[CRYOLIST] FW: bogus Greenland 'news'

Jeffrey Kargel jeffreyskargel at hotmail.com
Fri Sep 16 09:22:51 PDT 2011


John,
I am breaking may vow not to post any more on this topic, but your email message indicated that you wanted your comments posted, and we definitely welcome your comments. I am one of the instigators of the vigorous discussion going on with Cryolist; actually, several people poicked up on it before it came to my attention and were wondering what to do about it. I would not recommend waiting til Monday; I'd think this is a working weekend for the Guardian. I have contacted CNN and the New York Times; others have contacted BBC and other outlets. The glaciology crowd is mobilized.  All this is a good thing, because it enables an opportunity to get the reality out there in front of people. Reality is dramatic enough, even if there are big gaps in our knowledge of Greenland; no sensationalism is needed to convey the dramatic changes to the cryosphere occurring as a result of rapid climate change (anthropogenic global warming with overprinting by natural cyclic and random fluctuations). In Greenland, it's a really complex story, because tidewater outlet glaciers don't behave in stable or linearly changing ways.  But the rapidity and enormity of changes occurring in Greenland are dramatic enough; just the facts convey that. We await a response from the Times Atlas, but the glaciology community is generally sensing that this was a huge committed error and are concerned that it will sound to the public as though it is some kind of science story.  It is not science, and the glaciology community agrees with that.  A few of our community think that this is a tempest in a teapot.  My goal is to make it that way as much as possible and reduce the damage to public understanding of the issues.
I am well aware, through the correspondence on this matter, that the Guardian was merely reporting what the Times Atlas was saying.  We already have the videos and marketing statements that it was the Times Atlas, not the Guardian, who was ultimately responsible.  However, I do have a much less severe admonition to the Guardian (and just about all other news media outlets).  At a time when climate change issues are so politicised, including all the myriad impacts on the cryosphere and other components of the Earth System (that would include people), and science is so misunderstood by the public, news reporting outlets really need to be talking to scientists about science stories before they publish.  Greenland will come up again and again in your reporting; so you should have on file a bunch of names of Greenland scientists.  Just please consult with them.  They do this for a living.
Maybe the media can also see that scientists are not out to skew the truth or make a story to enrich our grants. We dedicate our lives to understanding the workings of the Earth; we simply want reality, as best we can measure and model and interpret it, as objectively as humanly possible, to reach the public in a form that is both understandable and accurate. 
Sincerely,
Jeff Kargel+1 520-780-7759

> Date: Fri, 16 Sep 2011 16:58:50 +0100
> Subject: Fwd: [CRYOLIST] bogus Greenland 'news'
> From: a.j.hodson at sheffield.ac.uk
> To: jeffreyskargel at hotmail.com; john.vidal at guardian.co.uk
> 
> Dear Jeffrey,
> 
> maybe you want to talk to the Guardian directly and get something
> written in their paper about all this. I couldn't help myself and so I
> forwarded your emails through Cryolist to them. It's because I know
> one of them. Anyhow, perhaps you should email John below?
> 
> Have a good weekend,
> 
> Andy Hodson
> 
> 
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: John Vidal <john.vidal at guardian.co.uk>
> Date: 16 September 2011 16:03
> Subject: Re: [CRYOLIST] bogus Greenland 'news'
> To: Andrew J Hodson <a.j.hodson at sheffield.ac.uk>
> 
> 
> 
> Folks, sorry i cant post this but, if someone could pass it round...
> I would send you the cast iron evidence that the Times said "15%
> (300,000 sq km)" but i dont have it to hand (wait till Monday?)
> I do think there's a serious discussion for the cryologists to have
> with the Times editors, and am very happy to report that . It just
> needs someone to start it, and please copy me in....
> V best
> John Vidal
> 
> HAVE IT TO HAND. I THINK THERE'S A SERIOUS DISCUSSION TO BE HAD WITH
> THE TIMES, AND I AM VERY HAPPY TO WRIE THAT UP/ BLOG, ONE SOMEONE
> STARTS THE DISCUSSION WITH THEM.
> 
> On 16 September 2011 15:30, Andrew J Hodson <a.j.hodson at sheffield.ac.uk> wrote:
> >
> > OK - here's your apology! Did you get in touch?!
> >
> > Give my regards to Juliette if you see her
> >
> > A
> >
> >
> > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> > From: Jeffrey Kargel <jeffreyskargel at hotmail.com>
> > Date: 16 September 2011 14:00
> > Subject: Re: [CRYOLIST] bogus Greenland 'news'
> > To: cryolist at cryolist.org
> >
> >
> > Cryolisters,
> > Thanks for stirring to action.  This will be my last post on this
> > topic.  The matter is well in the hands of the Greenland experts. But
> > I need to close my remarks by apologizing to The Guardian for having
> > suspected them of poor reporting; from the evidence in hand, it is
> > evident they were just reporting what a venerable institution, The
> > Times Atlas, had published. The Guardian took the Times Atlas as an
> > authority, which I can understand given the high-quality nonpolar
> > cartography they've done over the years. Second, from what several
> > people have reported through Cryolist or privately, the immediate
> > source of the 15% mistake is the Times Atlas. Finally, considering
> > John Smellie's points below, maybe the Greenland experts among
> > Cryolist and GLIMS could take a kinder, gentler approach than I have
> > taken, and offer the Times Atlas a whole section's worth of
> > cartographic and satellite image based results documenting changes;
> > let them have that for free plus a good citation of sources (if
> > copyright is not an issue).  That way, maybe they would have a
> > face-saving way to replace the Greenland section they now have, and
> > everybody would be better for it.
> > Good luck solving this one.
> > --Jeff Kargel
> >
> > > From: jls55 at leicester.ac.uk
> > > To: dmayer at clarku.edu; cryolist at cryolist.org
> > > Date: Fri, 16 Sep 2011 08:04:59 +0100
> > > Subject: Re: [CRYOLIST] bogus Greenland 'news'
> > >
> > > Dear All,
> > > regrettably I agree with David as I watched a Times Atlas rep on BBC primetime Breakfast TV a few days ago here in UK, announcing the launch of the new atlas. She chose to highlight - wait for it - the huge changes in the Greenland Ice Sheet, showing the presenters the huge new areas of brown (ice free was implied). I don't recall any figure used for ice melt but it seems like it is the Atlas folks who are promulgating this info. Given that they have already published the attas and it is not cheap, I suspect they will be very loath to retract for commercial reasons.
> > > Regards,
> > > John Smellie
> > >
> > > Department of Geology
> > > University of Leicester
> > > University Road
> > > Leicester LE1 7RH
> > > UK
> > >
> > > ----------------------------------------------------------------
> > > "All Models are wrong. Some models are useful."
> > > George E.P. Box [British 20th Century statistician]
> > > ________________________________________
> > > From: cryolist-bounces at lists.cryolist.org [cryolist-bounces at lists.cryolist.org] On Behalf Of David Mayer [dmayer at clarku.edu]
> > > Sent: 16 September 2011 03:01
> > > To: cryolist at cryolist.org
> > > Subject: Re: [CRYOLIST] bogus Greenland 'news'
> > >
> > > Dear Cryolisters,
> > >
> > > I have found additional information that indicates the 15% number did not come from the Guardian but rather, originated with Times Atlases.
> > >
> > > I found a story about the atlas on a blog run by the Natural Resource Defense Council. They were a bit more specific than the Guardian about what the 15% number refers to: "Cartographers erased roughly 15 percent of the ice shelf that was once thought to be permanent." (emphasis added). This is interesting because the Guardian article says the 15% number refers to "permanent ice cover" that's been lost.
> > >
> > > But wait there's more! The post also includes a video from the Times Atlas' YouTube account in which the publishing manager of Times Atlases, Jethro Lennox says "...the Greenland ice cap, we've seen a dramatic reduction of about 15%." (emphasis added)
> > >
> > > Here's a link to the blog post:
> > > http://bit.ly/oxUuvt
> > >
> > > Here's a direct link to the video that's embedded in the blog post:
> > > http://bit.ly/o8YaIR
> > >
> > > The comment about Greenland occurs about 90 seconds into the video.
> > >
> > > Cheers,
> > > David Mayer
> > > Graduate School of Geography
> > > Clark University
> > > Worcester, Massachusetts
> > > dmayer at clarku.edu<mailto:dmayer at clarku.edu>
> > >
> > > On Sep 15, 2011, at 7:25 PM, Jeffrey Kargel wrote:
> > >
> > > Dear Cryolisters: A discussion amongst colleagues, particularly Graham Cogley and myself, and others,
> > > leads us to think that this Greenland story will soon or is beginning already to go viral. We think that
> > > glaciologists, especially those doing Greenland research, need to be proactive in quashing this
> > > misinformation. In my opinion, you should take it seriously enough to contact your media contacts
> > > and just express your scholarly opinion that this story is false, and then douse them with
> > > real data and a synopsis of what really is happening. The risk (guarantee?) is that if
> > > we don't counter it, the public will be further misled into thinking that the baby (the real Greenland and
> > > real data) is dirty bathwater (this Guardian story), get confused about what is science and what is not,
> > > latch on to their favorite blogger or politician, and come up with some very peculiar ideas that have no
> > > bearing on reality. A bogus story going one way will result in an equally bogus political claim the other
> > > way; the siege against science will continue onward, all because some hasty reporter and another
> > > hasty cartographer decided they would write a science news story on something they have no clue about.
> > >
> > > Greenland experts, please step forward and kill this story now. Like they say about campfires, douse
> > > every last coal before you leave.
> > >
> > > Jeff Kargel
> > > Department of Hydrology & Water Resources
> > > University of Arizona
> > > Tucson, AZ 85742
> > >
> > > Global Land Ice Measurements from Space
> > > www.glims.org<http://www.glims.org>
> > > 520-780-7759
> > > _______________________________________________
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> > >
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> >
> >
> > --
> > *******************************************************************************************************************
> > Professor Andy Hodson,
> > Cold Regions Biogeochemist,
> > Director of Environmental Sciences,
> > Department of Geography,
> > University of Sheffield.
> > S10 2TN,
> > UK
> >
> > +44 114 2227950
> > http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/geography/staff/hodson_andy/index
> > ***************************************************************************************************************
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> -- 
> *******************************************************************************************************************
> Professor Andy Hodson,
> Cold Regions Biogeochemist,
> Director of Environmental Sciences,
> Department of Geography,
> University of Sheffield.
> S10 2TN,
> UK
> 
> +44 114 2227950
> http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/geography/staff/hodson_andy/index
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