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back to article Polar sea ice could set ANOTHER record this year

The world's media is extremely excited at the thirty-year record low extent of sea ice at the North Pole which occurred just days ago: but almost nobody is reporting on the fact that something almost equally unusual is going on down around the coasts of Antarctica. Whoa, that's a lot of ice Even as the Arctic sea ice starts to …

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Data in context

To put this data in context, here is the last 30 years of data (sea ice area)

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.area.antarctic.png

And here is the same plot for the arctic

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.area.arctic.png

I haven't got the plots for sea ice volume to hand - but they are far more dramatic.

Now, which record is more significant?

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Re: Data in context

As one blogger put it

"Why is everybody talking about Michael Phelps’ olympic swimming medals? Florent Manaudou of France won the 50-meter freestyle gold medal in 2012 — why don’t I read about that on the front page of the New York Times?"

http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/poles-apart/

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This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

Re: Data in context

I'm sorry NomNomNom, I was looking forward to killing a few minutes reading something so thought your link might be worthy of said time. Unfortunately the very first sentence is "As most of you are aware, Arctic sea ice has shrunk dramatically over the last several decades, because of man-made global warming."

'because of man-made global warming'? Near-hysterical speculation! That was where I stopped reading.

To be a devil and to quote a bit of your post here, "Oh right, so ... a bunch of guys on the internet have it all figured out." (Sorry, not really fair of me to do that I know).

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Unhappy

Re: Data in context

Perhaps you would refuse the use of a defibrillator if you knew it was solar powered?

You're going to need a bigger tin-foil hat.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnCy-R7mLHI

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Data in context

"Perhaps you would refuse the use of a defibrillator if you knew it was solar powered? You're going to need a bigger tin-foil hat."

Don't be silly! No tin-foil hats are required. You missed the point entirely.

To state that the Arctic sea ice has shrunk dramatically over the last several decades, because of man-made global warming is at best misleading and at worst a lie. However, to state that the shrinking of the Arctic ice is consistent with global warming would perhaps be accurate.

These two statements are worlds apart and mean very, very different things. Or do you really believe that global warming always equates to 'man-made global warming'?

It was my hope that those reading my comment would be able to discern this for themselves.

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Re: Data in context

I spent the last few days trying to understand the Arctic situation by looking up EarthObservatory and Wikipedia stuff. It's full of the shit you complain of.

And it turns out thatr periodic disasters are required to keep the environment balanced. Fire gets rid of podsoil in the Taiga fore example allowing birdlif to control spruce killing insects. And the periodic floods wash the ash and topsoil to the Arctic wher it fertilises the richest mairine environmnet on earth.

Even the way the ice behaves is badly presented.

I'm going to steal the article for my blog. (I hope no one notices.)

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Context and environmetaldicks.

> You missed the point entirely.

>

> It was my hope that those reading my comment would be able to discern this for themselves.

I daresay that the OP was of the same opinion.

I on the other hand appreciate that people who can't think for themselves can't see for themselves.

And just won't be told.

It's the reason people go to gaol, get sacked, lose, you know; the usual suspects... Environmentally ill people.

It's all very sad. And usual.

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Re: Data in context

>'because of man-made global warming'? Near-hysterical speculation! That was where I stopped reading.

Your indignant response with "Near-hysterical speculation" to people that know what they are talking about prompted my indignant response.

I'm sure you wouldn't dismiss a recommendation for heart bypass op as "hysterical speculation" if 98 of 100 heart specialists said you needed one, while your car mechanic says don't worry, "ignore it", or "it's just stress", "it's happened before", "look squirrel!", "pain is good for you".

We don't know 'exactly' what is wrong with the climate, but we'll nail it in the autopsy.

Climate scientists know their stuff in their fields as well as any other professional does in their respective fields, and their advice should be taken seriously.

Imagine you're writing a program... some oik of a manager comes up to you and says that input validation is unnecessary because it'll cause a dev budget overrun, and that no-one would possibly enter an input combination that could compromise the system... I think you would have something to say on the subject because this is your profession, and you know what you are doing. However, they won't listen to you because they can't comprehend risk - that a breach could bring down the entire company, and anyway, validation is a liberal thing that may lead to validation taxation. (I'm sure there's a better metaphor but I can't think of one now!)

> To state that the Arctic sea ice has shrunk dramatically over the last several decades, because of

> man-made global warming is at best misleading and at worst a lie.

*No* other explanation comes close, other than a massive injection of anthropogenic GHGs, mainly CO2, and there is 40% more of it in the atmosphere since we industrialised.

Even with a solar minimum over the last couple of decades, global temperature has been rising, and disproportionately at the poles due to polar amplification.

There is no other heat source than the sun, and warming doesn't happen by itself, so it must be because the reradiation of excess heat is being impeded, by a change in atmospheric composition. An extra 40% of a known GHG, CO2, is a significant change. To infrared, CO2 absorbs infrared as ink absorbs light.

The concentration of CO2 is small, but considering the thickness of the atmosphere, it represents a layer of CO2 about 4m thick, or a couple of millimetres as a solid. This is enough to significantly block IR radiation from the Earth, and we have increased it by 40%. Satellites measure the increase in nocturnal ground temperatures, and the decrease in stratospheric temperatures because less IR radiation from the Earth is reaching it.

Difference represents about 0.6W per square metre, but there are trillions of square metres, and this delta adds up to an astronomical amount of energy that is not being dissipated to space.

Over many years, things start happening, as we are observing now.

> However, to state that the shrinking of the Arctic ice is consistent with global warming would perhaps be accurate.

>These two statements are worlds apart and mean very, very different things.

Pedantically true, however, jumping off a tall building and decorating the pavement would also be consistent with the existence of gravity.

The rising energy budget of the Earth cannot be explained without our CO2, there is nothing else and 90% of this energy is going into the oceans to reappear many years later.

>Or do you really believe that global warming always equates to 'man-made global warming'?

That is silly. Of course not. Climate changed very much over geologic time-scales since the planet's birth, but that was not *our* world. The evolution of life, and the planet's biosphere and climate was also causally interdependent, but proceeded at a pace that allowed a fair proportion of species to adapt in time. Lucky for us.

All life here is adapted to the finely-balanced climate we have now. It is naturally comfortable and we can't easily imagine any other, but its scope is still a fraction of the range of climates possible with just tiny tweaks in parameters.

Fortunately there have never been any sudden events that completely extinguished life, or boiled away the oceans - yet.

It is a complicated system, with many balances, annual and multidecadal responses to inputs, negative and positive feedbacks, with known and unknown latencies and states. A "known unknown" is the massive deposits of methane clathrates, currently stable, but only because of a few degrees - a few extra degrees to cause a massive and rapid outgassing would lead not to climate change, but to climate destabilization, which doesn't bear thinking about - I really don't think it is something we should be dismissing out of hand with "global warming is a hoax" stupidity, when it is absolutely the most serious threat that mankind faces, in addition to eating itself out of house and home (search for "mouse plagues" on you tube - the logical hyperbole, but our civilization would collapse back to the stone ages before anything on that scale would happen)

However we have had a monumental impact over the last century and particularly the last 50 years, by burning fossil fuels as fast as it can be extracted, and deforestation as fast as humans can cut and process, with a population explosion and massive resource depletion.

There is no other explanation for the incredible Arctic melt - it is our CO2 - don't dismiss it out of hand - there are thousands of peer-reviewed papers on the subject, of which I'm sure you are aware, if you are really interested in the subject.

I just watched this, and recommend it for you if you have an hour and can afford popcorn - Professor Robert Manne is spot-on with his analysis:

http://www.desmogblog.com/2012/09/19/robert-manne-how-vested-interests-defeated-climate-science

It is only in English speaking countries that AGW denialism is so rampant - the fossil fuel companies, right-wing think-tanks, opportunist hacks and Murdoch funded news disinformation campaigns have been spectacularly successful in subverting knowledge, public opinion and democracy, and I venture to suggest that you and many here are victims, or even complicit. (I am at a loss to comprehend why the general attitude here is uncharacteristically denialistic, considering IT professionals like myself are intelligent and pragmatic)

Personally, I have been an out of the rat-race expat in a non-English speaking country for many years, and not exposed to their bias, so I could educate myself with real information.

The jury is in on AGW, the evidence is overwhelming and unequivocal, and I am still gobsmacked that there are people denying it.

It's like a Pythonesque Dead Arctic Canary sketch, an affront to sanity except it is deadly serious without any element of humour.

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Re: Data in context

I would point you to the statement by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists: "no scientific body of national or international standing rejects the findings of human-induced effects on climate change"

Is this not at least worth reading the actual body of the article rather than dismiss it as it does not hold to your world view?

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Re: Data in context

Andy, get over yourself. If 98 of 100 surgeons claimed I needed by-pass surgery but I felt fine and was able to do my 5 mile run each day, sure, I'd ignore them. Why would I submit to such an invasive and risky procedure without being absolutely sure the 'cure' was not worse than my lack of symptoms. What, just because an expert told me so? I'd judge the experts poorly if they asserted I was so ill but I didn't fall down dead in a very short space of time.

And in my view that's the scenario in which we find ourselves today. I'm being told by the surgeons that I'm ill but I don't feel there to be any problem. I'm told that if I don't have the surgery now I may die in 50 years. Well, guess what. I'll be dead in 50 years - with or without the intervention.

Then there's the very real issue of the cost of that surgery. I'll be wealthier in 20 or 30 years time and so I'll be able to afford that surgery and, by then, it should be more obvious I do have dickie heart (though I'll but my knees and hips will have needed attention sooner).

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Unhappy

Re: Data in context

Sirius, I understand your logic - but it isn't just about *you*!

You might be wealthier in 20-30 years time, but what if there aren't any surgeons or hospitals then, because civilization has crumbled due to water and food wars?

You are welcome to make that call and take that risk with yourself, but not when it involves the lives of 7 billion other humans, their descendants, and the trillions of other lifeforms that support this intricate interdependent web of life on which everyone depends.

Knowing what we know, taking such arrogant and selfish risks is unconscionable.

The bottom line is that there are a few wealthy pathologically greedy parts of society so scared of paying a few % extra to help cover the cost of their pollution to help the transition to renewable energies, that they deny the science to in order to delay action, and the cost of that delay will incur more costs, perhaps orders of magnitude more costs on everything, and not just financial.

Money doesn't disappear when it is spent, but lives and ecosystems do.

I have spent all my life reading and learning science and latterly climatology, I am a programmer and I understand a lot about systems and interdependencies, positive and negative feedbacks, etc,

I am surprised and dismayed that other intelligent IT people here can't, don't or won't see the logic of what I perceive to be obvious common-sense.

Am I really so out of line because I'm an altruistic visionary, and not motivated by money?

I want to leave this world in a better condition than when I arrived - it's simple etiquette, like using the washroom, but sadly not everyone shares this basic value.

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FAIL

"As the graph shows, at the moment it is much larger than normal for the time of year"

You mean it's barely more than 2sd from the average and hasn't been this high for ... oh ... nearly two years.

That's an oddly hysterical reading of the data from somebody in your position.

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Trollface

hush you

Its like with Google and privacy. You get the El Reg journalism free (which at times can be decent) with the cost of LP and AO having their weekly soapbox climate change pseudo science masturbation fest.

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Boffin

What about thickness?

Extent is one thing, but thickness is also a factor. The newer ice will of course be thinner than the older ice, and more likely to melt away when things warm up again the following year.

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Re: What about thickness?

> The newer ice will of course be thinner than the older ice, and more likely to melt away when things warm up again the following year.

It is the following year. See> graph!

See?

No?

Try this link:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/09/21/arctic_antarctic_sea_ice_record/

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Pint

That's what they said 2007

Didn't happen. No announcement of "record low" Arctic sea ice places the record any sort of real historic context. It is a record "since satellites" have been used to monitor sea ice. There is plenty of non-satellite historical data that indicates very low episodes of Arctic sea ice during the 1920s and '30s. Stranded vegetation in northern Greenland indicates not only less ice in the Arctic but in Greenland during the mid to late Holocene, "... The observed mid- to late-Holocene fall in sea level to below the present-day level and the subsequent transgression seen in some areas implies that the GIS retreated behind the present-day margin by distances of the order of 40 km before readvancing. ..." See here: http://people.rses.anu.edu.au/lambeck_k/pdf/238.pdf. Forty km off Greenland's edges is a LOT of ice. That "readvance" is to where the edges of the ice sheet are at present.

Besides, as pointed out in the article, and as charted by the NSIDC, the Antarctc sea ice appears to be healthy even growing. The question remains, "is there anything to panic about?"

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Re: That's what they said 2007

"There is plenty of non-satellite historical data that indicates very low episodes of Arctic sea ice during the 1920s and '30s."

And it indicates sea ice is very much lower today than in the 20s and 30s

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Pirate

Re: What about thickness?

Nudge, nudge...

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Joke

The Earth is going bald and like some men it's growing a beard to try and compensate :)

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Beards don't work. It needs to buy a motorbike and start pretending to care about youth culture.

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Anonymous Coward

Tell that to Heisenberg. Or is that Walter White.

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"Taking all the world's sea ice together, then - as opposed to focusing exclusively on the Arctic - the picture is far less gloomy than most media outlets would have you believe."

Does it make sense to do this - is total ice area the only thing that we need to be concerned about or is this polarising (ha!) effect a bad thing in itself? Is one part of it good and one bad?

Is the same process responsible for both extremes? What are the implications of these trends continuing?

Is it possible to balance zero Arctic ice with any amount of Antarctic ice?

I don't see any easy conclusions to draw from this.

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"I don't see any easy conclusions to draw from this."

Thus, shouldn't this draw equal conclusions for the Arctic data too?

As I've said before, let's assume that this is happening, real, happening now, our fault, etc. Just precisely what the hell do people intend us to do about it? The answers to that are usually FAR more dramatic than anything that has been recorded so far and far more dramatic than even the largest of fantastical predictions of doom.

We can't do anything about it until we know what we did (and guessing is detrimental to science here). When we know that, we can try to see if we can do something. Then we can see what the effects of us doing that are. Then we can see if those effects are worse than would have happened if we'd done nothing.

But at the moment, we can't even agree that *ANYTHING* is happening, let alone what, what caused it, how to fix it, or what the fix will entail.

If we have found the problem (we haven't, but let's assume we have), what precisely should we do about it? We're talking about a fix big enough to "repair" global climate. Just what sort of impact is that going to have on human civilisation anyway? Is it nothing more than a choice between a 2m rise in sea level or no power production / oil-use / industry at all? If it is, then I know what I'd rather choose.

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Black Helicopters

Incresased axial wobble

Nexting you know, the poles will in Brazil and the Molucca Sea.

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All nicely summarised as

- Climate changes. It always has. It is now.

- We really don't know why for sure.

- CO2 probably makes a little difference, but very little.

- even if AGW is broadly correct, switching off the entire fossil based civilisation we have will kill 90% of the worlds population. And the greens wont allow us to replace it with nuclear either.

- And China and India know that and cant anyway - instant total collapse of law and order as starving billions go on the rampage.

- And renewable energy so called doesn't work on the scale or consistency to do the job, without extra technology which, in the West, means fossil power stations burning fossil fuel.

Ergo the rational thing to do is to accept that climate change is unstoppable, although which way its going is actually highly uncertain, and get used to it.

Those that promote 'green policies' are found to have a commercial interest in doing so.

The worst legacy anyone could leave their unborn descendants is a post-industrial world with billions of people and no power to run it, and not enough surplus to build the required infrastructure to do it.

That is, the greatest threat to the future of mankind are 'Green' ideologies. Far more dangerous than any global climate change.

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"As I've said before, let's assume that this is happening, real, happening now, our fault, etc. Just precisely what the hell do people intend us to do about it?"

You could start by refraining from desperate attempts to deny it.

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Happy

"what precisely should we do about it? We're talking about a fix big enough to "repair" global climate."

Ping pong balls?

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Linux

Extent and Albedo

I suspect the hysteria around extent is due to the effect on the Earth's albedo. More ice = (in general) higher albedo = ice age. Though given the angle of the sunlight at the poles I'll probably not worry about lack of ice unless the Antartic land mass is exposed.

Penguin - well d'uh

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Worry more about the Antarctic...

The snow/ice at the Antarctic is FAR above sea level and will contribute greatly to rising ocean levels, if it melts. The arctic snow/ice already floats on the sea and has a much lower impact on ocean levels.

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Anonymous Coward

So Lewis you believe in climate models now?

So you find Mr Steffen Tietsche's computer models support your point of view regarding climate change and are therefore too be considered as accurate. Yet those which tell an unpalatable message, in your eyes, are obviously wrong.

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Re: So Lewis you believe in climate models now?

Just to let you know I downvoted you for being stupid.

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Flame

It's a planet, and it undergoes changes

Yes, humanity's reckless activities may be affecting the planet, and it's a good idea to not shit where you have to live. But as a whole we're like the guy who goes to the beach and sees the ocean for the first time and says: "I expected it to be bigger" My point being that there are cycles within cycles, and having only a few centuries of data to apply to a system that has run for billions of years, it's ludicrous to think we understand it.

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WTF?

Clutching at straws

"Taking all the world's sea ice together, then - as opposed to focusing exclusively on the Arctic - the picture is far less gloomy than most media outlets would have you believe."

What an utterly ludicrous conclusion to draw. The weather in the northern hemisphere is going to be dramatically effected by the loss of ice in the Arctic, but that's all right because a lot of it is falling as precipitation in the Antarctic! You're making El Reg look ridiculous.

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I can see I am wasting my time here.

Nice article; well balanced and unworthy of the stupidity of most of the replies to it.

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How many strawmen can you fit into one article?

You can't claim that sea-ice loss in the Arctic doesn't matter just because there's an increase in the Antarctic. Nor that everything will be fine because ice cover will recover quickly again if given a chance.

The reason why Arctic sea-ice loss is important is the influence that the Arctic has on weather patterns in the whole of the Northern hemisphere. Changing the radiative balance in the Arctic has consequences for the strength and position of the jet stream, which plays a major role in controlling our weather. Reducing the strength of the jet stream, as will happen if the temperature gradient between the equator and poles decreases, is likely to result in longer-lasting localised weather events, such as the heat wave over the Eastern US and the severe rain over the UK that we saw this summer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How many strawmen can you fit into one article?

glob·al

[gloh-buhl] Show IPA

adjective

1.

pertaining to the whole world; worldwide; universal: the dream of global peace.

So what is the "G" in AGW then, and why do you think the the Norther hemisphere is more important than the Southern Hemisphere? Arrogant twat.

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Slipping and sliding?

Does the increase in sea ice mean that ice from higher up on the glacier slopes is moving down faster than previously? There's an awful lot up there.

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/antarctica20110818.html

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Coat

Regional vs Global

Lewis, Lewis, Lewis...

When the ice thickens, it is due to LOCAL variations in temperature. When it melts, it is solely due to GLOBAL warming.

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Predictable

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2237

Contrary points of view are all very well, but to quote Jeff:

"But Antarctic sea ice is growing!

It's a sure thing that when Arctic sea ice hits new record lows, global warming contrarians will attempt to draw attention away from the Arctic by talking about sea ice around Antarctica.

This analysis is highly misleading, as it ignores the fact that Antarctica has actually been warming in recent years. In fact, the oceans surrounding Antarctica have warmed faster than the global trend, and there has been accelerated melting of ocean-terminating Antarctic glaciers in recent years as a result of warmer waters eating away the glaciers. There is great concern among scientists about the stability of two glaciers in West Antarctica (the Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers) due the increase in ocean temperatures. These glaciers may suffer rapid retreats that will contribute significantly to global sea level rise. "

This article appears to tie in well with the "smart idiot" effect:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-mooney/the-science-of-truthiness_b_1379472.html

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Re: Predictable

Oh God, that Huffpo article is awful. *Awful*. Liberals need to abandon the assumed moral superiority; it is so alienating. Unsubtly suggesting that people believe certain things because they are stupid is equivocal to stating that the author is more intelligent and therefore unquestionably correct. This attitude is wildly popular, unfair, and worst of all, unhelpful.

Climate science is an utter mess, and has been since it was hijacked by political interests on both sides of the spectrum. There is so much work to be done.

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Re: Predictable

Nice to see you've read that article with such a high degree of comprehension. But apparently missed the significance of one of the key phrases

"So then, the question is, why do people deny this? ... if your answer to that question is, "oh, because they're stupid" -- well, you're wrong."

The point of the article is that motivated reasoning is the cause of a lot of the mismatch between what certain people say - and that it certainly occurs in all areas and that no-one is immune. But science is itself an attempt to get over that hurdle by measuring against reality and having an open debate over the actual data.

The reason I linked Chris Mooney is that Lewis' article attempted to counter "The Arctic is melting" message with a "The Antarctic is growing" message, even though that message is partial and inappropriate in this context, and I believe anyone who actually looks at the data and pulls this argument out of it is deliberately blinding themselves. Hence, reliance on it appears to come from motivated reasoning.

Of course, the chances are that Lewis' did not look at the data, but simply repeated what he's heard from other sources that he liked the sound of. This is what most of us do, certainly it's what I do, as I don't have the time or inclination to actually look at the data myself and try to parse it.

If climate science really is such a mess, you should be able to pick up a bounty here by showing it:

http://www.truthmarket.com/campaign/Over-95-of-American-Scientists-Believe-Climate-Change-is-Real/8

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Re: Predictable

Come on. The tone of the whole article is painfully supercilious. And there you are alluding to failings in my reading comprehension. Plus ca change.

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Equivocal

Suggest you get a dictionary.

-A.

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not convinced

area of ocean with at least 15% sea ice vs solidly frozen?

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Unhappy

Did I miss an article?

I continue to be amazed by Larry Page - it is impossible to you as anything but a denialist with an agenda. Why? You selectively report on stories. At the beginning of this article you reference the hubbub about Arctic ice extent (or record low as the case is being reported every where else). HOWEVER, you never actually reported on it for El Reg. Rather you report a story with an alternate slant and then marginally reference the topic du joir. How can that come across as anything but cherry picking? Larry - maybe you are right - maybe the climate issues we are seeing are nothing but normal variance, but you undermine the trustworthiness of your position by deliberate cherry picking - the very thing you acuse the "other side" of doing. You can't win an argument by ceding the moral high ground every chance you get.

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Re: Did I miss an article?

I think you miss Lewis' irony.

He is merely demonstrating that the (correct?) selective data pickling can prove the exact opposite of what the original selective data picking set out to prove.

A classic example was thrown in my face recently. There is a report - the Hughes report - on renewable energy and one of the points it makes is that with gas prices high, and no subsidies, gas is having a hard time competing with coal, which is cheaper, even with the swingeing taxation it gets, and can't compete with wind, which is guaranteed by dint of massive subsidies, to command a price 2-5 times higher than a gas power station can do.

The thrower claimed this 'proved' that 'wind was cheaper than gas' and was 'driving it out of the market'.

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FAIL

ROFLCOPTER Larry does not equal Lewis

I hit send and think to myself - I just typed Larry instead of Lewis right??? GRRRR. My FAIL on name.

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sorry but...

Look, sea ice in the Antarctic is only a tiny fraction of the total, and isn't really significant as it's the land ice (which is there year round) which contributes most to the albedo. In the North, sea ice is much more significant as there isn't so much land ice.

There's a good, balanced article at http://www.skepticalscience.com/antarctica-gaining-ice.htm

Climate change is real, let's have the real discussion about what, if anything, we do about it.

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