You may have already seen this on our Making Waves blog, but for the sake of completeness (and to help demolish the climate denial zombie that's risen once more) here's Brian's piece on the arctic sea ice controversy.
The right-wing, conservative, climate-denial blog-and-twitosphere is abuzz with the news: Greenpeace admits live on the BBC that it lied about arctic melting.
That's not true, it's being promoted by the handful of global warming skeptics still standing, and we're hitting back. You can help us by tweeting, blogging, and sharing this clarification on Facebook.
Here are the facts. Gerd Leipold, our Executive Director, appeared on BBC's "HardTalk" the other day and got blindsided with a challenge by journalist Stephen Sackur. Sackur selectively quoted from a Greenpeace "press release" (actually, it was a web story) from July 15th. This is the paragraph he referenced:
Ice free Arctic
Bad news is coming from other sources as well. 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.
When we, or NASA, or most climate scientists talk about "ice-free summers" in the Arctic, that's commonly understood to mean the sea isn't covered with ice. But Sackur claimed that we were misleading the public by claiming that all the ice in the Arctic -- including the massive Greenland ice sheet, which is on land, would be gone by 2030. That's NOT what we said, as Sackur, or his researcher, would have known if they read the entire article, including the next sentence:
They say you can't be too thin or too young, but this unfortunately doesn't apply to the Arctic sea ice.
Here's how he poses this question to Gerd:
Now, it's fair to say we could have been clearer by inserting three letters into the offending sentence: S-E-A, to make it crystal clear to the casual reader. But the term "ice-free" to refer to an absence of ice on the ocean came straight from the NASA report we were citing, and is the common description you'll find in scientific publications as well as among journalists. Google "ice free summers" and "arctic" and see what you get: about 230,000 hits. Oh, and look what the first hit is: a story from the BBC itself talking about the retreat of SEA ice, but what's the headline? "Arctic summers ice-free by 2013"
Is the BBC scarmongering? Or are they reporting the facts?
Now HardTalk is all about difficult questions, and we have no problem with difficult questions or a fair fight. Because in a fair fight, our arguments generally win. Gerd handled the rest of the interview with his customary flare.
As a climate scientist himself, (Dr.) Gerd Leipold rightly knows that no scenario currently predicts the collapse of the entire ice sheet that early, and nor have we ever made that claim.
Bottom line: there's nothing to repudiate -- just something to clarify.
The climate skeptics are trying and turn this into a victory to undercut our reputation for accuracy and further their ‘flat earth’ position of climate denial.
And encourage people to follow the ongoing voyage of our ship the Arctic Sunrise around Greenland with a crew that includes world renowned glaciologists who are doing groundbreaking science to discover just how much of an impact climate change is having on the region.