Still hopeful about the Daily Mail

Daily Mail Despair 2

The Daily Mail still thinks that the Earth’s changing climate is a point-scoring game.

On Tuesday I expressed some hope that the Daily Mail had begun reporting climate change developments as ‘straight news’.

I didn’t have to wait long to have my hope apparently dashed by the Daily Mail leader comment on Wednesday (quoted in full below).

But in fact I am still hopeful. This is not because I am a dullard but because there are genuinely reasons to be hopeful about the Daily Mail’s attitude. Read on for my reasons.

Daily Mail Leader Comment Wednesday 22 July 2015

In a major report last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gave a grave assessment of how man-made global warming was rapidly destroying the Arctic ice cap.

Steadily increasing temperatures had made the pack ice contract by up to 12 per cent between 1979 and 2012, leading to rising sea levels which threatened to swamp coastal regions – not to mention endangering stranded polar bears.

By the middle of the century ‘a nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean’ was likely for a large part of the year, the report predicted.

How interesting then, that the latest analysis of 88 million measurements from the European Space Agency’s Cryosat satellite show the northern ice-cap INCREASED by a staggering 41 per cent in 2013 and, despite a modest shortage last year, is bigger than at any time for decades.

Of course, the climatologists will come up with explanations – as they did for the fact that global temperatures have barely changed since the year 2000.

They’ll say 2013 was a freak year, that in spite of temporary fluctuations long-term trends remain the same, that cooling ‘episodes’ are as much a feature of climate change as warming and so on.

But the more they juggle their theories to fit the inconvenient truths, the more the public will question whether these prophesies of global doom are based on genuine science, or guesswork.

And they will rightly wonder whether solemnly committing to climate change targets while saddling ordinary people with a raft of spurious green taxes serves any real purpose – other than being an expensive exercise in gesture politics.

The sheer perniciousness of this article offends me. I feel as though the Daily Mail has spat in the face of truth.

I have three responses: two graphs and comment

Here are two graphs that genuinely summarise the situation we all face.

First of all here is the data on which the Daily Mail are reporting. This is a graph of arctic sea-ice volume – the product of the area of sea-ice, and its thickness.

Notice that it goes up in 2013 – that’s the ‘staggering’ 41 per cent increase to which the Daily Mail refers. This is what the Daily Mail report as an ‘an inconvenient truth’.

Arctic Sea Ice Volume

And to the best we can understand it is ‘true’. But it is not so much ‘inconvenient’ as ‘irrelevant’.

The graph below shows arctic sea-ice area – a much simpler thing to measure and something for which we have data stretching back to 1979.

Arctic Sea Ice Extent

It is clear that since roughly 1995 sea ice has been disappearing. Whereas we used to have around 7 million square kilometres of sea ice in September at the end of the annual melt, we now have only around 4 million square kilometres. That’s 3 MILLION square kilometers of missing sea ice!

In this context, the increase in Sea Ice extent and volume in 2013 can be seen for what it is: a blip on a downward trend.


There appears to be a power struggle at the Daily Mail

While the Leader Comment on Wednesday was the usual pernicious material one expects, since Tuesday there have been no less than four ‘straight’ stories about Climate Change.

When institutions change their position there is inevitably a period of flux in which the  institution cannot ‘speak’ coherently.

Despite ample cause for despair, I am still hopeful that the Daily Mail’s powerful influence over Middle England can be a force for good.

If Darth Vader can abandon the Dark Side, then so can the Daily Mail.

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