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A new Olympic record for retraction of a denier talking point

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"A new Olympic record for retraction of a denier talking point"

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The gold medal goes to Steven Goddard of The Register. On Friday August 15, he published a scathing article, “Arctic ice refuses to melt as ordered: There’s something rotten north of Denmark” attacking the National Snow and Ice Data Center plot of Arctic Sea Ice Extent (below) that I and pretty much everyone else on the planet use.

nsidc-8-25j.jpg

Based on some (mis)analysis too obscure for mortal men and women to follow, he concluded “The problem is that this graph does not appear to be correct”:

The Arctic did not experience the meltdowns forecast by NSIDC and the Norwegian Polar Year Secretariat. It didn’t even come close. Additionally, some current graphs and press releases from NSIDC seem less than conservative. There appears to be a consistent pattern of overstatement related to Arctic ice loss….

Unless you are a denier, you may not be surprised to learn the amateur denier was wrong and the country’s leading cryosphere scientists were right. But you might be surprised that Goddard issued an unequivocal retraction within days at the site of the original article:

Steven Goddard writes: “Dr. Walt Meier at NSIDC has convinced me this week that their ice extent numbers are solid…. It is clear that the NSIDC graph is correct, and that 2008 Arctic ice is barely 10% above last year – just as NSIDC had stated.”

In the words of Rosanne Rosanna Danna, “Never Mind.”

Kudos to Walt Meier of NSIDC for the rapidity with which NSIDC handled this. As he posted on Real Climate last Friday

NSIDC has worked with Mr. Goddard to get to the bottom of the issue … and as has been mentioned in the comments above, he has posted a correction. I thank Mr. Goddard for his cooperation in this matter.

Unfortunately, this disinformation has raced around the world, with more than 70 blog reactions as of today according to Technorati, including headlines and comments such as:

  • Arctic Ice Grows 30 Per Cent In a Year
  • The Global Warming Theory takes a hit
  • Fishy Data From the Government
  • Here’s another installment about the silliness of “global warming” as posited by politicians and “environmentalists”.
  • Cooking the Books to Cook the Ice
  • Global Warming is about global government and depopulation

Oh well. Live by the blogosphere, die by the blogosphere.

In any case, if you look at the graph, you’ll see the Arctic ice extent is shrinking perilously close to last year’s record. It should be an exciting few weeks to see whether the record gets beat. But again, what’s important isn’t from all year by year fluctuations, but the astonishingly fast decline in Arctic ice in the last few decades driven in large part by global warming, which may have catastrophic implications for the planet (see “Breaking News — Tundra 4: Permafrost loss linked to Arctic sea ice loss“).

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20 Responses to A new Olympic record for retraction of a denier talking point

  1. beefeater says:

    How about these “deniers”?
    Did they keep this find quite for five years to spare your feelings?

    Alpine melt reveals ancient life

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7580294.stm

    I expect to see a full debunking of this, Joe.

    [JR: Debunk? You and I obviously read different pieces:

    For Martin Grosjean, the leather items found on the Schnidejoch, dated at over 5,000 years old, are proof, if any more were needed, that the Earth is now warming up.
    "The leather is the jewel among the finds," he says. "If leather is exposed to the weather, to sun, wind and rain, it disintegrates almost immediately.
    Tool reconstruction (University of Berne)
    "The fact that we still find these 5,000-year-old pieces of leather tells us they were protected by the ice all this time, and that the glaciers have never been smaller than in the year 2003 and the years following."

    Makes sense to me.]

  2. paulm says:

    ..But again, what’s important isn’t from all year by year fluctuations,….

    However, there are Tipping Points, and 2007/08 is probably one of them!

    Here’s and interesting article. Note the confusing reporting with reference to 1990. This is a big problem – scientist still keep confusing the issue.

    At top of Greenland, new worrisome cracks in ice, AP
    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5haFo02rnjDwdXudd0xvERQuTcziAD92MUI001

  3. Brian D says:

    Is it just me, or is an unreported “just kidding!” becoming the inactivist meme-du-jour?

    Not long ago, Jennifer Morohasy posted this epic failure at thermodynamics by Alan Siddons. It was later followed by Gordon Robertson failing introductory geophysics. When the idiocy of these claims was (repeatedly, and more slowly) explained to her, Morohasy’s response was “Socratic irony” — a sophisticated, but spineless, way of saying “just kidding!” (especially since she didn’t alter either entry with any caveat afterwards.)

    I should note that the post following Siddons’ was Morohasy reiterating Goddard, who has now retracted. Now taking bets that she ignores this change of mind altogether.

  4. beefeater says:

    [JR: Debunk? You and I obviously read different pieces]:

    Of course it makes sense, man made global warming is a myth, whatever is happening today has happened before. And only those who stand to profit from the doom and gloom of perpetuating that myth are the “deniers”

    Change is what climate does, always has always will.

    [JR: Someday you will understand why the climate changed in the past and why what we are doing now is a forcing the climate to change much faster than it ever has before. But that would require reading the scientific literature, so I suspect we'll just have to wait until the climate is ruined. Do let your kids know you were one of those cheering on humanity's self-destruction.]

  5. John Hollenberg says:

    > man made global warming is a myth

    For a contrary (and scientific) opinion see:

    http://www.ipcc.ch/

  6. Jay Alt says:

    Brian D writes:
    Is it just me, or is an unreported “just kidding!” becoming the inactivist meme-du-jour?

    False claims that are debunked are often remembered as true -

    http://climateprogress.org/2008/08/07/the-difficulty-of-debunking-a-myth/

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2007/10/why-debunking-myths-can-backfire.html

  7. Dano says:

    Guys, guys guys. Take away the long-ago debunked and recycled denialist arguments, and what will they have? Nothing! Give them a break!

    Best,

    D

  8. I expect to see a full debunking of this, Joe.

    I was going to blame the body buried deep in the glacier on a Yeti who had carried his prey back to his lair beneath the glacier, which he fashioned with his bare hands, and a few tools left behind by the aliens… you know, to try and pull a few conspiracy theories together.

  9. Peter Wood says:

    The arctic ice melt is yet another reason why we can’t wait until something like 2015 before polluting activities attract a carbon price.

  10. davidgmills says:

    Here’s the actual satellite photographic comparisons:

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/deetest/deetmp.14059.png

  11. davidgmills says:

    Compare any two dates since 1980

    http://igloo.atmos.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/test/print.sh

  12. Peter Wood says:

    Those are useful links davidgmills, it is always more interesting to look at the disaggregated data.

    The reduced ice east of Greenland looks like a bit of a worry.

  13. andy says:

    The poor guy and his stuff were frozen shortly after he died, if not the day he died (fell down a crack in the ice) and then remained frozen all this time. Now everything in the alps is thawing out due to AGW and there will be very little ice left up there by mid-century. Not too hard to understand. Blows the medieval was warmer and everyone grew grapes theories out of the water though. For goodness sake, the Alpine glaciers just started melting big time only a couple decades ago and we can already see their end in sight. How can anyone deny what’s happening?

    A book I enjoyed reading was Locust by Lockwood. It talks about the race to investigate the history of locust plagues in north America before all evidence (frozen in western glaciers) melts away.

  14. thingsbreak says:

    Hasn’t Frank Bi been chronicling the embrace of denier talking points by the mysterious Steven Goddard?

    He appeared, IIRC, at The Register fully formed, Athena-like from Climate Audit denialism.

  15. jorleh says:

    Deniers are of course idiots, there is no reason to argue with such blockheads. Only waste of the precious time. We have that time too short.

  16. paulm says:

    heres some Canadian input on the Climate Change issue up north…
    http://thetyee.ca/News/2007/04/12/ArcticMelt/

  17. david says:

    delurking… just for the record (’cause I was recently corrected as well): ‘never mind’ was the line of another gilda radner character: emily litella, not roseanne r-d.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Litella

  18. Marion Delgado says:

    There are too many refutations to make and lies to stamp out to waste in further colloquy with these people – in orwell’s phrase, half gangster, half gramophone.

    I recall Bradley R. Smith saying “the first thing you realize, very quickly, when you start looking into the Holocaust, is that no such thing ever occurred ….” and that he was a simple, libertarian, civil liberties loving American with no agenda whatsoever.

    Rinse and repeat for evolution denial, pollution denial, ozone denial, tobacco denial, etc. etc. etc.

    This bold assertion – bolder the more wrong you are – is their weapon and crutch of choice.

  19. shop says:

    Based on some (mis)analysis too obscure for mortal men and women to follow, he concluded “The problem is that this graph does not appear to be correct

  20. porno says:

    A book I enjoyed reading was Locust by Lockwood. It talks about the race to investigate the history of locust plagues in north America before all evidence (frozen in western glaciers) melts away.