13 Apr 2009

My Qualified Defense of George Will’s Sea Ice Gaffe

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In this MasterResource blog post I explain the controversy over George Will’s botched point about global sea ice area. I first point out that much of his error is due to the simple change in calendar year, rather than the passage of time (as his critics suggest), meaning that Will got unlucky. I then argue that in the grand scheme, it certainly is surprising–given all the media coverage of melting ice caps etc.–to learn that it is still quite common for global sea ice area to hit the same level as it had on the same calendar day in 1979. (In other words we’re not doing something dumb like comparing sea ice when the earth is far from the sun in 2009 with a period when the earth is closer in 1979. We’re doing the same day back in 1979 compared to today.)

Note that I am not taking a position in the post on whether Somali pirates are motivated by declining sea ice.

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