Arctic sea ice and “balance” in the media

Caption VTM news of December 15, 2014

Screenshot VTM news of December 15, 2014

It was really surprising to watch on Flemish television the “news” that there is more Arctic sea ice. For skeptics this isn’t really news. This fact is known since 2013. In the meanwhile it was staggering to watch the media keep on regurgitating the 2012 Arctic data. Nice they are catching up, it took them a while.

The news story started promising. They acknowledged that there was more ice in the Arctic in the last two years. Nice to hear of course. Then a climate scientist actually told that there was a (seasonal) cycle at work in the Arctic. Weather, not climate, but it is a start. The area of ice was also shown on a map. Unheard of. Then the reporter said that this extra ice fills the scientists with joy. Not that I really believe that, they would have told the story much earlier if that were true.

It was waiting for the inevitable global warming quote and they surely didn’t disappoint on that. Not even half way their talk the mood changed dramatically. A couple cold summers can’t stop the melting of the ice. Stressing the record lows of 2007 and 2012. Claiming the ice will disappear anyway by half of the century if global warming, ahem, “continues as it does now”. If global warming “can be tempered”, we have until the end of the century. The certainty they declared it with. That elusive CO2 control knob again.

Good news doesn’t sell, it has to be balanced with bad news. Hey, it is not noticeable now, but surely it will happen in the (far) future.

How reassuring.

I am glad to see the Arctic sea ice in a more realistic matter. Okay, for about 40 seconds and it took them 2 years to get to that point. But no word about the “experts” predicting an ice free Arctic would happen somewhere between the 2008 and 2014. No word about the few decades of reliable data (if there is a 30 year cycle in the sea ice, which is a short time in climate terms, we would only start noticing it now). No word about global sea ice. No word about albedo (which seemed to be a big thing in the past, but for a strange reason now not so much anymore). No word about uncertainties. No word about the discrepancy of even higher CO2 levels combined with pausing global temperatures.

There is apparently a limit to the balance that could be brought. And strange how positive stories apparently need to be balanced, while the same doesn’t seem to be necessary for negative stories.

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