« Greenland “snow drought” spells trouble | Main | When the Arctic was 8 °C warmer »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I mean, it's a great article, but I'm not happy with the phrase 'how cleverly the misdirection is perpetrated'. 'how wilfully perverse and far beyond shame you would have to be to put your name to such complete and utter tripe', might have been closer to the mark. don't tell these people they're clever. they're not clever.

well, and, possibly a bit too long for mr solomons target audience to read through to the end, as well, assuming any of them actually are genuinely misinformed

Kevin McKinney

Couldn't finish it. The demolition was more than complete halfway through...

If Mr Solomon thinks that this lends corroborative support to his frankly bizarre claim that there is no evident trend, then I would like a pint of whatever he is drinking. Please.

No, you wouldn't, Bill! That's not *just* Kool-aid!

(By the way, there were a number of, er, phallic references. Was Mr. Solomon implicitly being compared to a 'Spenserian spur', by any chance?)


To summarize the mind of a denier failing the sniff test: "No global warming since 1997. No Arctic ice melt since 1989. And the New York Yankees have been losing more games since 2002, so they are clearly becoming a worse baseball team. No, don't try to explain to me how they won the 2009 World Series! They're on the downtrend!"

This kind of nonsense is their M.O. Draw a line from the highest peak to the lowest trough, or vice versa, and call it a cooling or recovery. When they can't counter with science, apply Occam's Razor and take the path of least resistance: pick a random point, subtract it with another point of different numerical value (hopefully you should be able to do this at ease by age 6), draw an absurd conclusion, then call yourself a genius for uncovering these egregious lies of climate change skullduggery. It's so puerile and pseudo-intellectual, I'm not sure if it's more appropriate to laugh or to cry. It is kind of amazing how much we find ourselves playing whack-a-mole with these people, considering they are not interested in learning from their mistakes or what have you. It's intentional deceit. That's obvious by now. They are only interested in finding some combination of data that will get them what they want to see. Like school-age children, they run home and can't wait to show everyone that they know addition and subtraction; except that children are actually genuinely interested in finding answers to questions, so I'm not being fair to young people. These fools just entertain themselves with confirmation bias and by bathing themselves in the groupthink of conspiracy theories. It. Is. Old.

Hans Gunnstaddar

It may also be a case in which many deniers secretly desire disastrous consequences for any number of personal reasons stemming from unfulfilled lives (or a desire for Rapture), in which denial helps serve to reject the need to slow CO2 emissions or attempt geo-engineered techniques, to keep things moving towards calamity.

It would explain a lot.

Paul Beckwith

Being Canadian myself, I am very embarrassed to have people like Lawrence Solomon in Canada.

He writes for the weekend national newspaper "The National Post" and his article is usually on the back page of the business section "The Financial Post" of this paper.

I would encourage people to write letters of complaint to this paper asking that they refrain from publishing this pack of lies and get accurate realistic truthful articles on climate change.


When I was a child, in the 1950s, I was taught about "the Wisdom of Solomon." Whatever happened to it?
However, at that age we played just such puerile word games as are being played here. If you knew what was good for you, you only played them with other seven-year-olds, and certainly not any of the teachers. Perhaps the Toronto Financial Post is edited by a seven-year-old?
As the Scotsman said, "I hae ma doots as to whether he'll be singing this tune in September."

Bill Fothergill



When I originally penned this piece it was, how shall I put this, somewhat more liberally sprinkled with invective. Before sending it to Neven, I did a total rewrite, adopting instead a more tongue-in-cheek approach laced with deliberate understatement and, let's be honest, possibly more than a hint of sarcasm.

I do believe that some of the utter bollox that one gets from the usual suspects does contain some extremely clever use of the English language. (As well as outright cherry picking and "lies, damned lies and statistics".) Pointing out some of the standard rhetorical devices thus employed might help others recognise their use in the future.

Having been brought up in Glasgow, it is rather second nature for me to refer to such people as a "bunch of f*****g two faced lying b******s that should be stood up against a wall and shot". However, as indicated above, that would not have been in keeping with the tone of the OP. ;)

I fully agree that the OP was somewhat voluminous, but that was again deliberate. I could think of no other way to clearly show up the vast number of holes in the argument that Mr Solomon was trying to make.

With Neven's permission, I might do another guest post dissecting another of the "recovery" memes in similar detail.

Most of the readers here are already aware of the sheer scale of the ongoing deception that passes for sceptical argument. However, having the rebuttals assembled together might help in any discussion with people who do not know which "side" to believe.

Cheers billthefrog

Rob Dekker

Worth More than a Thousand Words

Bill Fothergill

@ Kevin,

Your insinuation that I was using euphemisms of a "below the waist line" nature is naught but a fallacy. ;)

@ Rob Dekker,

Yep, I thought about throwing in a chart like yours but I was concerned that the "date for date" comparison would be lost.

By the way, on my browser (Chrome) your chart cuts off at 2007. (The start of the recovery :)

cheers billthefrog


In the few years that I have been following ice and warming, the blogspace has changed a lot. I don't bother (much) arguing with deniers anymore because the battle seems moot - ish. The arctic seaice either is doomed this year or the next, or we are all wrong.

So the question is, are the denialists like Comical Ali?, just scraping their last few years of revenue from sites and shill funding? What is the dark side's plan for post icial arctic?

Espen Olsen


Interesting question, I also gave up arguing with hardcore and even semi deniers some time ago, because it always ended with a stupid ping pong game of words. But I think they will continue their arguments as long as there is ice left in Greenland and Antarctica, so they will still have some years left working on their project.

Kevin McKinney

billf wrote: "Your insinuation that I was using euphemisms of a "below the waist line" nature is naught but a fallacy. ;)"

Ah! I'm abashed, then, though had things been otherwise, I would probably have agreed with you...

Thanks again for a very thorough piece of analysis.

R. Gates


"What is the dark side's plan for post icial arctic?"

This is an interesting question, and surely it will depend on the "so what" factors involved in an ice-free summer Arctic. If wacky extreme weather is conclusively found to be the result (i.e. more blocking events, more Hurricane Sandy's, etc.) then the "so what" answer will be a strong one. If we simply get more revenue from the Arctic (oil, shipping, tourism) that is ice-free, then the "so what" might actually be much different.

A worse-case scenario is of course that the "so what" to an ice-free Arctic is that we get some huge burps of methane and other releases of carbon from melting permafrost and we see GH concentrations sky-rocket, then we could see some of the scenarios develop that the so-called "alarmists" have been warning about for some time. In which case there would be some big push for geoengineering efforts, but at that point, it might be just a tad too late...


Ignoramus, dumb@ss, shill, and idiot are all appropriate responses to deniers, in my opinion.

As for what they will do once the ice is gone, I agree with R. Gates above. They'll try to sell what's 'good' about ice loss. They'll act like they don't care (so what?). And they'll shift more to the 'luke warm' argument of downplaying the impacts of global warming. Most of all, they will forget they were ever wrong in the first place as they continue down the path of being wrong again...

Harold lee

“The really important question is to know how much warmer it will be and how fast this is likely to happen as this determines a realistic and sensible cause of action.”
Chief, thanks for entering the lions den on your sea surface estimate recently, I hope it does go as high as you say but it might need a year longer
Apropos this topic it explains why no one side can win an unwinnable argument.
The really important question is when will we take a cold downturn and for how long.
the facts are that it will take a number of numbers [3 only] to move in the direction of global cooling for a small number of years [4 definitely but even 2 would be great] to shift the weight of the public to a mainstream sceptical view [right or wrong] despite all the good arguments on either side
While the surface temperature and sea heat content rise and the Arctic Sea ice extent remains low all considered sceptical arguments fail and if it cools all AGW arguments fail.
History shows such a downturn will occur at least 3 times in a century and it may well happen now and is much more likely the longer we go [inevitable] which makes being on the denier side the better place to be this year, this decade and this century.
the 30% Danish ice graph is now breaking free laterally emphasising Mr Solomon's otherwise dubious point

Aaron Lewis

We have a good idea of the distribution of clathrates. We understand the dissociation of clathrates. We have some understanding of ocean dynamics.

However, if one puts these 3 concepts together for an engineering estimate of methane release rates, then one is an "alarmist". And, in this usage, "alarmist" is the strongest possible slur.

We have theory. We have 15 years of field observations of increasing methane releases from the polar regions. We have satellite data showing increasing atmospheric concentrations of methane. We know that right now, significant amounts of clathrate are near conditions that would induce instability and dissociation.

In the next few years, global warming will accelerate massively as we lose the albedo cooling of the Arctic sea ice. At that point, ocean warming will massively increase, and large amounts of clathrate will be exposed to conditions favoring dissociation. These are known knowns. There are unknowns, but the system behavior is very likely to be driven by the knowns.

In the next couple of decades we can expect significant clathrate instability and dissociation. To put it crudely, we have already triggered the "Clathrate Bomb". The good news is that it had a 50 year fuse. The bad news is that we triggered it circa 1985 as CO2 concentrations passed 350 ppm, thus we can expect real effects within 2 decades.

It is time to take global warming seriously.

The public does not take global warming seriously because "Climate Science" did not take global warming seriously. Anybody that leaves carbon feedback out of general circulation models, does not take global warming seriously.

Your Loyal Alarmist

PS Storms Issac, Isabel, and Sandy were real effects of global warming. Global warming says there is more heat in the system. Thermodynamics says that more heat in the system affects all weather. The system oscillates, but much of the oscillation is forced by the accumulation of additional heat. The behavior of the highly forced system is different from the behavior of the system near equilibrium. Between drought and flood, we will not be allowed to forget or ignore global warming.

Historical precedents no longer apply to our climate system.

Chris Reynolds

Lawrence Solomon is a double digit IQ dolt.

That's not an ad hominen. It's an insult, verging upon fact backed up by observational evidence.

Doug Bostrom

Unfortunately, a fundamental asymmetry is that Solomon's payload is successfully delivered into many if not most of his target minds via the headline and lede, within mere seconds. The mental weapon he's deploying is intended for people in a hurry, who will absorb the article's message of "everything's ok" without any trouble and almost unconsciously.

Conversely-- as we see here-- in order to repair the cognitive damage done by Solomon's article requires concentration, a little bit of time and quite a bit of space.

Not a new observation, but the fundamental mismatch in available tools and tactics is especially striking in this case of the Arctic sea ice.


I don't think it's really true that deniers can get their message out in a headline, while realists have to produce a thesis - what is true is that deniers are much better at 'framing' and spinning, and are not afraid of telling barefaced lies. For example, you could rebut Solomon's article with a simple 'I see you've conveniently forgotten that last September saw the lowest amount* of Arctic sea ice ever recorded. Oh, and that the six biggest summer melts have all occurred in the last six years ... you do know the difference between summer and winter, right?'

Well, and I'm not sure how effective his little piece of nonsense was, either. Unless you've already decided climate change isn't happening, you very likely know from news reports that the Arctic is melting. We know that environmentalists who start to cry wolf will soon lose their audience; if anyone read Solomon's article and wondered what the heck was going on, I assume they'll figure it out when they see the news report of this summer's record melt (assuming it does actually get reported, of course ...)

*DON'T use words like 'extent' or 'volume'


Coincidentally, sofouuk, my comment resembles yours quite a bit (it received most thumbs up):

Thanks for glossing over the record smashing 2012 melting season. Will you peddle the same disinformation every year around March/April and then stay silent for the rest of the melting season?

Don't fall for it, folks.


Two quotes from two sage authors come to mind with respect to all of this:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." ~Upton Sinclair

"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." ~Mark Twain


Well said, Bill.
Hello all. After an absence from blogging due to RSI I'm back, as someone or other famously said.
In case any of you missed these:

I'm getting back into the swing of writing again at science20.com - I may even write something Arctic themed. Meanwhile, I expect a very rapid loss of ice once the sun gets busy on all that smashed up 1st year ice. Yes folks, Arctic open water is recovering nicely. ;-)


For some unfathomable reason, Yahoo has me down as PasserBy. I am logicman, also known under my top secret matrix name of Patrick Lockerby.


Good to see you, Patrick! That is, I presume it's you. Drop a line when you have something up at science2.0.

BTW, now that we are talking lost&found, has anyone seen A-Team lately?

Steve Bloom

Neven, he said he'd be off-line for a month or so, off hiking in the wilderness.


Just confirming it was me commenting as PasserBy. I'd mislaid my passwords list, so logged in via an old Yahoo account.

I have posted a few articles recently, but not strictly about climate. I just posted an article about Wilhelm Sinsteden, unsung inventor of the lead-acid battery. It struck me that there is a connection to global warming. Arrhenius was first to analyse both atmospheric CO2 and electrochemistry in great depth.

Given that the exact electrochemical nature of the lead-acid battery is still not fully understood, shouldn't all those 'wait until the facts are in' people stop using batteries and start their engines with the fully understood cranking handle? Just a thought.



Patrick says, "After an absence from blogging I'm back, as someone or other famously said."

Well, that would be the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.


I'm back too, though like a T-800 droid at the end of the movie, somewhat the worse for wear and not fully operational.

 photo TaklamakanNovDust_zpsc5fa247f.jpg

The smoking gun points at open water on the 15 May 13 Jaxa image. And I do mean open water all-liquid-phase watery wet water. It's real easy to measure its daily area -- and more nuanced compositions -- with a click of the mouse so we hardly need an external product for that.

In fact, I have a long list of grievances with 'extent' and whether we should even be lending credence to the concept with blog mention.

First up, why do we have a daily albedo product for Greenland but not one for the Arctic Basin -- what's preventing us from cloning over the method of Jason Box? That is, extent gives nothing but abuse after freeze-up yet serves as a mediocre proxy for heat balance during isolation season.

Second, it's better to focus on just the Arctic Ocean and put aside the ice east of Kamchatka and at mouth of Saint Lawrence River (same latitude as Paris) etc. Check out the mid-winter NSIDC extent map to see what all they're including. I'll put out a couple of options for defining Arctic Ocean boundaries shortly (as masks for the common types of satellite imagery).

Third, I have the distinct impression that very few blogging away on sea ice extent know how extent is operationally determined, in the sense of being able to replicate its computation.

By replication I do not mean writing someone for the code, compiling it on your platform, and repeating the calculation on the same data.

Replication means starting with how 'extent' is defined, writing an algorithm appropriate to that from scratch, applying it to your favorite applicable satellite imagery, and coming up with more or less the same answer. We can't just take other people's products at face value -- we have to pick them apart like Wipneus and Chris did with Piomas.

The tricky part is the "15% ice" rounded up to 100% (because NSIDC says it "might" be ice covered by water) that differentiates extent from area. What exactly does that mean when a single structureless NSIDC extent pixel is 25 km on a side?

While 625 sq km of area is suitably small relative to the 14 million sq km freeze-out (note the Arctic Ocean relevant to climate change is much smaller), it's still a really big pixel -- 11 times the size of Manhattan Island (58.79 sq km) -- relative to intrinsic dimensions of sea ice features such as ridges, fractures and floes.

Unreplicable products are the curse of climate science; after some time goes by, no one has the slightest idea any more what physics was considered or wasn't, what simplifying assumptions were made and why, whether the product is still applicable at the end stages of ice loss.

Yes, if you had full text of all the citations in all the citations of all the citations of all the initial citations, this all might be spelled out somewhere but no one has time or text access to routinely pursue that.

For example, the 15% was intended for ice edge, yet perimeter will become vastly more extensive in coming near-terminal melt years -- is the TB (passive microwave emission brightness temperature) prescription still applicable?

In summary, I favor migrating out of products we cannot replicate into in-house products on a programmatic (blogwide) basis. We've seen from buoy data that it is rather easy to do this for volume, while extent and area are just mouse clicks and albedo is like Greenland. If 38V is all they're using for Greenland daily melt, we can three channels on the sea ice.

Some products we can do faster and others better. Better because we are free of the constraint of tying back into 1979 ice: we can work with modern imagery that need not go too far back.

1979 is flogging a dead horse to begin with -- you can't radically change the chemical composition of your planet's atmosphere without there being consequences, not when it starts filling an infrared band gap. So let's get out of reactive mode and look more towards predicting the future.

Rob Dekker

Sorry Bill,

Here is a scaled version of the graph which should fit in the window.

Also note that this is not my graph.
Tamino made it, and if you click on it, you will be directed to his blog post.

What's really cool is that many of the Tamino readers followed his suggestion to post a comment on the original Financial Post blog where Solomon vented his nonsense, and there, they tore Solomon's post to shreds.

If anyone from the Financial Post is reading the comment section, they will have to think twice before they let Solomon post anything else.

Unless of course the Financial Post has a financial interest in letting Solomon spout climate change denial nonsense on their site....


yes I was going to mention that the other day. the comments section is a great read now :)


and welcome back A-team, you have been missed. nice to see you're not hoping to play the good guy in this years instalment of the franchise, as well :o)

Third, I have the distinct impression that very few blogging away on sea ice extent know how extent is operationally determined, in the sense of being able to replicate its computation.

OK, you got me... :-P

Kevin McKinney

Speaking of silent blogfriends, anybody know what's up with Tamino these days?

The comments to this entry are closed.