead paragraph to make it clear they are talking about the Arctic Ocean. They do omit “Ocean” from headlines to save space, and they may omit “Ocean” from the article after the first reference.

    Calling you a fucking moron is, however, redundant, you fucking moron.

  20. #20 David Irving (no relation)
    August 23, 2009

    Well, it took a while but Robert finally got annoyed at being called on his bullshit.

    Robert, do you have problems with reading comprehension? It’s something that used to be taught in primary schools, but perhaps you were sick that day.

  21. #21 Robert
    August 23, 2009

    Andy Revkin of the New York Times haws written about the Greenland ice cap melting, to give one example. Greenland is in the Arctic. When Greenpeace talks about ice-free summers in the Arctic by a certain date, and we already know that Greenland is one place in the Arctic that is melting, it can be misinterpreted to mean that Greenland will melt by that date.

    The fact that you don’t get it, or that you grit your teeth while pretending to not get it, is ironic, because it makes it sound like you are denying that Greenland ice is melting.

  22. #22 Alan C
    August 23, 2009

    Robert, were you dropped on your head often as an infant? It’s quite clear they were referring to sea-ice. But it does seem to be standard for denialist morons to cherry-pick, including quotations.

  23. #23 Mark Byrne
    August 24, 2009

    Robert writes:
    >*Andy Revkin of the New York Times haws written about the Greenland ice cap melting*

    Robert can you provide the citation of your claim? I would like to read it in context. I expect that Revkin’s predictions for the greenland ice cap melting are far further in the future.

    The reference to “ice free artic” is widely understood to be sea ice- as [the link](http://www.google.com/search?q=%22ice+free+arctic%22&rls=com.microsoft:en-au&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&startIndex=&startPage=1) by Janet shows.

  24. #24 Janet Akerman
    August 24, 2009
  25. #25 Mark Byrne
    August 24, 2009

    A more direct route for a Hard Talk complaint is [here](http://www.bbcworldnews.com/Pages/ContactUsDepartments.aspx).

    Sir or Madame:
    I am disappointed by the inappropriate attack on Gerd Leipold by Stephen Sackur regarding the phrase “ice free arctic” in a GreenPeace report. The phase is in common use in scientific parlance, and is widely understood to describe the arctic ocean being ice free in summer. The term “ice free arctic” when googled returns thousands of hits confirming this common understanding. In fact the number one hit is to a BBC story titled, “Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’”.

    The GreenPeace report in question had made several clear references to the subject in question being “sea ice”. Despite this, the host took one sentence only from the report and used it out of context to claim the report was misleading. The out of context sentence read: “As permanent ice decreases, we are looking at ice-free summers in the Arctic as early as 2030.”

    It is unfair for a BBC host to use this quote in this way because: (a)“ice free arctic” is widely used and understood in the current context (even by the BBC sub editors); and (b) the sentence was taken out of context and used in a purpose that misled BBC viewers about the contents of the report (the subject being “sea ice”).

  26. #26 IreneD
    August 24, 2009

    You totally failed to mention the “emotionalizing” statement which is actually what is generating a lot of the commentary, even though it is at the top of the “Only In It For The Gold” blog to which you link for its list of other sites.

    At the 5:38 point in the video, he says that Greenpeace, as a pressure group, has to emotionalize issues. He says this in the context of claiming the force of science during most of the interview, then answers the 4:19 question about “how you play your message, if you use alarmism, then the public is going to get skeptical.” He responds that Greenpeace has for 20 years has talked about climate change, and what they said was rational and reasonable, but the world had only recently recognized what they were saying. Then he adds that emotionalism was necessary.

    He responded to the reporter’s “alarmism” question by admitting to “emotionalism” being necessary as part of being a pressure group. In much of the interview he’s claiming a scientific basis but when challenged on an apparent error he implies that sometimes emotionalism/alarmism is necessary. He then goes on to talk about how much of the world has not yet woken up.

    It is this admission of a non-scientific basis behind their pressure methods which is causing a lot of the discussion. When viewing the “part 2 of 3″ video which you linked not, observe there is a shorter video with 20 times the viewership which claims lying… that video shows two clips from this longer one. Whether the editing on the shorter video is appropriate, I’m not sure. But that is the actual focus of the discussion.

  27. #27 jodyaberdein
    August 24, 2009

    Phew,

    For a moment I thought Greenland would be gone by 2030, whereas now I know it is just all the arctic sea ice. Now I’m totally reassured that I don’t have to worry about climate change.

  28. #28 Lank
    August 24, 2009

    My letter reads:

    Sir or Madam: I am very encouraged by the appropriate interview with Gerd Leipold by Stephen Sackur regarding the phrase “ice free arctic” in a Green Peace report. The phase is in common use in climate alarmist parlance, and is meant by Green Peace to confuse the layperson. The term “ice free arctic” when googled returns thousands of hits confirming this is a common misrepresentation. In fact the number one hit is to a BBC story titled, “Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’” which shows how Green Peace have used the term to promote fear and alarmism.

    The Green Peace report in question had made several unclear references to the subject in question being “sea ice”. In recognition of this, the host rightly claimed the report was misleading. The sentence read: “As permanent ice decreases, we are looking at ice-free summers in the Arctic as early as 2030.” This clearly gives the strong impression of an ‘ice free Arctic” to most people.

    It is quite appropriate fair for a BBC host to use this quote in this way because: (a)“ice free arctic” is widely used by alarmists to distort and exaggerate (even by the BBC sub editors); and (b) the term “ice free arctic” is commonly used by climate alarmists to confuse the layperson and misled BBC viewers about ice melt trends.

  29. #29 Mark Byrne
    August 24, 2009

    Lank, nice work;

    I think the Poe shtick reinforces the point doubly well.

  30. #30 bi -- IJI
    August 24, 2009

    Shorter IreneD:

    Although this particular instance of “emotionalism” turns out to be non-existent, the fact that Greenpeace has used “emotionalism” in unspecified ways at unspecified places during unspecified times shows that they are wrong.

    * * *

    Shorter Robert:

    The fact that Andrew Revkin talked about an ice-free Greenland shows that (perhaps using an argument based on morphogenetic telepathy and pop cryptology) that Greenpeace was also talking about an ice-free Greenland.

    Also, the fact that the BBC wrote “Arctic” instead of “Arctic Ocean” shows that Greenpeace was talking about Greenland.

    And no doubt, at the end of the day it’s all Greenpeace’s fault anyway — because, well, “Greenpeace” is so confusable with “Greenland”!

  31. #31 Gaz
    August 24, 2009

    Robert (#21):

    When Greenpeace talks about ice-free summers in the Arctic by a certain date, and we already know that Greenland is one place in the Arctic that is melting, it can be misinterpreted to mean that Greenland will melt by that date.

    If you already know the Greenland Ice Sheet is melting, then presumably you are also aware of the time scales involved both there and in the Arctic Ocean, sufficient to indicate clearly that Greenpeace is talking about the sea ice, *especially* when there are actually multiple references to sea ice, does it?

    Of course, this doesn’t preclude such a misinterpretation due to, for example, utter stupidity or a cavalier lack of concern for the truth.

  32. #32 Marion Delgado
    August 24, 2009

    Let me note down for posterity this quote from “Irene D.”:

    a lot of the commentary has to emotionalize issues if .. skeptical. It is this admission of a non-scientific basis behind their pressure methods which is causing a lot of the discussion. That is the actual focus of the discussion.

    and also:

    Greenpeace has for 20 years has talked about climate change, and what they said was rational and reasonable, but the world ha[s] only recently recognized what they were saying.

    I regard these as two damaging admissions indeed. Can’t the denialists keep their own story straight?

    I am not interested in any quibbling from IreneD and the rest on this, just in getting at the facts behind the denialist hysteria. They said changing light bulbs would cause cancer and starvation. they said making more fuel efficient cars would promote sterility. Yet none of this has happened. I can’t agree that building cleaner electrical plants will drive most Western economies below the level of Kalahari bushmen. I can’t agree that recycling will lead to cannibalism and child prostitution. This is simply alarmism. I want them to repudiate these claims, and I don’t want to “discuss” the “fine points” of whether they used this precise “language.” If they can’t communicate better than that, how can they claim to represent the people or their businesses?

  33. #33 bi -- IJI
    August 24, 2009

    Marion Delgado:

    Indeed, and as I always say, the Debate? on climate change has become increasingly Polarized?, and I say again, a Voice of Moderation? is sorely needed.

    One side says that we’ll all die tomorrow if we don’t give all our money to solar power companies.

    Another side says that Waxman-Markey will lead to Osama bin Laden working with the secret reptile Barack Hussein Obama to impose a stringent agenda of forced Communist euthanasia.

    Can we trust either side at all?

    It is time that we, as a nation, return to civilized debate over the real issue, namely whether Gerd Leipold needs a teleprompter.

  34. #34 Pete Rooke
    August 24, 2009

    We must let the evidence tell the true story. I think the advocates on both sides (the scientists and the deniers – although they are not necessarily exclusive) have good points which must be considered appropriately. Only in time will we know whether or not the end is near as some believe has been foretold.

  35. #35 Janet Akerman
    August 24, 2009

    bi IJI,

    Look what you’ve started!

  36. #36 Jeff Harvey
    August 24, 2009

    I am sorry, Pete Rooke, but I don’t agree with you when you write: “I think the advocates on both sides (the scientists and the deniers – although they are not necessarily exclusive) have good points which must be considered appropriately”.

    The fact is that the deniers hate the science behind climate change. Note how many in the denial camp have switched tactics over the years – twenty years ago AGW was a ‘doomsday myth’, but as evidence began accumulating showing that the Earth’s surface temperature was, indded warming, then they swtiched to ‘it’s natural’or ‘within the natural range of historical temperature rises’. As the evidnece grows further, theyt will eventually have to admit that humans are forcing climate, but that it will be too late to do anything but adapt. In every scenario nothing is done, it is business-as-usual.

    What the denioers have skilfully done is to take the outcomes of climate warming – which admittedly are uncertain, and applied this to the process of climate change itself, where there is considerably more agreement on the causes.

    The fact is that many, if not most of those in the denial camp are distorting science in order to prmote a pre-determined world view and policial agenda. This is most certainly NOT a scientific debate; the denialists loathe science, hence why they mangle it. There is a very well funded industry of denial which is driven by the desire to maximize short-term profit for the privileged few. This, in my view, explains the primary motives of the denial lobby. It has nix to do with ‘sound’ science.

  37. #37 Iain
    August 24, 2009

    I will take denialists seriously when they take the same approach to personal health decisions as they do to the future of the entire planet.

    Dr: It has all the appearances of cancer. We should operate.
    Denialist: Cancer? Prove it. Do you think I can afford 8 weeks off work to recover from surgery? What are you, some kind of communist, trying to bring down capitalism with your ‘cancer’ alarmism.
    Dr: Please..
    Denialist: I know your type, trying to send us back to the caves damn greenpeace damn al gore al gore fatty fat green gay conspiracy Monckton Pilmer cosmic rays!(waves arms and shouts incoherently)
    Dr: Sigh.

  38. #38 bi -- IJI
    August 24, 2009

    Aye, Pete Rooke, it’s an imperative that we must Do Nothing?.

    Of course, the deniers also say we should Do Nothing?. However, as Even-Handed?, Impartial?, Balanced?, Rational?, Moderate? Observers of Truth?, our Do Nothingness? is definitely of a different nature.

    Which is to say, we advocate doing the same kind of nothing, but for a different reason — or rather, for no reason at all.

  39. #39 Curious
    August 24, 2009

    So the only defense for Stephen Sackur is that he misunderstood the GreenPeace note and blaming GreenPeace for that? Despite GP Note mentioned sea ice, they didn’t mentioned Greenland at all and they provided us with the link to the original source (the NASA report)? Is that the way journalism is made nowadays? Mistaking things that any occasional reader knows?

  40. #40 Curious
    August 24, 2009

    What is more: you know that it doesn’t make sense that Greenland would melt by 2030, but you still keep thinking that GreenPeace is suggesting by omission that Greenland would melt, instead of understanding just what they say: sea ice.

    These arguments to justify Sackur are pathetic.

  41. #41 Divalent
    August 24, 2009

    “Old ice (over 2 years old) takes longer to melt, …”

    Why is that? Isn’t ice ice?

  42. #42 Pete Rooke
    August 24, 2009

    You can have hard ice and you can have soft ice. One is colder than the other.

  43. #43 dhogaza
    August 24, 2009

    The New York Times ALWAYS puts the word “Ocean” in the lead paragraph to make it clear they are talking about the Arctic Ocean. They do omit “Ocean” from headlines to save space, and they may omit “Ocean” from the article after the first reference.

    Yes, they may omit “Ocean” from the article after the first reference, just as Greenpeace omitted “sea ice” in the middle of the PR, while sandwiching it with clear references making it obvious what’s being talked about to anyone with triple-digit IQ.

    Nice own goal on your part, *[Edited]*

  44. #44 Curious
    August 24, 2009

    #41, Divalent:
    That’s another evidence showing that they are referring to sea ice. Sea ice has a seasonal variation: there is permanent ice (it’s there the whole year) and seasonal ice (the outer part that disappears (melts) in summer and appears (freezes) in winter). With a melting trend, the proportion changes: you get less permanent thick old ice and more seasonal thin new ice. I cannot think of a seasonal Greenland ice sheet (“we are looking at ice-free summers in the Arctic as early as 2030″).

  45. #45 Curious
    August 24, 2009

    jodyaberdein (#27):

    For a moment I thought Greenland would be gone by 2030, whereas now I know it is just all the arctic sea ice. Now I’m totally reassured that I don’t have to worry about climate change.

    Thanks for a good example of how simplistic denialist minds/analyses are.

    Anyone (really) interested on impact assessment can see, e.g.:

    U.S. Global Change Research Program

    IPCC WG II – Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

  46. #46 Divalent
    August 24, 2009

    Curious and Pete Rooke: So you’re saying that they were making the utterly trivial point that colder or thicker ice takes longer to melt?

    Seems like a strange way to say that, particularly when they include the “over 2 years old” qualifier, which reinforces the time-dependent aspect of the characteristic. (It seems to me that if they meant colder or thicker, *that* should have been the parenthetical clause.)

  47. #47 elspi
    August 24, 2009

    Divalent “So you’re saying that they were making the utterly trivial point that colder or thicker ice takes longer to melt?”

    No, Older ice has less salt in it. Thus it melts at a higher temperature, and is much more likely to last through the summer.

    Also, I don’t think the temperature of the ice is of much consequence. It is dwarfed by the phase change.

  48. #48 Paul H
    August 24, 2009

    Thanks for covering this Tim. I became aware of this after reading WUWT last week. As you can see from their thread, a few comments brought this point up and it was duly ignored.

  49. #49 Jim Eager
    August 24, 2009

    Divalent, older multi-year ice (greater then 2 years old) has many properties that younger annual ice does not. For one it contains much less salt, which makes it more homogeneous and much stronger and more resistant to mechanical breakup by wind and wave action.

    For another, it is thicker, and thus has more mass, which is why it takes longer to melt a comparable *area* of ice. These differences are anything but “utterly trivial.” And like it or not, age is precisely how sea ice is differentiated, and “under two years old” and “over two years old” are in fact used to define a significant boundary.

    If you are going to pontificate on the science of global warming/climate change you would be well advised to at least get a basic grasp of the terms used to describe that science.

  50. #50 Jim Eager
    August 24, 2009

    And Robert, stop being such a tiresome git.

  51. #51 Kate
    August 24, 2009

    I need some help.

    I am not a scientist, and have only been interested in this issue for a few years. I’m fine to point people in the right direction for broad concepts. But I don’t even know any calculus yet.

    I have a commenter who knows a heck of a lot about Steve McIntyre and the Hockey Stick controversy. He’s got a complicated chain of logic and citations which supposedly show that every 1000-year temperature graph ever used by the IPCC is flawed, when the flaws are taken out (specifically bristlecone pine data) the conclusion falls apart, and this has been suppressed by the IPCC which proves they have an agenda.

    I’ve been holding up okay until now. But now I really need someone who knows their climate science well – either to help me out or to (preferrably) take over. I’m not the right person to be taking part in this debate. I’m not a scientist.

    The thread starts here – http://climatesight.org/2009/08/13/by-your-own-logic/comment-page-1/#comment-547 – and really gets into the specifics around here – http://climatesight.org/2009/08/13/by-your-own-logic/comment-page-1/#comment-634.

    Any takers?

  52. #52 bi -- IJI
    August 24, 2009

    Kate:

    Chances are, the guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about either, and he’s just throwing out stuff just to sound impressive. Apply some basic logic and critical thinking here and there and you should do just fine. ;-)

  53. #53 Divalent
    August 24, 2009

    Hey Jim Eager,

    thanks for the first part of your response. That gave me some information I did not have about “older” ice. Much appreciated.

    Your asshole response in the 2nd part is not. I did not “pontificate” about anything. I asked a simple question, and got two responses that *were* utterly trivial (older ice is colder and older ice is thicker), and merely followed up with a comment that I thought there had to be more to it than that.

  54. #54 Jim Eager
    August 24, 2009

    So, suggesting that someone become familiar with the terms used to describe the science of global warming/climate change and the cryosphere makes one an asshole?!?!

    You can expect no more help from me.

  55. #55 bi -- IJI
    August 24, 2009

    Jim Eager:

    Come on, let’s give Divalent the benefit of the doubt for now — maybe he was just asking honest questions in an impolitic way. When he starts going all concern-trolling, then we get angry. :)

  56. #56 Jim Eager
    August 24, 2009

    Kate, direct your pet denier to the synthesis report of the US National Academy of Sciences on the Mann et al “hockey stick” controversy, *Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years* at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11676

    But don’t expect reality to have any effect on their belief in pseudoscience.

    For more on what the NAS report found see here:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/06/national-academies-synthesis-report/

  57. #57 Jim Eager
    August 24, 2009

    OK, Frank, I’ll continue to give Divalent the benefit of the doubt, and provide helpful answers to any legitimate questions.

    For now.

  58. #58 Curious
    August 24, 2009

    Divalent, GreenPeace’s point is that NASA has empirically checked that sea ice is getting thinner and younger. I don’t see the problem in explaining what the implications are (regardless of how obvious they are for you).

  59. #59 Paul UK
    August 24, 2009

    Can’t be bothered to read all the comments.
    But here’s my view:

    1. People tend to make more mistakes in their use of language verbally than they do when writing. Especially when under pressure.

    2. People tend to take short cuts with language they are familiar with, dropping words, creating abbreviations etc. It becomes habitual.

    So is it surprising the word ‘sea’ was dropped? Not really, we all do it. It’s a non-story hyped beyond all recognition.

  60. #60 Dave Andrews
    August 24, 2009

    All;

    I have a long history of working with Greenpeace over nuclear power and huclear weapons. And believe me I have had it from the horses mouth on many occasions that they don’t mind being ‘economicial with the truth’ in their statements.

  61. #61 dhogaza
    August 24, 2009

    GP Int’l or GP UK, Dave Andrews? Who, explicitly, at whichever bit of GP you’ve interacted with, told you they’re willing to lie, and what was their position in the organization?

  62. #62 Ian Forrester
    August 24, 2009

    Dave Andrews said:

    Believe me

    Why should we ever believe what you have to say? You have a history as Dave Andrews and Dave A of spreading lies and misinformation all over the web.

    You are always “economical with the truth” just as you are when you comment on your dealings with Greenpeace.

    A word of advice, anyone who is guilty of telling lies will never be believed again. Stop wasting your time, and ours, by continuing to post lies.

  63. #63 Michael
    August 24, 2009

    C’mon Ian.

    Dave A. reads the Guardian and worked for GreenPeace. What more do you need?? Everything he says is true, is.

  64. #64 Divalent
    August 24, 2009

    “So, suggesting that someone become familiar with the terms used to describe the science of global warming/climate change and the cryosphere makes one an asshole?!?!”

    No. Patronizingly scolding someone for “pontificating” on some subject, when they did no such thing, makes you an asshole.

  65. #65 Marion Delgado
    August 24, 2009

    and got two responses that were utterly trivial (older ice is colder and older ice is thicker

    This is wrong, but I agree it was also wrong to assume it was pontificating.

  66. #66 Jim Eager
    August 25, 2009

    Kiss my patronizing asshole, Divalent.

  67. #67 bi -- IJI
    August 25, 2009

    Dave Andrews’s effort to convert from common trolling to concern trolling is downright hilarious. Is he trying to get a pay raise or what?

  68. #68 Mark
    August 25, 2009

    > You’re suggesting that environmental organizations shouldn’t get peeved at any kind of criticism, including outright lies?

    > Posted by: dhogaza

    Of course he is.

    AGW scientists are always making ad-hom attacks against those who Know The Truth ™ and this PROVES they have nothing and They Have The Truth ™(c).

    And therefore when they say that the IPCC are just money-grubbing thieves this is NOT an ad-hom and the complaints about them just go to prove a Nerve Has Been Hit ™.

    It’s OBVIOUS ™ people!

  69. #69 Jim Eager
    August 25, 2009

    My apologies for allowing myself to be goaded to respond.

  70. #70 Mark
    August 25, 2009

    > My apologies for allowing myself to be goaded to respond.

    > Posted by: Jim Eager

    What you said, however, was deserved.

    Do we apologise to the angry bear for running away rather than politely giving our leave?

    No.

  71. #71 Dave Andrews
    August 25, 2009

    dhogaza and others,

    I worked with people from both GP International and GP UK when I was involved in CND and issues around nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

    Obviously, I won’t divulge names but for example, a senior nuclear worker at GP International revealed quite candidly in private discussions that there were certain issues, such as the return of nuclear waste from reprocessing plants, that you could just not raise with GP Germany, despite the fact that GP’s official position was that such waste should be dealt with in the country it came from.

    Likewise, GP UK representatives were often not interested in the ‘facts’ when they contradicted their campaigning objectives – which happened often over the years I was involved with them

  72. #72 Dave R
    August 25, 2009

    Dave Andrews:

    Obviously, I won’t divulge names

    Thus confirming that you were lying.

  73. #73 Mark Byrne
    August 25, 2009

    Dave Andrews writes:

    >*I have a long history of working with Greenpeace over nuclear power and huclear weapons. And believe me I have had it from the horses mouth on many occasions that they don’t mind being ‘economicial with the truth’ in their statements.*

    When challenged, Dave Andrews trys to back up his claims with this:

    >*Obviously, I won’t divulge names but for example, a senior nuclear worker at GP International revealed quite candidly in private discussions that there were certain issues, such as the return of nuclear waste from reprocessing plants, that you could just not raise with GP Germany, despite the fact that GP’s official position was that such waste should be dealt with in the country it came from.*

    >*Likewise, GP UK representatives were often not interested in the ‘facts’ when they contradicted their campaigning objectives – which happened often over the years I was involved with them*

    Not a single example to back up Dave Andrews claim of: *on many occasions that they don’t mind being ‘economicial with the truth’ in their statements.* Just more assertions and bluster.

  74. #74 Curious
    August 26, 2009

    Dave Andrews:

    […] they don’t mind being ‘economicial with the truth’ in their statements

    I guess that some GP’s public statements being ‘economical with the truth’ would be the appropiate example. Sackur’s example is just a deception.

  75. #75 dhogaza
    August 26, 2009

    Obviously, I won’t divulge names but for example, a senior nuclear worker at GP International revealed quite candidly in private discussions that there were certain issues, such as the return of nuclear waste from reprocessing plants, that you could just not raise with GP Germany, despite the fact that GP’s official position was that such waste should be dealt with in the country it came from.

    No evidence of lying there, so why bring it up? Yes, national GP organizations are autonomous and GP international acts independently. It’s more federation than union. In the US, GP is analogous to the National Audubon Society and its various chapters, rather than a hierarchical organization like The Nature Conservancy.

    This prove what, exactly?

    Likewise, GP UK representatives were often not interested in the ‘facts’ when they contradicted their campaigning objectives – which happened often over the years I was involved with them

    Given your absolute denial of well-established climate science fundamentals, I have no reason to believe that your “facts” are factual while GP UK’s facts are not.

  76. #76 bi -- IJI
    August 26, 2009

    dhogaza:

    You’re making an extremely big assumption — namely that Dave Andrews did actually work with Greenpeace as he claimed.

  77. #77 Dave Andrews
    August 26, 2009

    I have to wonder if any of you have ever been seriously involved with a campaigning organisation, environmental or otherwise? Spin, or economic with the truth, is the norm, just like politicians.

    Now the examples of this that I know come from long term (25 years)involvement with a certain organisation and regular contact with other organisations over probably 10 years.

    On the larger scale google GP and ‘Brent Spar’

  78. #78 Dave Andrews
    August 26, 2009

    Dave R,

    Don’t be stupid. I knew these people for some considerable time and would not be disloyal to them nor betray any private discussions we might have had.

  79. #79 Dave Andrews
    August 26, 2009

    dhogaza,

    Yes GP national organisations are independent and conduct their own campaigning. But in the case I quoted,ie GP Germany, what they were saying to the public in Germany was at odds with the overall stance of their organisation. Thus they were obviously being economical with the truth in Germany since the organisation was peddling a different message elsewhere.

    So there you have it.

    GP Germany was resisting to the full the return of nuclear waste from reprocessing of their spent fuel (one could interpret that, as a UK or French citizen, as saying we have sent our spent fuel to you to relieve us of a problem now you deal with the waste residues as we don’t want them back).

    Meanwhile, GP as whole, and certainly in the UK, was saying nuclear waste should be dealt with by the country that produced it.

    Talk about wanting to have your cake and eat it!

  80. #80 Mark Byrne
    August 26, 2009

    Dave Andrews writes:

    >*I knew these people for some considerable time and would not be disloyal to them nor betray any private discussions…*

    Shorter DA: So I’ll just smear them instead and imply they are liars. Trust me, you don’t need to check my facts and you don’t need to judge for yourselves.

  81. #81 dhogaza
    August 27, 2009

    I have to wonder if any of you have ever been seriously involved with a campaigning organisation, environmental or otherwise? Spin, or economic with the truth, is the norm

    Yes, I have, the old growth forest wars of the US PNW. We had science on our side.

    On your side we had the USFS saying that estimates of remaining old growth were far higher than my side claimed, therefore issues related to the liquidation of old growth habitat were being overblown.

    On our side, $500,000 of private money was spend doing a satellite-based (LandSAT) inventory of PNW forests, which proved we were right, the USFS wrong.

    On the VERY NEXT DAY, the USFS issued its own revamped estimated, which it claimed they’d been secretly working on for a couple of years, that said, oh, yeah, you guys have been right all along and we’ve been logging far more aggressively than the law says we can.

    So, yes, I’m familiar with folks being “economical of the truth” in environmental battles.

  82. #82 dhogaza
    August 27, 2009

    Yes GP national organisations are independent and conduct their own campaigning. But in the case I quoted,ie GP Germany, what they were saying to the public in Germany was at odds with the overall stance of their organisation. Thus they were obviously being economical with the truth in Germany since the organisation was peddling a different message elsewhere.

    The national organizations also set their own agenda regarding environmental issues, too, so there’s nothing weird at all about GP Germany and GP Int’l having different messages on an issue. It’s no different than a US state having a different stance on an issue than the federal government. This difference of opinion is not in itself evidence of lying.

    I’ve worked with GP Germany, briefly, remotely, and not happily, BTW. As of 2002 they were officially, IMHO, weird.

  83. #83 bi -- IJI
    August 27, 2009

    dhogaza:

    You’re stll making the same extremely big assumption — namely that Dave Andrews did actually work with Greenpeace as he claimed.

  84. #84 dhogaza
    August 27, 2009

    You’re stll making the same extremely big assumption — namely that Dave Andrews did actually work with Greenpeace as he claimed.

    Oh, I doubt he did, but he does seem to understand a bit about the organization, though the conclusions he’s drawing from that limited knowledge is baloney.

  85. #85 Dave Andrews
    August 27, 2009

    Mark Byrne,

    The phrase ‘economical with the truth’ was given modern prominence by a UK Mandarin, Sir Robert Armstrong, during the Spycatcher trial in the 1980’s.

    It doesn’t mean telling lies, as such, but rather not telling the whole story. This is what politicians, and pressure groups, including environmental ones, do all the time. I am sure you know this well.

  86. #86 Mark Byrne
    August 27, 2009

    Dave Andrews,

    What an empty phrase, what part of the truth did you leave out in each of your posts? Are you being economical with the truth? With such and empty term is there any form of communication that would be excluded from it?

    This is precisely why I called you on your lack of evidence, so we can each judge for our selves. Instead you provide empty smears and your own spin.

  87. #87 Mark
    August 28, 2009

    DA, stop being ecumenical with the truth.

    (this is where you lie “in a good cause”).

  88. #88 Bernard J.
    August 31, 2009

    Speaking of shoddy journalism, the ABC’s Counterpoint is broadcasting Stephen Sackur’s interview as I type.

    It seems that he really does not know what “sea ice” is…

    Duffy and Comry-Thompson of course, delight in confabulating anything and everything for their own ideological ends.

  89. #89 Mark Byrne
    August 31, 2009

    Bernard,

    Good to see you are “taking one for the team”!

    I receive that podcast of Counterpoint but rarely get around to listening.

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