What was the Washington Post Thinking?

You know you’ve published a dubious article when Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) cites you in a global warming hearing. Today’s Post piece on the impact of global warming on Greenland exemplifies missing the forest for the trees.

The piece shows that warming would have winners and losers in Greenland, as you would expect. In classic Inhofe fashion, of course, the Senator claimed the piece said, “they are rejoicing up in Greenland” over global warming. He probably didn’t read past the misleading headline: “Icy Island Warms to Climate Change.”

The article was actually more balanced, in a narrow sense. It notes that “The Arctic is feeling the globe’s fastest warming,” some 11°F from 1991 to 2003. It has stories of Greenlanders who thought they would benefit and those who thought they would lose from the fast thaw. But the article goes far astray here:

A rapid meltdown and fast-sliding glaciers in Greenland could raise sea levels around the world and flood coastal cities and farmland. The infusion of cold water could jolt the Gulf Stream, alter weather throughout the Northern Hemisphere and scatter fish and marine stocks.


Yet this sweeping reworking of humanity’s global accommodations will likely be fickle. While Greenland has many people who fear what warming will bring, it has quite a few others who reckon they may do quite well by it

Well isn’t that a confused merging of two very different — and contradictory — thoughts. The “sweeping reworking of humanity’s global accommodations” might have “fickle” impacts for the 56,000 Greenlanders, but more than 1000 times as many people — over 56 million — would lose their homes worldwide if even one seventh (14%) of Greenland’s ice sheet disintegrated, which would raise sea levels some three feet. That isn’t fickle, it’s fatal, for the hopes and dreams of tens of millions.

The Post missed the forest for the trees (or the forest for one tree, as Jim Connaughton puts it).