Daily Mail uses Arctic ice cap growth to trash climate science

Cynical spin misleads readers about climate change in order to bash 'green taxes'


The Daily Mail thinks it has climate science bang to rights.

In a story today, headed ‘Vanishing Arctic ice caps? No, they’ve grown by 40 percent‘, the paper reports on how the Arctic ice caps grew by 41 percent in 2013.

The paper’s editorial column uses this to cast doubt on the whole issue of climate change, asking whether ‘prophesies of global doom are based on genuine science, or guesswork’.

(Naturally they take a swipe at climate change targets and ‘spurious green taxes‘.)

If only the Mail had listened to the scientist quoted in their own story, they might know the answer. 

Because while the paper quotes Rachel Tilling from University College London, who lead the relevant study, about being ‘quite surprised by the findings’, it leaves out her actual analysis.

Though the ice caps grew in 2013, they were down again by 6 percent in 2014.

To put this into context, the amount of Arctic ice has shrunk by 40 percent since the late 1970s. Using more advanced measurements, scientists found a 14 percent decrease in just 2 years between 2010 and 2012.

Arctic Ice, long term, NSIDC

The National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) reports that June 2015 recorded the third lowest Arctic ice volume in the satellite record. The NSIDC predicts ‘rapid ice loss in the coming weeks’.

So basically, as Ms Trilling puts it:

“It was a cold year – that happens.”

In fact, the ice cap growth in 2013 is good news. It shows some affects of global warming can be reversed, vindicating climate change campaigners who call for action.

Meanwhile, 2015 is set to be the hottest year on record.

The Daily Mail knows all this. Its story closes with scientists describing the long term trends. (As with most Mail stories, it’s helpful to read it backwards.)

The paper’s editorial acknowledges these points, only to dismiss them as ‘juggling’.

It therefore chooses to present the news as a challenge to climate science, rather than a vindication and refinement of it.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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