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Media Charged with Performing 'Climate Porn' on Arctic Ice Shipping Claims

Written by Marc Morano

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marcmoranoClimate-Depot.com

The media is once again hyping "unprecedented" claims about the Arctic. The UK Independent paper went absolutely gaga in a silly front page headline about the Arctic which screamed: "A Triumph for Man, A Disaster for Mankind." The September 12, 2009 article in the paper claimed: "Two ships are finishing the first commercial navigation of the fabled Northwest Passage. It is an epic moment -- but also a vivid sign of climate change in the Arctic."

The dissenting website Climate Resistance mocked the UK Independent article, calling it a "Tipping Point for the Climate Porn Industry." "Headlines don't get much more alarmist than this," Climate Resistance wrote on September 13, 2009.

 

AP's Seth Borenstein wrote on September 11, 2009 that the Arctic just saw for "the first time a Western shipping company successfully transit the Northeast Passage." Borenstein reported "researchers said the ability to navigate the route showed climate change." Borenstein and co-author Matt Moore quoted Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. Claiming "The Arctic is becoming a blue ocean." "We are seeing an expression of climate change here," Serreze added.

Andrew Revkin of the New York Times touted the ships alleged feat as well. "For hundreds of years, mariners have dreamed of an Arctic shortcut that would allow them to speed trade between Asia and the West. Two German ships are poised to complete that transit for the first time, aided by the retreat of Arctic ice that scientists have linked to global warming," Revkin and NYT co-author Andrew E. Kramer wrote on September 10, 2009.

So is this Arctic trek really the shocking and "unprecedented" feat that the media is claiming?

'False spin'

The reaction has been swift to point out the sheer desperation of the media's claims about this Arctic trek.

UN IPCC Atmospheric Scientist Richard Courtney rejected AP's Seth Borenstein's "spin." Borenstein puts a false spin by reporting, 'It's certainly part of the overall decline of sea ice that we've been seeing.' Well, No! It is not," Courtney told Climate Depot.

"The [shipping] transits prove nothing concerning increase or decline of sea ice. In fact the transits have become possible because satellite observation of ice cover has become available in recent years. Indeed, the AP article itself reports: Niels Stolberg, the president of Beluga, which is based in the German city of Bremen, called it the first time a Western shipping company successfully transited the Northeast Passage. 'To transit the Northeast Passage so well and professionally without incident on the premiere is the result of our extremely accurate preparation as well as the outstanding team work between our attentive captains, our reliable meteorologists and our engaged crew,' Stolberg said."

"So, these two transits prove that ships can now plan their route through the ice when the ice cover is at summer minimum because the position of the ice is known. Such planning was not possible prior to the satellite era," Courtney explained. "And a claim that the achievement was due to 'decline of sea ice' is an insult to the company, Beluga, that achieved the transits," Courtney added. [Editor's Note: In addition, far from being a global warming inspired "disaster for mankind," what many news outlets ignored, including the reliably woeful Borenstein, was that the ships themselves were "ice-hardened" to deal with ice. Borenstein waited until the 17th paragraph to note the vessels were accompanied by two additional ice breaker ships. Revkin gave the most balanced view of the ships journey, noting, "The pair of ice-hardened, 12,700-ton ships, the Beluga Fraternity and Beluga Foresight, were accompanied for most of the trip so far by one or two Russian nuclear icebreakers as a precaution..."]

UK Lord Christopher Monckton, former science advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, challenged the media claims as well.

"The extent of summer-minimum sea ice, which fell to a 30-year minimum in 2007, recovered somewhat in 2008 and has recovered still further this year, coming close to the ten-year mean. And it bears repeating that, even if the entire Arctic ice-cap were to melt for a few weeks each summer, sea level would not rise by so much as a millimeter," Monckton told Climate Depot. "Finally, the 2007 reduction in summer sea ice cannot have been caused by 'global warming', because there has been no statistically-significant 'global warming' for 15 years, and, by the late summer of 2007, there had been rapid and statistically-significant global cooling for six years," Monckton added.

'Mustn't laugh'

The eco-website Greenie Watch also ridiculed the media's Arctic shipping claims. "Mustn't laugh! Sailing through the Arctic is nothing new," Greenie Watch noted on September 14, 2009.

The Canadian Press reported "Renowned sailor finds ice-choked Northwest Passage 'not so easy" to travel on September 12, 2009. The article reported: "Speaking from Alaska a few days after completing his trip through the passage, Philippe Poupon offered a gentle reality check to anyone who thinks climate change has turned Arctic waters into an ocean highway. 'We found a lot of ice. We had to take care because the ice is still there and when you are on ice, wind, fog or the night, it could be very dangerous,' Poupon said. 'I don't know if it's normal conditions, but we had to push through,' he added."

Paging NYT's Andrew Revkin

Maurizio Morabito's of the website Omniclimate, has challenged NYT's Andrew Revkin to answer a few basic questions about his article's claims.

"Andy Revkin at DotEarth's 'Welcome to Earth's 'New' Ocean: The Arctic' has not yet found time to reply to my question as outlined below," Morabito wrote on September 14, 2009. Morabito's question to Revkin is as follows: "In Tom Nelson's blog there is a link at Answer.com where several sources (including Wikipedia) repeat information about the Northeast Passage (Northern Sea Route) progressively becoming more and more easy to navigate during the last few centuries, of several expeditions going all the way decades ago, of commercial exploitation from 1877. Would Mr. Revkin be so kind as to comment, and perhaps clarify what he and/or Lawson W Brigham exactly meant with 'this is, indeed, a first'. - thank you in advance." [Editor's Note: As reporters like AP's Borenstein and others claim "unprecedented" occurrences in the Arctic, it is a good time to get a reality check. See: Climate Depot Arctic Fact Sheet - Get the latest peer-reviewed studies and analysis - Arctic Ice Changes in past 3 years due to 'shifting winds' - July 20, 2009]

Related Links:

'Long sad history of AP reporter Seth Borenstein's woeful global warming reporting' - Media Factsheet: Climate Depot Serving as the Media's Ombudsman - August 21, 2009

 


 

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