Hartley: Only the polar bears and puffins seem to care | AspenTimes.com

Hartley: Only the polar bears and puffins seem to care

As is often the case, I was frantically surfing the Internet on Thursday morning, trying to find some news tidbit that would fire my imagination and allow me to churn out a column by 11 a.m., and I came across the following headline buried deep on the BBC News Science & Environment page: "Arctic sea ice volume bounces back."

Curious, I clicked on the link, which led me to a story titled "Esa's Cryosat sees Arctic sea-ice volume bounce back." Supposedly, according to data from the European Space Agency's Cryosat satellite, there were 50 percent more cubic kilometers of Arctic sea ice at the end of 2013's melt season than there were in 2012.

As an American, I know very little about the metric system, so it's possible that 50 percent metric is a lot smaller than 50 percent regular, but the sea-ice story seemed like pretty big news to me. I was surprised I hadn't seen it anywhere previously.

I checked the date of the story: Dec. 16. In Colorado it was Dec. 19, which seemingly would have given the story three days to show up in the news, but I'm not very good with time zones either. Maybe in Britain, or wherever the BBC is based, it's still Dec. 16, and I was reading the story hot off the presses.

That seemed like a bit of a stretch, though, so I decided to delve deeper on a couple of American news sites to see if I'd somehow missed the story when it first broke. CNN had nothing on the front page and evidently doesn't have a science or environment page. The Huff Post Science page had a headline screaming, "DNA Tells Shocking Tale of Neanderthal Sex," and there were lots of stories asking whether we'd reached some global-warming tipping point, but there was nothing about the sea-ice increase.

Ah, but those are left-leaning media outlets, I thought. Of course they're not going to feature a story that runs so counter to their views on climate change. What I needed to do was check a right-leaning news site, which would presumably love any shred of evidence that debunks the notion of global-warming.

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Obviously, I went to Fox News, where just having an open mind on the idea of climate change is reason enough to get you fired. I found nothing anywhere on the site, but the Science page led off with the headline "Neanderthal woman's genome reveals unknown human lineage." I'm going to assume it was the same story as the lurid Neanderthal-sex one from the Huff Post page. Kudos to Fox for not getting so unnecessarily excited about it.

This is odd, I thought. Here we all are in this paranoid tizzy, tearing our hair out over the shrinking of the polar ice caps, and we've just been presented with some good news. Why doesn't anyone seem to care or even acknowledge it? What makes this story less newsworthy than the "Frenzied feline attack caught on camera" that Fox had?

I harkened back to a book I read a few years ago titled "State of Fear," by Michael Crichton. You may remember it if you're a fan of ridiculous adventure stories dreamt up to show off the author's knowledge of vaguely scientific concepts.

The book is a work of fiction, and it's now 9 years old, but it argues that global warming is occurring no more quickly than it ever has. The reason it seems like the Earth is heating up at unprecedented rates is because climate change has become a massive business that succeeds by keeping people in a constant state of fear — hence the book's title. And everyone is in on it, from the government to the press to the scientists whose livelihoods depend on grants given to them by people who want proof that Earth is warming.

So was Crichton right? Are the media quashing stories to keep us scared and propagate a global-warming narrative? I don't know, but it would explain why the sea-ice story never appeared on my radar.

Look, I'm by no means saying climate change is false. The BBC story was quick to point out that even with the increase, sea-ice coverage may be half what it was in the 1980s. I fully believe in climate change, and I see no upside to spewing burnt fossil fuels into the air. I'm just saying that when you read some article asking if we've reached a global-warming tipping point, take it with a grain of salt.

Todd Hartley also believes Earth is football-shaped but God doesn't throw a very good spiral. To read more or leave a comment, please visit http://www.zerobudget.net.

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