Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stories drift slowly thru newsspace

This morning I read a piece on blog entitled "Study links Humans to Arctic Warming". NowHampshire was quoting a Concord Monitor piece published today. The Concord Monitor is reprinting a Wash Po article dated 4 September. So, it takes 13 days, nearly two weeks for a Wash Po article to filter up to where I see it.
Doesn't really matter. The article is written by a modern journalism major. She included no data, no graphs, no photos, no evidence to support the scare headline ("Human beings are ruining the planet"). Virtually no numbers. At one place she does say that Arctic temperature has risen 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit from "they would have expected". Translation. Temperature is 2.5 degrees higher than I think it ought to be. That's not data, that's an opinion. Real data would be a graph of measured arctic temperatures going back 2000 years. With an explaination of how you determine temperature in the past. This "2.5 degrees" is the only number in the entire piece.
The "journalist" mentioned something about new lake bottom cores that go back 2000 years. She is ignorant of Scandinavian lake bottom cores going back to the end of the last ice age which have been well known for 50 years. The Scandinavian cores show thin layers, called varves, which indicate the passage of years. Apparently sedimentation slows down a lot in winter when the lake freezes over, leaving a color stripe in the sediment. In fact these cores were used to date the end of the last ice age. The sedimentation only began after the glacier melted back enough to allow open water. Count the layers starting at the top, and you know how many years passed since the lake started out in the lake business.
Nor does the "journalist" mention just how one determines temperature 2000 years ago by analysing lake bottom mud. Pollen counts? Isotope analysis? something else? Method makes a difference. Temperature estimates from ancient pollen counts are nowhere near as accurate as temperature from isotope analysis can be.
In short, this article is just an opinion piece unsupported by any sort of evidence, scientific or otherwise. This might have happened because the "journalist" who wrote it is uneducated and innumerate, or because there really isn't any evidence to support a beloved theory of the greenie left.

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