paul’s words

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Does the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) inadvertently support Glenn Beck’s claim that earth’s climate is not changing? UCS cites records to challenge Beck. But the data seem to support Beck. UCS failed to analyze its data.

UCS quotes Beck, December 15, 2009: “In September of 2007, there was a 25 percent reduction in the usual minimum [Arctic] ice cover... In the two years since, nearly all of the ice has returned.” Then, UCS complains of Beck’s “outrageous claim that Arctic ice ‘is increasing’.”

UCS provides a “Factcheck”: “In 2007, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported Arctic sea ice to be 39 percent below the long-term average for September, when the area of ice is lowest each year. In September 2009, the ice was again low–24 percent below the long-term average.”

Is Beck’s comment (“the ice has returned”) “outrageous”? UCS’s data show that there was more ice cover in 2009 than in 2007: In 2007, the ice-covered area was 39% below average, so ice covered 61% of the usual area. In 2009, ice cover was 24% below average, which means 76% was covered. Ice cover jumped from 61% to 76%.

That is an “increase” (at least for that two-year period), as Beck implied in the quote UCS attributes to him.

Data need evaluation. Observation alone does not explain (we observe that the sun “rises”, but most of us now understand that the earth rotates). Thoughtful analysis leads to understanding, not only in the physical world, but in political argument, too.

Accuracy is imperative for all who advocate.

W. Paul Wharton