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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mything in action: Deniers and 'Antarctic warming'

I saw it on Twitter today, so it must be true: several posts in succession, all from self-avowed defenders of the Constitution, liberty, blah blah, etc., to the effect that the "Antarctic has been warming for 600 years."

Hmm, I thought as I added these individuals to my "disappear" list on TweetDeck (a time- and annoyance-saving strategy that makes their future tweets invisible to me), I wonder what that is all about?

As I continued to comb the Web for global warming items to tweet, I came across an article in an Australian publication, Crikey, titled "Antarctic melt alarm as scientists find 'very unusual' warming."  Mystery solved. 

The article's lead paragraph: "Scientists have drilled 364 metres into ice to complete the first ever comprehensive temperature record of the Antarctic Peninsula — and they’ve found evidence of 'very unusual' and dramatic warming over the last century." [emphasis added]

The article goes on to say, indeed, that the peninsula has been warming slowly for 600 years, but takes some pains to explain the reason for concern:

"The research showed that the Peninsula has seen a rapid warming over the past 100 years, but that this has also come on top 600 years of more gradual, natural warming in the region ...

"The leader of the research expedition, Dr Robert Mulvaney from the British Antarctic Survey, said: 'The exceptionally fast warming over the last 100 years came on top of a slower natural climate warming that began around 600 years ago — well before the industrial revolution — so it is possible that we are now seeing the combination of natural and man-made warming in this area.'

"What this means is that climate change is adding significant extra pressure to the Antarctic Peninsula ice sheets that were already seeing some strain from the natural warming in the region." [emphasis added]
Just remove that context and presto, you have a tweet that implies global warming is nothing to worry about, when exactly the opposite is true.
Why now?  Presumably in a transparent and rather desperate attempt to spread a counter to the news that Arctic sea ice melt has hit a new record.
(Disclaimer: I have nothing against the Constitution and liberty--they're great!  But I do wonder sometimes why people act as though they are part of a valiant few who think so.)

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