Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dumb Britain

"Danger: Fiery lava is flunged tens of feet up in the air splashes down Mount Etna on the island of Sicily, Italy"

Flunged ?

But this one's quite evil.

"The big thaw: Greenland ice cover vanishes in just four days"

Greenland has a couple of miles of ice cover - miles deep. What they're reporting is that satellite data appears to show surface melting - how much is not specified - over nearly all that ice cover. If the Greenland ice cap had vanished we'd be a smaller island, as East Anglia would be submerged.

What's particularly bad is that a more measured - or better sub-edited - report the previous day, by Seith Borenstein, ran as follows :

Even Greenland's coldest place showed melting. Records show that last happened in 1889 and occurs about once every 150 years.

Nasa says three satellites saw what it calls unprecedented melting over four days beginning on 8 July. Most of the thick ice remains. But what was unusual was that the melting occurred over a widespread area.

Nasa says the melting area went from 40 per cent of the ice sheet to 97 per cent. Until now, the most extensive melt seen by satellites in the past 30 years was about 55 per cent.

Scientists cannot say yet if the melting is from global warming or natural.

One should never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by stupidity. The Mail, like the Telegraph, seems to hire illiterate subs - the Indie goes for scientific illiterates. Fair play to the Indie's commenters - they're ripping into the headline in fine style. One of them adds quotes which make it plain that either writer Steve Connor or the subs are guilty of suppressio veri as well as suggestio falsi.

"Given the decades-old ice-core evidence, "you could make the case that it's not unexpected to see it now," the University of Georgia's Mote said."

 (not that such things are any bar to a career in journalism. Previous correspondent Charles Arthur is now at the Guardian. And in the economics field, former Telegraphist Edmund Conway - the chap who thinks the offspring of the Karen Matthews' of this world are going to be paying the ageing boomers hospital bills - is now economics correspondent at Sky News.)