Washington Post corrects itself: “Make no mistake, Arctic Sea ice is melting,” may be gone in summer by 2013, “renders climate studies and models seemingly obsolete”

The Washington Post famously let George Will make a variety of mistakes and misstatements in three recent op-eds (see “Post editors let George Will publish a third time global warming lies debunked on its own pages”).

Will’s misstatements on Arctic ice were so egregious that Post reporters took the unprecedented step of contradicting Will in a recent news article:

The new evidence … contradicts data cited in widely circulated reports by Washington Post columnist George F. Will that sea ice in the Arctic has not significantly declined since 1979.

But the Post has topped that stunner: Today, the Post ran an editorial, “Arctic Ice Is Melting: The 30-year decline is accelerating, new data show,” which begins:

MAKE NO mistake, Arctic Sea ice is melting. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the maximum extent of the winter sea ice cover for 2008–09 was the fifth-lowest on record. Underscoring their point, the agencies added, “The six lowest maximum events since satellite monitoring began in 1979 have all occurred in the past six years (2004–09).”

Global warming is doing a number on Arctic Sea ice.

“Make no mistake”? How about make no mistakes twice? (see “Post lets George Will reassert all his climate falsehoods plus some new ones”)


When my father was the editorial page editor of a mid-sized newspaper, he wrote all of the editorials himself. That almost certainly isn’t true of the Post, but it is inconceivable that its editorial page editor, Fred Hiatt, didn’t okay every word in this piece — including the stinging rebuke to Will (and himself), “Make no mistake”!

So I’m going to have to give major props to the Post on this one. Even if this editorial doesn’t mention Will by name, it is an amazing admission of its own mistakes.

And this is a terrific editorial. The Post appears to have learned the single most important message from climate science in the past two years — the scientific consensus is wrong (see “Disputing the ‘consensus’ on global warming”). Climate change is coming faster and harder than the IPCC “consensus” warned even 18 months ago (see U.S. media largely ignores latest warning from climate scientists: “Recent observations confirm “¦ the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised” “” 1000 ppm and AAAS: Climate change is coming much harder, much faster than predicted). That’s why the deniers deserve no attention from the Post or NY Times:The true debate is not between those who say global warming is a serious problem that deserves strong action and those who say it isn’t. The debate is now between those who say global warming is a serious problem that deserves strong action and those who say global warming is the gravest threat to human civilization in history that demands we bear any burden, pay and price, to prevent.

Here is the rest of the editorial, which even goes a tad farther than I do (!):

The report noted that the Arctic winter was 1.8 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average. This and other factors are causing the surface ice to melt. That ice is vital for reflecting the light and heat of the sun. Without it, the heat warms the Arctic Ocean, which then melts the ice below the surface of the water. This, along with older ice moving out of the Arctic, decreases the thickness of sea ice cover, which then melts more easily in the summer. “Ice older than two years now accounts for less than 10 percent of the ice cover,” according to the study. “From 1981 through 2000, such older ice made up an average of 30 percent of the total sea ice cover at this time of the year.”

These new data come as predictions of an ice-free Arctic Sea during the summer get ever closer. Just two years ago, an NSIDC scientist estimated that worrisome event could happen within 20 to 30 years. Last month, Warwick Vincent, director of the Center for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec, told Reuters, “2013 is starting to look as though it is a lot more reasonable as a prediction.”

That forecast, if proven true, would have dire consequences for the polar bear. A 2007 report from the U.S. Geological Survey revealed that a melting of Arctic ice caused by global warming would wipe out two-thirds of the world’s polar bear population, estimated at 20,000 to 25,000, and all of Alaska’s estimated 4,700 polar bears, by 2050. The polar bear is now listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. But we’re all threatened as long as the build-up of greenhouse gases renders climate studies and models seemingly obsolete the moment they’re released.

Note to Post: The polar bear is the least of our worries when the Arctic goes ice free in the summer (see NSIDC: Arctic is on thin ice “” literally “” and that means the “perma”frost is too).


But the prediction of on ice free Arctic summer in 2013 is faster than the proposition I have been offering to bet against (here):

At no time between now and the end of the year 2020 will the minimum total Arctic Sea ice extent be less than 10% of the 1979–2000 average minimum annual Arctic Sea ice extent….

I got three climate bloggers to take that bet for a total of $1000 — James Annan, William Connolley, and Brian Schmidt — back in December 2007.

Still looking for any takers. George Will, perhaps?