UK Telegraph falls prey to photo cherry picking

They say a picture is worth a thousand words right? Depending on what you are trying to present, that picture can make or break any presentation.

So it was with great interest that I noticed this picture in the article from the UK Telegraph with this alarming title:

Climate change is ‘faster and more extreme’ than feared

climate change is 'faster and more extreme' than feared

Arctic sea-ice in September 1979 and 2007, showing the biggest reduction since satellite surveillance began. Photo: Fugro NPA Ltd

Hmmm…right below it there was a link to the World Wildlife Fund, and in the body of the article, was the source of this “news” story.

WWF’s report, Climate Change: Faster, stronger, sooner, has updated all the scientific data and concluded that global warming is accelerating far beyond the IPCC’s forecasts.

I didn’t realize that the WWF was a scientific organization, and that they could update the data and conclude our current situation worse that findings of the IPCC. How stupid of me to not pay attention to this.

CNN also picked up this WWF press release. See CNN’s story here.

Maybe WWF should “update” their findings with this picture from 2008:

Click for a larger image direct from the source

Yes a picture is worth a thousand words, isn’t it? For those of you that visit these other blogs, be sure they see this updated picture and send my regards. While you are at it, ask them at the Telegraph to provide the source data and methodology for the creation of the two images used in the report. They look more like artist renderings than data based 3D models. The images were not part of the WWF report.


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Paul Shanahan

Hmm, I just have one word to say…


I would agree on the photoshop, just by looking at the small details, like some of the channels and pennisulas in the ice, they have remarkebly not changed at all in the near 30 years between photos.

Wilson Flood

You can compare ice extent in the Arctic for any two given dates from 1979 at the Cryosphere site of Univ of Illinois.

barbee butts

Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t they screaming about global COOLING in the late 1970’s?
I can certainly see how they were just as easily mislead back then as they are now.


it even appears from the Cryosphere picture that the ice near the pole is thicker (i.e., the color is more purple) than it was in 1979. i guess they wouldn’t have had much of an argument if they had used the 2008 data!


MVosters may be on to something.
Photoshop is just not THAT accurate. But then neither are the satellite data interpretations.
Maybe William Chapman uses Paint Shop Pro?
For those who are interested they could follow Wilson Flood’s advice, have a look at the Cryosphere today web site and assess what they see, then contact Dr. Chapman and ask him which program he uses. Clearly the lack of changes in the 30 year period – Greenland is still WHITE for heavens sake – shows a worrying lack of attention to detail.
Of course if this was an image from a fully interactive Google Earth type system we could fly down and see if WWF have got any tour groups at Churchill feeding the Polar Bears at this time. See the WWF travel web site for further information. Looks like they go to some really interesting places but I suspect the Carbon Indulgence payments they promote are compulsory.


could not resist and make a diff of the two images. 1979 it is only moved right and scaled horizontal to match. Diff means pixels are subtracted and if equal it will show black.
I wonder why the world can be such equal at arbitrary points in time…

I appreciate this site – thanks a lot to all contributors

Bill Jamison

I’ll be VERY surprised if the “photo” from 1979 isn’t just the 2007 photo photoshopped.


“Summer sea ice is now forecasted to completely disappear in the summer months sometime between 2013 and 2040 — something which hasn’t happened for over a million years.”
Perhaps they should just learn English before they attempt science!

Thomas Gough

I wonder how it is that there is apparently no trace of cloud to be seen in either picture. This would seem to point some sort of ‘adjustment’ of the images. If The Telegraph is so confident of its position perhaps it would like to comment?

Pieter F

James Hansen sets up his modeled prediction in 1988 containing a 1.1° C rise in 20 years. On the anniversary of his testimony to Congress the UAH MSU data showed that it was actually cooler in 2008 than when the testimony was first given.
How is it that WWF can conclude climate change is “faster, stronger, sooner”? They have set themselves up for some severe embarrassment.

George E. Smith

Well I’ve noticed that the summers are way warmer than the winters so there must be something to this.
You will recall that 1975/6 was when there was all the talk about a devastating ice age in ten years; so it is not surprising that the 1979 ice was very advanced,
No fair comparing a most advanced situation with a most retracted. Ok we expect it has been warming coming out of the last ice age, and it will go up and down, but 1979 was just the start ofthe polar satelite age. Who knows what it looked like in 1975/6

David S

WWF? World Wrestling Federation?

Dave Andrews

WWF are basically a campaining/ fundraising organisation. Like Oxfam they have been around for a long time and seem to assume this gives them some sort of gravitas
It might do in the provision of aid to wildlife or people but it means very little when they prognosticate on climate change. As RC might say, how many peer reviewed scientific papers has each organisation ever produced?

John Galt

Maybe they mean “World Wrestling Federation”?

Steven Hill

I graduated from high school in 1977 and they were teaching us the next ICE AGE coming! 1978 was very cold as well.
I have no idea why this game is being played out, it must have something to do with global energy somehow. It has nothing to do with just CO2.

Steve Hedge

Can I suggest that followers of “Global Warming”, “Climate Change” or what ever jargon you prefer to believe, read Christopher Booker’s regular aricles in The Telegraph each Sunday. He seems to have access to more facts about this subject and will enlighten you regarding the Polar ice caps, nuclear power, CO2, and wind farms. He will also show you how much effort and money is wasted by our politicians who have little understanding of the subject and are using it as a spring board to gain votes and keep the “greens” happy.

Leon Brozyna

If the Arctic sea ice is on the mend and its September extent slowly increases over the next several years, I expect to see that 2007 photo {or something comparable} for many years to come. Much like the AGW proponent who speaks of climbing temperatures and, if temperatures don’t cooperate, moves the start point on a temperature graph back to the 19th century.
Just more journalism science.
BTW, just look and compare the snow cover {or is that cloud cover} on the landmasses in the two photos. Sloppy work.

Ray Reynolds

“We Want Funds” ?
They have no shame nor any regards for wildlife. WWF is designed to solicting funds by splashing the most cuddily creatures or scary scenarios in front of the most guilt ridden society. The fact they fudged a pic to fill their coffers matters not a bit.


@Thomas Gough,
These pictures are almost certainly computer generated, based on the ice extent data.


That was photoshopped. Take a look at the crystalline pattern between Greenland and the Arctic Ice Sheet. The pattern is identical. Everywhere you look where there is still ice and not the blue, identical ice patterns. For ice that has been thawed, melted and refrozen for almost 30 years that is darn near miraculous. The snow cover on Greenland shows the identical pattern. Wasn’t it supposed to melting like crazy. Where is the new island uncovered by global warming?

Ron de Haan

I have visited the site of the UK Telegraph and read the comments!
I think that they will think twice before publishing any other climate related article.
WWF have lost part of their budget when a certain Iceland bank went bust.
They sell IPCC data multiplied by a factor three to really scare people.
They should be saving primates.


Energy runs the global economy. He who controls the economy, controls everything. If increasing energy usage is deemed to be “bad” somehow, then that opens it up to taxation and wealth redistribution. It also allows governments to funnel tax dollars away from “bad” energy producers (read “coal, nuclear, etc.”) and toward “good” energy producers (read “wind, solar, etc.”). Finally, if the energy supply is rationed and the weather turns colder, people will become more dependent upon the government than ever before. Government can then swoop in and “solve” the problem they created.
CO2 is the innocent bystander that becomes the target of the “frame up”. Unfortunately, in all end-of-the-world hoopla, the actual benefits of increased CO2 levels get overlooked…..very sad.


Thanks, ‘Martin’.
Your pixel difference picture shows, at the very least, that the edges of the snow/ice in the 1979 picture were altered and smoothed with what appears to be an airbrush technique (bottom-right quadrant of 1979 picture). Contrast that with the well-defined edges at the bottom of the 2007 ice sheet picture.
Then, look at the airbrushed bottom edges on Martin’s difference picture. The left-side of the bottom edge looks airbrushed and smooth. It is difficult to conceive of why the 1979 photo was altered for any reason other than to increase the ice sheet disparity with the 2007 picture. Next time, they’ll probably photoshop in thousands of drowning and starving polar bears (with the starving polar bears being eaten alive by the ravenous cannibal polar bears 🙂
BTW, Martin, what software did you use to examine the pixel difference?

Pieter F

My first response was about the ridiculous title and premise based on the hard data. However, after looking carefully at the images and the notion of them being “PhotoShopped” I don’t think we can really jump to conclusions. At first glance, the snow and ice extent on shore in the two images (1979 and 2007) looks remarkably (read: exactly) the same. This might lead one to conclude that one of the two images was PhotoShopped and based on the other. However, when one looks at the Univ. of Illinois Cryosphere Today animations, the snow and ice extent on shore doesn’t change either. I suspect the ice extent is based on data not on an actual satellite image. One satellite composite image was probably used as the base image upon which the sea ice extent data was animated. If this is true, we shouldn’t expect the land ice and snow to show up in these images as that is not interest of the Cryosphere folks.

Graeme Rodaughan

I expect the claims of the alarmists to become more bizarre as the evidence continues to “fail them”.
Why? I would suggest the following…
1. Cognitive Dissonance for the true believers.
2. Cynical Manipulation for the charlatans and con-men.
3. “Catastrophy Sells” for the MSM editors seeking to keep their jobs.


@barbee butts, Steven Hill,
Can you point me to some of these scare stories? I have already located the 1975 Newsweek article about global cooling. But I would rather see some peer reviewed science. Thanks in advance.

Vincent Guerrini Jr
pablo an ex pat

The picture is gone from the Telegraph replaced by a picture of a power station.

Tom in ice free Florida

I went bizerk last night when I saw a 60 second spot about polar bears going extinct by guess who….. WWF! I didn’t know they we even around anymore. Looks like a concerted effort to get more donations. Does anyone know why the WWF uses a panda bear as a logo? Are they going extinct too?



Leon Brozyna

Okay, so this one is way O/T, but, speaking of journalism science:,25642,24524304-5014239,00.html
Now, I don’t know about other readers here, but I find a cell phone works best when held up to my ear. I’ll refrain from posting any one-liners inspired by this article. I’m sure other readers here can come up with their own little gems…

George E. Smith

For Thomas Gough; not too surprising for the Arctic to be cloud free. The air is much colder than the surface and the humidity is likely too low most of the time for cloud formation. And a lot of the land in that area is at considerable elevation too. But I’d be surprised if those cameras haven;t been updated since 1979. The Telegraph doesn’t say exactly which satelite(s) took which photo.
If you want to get really cloudless freaked out, just read Al Gore’s book where he has some BS PS photos, with all the clouds removed all over the globe. Average global cloud cover is aorund 505 so I’m told.
Take a look at the famous earthrise shot from the moon to see how the earth is dominated by clouds. If the air wasn’t so blue light scattering, most of the oceans would look near black, since they are quite close to black body radiators with about 975 emissivity (based on surface Fresnel reflection), and Kirchoff’s law.


Ok…it seems to me that either the images at the top of this post are bogus, or the Cyrosphere images are bogus…something has to line up somewhere, or they are both bogus.
I saved the newspaper images to my pc, then opened them up and rotated them 180deg so that the orientation matches what’s displayed over on Cryosphere Today.
The “1979” image comes pretty close to matching a Sept 1979 image over on Cryo, but I can find no month on Cyro for 2007 that shows anywhere near the amount of open water shown in the newspaper images.
All of this is pretty much meaningless anyway. We don’t know the source, but more importantly, if confronted with irrefutable proof that the images were intentionally altered, the retraction would likely be printed on page 36.
When images/headlines like this come out, the damage is already done.
I believe that what real science needs to do is go on the offensive, instead of continously playing defense.
Not sure what that game plan would look like, but it would be great to watch.

George E. Smith

make that 50 uppercase 5. The albedo seems to be cloud dominated to me, with not a whole lot of influence from polar ice; I’m sure the experts have data on that, and I’m just guessing from the visual appearance of satellite photos.
Total outer space photos of earth are relatively uncommon, because even at stationary orbital altitudes of 23,000 miles or so, the earth still subtends a sizeable angle (40 deg). Many of them were from returning moon missions so somewhat ancient cameras.

John M

Leon Brozyna (16:40:51)
I guess one might refer to that as a seminal study.

Leon Brozyna: Thanks for that link. Very funny.

James S

You could try here:
This site also has a few blog entries with further evidence.

John M

Speaking of links on the Arctic, how’d the Polar Bears survive this?

Graeme Rodaughan

Unfortuanately the assumption that the government will be able to actually solve the problems that they have created is just that – an assumption.
I note that your solve is “Solve” – nuanced.

I went looking for the report at the WWF UK (and US) site, but all I could find was the press release at . That page does _not_ have the Telegraph’s image, just a photo of a gorgeous summer day at a glacial pond.
Does anyone know where the report is?
Other coverage:
CNN wrote their own story and interviewed “the report’s author, geoscientist Dr Tina Tin,” see says “The WWF report was issued to coincide with a meeting of EU environment ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, who are to discuss new proposals aimed at tackling climate change.”

Bill Marsh

“Summer sea ice is now forecasted to completely disappear in the summer months sometime between 2013 and 2040 — something which hasn’t happened for over a million years.”
Exactly how do they know it hasn’t happened for over a million years? Most likely the north pole was free of ice before the onset of the most recent series of ice ages (which may have sparked human evolution) over 3 million years ago, but I seriously doubt the pole has been iced over the entire 3 million years.

John M

Bill Marsh,
See the link in my last comment (17:40:10).

Magnus A

Shame on UK Telegraph, with its lies and propaganda!
(This AGW bandwagon is so huge now. A law student recently commented on my blog that I have no right to blog because my interrests are wrong. Every day politicians says we shall force evil industry to shut down – happy Asia…)
Anyway, a tip:
At Niche Modelling Ferenc Miskolczi shows an analysis of optical depth, which shows that during the last 60 years there has been no increase of greenhouse gases!!!!!!!!!!!
All the CO2 increase is compensated by less water vapor! (…which probably further prove Miskolczi’s model.)
(And meeanwhile no listen to the truts about the emperor’s new clothes the politicians in the western world talk about (Gore’s) the climate emergency, and about draconical emission cuts from cars and industries, which makes industries less competative and force them to be replaced by Chinese plants.)


Leon Brozyna – I spent several thousand flying hours sitting atop a 2MW radar transmitter and subsequently fathered two sons, so this study is rubbish (mind you, my kids can see through walls…)

barbee butts

I graduated from High School in 1978 and it was the mantra of the decade. Peer review? Look at any Science Text Book from that time. They crammed it down our throats much the same as the reverse is being done today.
Personally, I bought that story hook, line and sinker and was AFRAID to move from Miami to any other part of the country…for DECADES.
Peer review and Science textbooks. Now that would be a novel concept.
Seriously, though, I did find a handy-dandy ‘timeline’ published by Farmers Almanac that documents the see-sawing of scientific/political/public opinion over the past century. You may find it informative or at least as a spring board for you to do your own investgations.
Here’s the address, I don’t know how to do links-yet.

Technically, the WWF is a BINGO (big international non-governmental organization).
Founded in 1961 in Switzerland, in 1986 they changed their name to the World Wide Fund for Nature. The national divisions of World Wildlife Fund in the United States and Canada refused to change their name, and after the resolution of a legal battle with the U.S-based World Wrestling Federation, the universally adopted name became WWF.
Presently headquartered in Gland, Switzerland, the WWF had a reported operating income of $160.8 million in 2007. They have a staff of ~4,400 and operate in over 90 countries. Investments are over $1 billion.
According to Source Watch, the WWF is sponsored by numerous multinational corporations including Weyerhaeuser, Alcoa, Citigroup, Bank of America, Kodak, J.P. Morgan, Bank of Tokyo, Philip Morris, Waste Management, Coca-Cola, and DuPont. They present an annual conservation award funded by and named after the late oil baron J. Paul Getty. The WWF routinely subverts national governments in Africa and SE Asia, pandering (a pun) to First World interests by usurping property rights of indigenous Third Worlders.
This latest propaganda is designed to do exactly that: raise false alarms about wildlife in order to justify and fund land grabs in poorer countries.
As BINGO’s go, WWF is one of the Big Five but a small fry compared to the giant, The Nature Conservancy. TNC has income of over $1 billion per year and assets worth ten times that. TNC is in the land grab business worldwide, but especially in the U.S. where former TNC Chairman and current Sec. Treasury Hank Paulson just engineered the largest robbery of the US Treasury in history. TNC is all about real estate, and receives over $100 million per year directly from Congress to purchase private land in this country.
Just so you know. It’s always a good idea to keep tabs on the enemy. Don’t for a minute think that AGW is a science project. It’s all about shakedowns, takeover, and global-scale robbery.

Mike Kelley

WWF are world-class envirocrits. They arrange expensive tours for the well-to-do to go around the globe, but their website has stuff about carbon credits, etc. Outfits like this just jump on the bandwagon to keep the money rolling in.

Ed Scott

When scientists are using their grant money to explore the vagaries and unknowns of Nature, they are, more often than not, “surprised” by the “unexpected” “extremes” and “faster changes.” 🙂 /sarc off


A simple trick used by 3-D photographers is to fuse the two images by crossing the eyes. The alterations to the 1979 image instantly stand out in bold relief while the rest of the image lies flat indicating that one or the other was indeed manipulated.
Is the ice growing or shrinking? Doesn’t matter now. The WWF’s lies in the name of their socilalist agenda are exposed. The ironic part is that their shenanigans intended to bring attention to the plight of the polar bear will probably do more harm than good.