Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

When Covering Global Warming, Why Bother With Facts?

A BBC story caught my attention with this line:
This will be the fourth [International Polar Year] since 1882 but the first one in which the impact of man-made global warming will be clearly visible at both poles.
"Man-made global warming!?" When was that proved? No qualifications? Really? Was not even a teensy degree of it caused by well-established natural climatological cycles?

Then, a couple inches down, this:
The southern polar ice sheet holds 90% of the world's fresh water.

If it all melted, global sea levels would rise by 200 metres. (650 feet).
Ninety percent? 650 feet? Just in Antarctica? Never having heard those stats before, off to I went. It didn't take long to find less sensationalistic stats:
  • First, even though the Earth has a great deal of water, only about 3% of this supply is made up of freshwater. (Kaufman and Franz, 1993, 281). Of this amount 75% is locked up in the polar ice caps. (source)
  • Just 3 percent of the world’s water exists as fresh water—2 percent is locked in the polar ice caps; less than 1 percent resides in freshwater lakes and streams. [That would be 66.7%] (source)
  • If just 10 percent of the water locked in these frozen [polar, north and south] reservoirs is added to the oceans, geologists predict that sea levels will rise by more than 20 feet .... [Then 100% melt would equal 200 feet.] (Scientific American)
  • Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey estimate that If all of the ice sitting on land in Greenland and Antarctica melted it would cause global sea levels to rise by about 215 feet, or about 65 meters. (USAToday)
BBC's ocean-rise stat is just three times overstated. Bloody Blimey! Don't they have any fact-checkers over there in England? Or do they just have sensation-verifiers?

Of course, none of this matters because not even the whackiest Warmie is predicting anything remotely approaching a total meltdown of the polar icecaps. BBC's use of total ice-meltdown stats is no less bizarre than if they had written a story on the war in Iraq saying, "If all the American and British troops in Iraq were killed ..."

But it's a story on global warming. Accuracy is hardly mandatory; heck, it's not even expected.

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