Hot off the tundra, a new report breathlessly hyped by the New York Times’ “Climate Fwd.” newsletter: “It was not just that the Arctic is changing — that’s been said umpteen times. It was that the region is shifting to a fundamentally different climate, that it is well on its way to becoming a place defined more by open ocean and rain and less by sea ice and snow.” You mean like the last time it was warm there? The Arctic has seen cyclical periods of more sea ice and less throughout the Holocene and even in the 20th century. But never mind. The old scares have become boring, especially when they either sound like what happened in centuries past or they fail to happen, from disappearing sea ice to disappearing polar bears. So we have to up the ante or, you know, find a new schtick.
The author admits that the scare story contained much of the same old same old. For instance “it contained the usual detailed information on the state of the region — second-highest average temperatures on record, drastically low sea ice, shrunken snow cover that led to severe wildfires, and more.” And it declared… wait for it… “a region that’s warming faster than any other on the planet.” But not just warming. Transforming.
And where is the evidence for this claim? The “fundamentally different climate” in the Arctic is both here and coming soon, in that it “is well on its way to becoming a place defined more by open ocean and rain and less by sea ice and snow.” This time for sure. But it has also been warm there in the past. So unless it’s two Arctics in one, what you’re seeing is just the Arctic climate. If it really does melt, the polar bears go under, and Nunavut becomes the cactus capital of what’s left of the world, you might have a point.
Until then, the article’s claim that “Perhaps it will jolt more of the public into supporting action to combat climate change” sounds like wishful thinking on top of wilful exaggeration.