Written by Tim Ball
September 4, 2008- The Media Darling of Climate Change Misrepresentation
By Tim Ball, Senior Fellow
The state of the Arctic sea ice is the topic of voluminous media reports about the effects of climate change.
> An analysis of the coverage shows that several aspects of Arctic phenomena make it a prime candidate for media stories.
> Contrary to the cautious and conditional approach of scientific progress, media reports on scientific matters tend to present speculation as fact, and reporters protect themselves against misstatement with neutral admissions of uncertainty. By examining a typical media story about the Arctic sea ice paragraph by paragraph, we can see how these and other techniques are used to present an emotionally compelling story that is completely disconnected from what scientists actually understand.
Arctic and Antarctic regions receive a great deal of attention for several reasons: a) we know very little about them b) they are regions where the greatest warming due to human CO2 is predicted c) they are home to animal species that have been used to exploit our emotions from Walt Disney’s false representation of lemmings in White Wilderness to Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves to Al Gore's complete misrepresentation of polar bears to the more accurate but very emotional portrayal of Antarctic penguins.
Direct observation of and reports about the Arctic effectively began in the 16th century. Reports from that time are limited, but more importantly, an accurate determination of the extent of the Arctic sea ice did not exist prior to 1979. Climate data for the Arctic Ocean simply does not exist as is shown by the large 'No Data' sections in the map from the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) for the period 1954 to 2003. Indeed, the fundamental argument made in that assessment for millions of research dollars was precisely because so little is known. It is important to note that the findings of the ACIA were the basis of understanding, assessment and recommendations for the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
Full Report HERE (PDF)