Don't be deceived by selective reporting

By Steve Lyons

Dear Editor:

Last week there was a letter in the DCI titled "Global warming 'news'" that included a newspaper article detailing very warm gulf stream temperatures, melting ice, disappearing glaciers and unheard-of high temperatures in the Arctic. A reader would be led to believe this is all evidence for our present-day global warming. The kicker was that this article was claimed to have been published in the Washington Post on Nov. 2, 1922, 96 years ago. The letter writer, Bruce Many, took this as proof that temperatures have always been fluctuating and that concern with global climate change is "nonsense."

I thought the 1922 article might be fake, so I did some fact checking. Turns out the article is genuine. However, a little more research turned up the fact that the warming phenomenon observed in 1922 described a local event in Spitzbergen, an island in northern Norway, and not the Arctic as a whole. I think what is happening here is best described by Thomas Goreau, a biogeochemist/marine biologist (advanced degrees from MIT, Harvard and California Institute of Technology), in the introduction to his 2010 research article, Long Term Arctic Ice Trends and Global Warming: "Those who seek to deny global warming constantly use transparently obvious tricks, selecting data from a single time, a single place, or both, to deny the larger long-term global patterns. This is easily done as climate is constantly fluctuating, so picking out the mean patterns and trends requires that one integrates the data over the largest time and space scales possible. So if one dishonestly wants to misrepresent the larger patterns, one can always find a particular place at a particular time that does not agree with all the rest averaged together. This is sometimes referred to as the 'It's a cold day in Wagga Wagga' approach, and is repeatedly used by the climate change deniers to fool people who haven't looked at the data themselves. The changes in Arctic Ice are no exception."

Unfortunately, well-meaning people can be deceived by selective reporting. I encourage anyone who has doubts about climate change to use Google, find reliable sources, and take advantage of information that is, literally, at our fingertips.

Steve Lyons