A commentary appearing here at the Swiss Baseler Zeitung (BAZ) slams a recently published British paper on moss growth in Antarctica that gave the impression the south polar continent was greening up due to climate change.
The BAZ writes that the paper is an example of “how today science is manipulated and used for political purposes“.
German language media outlets like Spiegel wasted no time in blaring out the dramatic news, giving unwitting readers the impression that the entire continent was rapidly losing all its ice and becoming vegetated. However, upon closer examination that “greening” of the South Pole is actually some moss growing near the very tip of the Antarctic peninsula, 65° south latitude!
The whole affair is a complete intentional public deception. It’s since become another classic example of scientists and media ruining the reputation of science over the long term for the sake of short-term climate hype and attention grabbing.
The BAZ calls the whole media handling “an abuse of science”.
The Basel, Switzerland-based Swiss daily writes that professor Fritz Vahrenholt decided to examine how the results of the British study morphed into spectacular reports of a “greening” Antarctica in the media. According to Vahrenholt,, and entire series of errors was committed by the scientists.
The first major error the media made was making the three tiny islands located near the tip of the Antarctic peninsula where the study took place look as if they were talking about all of Antarctica.
Vahrenholt said that would be like making an increase in fires on a British island into the headline: ‘Europe is burning!'”
The second mistake, the German professor points out, is the media claim that the area of study did not suddenly turn green and that there’s been moss and plants on the islands “for hundreds of years” already.
Cooling since 2000
Another deceptive claim made is that the area has been warming, but the study examined the temperatures over periods ranging from 1950 to 2000. “Why not use the temperature data up to the present?” Vahrenholt asks. Looking at the complete temperature chart provided by the BaZ and Vahrenholt, one finds that summers in the the area of study have in fact been COOLING since before 2000!
Average summer temperature value of the three stations used between 1978 and 2016, with 20-year smoothing. Chart: Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt/BaZ.
Vahrenholt tells the BaZ that it’s clear why the study stopped at the year 2000: because that endpoint was purposely selected to produce the greatest rate of warming. And depending on which datasets are examined: “from 1999 to 2014 the Antarctic Peninsula even cooled at half a degree per decade”. Something that the British study simply left out.
Highly exaggerated climate models
The British University of Exeter scientists also identified other factors other than temperature impacting the growth of moss, but these were sloppily handled in the reporting of the results to the public. What was left was the preposterous impression of a greening Antarctic continent.
Vahrenholt also points out that the climate models for the Antarctic Peninsula have been massively over-projecting the warming, and that it in fact growing only at a tiny fraction of what was predicted.
The BaZ commentary concludes:
Amesbury and his team from the University of Exeter indeed did not tell lies, but important scientific data and relationships were left out so that their study would fit the scientific trend and prejudice of journalists.”