Tag Archives: Greenland

Times Atlas: Suicide By Wikipedia? – UPDATED

UPDATED: Sort of a confirmation for the below as Hanlon at the Daily Mail has posted an article where HarperCollins, the publishers of the Times Atlas Greenland fiasco, try to argue that they only depicted white the areas with ice>500m thick.

Strange things are always afoot, in matters of climate.

Incredibly, and despite having been shown the wrongness of their ways from multiple and even warmist sources, a spokesperson from the £150-a-piece Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World still maintains their debunked “AtlasGate” Greenland map is correct:

“But a spokeswoman for Times Atlas defended the 15% figure and the new map. “We are the best there is. We are confident of the data we have used and of the cartography. We use data supplied by the US Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado.

As the story unfolds, I would like to point to something about the new map that is strange indeed: the level of detail. See for example this comparison from Real Science:

There are two possible interpretations for that: either some people at the Times Atlas have decided to reinvent the world adding fantasy features to a previously fully white map; or, much more likely, they have used some other, existing map of Greenland, embellishing to conform to the Times Atlas style.

In fact, and intriguingly, and twice embarrassingly, there exists one map that strongly resembles the Times Atlas’ “15%” Greenland (see also the Greenland Physical Map from TourTeam.dk). And the embarrassing bits are: it’s one map used on Wikipedia. Worse, it’s supposed to be only showing ice sheet thickness, not “cover” as claimed (it doesn’t highlight the areas where the ice is less than 10m/30ft thick).

Look for example at the outline of Eastern sides of Kong Christian IX Land and Kong Christian X Land, the nearest to Iceland (brown on the Times Atlas to the left, green on Wikipedia to the right).

Look now at the Times Atlas’ Greenland map of 1999 (below, to the left) and the fact that their 2011 map (center) is so much alike the Wikipedia Greenland ice-sheet thickness (right) becomes even more evident.

So the following series of events is consistent with the observations:

  1. Times Atlas personnel read or listen from somewhere that the Greenland ice sheet is melting
  2. They open the Wikipedia page on the Greenland ice sheet
  3. As if by magic…that page contains a map of Greenland
  4. Times Atlas personnel convert that map to the Times Atlas high-quality standard

Now where’s the evidence for it? Where is it indeed, as Michael Corleone would have asked.


This doesn’t look like a good way to enhance the reputation of a publication like the Times Atlas. As usual, it’s the stubborness of their response the real problem, perhaps even more than the original error. One is left wondering how many more mistakes have been made (perhaps them too, miraculously similar to maps posted on Wikipedia), mistakes simply too small to immediately notice. And the publishers and editor will never admit one anyway.

Recycled Grandchildren Worries

Whilst reading recommended material by “Climate Crocks”‘ Peter Sinclair about the “record melt” SEEN in Greenland in 2010 (my main curiosity being collecting evidence that somebody somewhere has actually SEEN the “record melt“, rather than just modeled about it), I have found this little gem at the end of a 1939 NYT article (titled, needless to say, “True Winters Are Not What They Used To Be“):

Whether sleigh-bells will make winter-music for our grandchildren, let no man dare to forecast

Ever the green campaigner, Granddad Jim will be happy to know he has recycled his concerns from a past generation’s.

What AGW Worry Without Catastrophism?

Anthropogenic Global Warming proponents have an intrinsic need to chase the latest gloomier-than-thou reports and projections. 

In fact: is there anything to worry about AGW, when one removes its usual catastrophist baggage?

Or to phrase the question differently: is it possible to argue for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions without espousing the rather too common doom-and-gloom ideas of those that see the planet literally in peril, and civilization as-we-know-it ready to end in a decade or two?

The answer seems to be a resounding “no”, for a simple reason argued by Alex Cull in a comment to my “Discounting the Future” blog: since a slight warming is obviously beneficial, only a lot of demonization can paint it in an unfavorable light

[…] A different point, which follows on from your earlier blog re John Groome’s gloomy assessment of the ills of global warming. This may sound obvious but the projected deaths from global warming have to be very high for the whole argument to make sense, in fact they have to be inflated by any means possible, and the benefits of warming have to be minimised. Earlier springs mean a longer growing season, meaning in turn that fewer people die from starvation, and warmer winters mean fewer cold-related deaths. Obviously these are not catastrophic consequences, so the deaths will have to come from other causes, for instance as a result of more frequent and violent storms and from rising sea levels.

Now, if there is no well-established link between frequent violent storms and global warming, and if sea levels continue to rise by a few millimetres a year, as they have for well over a century, there’s a problem – no catastrophe. Hence the importance of Greenland and, of course, stubborn, recalcitrant Antarctica. Melt these, however long it may take, and you have your catastrophe. Which is why it is crucial for anyone advocating CO2 abatement that the ice caps must be projected to melt much faster than anyone has previously thought, that the resulting sea levels must be projected to rise far higher than anyone has previously thought, and the human casualties must therefore be far greater.

Because, if the number of people dying as a consequence of global warming is not very much different to, or is lower than, the number of people who would die if there were no warming trend, the CO2 abatement argument is dead in the water. If there is still a warming trend, and if it is caused by man-made CO2 but if it is not, on balance, going to kill more people than would otherwise die, and if we could stop this warming trend by reducing CO2 emissions, what on earth would be the point of doing it?

Too Much Ice? Who Knows?

Much blogosphere talk about a report by “Svend Erik Hendriksen, a certified weather observer in the Kangerlussuaq Greenland MET Office, who is responsible for all the weather observations at Kangerlussuaq Airport (near to Sisimiut)” according to whom polar bears this year are “very hungry” because of “too much sea ice“.

Since skepticism is not something to turn on and off at will, I have done some research on the topic. Turns out that there is at least one member of a forum that calls himself “S.E. Hendriksen” and claims to be from Kangerlussuaq.

He mentions metereological stuff in at least one post.

Has Mr Hendriksen commented about hungry polar bears in 2008, and too much sea ice? I haven’t found any “original” text so I am simply unable to tell.

One thing for sure, he is not your average AGWer, and publishes curious if somehow jaw-dropping “Roschach-like” analysis of Al Gore’s movie.

Let’s wait a few more days…usually, fake or overblown remarks don’t live that long.

Spiked Online's Christmas All-Out Attack on AGW

(a) “Al Gore: enviro-tyrant” by Brendan O’Neill (Dec 18)
After Bali: In aspiring to ‘control the destiny of all generations to come’, Gore has unwittingly unveiled his anti-democratic streak

As he flies around the world to tell people that they should fly less, or organises rock-star extravaganzas to tell the masses they should live more meekly, some sceptics have asked: ‘Who the hell does Al Gore think he is?

(b) “Eco-imperialism at the Bali summit?” by James Heartfield (Dec 18) 
After Bali: Are Western powers offsetting their industrial growth by blackmailing poorer countries to foreswear development? One writer thinks so

More than most scientific questions, the state of the environment has been deeply mixed up with international rivalries. In fact, some nations seem to have politicised environmental claims as a weapon in their economic competition. CO2 emissions mirror industrial output. The agreement in Bali to limit CO2 emissions looks to me like an attempt by the Great Powers to regulate industrial competition.

(c) “Hairshirt posturing vs everyday reality” by Robert Lyons (Dec 18)
After Bali: It ended in stalemate because while everyone poses as an opponent of CO2-emitting technologies, the fact is humanity needs them.

‘It was exactly what we wanted, we are indeed very pleased. We will have now two tremendously demanding years, starting right in January.’ So said the European Union’s chief negotiator Humberto Rosa following the outline agreement forged at the UN climate change talks in Bali last weekend. But it seems quite clear that, on the substantive issues under negotiation, everyone simply agreed to disagree.

(d) “Return of the Skeptical Environmentalist” by Tony Gilland (Review, Dec 2007)
In his new book Cool It, Bjørn Lomborg shows how ‘the science’ on global warming – covering everything from polar bear extinction to the disappearance of Greenland – has been distorted and politicised

(e) “Who’s afraid of…Greenland melting?” by Rob Lyons (Dec 13) 
Rob Lyons says we should keep cool about the ongoing scare story of Greenland’s melting ice.