The specialized meaning of words in the ‘Antarctic ice shelf collapse’ and other climate alarm stories

DistortionGuest essay by Dr. Tom Sheahen

Q. On TV I saw that the ice in Antarctica is collapsing, and that will raise sea level and inundate cities. Others reports say this will take thousands of years. How serious is the problem?

What you are witnessing here is a result of confusion between the public perception of the ordinary meaning of words, and the very special definitions used in scientific discourse.

Geologists deal with changes in the earth that occur over epochs of millions of years. Anything that happens in less than 10,000 years is “sudden,” and something happening in only 1,000 years is “instantaneous.” To geologists, the word “collapse” is appropriate for a 10,000 year process.

A hot-topic in the media these days has to do with the West Antarctic Ice Shelf (WAIS), a region comprising about 8% of the ice covering Antarctica. Within that region, there are two glaciers that are sliding down to the sea at a steady pace, as glaciers always do. They comprise about 10% of the WAIS, less than 1% of Antarctic ice. This descent has been in progress for several thousand years, and is neither new nor man-caused. It will go on for a few thousand more, after which they’ll be gone. In the parlance of geology, those two glaciers are collapsing.

If that doesn’t sound to you like your usual meaning of the word “collapse,” you’re absolutely right. It’s a specialized geological term.

Unfortunately, the major media overlook the distinction of meanings, and then make the further generalization from two specific glaciers to the entire WAIS, and moreover to Antarctica in general. Scientists who point out the small actual glacier size (and volume of ice) are brushed aside in the rush to get a headline or a flamboyant sound byte that will keep the viewers tuned in. Words like unavoidable collapse carry a sense of foreboding.

This isn’t just a problem from geology. Confusion over the meaning of words used in science crops up frequently. Laws of physics (e.g., conservation of energy) are said to be true in general, meaning “always true.” But if a physicist says “that is generally true,” a non-scientist hears “that is usually true” – meaning “most of the time, but not always.” Neither is aware of the other’s interpretation.

The word “average” is easily misunderstood. For any set of data, about any topic, you can construct an average. But it may be irrelevant – a good example being the “average temperature of the Earth.” Regional and seasonal variations are so great that a single average number is meaningless. And yet people have such familiarity with the word “average” – batting averages, school grade averages, etc. — that it’s commonplace to believe that any statistic called an “average” represents something real.

Climate change is another prime example. In the ordinary sense of the term, everyone realizes that the climate changes, and there is no argument about it. However, there is a very special limited definition given to the term by the U.N. around 1990: “Climate Change” refers only to changes caused by mankind’s emissions of CO2. Under that restricted definition, anyone who doesn’t think that CO2 is the cause of the changes we’re experiencing is labeled a “denier” of Climate Change. The frequently-recited figure of “97% consensus” is too small for the percentage of scientists who recognize climate change in the ordinary sense of the term; it’s much closer to 100%. But in the specialized U.N. sense (about CO2 driving the change), there is widespread disagreement based on reliable opposing scientific data.

In the absence of quotation marks, italics or capitals, ordinary citizens have no idea that the controversy is rooted in radically different meanings of the same words.

Elected officials striving to be responsive to their constituents’ concerns are often pressured by advocacy groups who have latched onto an incorrect interpretation of words. Scientists are sometimes guilty of riding a bandwagon that formed when the public misunderstood and exaggerated their original meaning; perhaps it’s convenient, prestigious and financially advantageous to let that confusion continue uncorrected. The effect snowballs and leads to new laws being passed, with expensive new regulations. Years later, with nothing accomplished, people ask “Oh, is that what you really meant?” Then the blame game begins, after much taxpayer money went down the drain unnecessarily.

Even words like “increase” and “decrease” get distorted. When a budget (national, state or local) goes up, you might think that’s an increase. But if the amount is less than the rate of inflation, those wanting the money call it a decrease, a budget cut. The problem is particularly troublesome at election time, when politicians hurl accusations at their opponents. Without precise definitions, clarity is very elusive.

Unfortunately, attending to precise definitions takes time and seems boring. The media don’t want to run the risk of being boring, and so they take shortcuts and oversimplify. Consequently, a lot of people are misled by statements that use scientific words incorrectly.

About these ads

70 thoughts on “The specialized meaning of words in the ‘Antarctic ice shelf collapse’ and other climate alarm stories

  1. Except if this is the beginning of another Maunder Minimum due to the sun, those glaciers won’t be suddenly or slowly melting into the ocean. Quite the opposite.

  2. My favourite example of how words can be misinterpreted comes from GK Chesterton:
    “The word “good” has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.”

  3. well said.

    I would add that the financial motives to perpetuating a misapplication of “scientific” terms cannot be overstated. In an era of declining government R&D funding, any edge (truthful or otherwise) helps in the competitive grant process.

  4. Good article.

    We are forever having the newsbite like “…..second hottest April on record…………” meaning that there was a hotter April at some previous time, And of course this sort of “news” only refers to the short instrumental record of 100-150 years, and is but a blink of the eye compared to the 16,000 years of the last interglacial period.

  5. Thank you for confirming my long-held position that an average global temp construct is meaningless. No such condition will ever be experienced for any period of time in any one place to make it a condition anyone could respond to – eg, put on a coat, take off a coat, whatever.

    The temp in one place at any given time is just what it is – no point in adding this to another temp in another place and dividing by 2. Neither temp is up for changing.

    So what’s the point of making the calculation in the first place?

  6. All this scaremongering is inexorably delivering the CAGW flock into the “chicken little idiot’ brigade in the eyes of the GP – and good riddance to them and their public purse budgets.

  7. To add to what others have said, it is quite clear to me that the misuse of scientific press releases for political gain is deliberate. Global warming (or climate change, disruption, …whatever) has NEVER been about science, but rather a means to fundamentally change (and destroy) our ways of life. And the left wing, progressive zealots will not cease until their mission is acomplished.

  8. Thanks for that. However, I am pretty certain that most scientists know exactly the reaction that words like “collapse” will engender in the general public. The onus on us, as people with above average intelligence (mostly), is to use our words carefully, if our intention is actually to convey the appropriate meaning.

  9. This may be off topic a wee bit BUT, I just scrolled through the Yahoo News Feed… OH MY GAWD, one article after another about Global Warming , all bad, all catastrophic , some already mentioned in these comments … I am seeing a ramping up of the Alarmism to levels just unbelievable. David Suzuki now demanding that politicians who are Climate Deniers should be (need to be) LOCKED UP… The Antarctic collapsing, Hottest April Globally , on and on …. WOW. And Thank you Dr. Sheahen, excellent article.

  10. Now add to that our intellectual waste lands known as universities that teach words have no meaning apart from what the hearer desires. So there you go. Cooling is caused by warming and other such nonsense.

  11. Most excellent.

    Something just not right though, about being able to lie and then claim that based on your meaning of the words, you were telling the truth.

    Wait, isn’t that called “pulling a Clinton”?

  12. Just for the record, here is what the IPCC says about Antarctica.

    The Antarctic Ice Sheet is projected to remain too cold for widespread surface melting, and to receive increased snowfall, leading to a gain of ice. Loss of ice from the ice sheet could occur through increased ice discharge into the ocean following weakening of ice shelves by melting at the base or on the surface. In current models, the net projected contribution to sea level rise is NEGATIVE for coming centuries, but it is possible that acceleration of ice discharge could become dominant, causing a net positive contribution. Owing to limited understanding of the relevant ice flow processes, there is presently no consensus on the long-term future of the ice sheet or its contribution to sea level rise.”
    (Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis AR4)

    Cheers

    Roger

    http://www.thedemiseofchristchurch.wordpress.com

  13. My favorite example of a word that is very different in the vernacular compared to its meaning in science is “SIGNIFICANT”.
    A weather reporter may say “the flooding is expected to be significant” and we would all take that to mean “large”/”important”. (Conversely “insignificant” or “not significant” in a news report suggests something exists, but is small or trivial – e.g.”we got an insignificant amount of rain last night”).
    Most folks here understand the statistical meaning of “significant”; but the general population (and journalists) clearly do not.
    By way of example, our Supt of Schools recently studied the impact of a new and relatively expensive teaching aid, and reported that in a comparison of students with and without the tool, there was “no significant difference” (and accordingly did not adopt the tool). In an editorial the next day, the newspaper went on attack saying “So what” if only a few students were being helped and that clearly the educator was heartless.

  14. “The media don’t want to run the risk of being boring, and so they take shortcuts and oversimplify.”

    If that’s 5% of the motivation to word distort I would think that an over estimation. The media complies with word destruction (Orwell’s correct term) because they share the same ideology as the “science” wing of the Party. Destroying meanings and creating a common coded language is essential in left-wing narratives and controls. By creating this as a culture various parties coordinator their actions and messaging without ever considering the questions of conspiracy while achieving many of the same results. This is why all non-Party dissent in media has been systematically, culturally eliminated likely over 50 year if not longer but certainly acutely in the recent 10-15 year period ;

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/05/06/just-7-percent-of-journalists-are-republicans-thats-far-less-than-even-a-decade-ago/

    Consider what happened to the word significant in the climate control campaign? It’s a misuse of that word that builds the equally distorted “consensus” and all the contorted meaning that go there in the narrative.

  15. A liberal family member has assured me that a Maunder Minimum like event will have NO effect this time because there is 400 PPM of CO2 in the atmosphere. He’s a soon to be grad student in something social sciency, but insists that he knows all about geology and the other sciences. He is convinced to the point of obsessive worry that humans are the cause of all climate change and that Antarctica will melt in his lifetime and innundate a good portion of the dry land, not just the coasts.

    Alas, I can’t laugh too loudly as he’s family after all.

  16. This reminds me of a Terry Pratchet book..(sorry, cannot remember whcih one) where there are two Giant Redwood trees talking to each other (as they do!) and right mid-sentence one says to the others “brrr, did you feel that?, then carries on talking”….The other says “what’s up”…..the first says “that was one hell of a winter”

  17. “The media don’t want to run the risk of being boring, and so they take shortcuts and oversimplify.”

    If that’s 5% of the motivation to word distort I would think that an over estimation. The media complies with word destruction (Orwell’s correct term) because they share the same ideology as the “science” wing of the Party. Destroying meanings and creating a common coded language is essential in left-wing narratives and controls. By creating this as a culture various parties coordinator their actions and messaging without ever considering the questions of conspiracy while achieving many of the same results. This is why all non-Party dissent in media has been systematically, culturally eliminated likely over 50 year if not longer but certainly acutely in the recent 10-15 year period ;

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/05/06/just-7-percent-of-journalists-are-republicans-thats-far-less-than-even-a-decade-ago/

    Consider what happened to the word significant in the climate control campaign? It’s a misuse of that word that builds the equally distorted “consensus” and all the contorted meaning that go there in the narrative. If there is no political dissent in the editors seat you get the pregnant with code media that we have today and the mutual coordination of political alliances in science and media. Shameful a process as that may be.

  18. From thew same Pratchet book there’s a passage where a daddy Mayfly is having a chat with his new born son and daddy Mayfly says….”son, see that big hot shiny ball in the sky?…….well I remember when that was over there”…….

    Bloody funny twisted stuff…

  19. noloctd says:
    May 21, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    A journalist & author buddy whose dad was a noted eye specialist & surgeon told me in 2012 that Greenland would melt by 2016.

  20. “Average temperature” is very much an incorrect term – It’s the midpoint between hot and cold extremes in a 24 hour period. I don’t think we have a mathematical term for this. It’s not the average temperature for the 24 hours and It’s not the median. Do we have an unambiguous scientifically recognised term for the midpoint of a range?

  21. “In the ordinary sense of the term, everyone realizes that the climate changes”

    Name one place on earth has had its climate change in the last 100 years.

  22. Dr. Tom is on target for certain.

    Upon watching the news the other day on the ice collapse, I had to explain the timing of “possible” events to my parents who thought Tampa was going to be underwater soon.

    Sad but true example.

    On another note, Lat snuck one in ;-)

  23. “””””…..Gary in Erko says:

    May 21, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    “Average temperature” is very much an incorrect term – It’s the midpoint between hot and cold extremes in a 24 hour period. I don’t think we have a mathematical term for this. It’s not the average temperature for the 24 hours and It’s not the median. Do we have an unambiguous scientifically recognised term for the midpoint of a range?……””””””

    So Gary; let’s say we have a 24 hour maximum temperature of TM, and we have a 24 hour minimum Temperature of Tm.

    So the mid point temperature mT is given by:-

    mT = (TM + Tm) / 2.

    Now imagine that we divide the temperature range, (TM – Tm) into an even integer number of equal segments; say 2N of them.

    By this construction, we have an even number of “temperatures”, and by construction, mT is always the element in the middle of the range, no matter what the integer N is so long as it is greater than zero.

    By any logical reasoning; mT fits the definition of the MEDIAN for and dataset.

    In calculating the median of a data set; there never is ANY information for how long some set element exists. The set is a set of known numbers, and there is no time axis.

    Now I agree with you that the midpoint mT is NOT a satisfactory substitute for Tav for what is actually a continuous time varying function.

    But mT most certainly is the median value.

  24. I can fully understand a scientist not understanding how the GP interprets a word. I feel victim to that myself one time. My job at the time was melting superintendent in an iron shop melting iron with coke and limestone. Small broken chips of coke called coke breeze were screened out and discarded but I collected it up in the spring to take to my father for boiling maple syrup.
    Was late at night and the back of my truck was full of coke breeze tarpped down. The local police pulled me over for a burned out headlight and asked what I had in the back under the tarp at which point I said I had a load of coke. I quicklyI found myself spread eagle on the pavement, quite indignant at the rough treatment.
    The police officer then asked what the black stuff was in the back of my truck at which point I replied “It’s Coke what the hell does it look like !” His reply was “You mean kinda like coal?” My reply was “Well its made from coal but its not coal its coke”.
    The officer dusted me off, told me to get the headlight fixed and have a nice day. I was still fuming 20 miles down the road before I figured out the communication problem. I am sure there were laughs all around at the doughnut shop the next morning.

  25. Dr. Sheahen said” Within that region, there are two glaciers that are sliding down to the sea at a steady pace, as glaciers always do.

    The “steady” pace has doubled from the 80 billion tons/year in the 2005-2010 time period to 160 billion tons/year during the latest measurements. I wouldn’t call that a steady pace, I’d call it a rapidly increasing pace.

  26. It’s amazing the amount of intentional CAGW disinformation (not misinformation) that exists in the general public. Most people are basically illiterate about science and are far too trusting of the MSM (although this trust is “collapsing”).

    Often, when I show people hard evidence disproving their wrong CAGW assumptions, they simply say, “Well, 97% of scientists can’t be wrong, and I’m sure the scientists are well aware of that… Are you saying you know more than the scientists that hold PhDs in climatology?”

    Then, when I try to explain the bogus nature of the “97%” meme, I get the eye roll, and some snide comment about conspiracy theories…

    Once this CAGW hypothesis crashes and burns and lies smoldering on the trash heap of historic failed ideas, I’ll be amazed when these same people will boast of always being skeptical of CAGW…. at which time, I’ll be able to roll my eyes…

    CAGW is truly, “A tale told by idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”~ William Shakespear, Macbeth.

  27. “Unprecedented” is my nomination for most abused word in a climate context. You just know that those who use it are ignorant of, or are deliberately ignoring, anything involving the Little Ice Age and before.

  28. @george e. smith

    Thanks for your comments but I disagree with your idea of median as it applies to a day of temperatures. Median is the middle value of a quantity of samples. In order to gain a real median (or quartile) we would need to sample the temperature at a regular interval during the day. The median for 24 hours sampled at 1 hour intervals would most probably not be equivalent to the median sampled at 5 minute intervals. Your method of dividing the range between max and min into whatever size equal increments doesn’t produce real world samples. Both average and median require real samples. Neither of them have any technical or scientific validity under their strict terminology via calculations from extremes.

    This article is about misunderstandings due to terminology. The thing that’s called average temperature is not an average of the temperature – it’s the midpoint between extremes. I find it weird that anyone considers there’s a valid mathematical clue in an average of these local “averages” across the world and across time.

  29. About 10 years ago, a 150 km ice shelf broke off in Antarctica. Anyway officials said it was caused when two collided, and there was no threat to shipping. It happens. But not due to climate change.

  30. Lie. It is a Lie. They know it is a lie by the words chosen. To Lie.

    The complicit media has created the opposite impression of what is transpiring in the Antarctic now.

    This is referred to in many circles as a lie.

  31. ‘Only 1 x 2,500th of the entire atmospheric gas up in the sky is now CO2′ never did have quite the same appeal as ‘CO2 reaches 400ppm’. Thank goodness for my trusty Casio J-120T Electronic Calculator.

  32. @Gary in Erko .. “Do we have an unambiguous scientifically recognised term for the midpoint of a range?”
    I just found the term: ‘mid-range’ (or ‘arithmetic mean’). It is defined as: .. the (minimum number plus the maximum number) divided by two. When there are only two numbers in the range it is the same as the *colloquial ‘average’ (ie. the sum of a list of numbers divided by the number of elements in the list).
    Maybe it would be better to take a reading for each hour during the 24 hour period. What you do with the resulting list of readings depends on what you want to achieve. Maybe you want to show how cold it can get during the mornings. In that case, you could try using the ‘mode’ or the reading that occurs the most in the list. .. Here is a diagram that compares the mean, median, and mode:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Comparison_mean_median_mode.svg

    It also shows how the data can be skewed. (Called the ‘skewness’.)
    Or, if you want to compare readings on a daily basis, maybe for a whole year or a number of years, you could use the arithmetic mean. Then you could determine if there was a *trend for the overall yearly readings to be increasing or decreasing. In that case, you would be using results that can be efficiently compared over the whole year (or years) — comparing apples with apples.

    …. “I find it weird that anyone considers there’s a valid mathematical clue in an average of these local “averages” across the world and across time.”
    I understand that point of view. But how else can we show when overall world temperatures were thought to be relatively warmer or relatively cooler? .. such as during the Roman period, Medieval period, and the ‘Little Ice Age’ (… as seen in the proxy records).

  33. majormike1 says:
    May 21, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    “Unprecedented” is my nomination for most abused word in a climate context. You just know that those who use it are ignorant of, or are deliberately ignoring, anything involving the Little Ice Age and before.

    My nomination is for “Robust”

  34. The midpoint of a range, when listed in ascending or descending order, yes, it is called the median.

  35. Quote: me @ 9.06pm :-
    “Maybe you want to show how cold it can get during the mornings. In that case, you could try using the ‘mode’ or the reading that occurs the most in the list.”
    … That would only work if there were a large number of low temperatures for each hour during the mornings, and the temps increased gradually during the afternoons.

  36. The word I want to mention is “normal”. It is a standard part of the National Weather Service data for every day. The so called normal low or high or rainfall or humidity, whatever, is actually the average of the last 30 years. With the constant variation of weather, to call that average normal is very misleading.

  37. Jer0me says:
    May 21, 2014 at 9:16 pm
    How about a game of ‘Climate Change Bingo’?

    Good suggestion Jer0me. Maybe you need to be more specific, ie. the type of ‘bingo’ played in a shady amusement arcade that smells of old chip fat which is next door to the dodgy Tarot Card lady at the far end of a dilapidated litter-strewn pier in a run-down seaside town. It’s ugly. It’s unpleasant. Yet people still fall for it.

    Now it makes sense.

  38. Another good example is ‘significant’. As in ‘97% of scientists agree that anthropogenic CO2 has caused significant warming’. To a layman, that means ‘large’. To a statistician it means discernible from noise.

  39. John (Coleman), you beat me to it. The conflation of normal and average ‘does my head in’ to quote Shakespeare.

    Was having to explain this very fact just the other day and found a useful mechanism. When, for instance, discussing that it’s not that common for any given date’s temperature to be bang on the average for that time of year (but that doesn’t mean it’s not normal), a useful rough analogy that people ‘get’ immediately is the old 2.4 children nuclear family; no one has the average number of children but does that mean that 1, 2 or 3 kids isn’t normal?

    Cheers

    Mark

  40. The Pine Island Glacier is one of the west Antarctic glaciers they say is in risk of collapsing.

    Pine Island Glacier moves about 1.5 kms/year. Every 5 to 7 years, a 10 km chuck of it breaks off and floats away. It has been recorded about 5 times now.

    This is just what this glacier outflow channel does. One can pick an individual year and say the face has melted back by 10 kms versus the previous year or one could say it has increased by 9 kms versus where it was 6 years ago.. This December, right on schedule, a 10 km section broke off. If you measured the face from 2006 to 2012, one would have said it advanced 9 kms.

    The climate scientists raising these alarm bells need to be clear about what a fast moving glacial outflow channel from the vast 100s of kms interior ice sheets is really about. They are not doing that.

  41. Ah the difference between a scientific explanation by a scientist, and that of an alarmist using science sauce to flavour their biased confection of climate.

  42. Mark Fawcett says:
    May 21, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    Was having to explain this very fact just the other day and found a useful mechanism. When, for instance, discussing that it’s not that common for any given date’s temperature to be bang on the average for that time of year (but that doesn’t mean it’s not normal), a useful rough analogy that people ‘get’ immediately is the old 2.4 children nuclear family; no one has the average number of children but does that mean that 1, 2 or 3 kids isn’t normal?

    And almost everybody has more than the ‘average’ number of arms.

  43. I thought this was an exceptionally good post. It goes into the top draw of my “climate” files.

  44. Lucid, balanced… a breath of fresh air and sanity. As Agnostic suggests, one to keep. Thank you.

  45. A minor quibble: WAIS stands for “West Antarctic Ice Sheet” not “West Antarctic Ice Shelf“. Melting/collapse of an ice shelf has no effect on sea-level since it is already floatin.

  46. Peter says:

    “The AVERAGE human has one breast and one testicle.”
    Incorrect, the average human has two breasts and one testicle (and one ovary).

  47. One of my pet peeves is the use of the term ozone “hole”.

    webster.com defines ozone hole as “an area of the ozone layer (as near the south pole) that is seasonally depleted of ozone” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ozone%20hole
    What people understand by the term ozone hole is an area of the ozone layer with no ozone on it. Just like a hole in your pants means that there is a portion of your pants lacks of fabric.

    For a scientist, however, a ozone hole is an area of the ozone layer with less than 220 dobson units. “A baseline value of 220 DU is chosen as the starting point for an ozone hole since total ozone values of less than 220 Dobson units were not found in the historic observations over Antarctica prior to 1979. Also, from direct measurements over Antarctica, a column ozone level of less than 220 Dobson units is a result of the ozone loss from chlorine and bromine compounds” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dobson_unit

    So, an area of the ozone layer with 300 dobson units is a normal ozone layer, but a layer with 210 dobson units is a ozone hole.

    And the media is not to blame for this misunderstanding, it is the scientists.

  48. Chris says:
    May 21, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    The “steady” pace has doubled from the 80 billion tons/year in the 2005-2010 time period to 160 billion tons/year during the latest measurements. I wouldn’t call that a steady pace, I’d call it a rapidly increasing pace.
    Ooooh….sounds scary. Until you realize there are some 2.2 million billion tons of ice in the WAIS. Even at this slightly increased rate, it would still take some 14,000 years to completely melt. Also, there is no reason to think that the rate of melt will continue to increase. Indeed, it is just as likely to decrease.

  49. You got me wondering what is the average temperature of every atom on/in the Earth? A total WAG: 2500 K? Maybe it’s useful when considering whether the Earth will solidify before it is swallowed up (or not) in the red giant phase of the Sun. Nice to know we probably will still have a magnetic field as the Sun’s photosphere approaches our orbit.

    http://www.space.com/3373-earth-moon-destined-disintegrate.html

  50. The problem with their summary is when they throw in the little tid bit about warm water caused by global warming flowing under the ice shelf the COULD speed the process up. That it is where the usual mindless conjecture is allowed to be appended onto any climate related research article. It is basically unethical to attempt to scare people without qualifying the conjecture with the facts that the process started eons ago and has nothing to do with the actions of humanity.

  51. I am still waiting for the coastal real estate collapse … waiting …. come on now, when are you AGW believers going to head for Siberian Real Estate. There should be some great real estate opportunities over there by now. Oh, Al, and the weather to your liking!

  52. It’s too bad there’s pretty much no “news” outlets left to the general public, but only Progressive (sic) noise machines attended to by the acolytes graduated as Journalism Majors.

  53. The misunderstanding of terminology is deliberate. Lefties are masters at the use of deceptive language to propagandize their goals. They always sound like they are trying to do just the opposite of what the are actually doing. That is why any lefty proposal to improve the economy, collapses it, any legislation to fight crime, encourages it, any project to protect children puts them in danger, and any program of education results in brain washed zombies.

  54. I am a journalist and we are taught in school about this particular problem with terminology and to avoid it by always providing the correct context for science stories. Therefore, journalists who fail to do this because they will get a more sensational story that way are NOT doing proper journalism. It is inexcusable and can only be explained by bias or incompetence.

  55. In the planet’s lifespan it’s all sudden. Humans are basically a fart that just escaped.

    Putting it into perspective for the species called homo sapiens, however… ~20,000 years ago humans walked into Japan from the Asian mainland because the sea level was low enough to allow it.

    I’ll be starting to get worried about such changes when I get to live 10,000 years. Aka never.

  56. “””””…..Gary in Erko says:

    May 21, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    @george e. smith

    Thanks for your comments but I disagree with your idea of median as it applies to a day of temperatures. Median is the middle value of a quantity of samples. ……”””””

    Well “median” is a term from statistical mathematics. It has nothing whatsoever to do with climate or weather, or even physics.

    There is NO “median” anything, anywhere in the universe, and there most certainly isn’t any “median” earth temperature.

    It is the central element of a purely mathematical ordered data set of known numbers. Those numbers have no meaning whatsoever.

    The data set itself may in fact have NO median value. Unless the number of elements in the set, is ODD, there can be NO central element in the ordered set, so there is no median..

    You can’t simply invent a number midway between the two elements on each side of the middle of the ordered set. Even, if both of those elements have equal value, there is NO element in the middle of the even set, and you can’t just invent one, so there is no median.

  57. I don’t suppose that gravity plays any part in the ”collapse” of a few Kilotons of ice clinging on to the edge of a downward slope to dip into the sea?

    Peter:
    ”The AVERAGE human has one breast and one testicle.”
    I think I know her.

  58. There was an interview concerning the West Antarctic Ice Sheet on NPR last week with Ian Joughin, a glaciologist at the University of Washington in Seattle.

    Joughin used the specialized geological terms cited by Dr. Tom Sheahen at the start of this post in responding to NPR’s questions and in describing the mechanics of the how ice sheet moves, and he clearly spun his story from an alarmist perspective.

    Anyone listening to this NPR interview could not give any other interpretation to what was said by this glaciologist but that the retreat of the ice sheet is unprecedented, it is man-caused, and it is unstoppable.

Comments are closed.