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Last-minute growth spurt in Arctic sea ice

By Juliet Eilperin

A cold snap prompted Arctic sea ice to expand until March 31, the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced Tuesday, marking the latest date for the maximum Arctic sea ice extent since the start of satellite record keeping in 1979.

Arctic sea ice spanned 15.25 million square kilometers, or 5.89 million square miles, on March 31. Researchers had thought the sea ice reached its maximum extent in early March, but after modest shrinkage, the ice continued to grow. Cold weather and winds from the north over the Bering and Barents Seas helped account for the growth spurt, according to NSIDC, "while temperatures over the central Arctic Ocean remained above normal and the winter ice cover remained young and thin compared to earlier years."

By the end of March, it reported on its Web site, "the total extent of the ice approached 1979 to 2000 average levels for this time of year."

The growth should have little impact on summer sea ice extent, according NSIDC, because it formed late in the season and is likely to melt quickly when it gets warmer.

Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a climate skeptic, said the fact that sea ice can fluctuate like this shows environmentalists need to be cautious when drawing conclusions based on its extent.

"The extent of Arctic sea ice is perhaps the most over-hyped indicator of global warming in a very crowded field," Ebell wrote in an e-mail. "Whether there is more or less sea ice cover this year than last year or twenty years ago is largely the result of changes in ocean currents and wind patterns. If more warm water or air from the tropics is making its way to the Arctic, then there will be less ice."

By

Juliet Eilperin

 |  April 6, 2010; 7:40 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Actually the kings who did not have thermometers did collect taxes on wine produced by grape vines that won't grow now where they grew then because it is too cold now.

Crops that grew then and won't grow now may not be acceptable to AGW GHG folks, but that appears mostly to be because accepting evidence of earlier warm temperatures invalidates the whole AGW GHG set of beliefs, as well as their models.

I don't know any skeptics who thought the record cold this last winter proved much of anything, and the same will be true this summer. Several seasons in sequence with rising or falling temperatures begins to establish a pattern, and maybe 30 - 50 years makes a climate statement.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center at:

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

shows north polar ice at approximately normal now if you think the average for the last thirty years or so is normal. South pole ice has been above 'normal' for decades, and on balance sea ice is unchanged because during the years when the north was lower the south was higher.

Which decline in sea ice were you thinking about?

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | April 9, 2010 4:05 PM
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Yesterday was another day with more record warm summer like temperatures along the East Coast of the US. Here's more record high maximum temperature data:

April 7 - New: 308 + Tied: 88 = Total: 396 (update)
April 8 - New: 134 + Tied: 42 = Total: 176 (preliminary)

If this keeps up thru the summer, it's going to be fun to watch the denialist (you know who) squirm trying to explain things.

BTW, the kings living in Europe before the invention of the thermometer had no clue what was happening, since they could not compare measurements from one decade to the next nor did they didn't live centuries to be able to make personal observations. The proxy data is all we can use to make a judgment and that includes the ice core data which indicates that the data which points to the global temperature rising only some 6C between the depths of the Last Glacial Maximum and the early Holocene, 8,000 years ago. That 6C warming took place over a period of about 8,000 years or 80 centuries, during which time the massive glaciers covering North America melted and the sea level rose some 125 meters. That was a slow change, less than 0.1C per century, less than 0.01C per decade.

The decline in sea-ice extent, while it contributes almost nothing to sea level, will likely change those ocean currents and winds, which Mr. Ebell would have us believe are a trivial event. But, it's those winds which just pushed all that warm air northwards over the Eastern US and it's those winds which pushed all that cold air down from Canada last Winter. If the present trend toward reduced sea-ice continues such that it all melts, I think it's safe to say that we will be living on a different planet from that point on...

Posted by: E_Swanson | April 9, 2010 11:09 AM
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"As for the sea-ice extent, the important question is what's happening at the end of the melt season, not what the maximum extent is for any one year."

And when the September minimum is again larger than the preceding years, it may become the ice area that is more important than the ice extent, as long as that fits the AGW theory. And then it may be the amount of multi-year ice, which is so much more difficult to measure, that will become the most important measurement.

But if the ice keeps on increasing for a few years, then northern pole ice will no longer be an important part of the equation. Greenland's ice is melting also, and surely at a rate faster than 'we' ever expected. "We" weren't really watching with effective measurements until recently, but surely the melting is unprecedented and alarming. Just like the methane bubbling up in a place where it had never been measured before; totally unexpected and alarming and surely evidence that a tipping point is near.

None of the sea ice actually matters when it comes to sea level, because it is already part of the sea. 90% of what matters in south pole land based ice, and that not been easy to measure. But surely some peer reviewed paper has found, even without accurate measurements, that an alarming event is happening there.

Sea level is increasing about 3 millimeters a year since satellite measurements began about thirty years ago. At that rate, and assuming the same rate of increase for the next thirty years, sea level will rise another 3.5 (three and a half) inches in the next thirty years. New York should begin budgeting for sand bags right away.

Of course sea level change might not be linear. It could go up or down, mostly based on how much snow falls in Antarctica. But surely this is a reason to shut down the coal based power plants all over the world. Maybe they are having an effect on the snow fall in Antarctica and the only way to find out is to plunge large parts of the world into darkness.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | April 9, 2010 9:51 AM
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Reference: E_Swanson | April 8, 2010 4:31 PM

"But, what if the scientists are right and the Earth is warming up."

At last a civilized post by a true believer.

Not only scientists, but weather forecasters, farmers, and even skeptics have observed that the Earth has been warming up for thirty some years. At least in the northern hemisphere. Maybe it stopped or slowed down around 1998, but maybe not.

The only question is whether the warming is part of normal climate variation or, at least to the AGW GHG believers, unquestionably and exclusively caused by CO2.

Ice ages have occurred several times at intervals of about 102,000 years. Interglacial periods have lasted about 10,000 years, during which time it gets warm. Warming and cooling cycles have been repeatedly observed and reported on in the actual history of the world, but some of these (MWP, LIA, Roman Period) conflict with both the computer models and the tree ring/ice core based proxies.

I'll take the history as recorded by the King of Norway, Scottish, and English sources over your proxies and computer models. Today's warming is not all that unusual and even if it continues to get warmer for a few decades only true believers will insist that, since they can't find any other explanation, it must be CO2. Correlation is not causation, and there doesn't have to be an explanation that is readily obvious to today's climate scientists.

If they had nothing to hide, then why did they hide it for years and why do they continue to hide? Why are FOIA requests and law suits necessary to get information paid for by the tax payers of this country and the UK released so that others can replicate the analysis?

Honest scientists don't need, nor do they want, to hide the basis for their work.

Honest scientists don't need to impugn the motivations and integrity of anyone and everyone who questions their results by naming them 'deniers' 'oil company stooges', and so on.

I personally would love to be in the pay of an oil company; how can I find someone to pay my way to climate conferences in Tahiti and send me a check every month for making graphs and charts? Oh I forgot. I can observe birds flying into a wall and hurting themselves, and claim it was caused by Climate Change, and someone will fund my research. I just chose the wrong side of the argument if I wanted to be paid for inane associations of CO2 and AGW with two headed frogs, double yolked eggs, and any manner of other nonsense that is being used to obtain funding to study Mann made climate change. Yes some, but not all, of these are facetious.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | April 9, 2010 12:25 AM
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Since I posted on 6 April, there have been a couple of more days of record highs.

April 5 - New: 113 + Tied: 74 = Total: 187 (updated)
April 6 - New: 233 + Tied: 81 = Total: 314
April 7 - New: 274 + Tied: 82 = Total: 356 (preliminary)

Some (we know who) denialist claim that the Winter of 2010 was unusually cold. Here's some monthly statistics from the NCDC.

Lowest minimum temperatures:

December 2009 - New: 784 + Tied: 302 = Total: 1,086
January 2010 - New: 647 + Tied: 254 = Total: 901
February 2010 - New: 263 + Tied: 159 = Total: 422

While it was cool in the Eastern US, there were some record highs too, mostly in the West:

December 2009 - New: 164 + Tied: 100 = Total: 264
January 2010 - New: 209 + Tied: 133 = Total: 342
February 2010 - New: 55 + Tied: 35 = Total: 90

Now, look at the total so far for April highest maximums:

New: 1,375 + Tied: 448 = Total: 1,823

That's only one week folks. Yeah, I know, it's only weather, it's just winds and ocean currents. But, what if the scientists are right and the Earth is warming up. Wouldn't one expect to experience more record highs than record lows?

As for the sea-ice extent, the important question is what's happening at the end of the melt season, not what the maximum extent is for any one year. A declining minimum implies that the maximum extent will also have less multi-year ice, thus the next summer, the sea-ice will be easier to melt. Thus, the worry about the possible complete melting of the ice in some future year. That future now appears closer than previously indicated as recently as the IPCC AR4 report.

Posted by: E_Swanson | April 8, 2010 4:31 PM
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Reference: E_Swanson | April 7, 2010 9:04 PM

"AGWsceptic99's several posts again present unfounded assertions that are intended to obscure the science."

Actual climate related scientific research would be done by formulating a hypothesis, moving to a theory, then measuring to see if the theory had any relationship to real world results.

Once one had something worth publishing, one would publish the results. After publication of the peer reviewed paper, an honest scientist with nothing to hide would release the data and methods used to produce the results so that other scientists could validate or disprove the published results. Having one or more independent scientists get the same results tends to validate the published theory and give it credibility.

The warmist religious folks turn this upside down and backwards. First they refuse to release the data and methods, then they claim to have lost the data or that the data is secret. Then they whine that if they release the data the skeptics will examine it and point out their errors, heaven forbid.

When all of these techniques fail, they accuse anyone asking for the data, and anyone questioning their results, of being bribed by oil companies or other usually unspecified commercial interests. Of course, the oil company is never identified, the paymaster cannot be found, and none of the skeptics are reporting any income on their tax filings.

Maybe this means that the IRS should be auditing every skeptic, or maybe the accusations are just more slander to try to cover up the fact that most of the temperature proxy data and most of the current surface station data is garbage. Garbage in produces garbage out, but if you hide the garbage in so it cannot be crosschecked by anyone outside the church, maybe no one will catch you.

Obscuring the science has been going on since Dr. Mann published his famous hockey stick graph, and continues with a legion of fanatics, most of whom actually do benefit financially because they are collecting grants, cap and trade money, or otherwise profiting from the hysteria that they created.

Have a nice day.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | April 8, 2010 4:18 PM
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Reference: E_Swanson | April 7, 2010 9:04 PM

"Of course, none of those explanations fit the denialist scheme that the end of the MWP was the cause."

Actually you defend here against something I didn't say. Obviously you are aware that the warmists also need to eliminate the Little Ice Age, which followed the Medieval Warm Period, because both of them invalidate your precious climate models. Unfortunately for the warmists, there are actual records in places like Norway and England that document the LIA and you haven't found a way to erase them to preserve your fantasy that the current climate variation is somehow different than the many that have happened in the past.

It is only by defining the current relatively warm temperatures as 'unprecedented' and there for an 'urgent crisis' that you can keep on getting millions of dollars in grants to prevent the 'looming catastrophe'. Unfortunately, your house of cards and money flow are swirling round and round because the toilet has already been flushed. There isn't any crisis to prevent and there isn't any quantity of peer reviewed (by your in group using numbers and methods that will never be publicly released) papers that will establish CO2 as a problem.

CO2 is a trailing indicator of temperature and it is far more likely that the real issue for humanity is a looming ice age than palm trees in London.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | April 8, 2010 10:08 AM
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Reference: E_Swanson | April 7, 2010 9:04 PM

"The claims that the Vikings were able to live in Greenland during this period but later died as the warmth vanished ignore the fact that we do not know what caused the Viking settlements to disappear. It may have been that the Viking colony died out as the result of the Black Death, which hit Iceland in the early 1400's, killing half to two thirds of the population. Or, it may have been that the colonists could not survive after the eruption of the Kuwae volcano in about 1453, which resulted in a major cooling event similar to Tambora, a large eruption which caused "The Year Without a Summer" in 1816. Of course, none of those explanations fit the denialist scheme that the end of the MWP was the cause.

I could go on, but I learned long ago that it's pointless to argue with a sock puppet..."

The typical tactic of warmist true believers is to ignore the facts, restate the question, and then win their phony argument.

What does it matter why the colonists were no longer colonizing Greenland after the several hundred years that they were there? Would the black death or the volcano have some logical relationship to CO2 increasing or decreasing? The point is that they were there, as has been well established by the records maintained by the King of Norway and others, and that they were living on crops that won't grow in Greenland today because it is too cold.

Most people whose beliefs derive from logic and facts rather than warmist religious propaganda conclude that it was warmer in Greenland then than it is now. But arguing with true believers is often pointless.

The true believers have many quotes out there about the arctic ice death spiral, the endangerment of the polar bears due to ice melting, and lots of speculation about whether 2012, 2015, 2035 etc. will be the first ice free north pole in recent history. How about that uncooperative arctic ice which is at approximately the satellite measurement era average and has been growing for the last three years. There is a dilemma for the true believers: if you project melting anytime soon you look like a fool when it doesn't happen; if you project melting in 2200 or 2300 no one will care.

The current ice increase could just be weather and there will be less ice in a near future year, but the warmists created no end of dire predictions with a temporary decrease in polar ice fit their agenda. And they never mention the fact that the south pole sea ice increased while the north pole ice was decreasing leaving a net change of: nothing.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | April 8, 2010 9:53 AM
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AGWsceptic99's several posts again present unfounded assertions that are intended to obscure the science. Case in point is the so-called Medieval Warm Period (MWP), which the denialist claim to be warmer than the present. There is little evidence to support this claim, only a few analytical works such as that by Loehle (2007), published in the trade journal, E&E. As it happens, I pointed out several serious errors with that paper, which resulted in the rapid publication of a "corrected" version a few months later.

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/12/past-reconstructions/#more-506

I then showed that this corrected paper was in fact a new analysis, which was also suspect:

Comments on Loehle, "Correction To: A 2000-Year Global Temperature Reconstruction Based on Non-Tree Ring Proxies", E&E, 18 (7 and 8), 2007, Energy & Environment, Volume 19, Number 5, September 2008, pp. 771-773

Other works, such as the paper by Soon and Baliunas (2003), were also flawed. It was this paper which the denialist claim led to attempts to censor the publications of skeptics. The claims that the Vikings were able to live in Greenland during this period but later died as the warmth vanished ignore the fact that we do not know what caused the Viking settlements to disappear. It may have been that the Viking colony died out as the result of the Black Death, which hit Iceland in the early 1400's, killing half to two thirds of the population. Or, it may have been that the colonists could not survive after the eruption of the Kuwae volcano in about 1453, which resulted in a major cooling event similar to Tambora, a large eruption which caused "The Year Without a Summer" in 1816. Of course, none of those explanations fit the denialist scheme that the end of the MWP was the cause.

I could go on, but I learned long ago that it's pointless to argue with a sock puppet...

Posted by: E_Swanson | April 7, 2010 9:04 PM
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Reference: E_Swanson | April 7, 2010 10:26 AM

There have been several periods in recorded history where temperatures were warmer than today, but admitting this invalidates all of the AGW CO2 based models - thus we have phony tree ring based proxy data. There have been several times when more ice melted at the North Pole than has been seen recently. One can see these by studying the history of Norway and looking at old National Geographic magazines. The 1930's were warmer than today if one properly excludes the effects of Urban Heat Island effect from Dr Mann and Dr Hansen's surface temperature series, but correcting their data invalidates the hockey stick and their CO2 based models, so they will continue to use corrupted data as long as they are allowed to get away with it.

The models that predict tipping points and catastrophe based on CO2 have so far established a statistically significant zero score for predicting anything in the future and can only predict the past when using fudged proxy temperature series. This is why the MWP disappeared when the Hockey Stick graphs were published. The same 'scientists' had no problem with the MWP until they realized that they could not predict catastrophe based on CO2 unless it went away.

The climate may get warmer or colder in the next few years, but the AGW CO2 house of cards has already collapsed. It is only a matter of time until you and the rest of the true believers start doing the pirouette.

The real loss from all of this is the tremendous waste of resources and research money that could have been spent on providing clean electrical power to folks who's children are dying because they don't have it. 'Clean coal' should be defined as coal that is burned while emitting a minimum of actual pollutants like sulfur and mercury. Defining CO2 as pollution is just idiocy in motion.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | April 7, 2010 6:40 PM
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Reference: E_Swanson | April 7, 2010 10:26 AM

"relatively accurate proxy data extends back only some 1000 years or so."

Surely you have some citations for this comment from your AGW buddies? Their climate proxies were manipulated to suppress evidence of the Medieval Warming Period and Little Ice Age because the existence of these climate variations invalidates their CO2 models. There are conflicting proxies like "Law Dome O18" that disagree with your favorite 'scientists' and these were excluded from the IPCC reports by more of your buddies for the same reasons. I put 'scientists' in quotes because true believers and advocates that populate your movement long ago stopped looking for anything that conflicts with their climate models and hockey stick graphs.

Exactly how is a suggestion that 'scientists' who have refused to disclose the basis behind their already published work, participated in conspiracies to hide from FOIA requests, and fabricated these phony proxies be fired a threat of any kind? In most professions other than tenured academia, one loses one's job for these behaviors. Dr. Mann and Dr. Hansen have lost the respect of many of their peers for their behavior, and both are still at some risk of prosecution for making false claims and false statements in connection with US Government funded projects, but certainly there is no risk as long as the current political regime continues in place and also continues to worship in Al Gore's church.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | April 7, 2010 6:34 PM
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Reference: E_Swanson | April 7, 2010 10:26 AM

"I've watched the temperature extremes for almost 20 years. Given that these data exceed those of the past few decades, which has been said to have been periods of warming not previously seen, one must be seriously worried. If these temperatures are any indication, the weather this summer could easily be unprecedented."

And the record low temperatures recorded over the winter mean that if we we see even colder temperatures next winter it proves something? Weather is not climate, but as a typical AGW true believer, warm weather is something to talk about in the context of climate change.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | April 7, 2010 6:31 PM
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AGWsceptic99 (perhaps Mr. Ebell posting anonymously?), offers a standard denialist diatribe in response to my post, claiming that "the AGW folks have long since lost the argument based on facts", which would be a big surprise to the scientists who study Global Warming. The basic physics is clear and the conclusion is that we are warming the Earth. He/it complains about "an ad hominem attack", then proceeds to post a threat against the careers and safety of two respected scientists who are qualified in the field of climate change.

He/it presents a comment about the temperature record, ignoring the fact that the relatively accurate proxy data extends back only some 1000 years or so. I am unaware of any "claim that current temperatures are the highest seen since the last ice age". Indeed, there is some evidence that the temperatures in the early Holocene, some 8,000 years ago, were warmer than those before the beginning of the Industrial Age. He/it throws out a "red herring", stating "An ice age is far more likely than tropical weather in Canada", which may be true in the short term, but ignores the possible impacts of releasing massive quantities of methane from permafrost and under sea clathrates, which could trigger a positive feedback, resulting in temperatures greater than tropical at high latitudes and death to ecosystems and humans at lower latitudes. Lastly, there's the claim that AGW is "the greatest scientific fraud in the history of mankind", when there's no proof of such except on the web pages populated by the professional denialist, such as Mr. Ebell.

These comments are just typical denialist distortion of the facts to further confuse the public perception about the science. The flow of money to the energy companies is vastly larger than that going to the individual scientists, thus claims that the scientists are milking governments of vast sums meaningless. Anyone who wishes to learn about the disinformation campaign by politically motivated individuals, funded by companies with direct interest in fossil fuel energy production and use can learn more by reading Mooney's "the Republican war on Science" or Hoggan's "Climate Cover-Up".

Posted by: E_Swanson | April 7, 2010 10:26 AM
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Extent is an important measure, but the persistence of ice over time and total mass are more important when assessing the overall health of the Arctic ice cap. Persistence, in particular, measure how much of the ice survives subsequent melting seasons.

In truth, global warming has been chipping away at the ice sheet, even it goes through its annual freezing and thawing cycles. By the end of February 2009, less than 10 percent of Arctic sea ice was more than two years old, down from the historic values of 30 percent.

More here: http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/arctic-sea-ice-is-shrinking-0371.html

Aaron Huertas
Press Secretary
Union of Concerned Scientists

Posted by: ahuertas | April 7, 2010 9:53 AM
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It is amazing that the Washington Post published an article that did not promote their fanatical belief in global warming caused by CO2. Never mind that the ice fluctuates with wind, currents, etc. When there was a minimum of ice, there was no end of stories about endangered polar bears, ice death spirals, etc. Now we have a slight increase in ice and it makes a back page story.

No one at the Post apparently believes that it is necessary to moderate or reply to any of these posts. Note the frequent appearance of unrelated merchandise for sale posts.

As is usually the case, the pro AGW posters use an ad hominem attack that ignores the facts of the story. Why does the politics of a commenter make a difference if the text of the post is truthful and relevant? The reason is that no one is allowed to post any thing that conflicts with the religious doctrine of the Pope Al Gore's church.

Since the AGW folks have long since lost the argument based on facts, they have nothing left but to attack the morals and education of anyone who dares to disagree with them. The AGW temperature proxies are obviously fraudulent. The surface station measurements used to claim that current temperatures are the highest seen since the last ice age are sloppily measured and use fraudulent adjustment programs.

The money honey pot is almost empty for the AGW folks, but maybe there is another few months or years to suck on the big government teat before the crisis is exposed as the greatest scientific fraud in the history of mankind. Get it while you can should be the motto of all of the folks whose income depends on collective belief in and support for the idea than humans are causing meaningful climate change.

An ice age is far more likely than tropical weather in Canada, but no one will know as long as the current crop of scam artists masquerading as scientists continue to control the databases used by the rest of the scientific community. Fire Mann and Hansen or transfer them to the baby seal counting team.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | April 7, 2010 3:19 AM
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I would like to point out that Myron Ebell of CEI is also the director of the Cooler Heads Coalition, which has repeatedly presented denialist propaganda regarding climate change. Ebell's bio at CEI does not indicate any educational experience in the physical sciences, let alone the atmospheric sciences. His assertions about winds and ocean currents are pure bluster without a shred of scientific support. Why he is allowed the opportunity to comment, given the well documented efforts of the denialist camp to spread disinformation and outright lies, is a mystery.

While on the subject, where is the comment regarding the very unusual string of record highest maximum US temperatures over the past week or so? Here's the data from the NCDC:

March 30 - New: 37 + Tied: 19 = Total: 56
March 31 - New: 70 + Tied: 35 = Total: 105
April 1 - New: 128 + Tied: 40 = Total: 168
April 2 - New: 253 + Tied: 103 = Total: 356
April 3 - New: 252 + Tied: 46 = Total: 298
April 4 - New: 120 + Tied: 21 = Total: 141
April 5 - New: 89 + Tied: 62 = Total: 151

From: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/records.php

I've watched the temperature extremes for almost 20 years. Given that these data exceed those of the past few decades, which has been said to have been periods of warming not previously seen, one must be seriously worried. If these temperatures are any indication, the weather this summer could easily be unprecedented.

Posted by: E_Swanson | April 6, 2010 10:53 PM
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Posted by: itkonlyyouqq | April 6, 2010 8:45 PM
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Heh, it's not that the globarl-warming supporters in the press lie or anything (my take is that they generally are truthful), it's that they sort of underplay news that doesn't fit the story-line they are trying to push and play up the news that supports their chosen position.

So they buried this story. But if it had been the opposite story - that sea ice was lower than normal - then they would have given it banner headlines.

Posted by: ZZim | April 6, 2010 8:35 PM
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The WaPo editors must have been sleeping to let this one sneak through.......

Posted by: ernielayman581 | April 6, 2010 7:58 PM
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