Neither politicians nor political commentators are a reliable source for your scientific information. I've been reminded of this yet again as a political commentator has decided to abuse information from the Cryosphere Today and repeat a lie he's used before. The commentator is George Will (Washington Post 15 Feb 2009, page B07).
He repeats the lie about the experts calling for global cooling in the 1970s. One can see from his article itself that he's not looking to the experts -- he's referring to newspapers and other non-science sources. What the experts did have to say was generally that they expected a warming -- if you look at what papers they were publishing in the scientific literature. William Connolley has been pursuing this question for years, including a paper with Tom Peterson and John Fleck in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus. (September 2008 issue).
Nearer to my heart, professionally speaking at least, is he joined in the abuse of Cryosphere Today. I do know the fellow who runs it. (You're not surprised, I hope. The field isn't very large, so most of us know most of the rest of us.) He does good work and provides the public service of presenting his work daily. Downside is that he likely gets much more attention for the mentions by a political commentator than he does for scientific interest, which can be more than a bit frustrating.
Anyhow, Will opines "According to the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979. " Except, if you go to the Crysophere Today, you'll see that the global figures are (or were at the time Will's column appeared) well below 1979. For a brief period at the end of last year, the statement wasn't relentlessly false. But, as tamino showed at Open Mind, the statement was still terribly false. This is also the error I was taking Roger Pielke, Sr. to task for last October.
Probably few people who care about the science and what we really understand actually get their information from political commentators. Still, I'm depressed a widespread, influential source, Will in this case, which is given inappropriate credence, and which is so blindly disregarding reality.
Back to real science tomorrow!
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