Friday, September 23, 2011

Atlas Unbound

Wrong by a factor of 150
Some may have noticed reports of the new edition of the Comprehensive Times Atlas of the World published with a press release noting that it showed
"concrete evidence of how climate change is changing the face of the planet for ever - and doing so at an alarming and accelerating rate."
That part of the advert for the £150 volume was referring (amongst other things) to the maps it contained showing that the ice coverage of Greenland had decreased by 15% in just 12 years.   However, the real decrease is 0.1% according to the Scott Institute of Polar Research at Cambridge:

"The Scott Polar Research Institute points out that the volume of ice contained in the Greenland Ice Sheet is approximately 2.9 million cubic kilometers and the current rate at which ice is lost is roughly 200 cubic kilometers per year. This is on the order of 0.1% by volume over 12 years." 
That seems to me to be an error of a factor of 150.  Now it gets more interesting.

Professor Sir Brian Hoskins is a British climatologist who is claimed to be "a world leading authority on climate issues". He was also the Review Editor for Chapter 3 of the IPCC 2007 Report.  He has received much criticism for his alarmist position about climate change.

Yet the promotional video for the atlas, after a grave reference to the 15% figure by the narrator, has Professor Hoskins saying this:
"Scientists like me will talk about a gradual melting of the ice sheet. But if you take a snapshot now and then, you suddenly see a bit of Greenland has gone green.  That makes you realise something is happening in the frozen north."
Efforts to erase the embarrassing clip have not quite been successful as this YouTube clip shows.

There are two worrying things about this.
  1. Professor Hoskyns is claimed to be a 'world leading authority' on climate issues and he has clearly had very considerable influence on the IPCC process. Here he comes across more as a propagandist than a scientist.
  2. This is not an isolated incident in his lack of rigour and partisan approach as this link illustrates (thanks to Steve McIntyre).
And so we have another reason why it is so difficult to trust so called 'world leading authorities'.  They seem to have successfully captured control of public policy in relation to climate.


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