Hartley: Panic! We’re all going to drown in a few days! | AspenTimes.com

Hartley: Panic! We’re all going to drown in a few days!

Before I get started with this week’s column, I’d like to state for the record that I am not, despite what some people may believe, a climate-change denier. I fully agree that pumping fossil-fuel-based pollutants into the air is a bad idea, and anything we can do to curb the practice should be considered.

And I’m aware that the majority of people, most notably my wife (happy Mother’s Day, honey!), don’t care one iota about my opinion on this subject. They’ve made up their minds, and they’re sticking to their guns regardless of what I say.

I’m also aware that I’ve made the same argument I’m about to make a couple of times before, most recently back in December. The fact that I keep harping on it is, I realize, a little bit annoying, but harp on I must because things really are starting to get out of hand.

The subject in question is the outrageously biased reporting of environmental news and the obvious scare tactics employed by certain media outlets that quite clearly have an agenda to pursue when it comes to climate change. The fact that that agenda is a positive thing doesn’t, in my opinion, give said media outlets the right to distort the truth and blatantly lie to people.

Here’s the latest example, courtesy of the Hyperbolic — excuse me, Huffington — Post: On Monday, HuffPost ran a story with a headline that read, “Antarctic Ice Shelf On Brink of Unstoppable Melt That Could Raise Sea Levels For 10,000 Years.”

Pretty alarming, eh? If one were to read just that headline, one would be convinced that mankind was mere days away from a cataclysmic disaster that could drown low-lying cities around the world.

The gist of the story, outlined in the first two paragraphs, is that the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica, which contains enough ice to raise sea levels by 10 to 13 feet worldwide if it were to melt, is “more vulnerable than expected to a thaw that could trigger an unstoppable slide of ice into the ocean.”

So, is this the result of human activity? Have our unrelenting emissions of greenhouse gases imperiled everyone by triggering a meltdown in the Wilkes Basin? One certainly could be forgiven for believing that based on the story’s opening. However, one would be wrong. Of course, one wouldn’t know that unless one bothered to read all the way to the 10th paragraph.

That paragraph reads, “The study indicated that it could take 200 years or more to melt the ice plug if ocean temperatures rise. Once removed, it could take between 5,000 and 10,000 years for ice in the Wilkes Basin to empty as gravity pulled the ice seawards.”

In short, the scientists who conducted the study learned something about the Wilkes Basin that always has been the case. Nothing has changed about the conditions in the basin; we just know now that it’s “like a bottle on a slant.” It has been that way forever, and as one scientist noted, “the region is not an immediate threat.”

And yet, according to the Huffington Post, we’re on the “brink” (we aren’t) of sea levels rising for 10,000 years (not true). Nothing about the story hints even vaguely at such a scenario. How the Huffington Post’s editors came up with the headline they ran is beyond me.

Here’s one truth we do know about Antarctic sea ice, courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: This year’s summer minimum (the point when the sea ice is at its smallest), which was reached on Feb. 23, was “the fourth-largest in the satellite record,” and “as a whole, sea-ice extent has increased by a small amount on an annual basis.”

Does this somehow prove that our activities aren’t raising temperatures around the globe? No. Would it be nice if the Huffington Post would at least acknowledge it in the interest of balanced reporting? I think so, but I never would expect that to happen based on how absurdly biased HuffPost’s climate-change coverage is.

Look, I understand how important it is to curb greenhouse-gas emissions and try to slow the rate of global warming. It may be, as Al Gore might tell you, the single biggest challenge of our lifetimes. But to employ unscrupulous yellow-journalism tactics in the service of that goal is unconscionable, and the Huffington Post, for which (full disclosure) I am a frequent blogger, ought to be ashamed of itself for doing so.

Todd Hartley is on the brink of becoming the world’s greatest columnist for the next 10,000 years. To read more or leave a comment, please visit http://zerobudget.net.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


A kick in the grass by Music Festival

I read with chagrin the announcement by the Aspen Music Festival of their intention to limit seating on the Karetsky Lawn to 90 pods of four persons each at a performance cost of $25 to…

See more