Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Melting arctic sea ice and the New York Times

Thursday, August 28, 2008 10:55 PM

Editors, New York Times


Your Thursday, August 28 article "As Arctic Sea Ice Melts...."brought back amusing memories of a similar Times article of Saturday, August 19, 2000, John Noble Wilford's "The North Pole is melting" that breathlessly declared: "[A]n ice-free patch of ocean about a mile wide has opened at the very top of the world, ... more evidence that global warming may be real...."

That was followed only four days later by an equally bedazzled climate change enthusiast's Op-Ed "In the (Un)Frozen North" that started right out: "The 19th century's dream of an open polar sea has become the 21st century's nightmare."

But then five days later, Mr. Wilford wrote another article (Tuesday, August 29, 2000) quoting another expert: "[T]here's nothing to be necessarily alarmed about. There's been open water at the pole before."

Finally, the Times made honest journalists out of themselves with this Correction:
"A front-page article in the August 19, 2000 edition ... about the sighting of open water at the North Pole misstated the normal conditions of the sea ice there...."

But there still seems to be a problem with the most recent article, that starts out "[Officials have] reported that sea ice in the Arctic now covers about 2.03 million square miles" pointing out that this could be on the way to a new "record" since "the lowest point since satellite measurements began in 1979 was 1.65 million square miles, last September."
Folks, the earth is 4.5 billion years old, and you are concerned with the possibility of a record... for the last 29 years? A little simple arithmetic shows that the last 29 years of 4.5 billion years is equivalent to the last 8 seconds of a 40-year-old human's lifetime. If a doctor detected a pulse rate change in that subject over such a period, would he declare “We’re moving ... beyond a point of no return” as the head of a "multinational scientific assessment of Arctic conditions" is quoted in the article?

Arnold H. Nelson 5056 North Marine Drive Chicago IL 60640 773-677-3010