The article published by Delingpole titled “Ship of Fools III – Global Warming Study Cancelled Because of ‘Unprecedented’ Ice” aims to reveal how sudden and unforeseen changes in the ecosystem are not a direct result or correlated by climate change but instead a natural occurrence. The article focuses on the cancellation of a research study by the University of Manitoba entitled BaySys, which aimed to “study contributions of climate change and regulation on the Hudson Bay system’ (Delingpole,2017). Delingpole critiques how the lead scientist Dr. David Barber, was quick to blame his misfortune on the effects of climate change, claiming that the ice was much thicker and much heavier than anticipated, despite the only reason the expedition was cancelled was a direct result of the icebreaker being unavailable. The article explains and further demonstrates by providing a few similar examples, how such events exaggerate the truth and aim to garner and misplace the media’s attention by falsely connecting any ecological issues to human-caused climate change (Delingpole,2017).
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Richard Lindzen, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences, is a prime example of a source supporting the claims of Delingpole. Lindzen similarly states how “there is a tendency to blame everything unpleasant on global warming” through the accumulation of false and/or misleading claims, presented as evidence and alleged motivation for enacting numerous policies (Lindzen, 2017). Lindzen highlights this by expressing climate change issues/ ideas such as 97% of scientists agreeing with climate change, extreme weathers and gradual warming as “memes”, by stating that the use of information has been manipulated to achieve their needs. In a case similar to Delingpole’s, Lindzen believes, in regards to the changing arctic ice levels, there is simply neither the understanding nor the needed records to draw a conclusion. Factors such as the reducing ice coverage stabilising, only access to information/ records of relatively short-term data available and inaccuracies in satellite coverage, do not allow there to be any conclusive evidence (Lindzen, 2017). Therefore, Delingpole and Lindzen believe that the misinterpretation/ manipulation of information is what has led to all ecological issues being correlated to climate change.
Although Delingpole assumes a strong stance against the possibility that the “unprecedented thick summer ice” is human-caused, there is strong academic opinion which pushes the contrary argument. NASA conducted extensive research of arctic sea ice and determined that although sea ice across the Arctic Ocean has declined over the past few decades, there is an “increasing rate at which wintertime sea ice forms” (Nace, 2018). The research from NASA supports the claim of the unprecedented thick summer ice observed in Canada in 2017. Unlike Delingpole’s view that the rapid growth of such ice is simply a “natural phenomenon” as Earth cycles through its climate patterns, the data presented by NASA demonstrates that the thickness of summer sea ice is indeed unprecedented in recent records. As a clear rejection of Delingpole’s stance that this climate event is not anthropogenic in the slightest, Nace concludes with the remark that the climate extreme is Earth’s way of “counterbalancing”. This counterbalance is indeed in reference to the effect that humans have had on recent climate records. Many scientists and academics share the sentiment clear from NASA’s analysis of the Arctic Ocean sea ice. Quartz provides a historical parallel with the extreme climate phenomenon of thick ice with the “Little Ice Age” of the 17th Century (Livni, 2019). Quartz’s article maintains an underlying push that although the 17th Century climate event was not considered human caused, research from the “journal Quaternary Science Reviews” opposes this. The change in the climate then was believed to be, at least partially, “caused by humans”. By looking into the past, we can revaluate Delingpole’s position that the unprecedented ice in Canada was simply a natural phenomenon. However, scientists must be wary of the isolated historical observation presented by Livni and similar observations by others. Whilst there is value in analysing the past, we must place greater emphasis on the logical observations made in the modern period.
Delingpole has been criticised by many for his opinion pieces that often are targeted at denying ecological issues. Luuk Zegers in his thesis about the influence of climate change deniers on news media, notes how Delingpole consistently uses opinionated writing to ridicule and undermine those he disagrees with while providing very little evidence to support his claims (Zegers, 2018). In the article Delingpole attempts to discredit Dr David Barber, the lead scientist of the study, by depicting him as a self-servant “superhero”, calling his expeditions “war stories” and claiming they were all a publicity stunt. He goes on to cite similar expeditions that encountered unexpected sea ice, however his short, sharp reference to them is only there to try further discredit climate scientists. This very one-sided view of these events is framed to support his argument without providing any additional information for a reader to come to their own conclusion. In his final paragraph, Delingpole denies global warming, citing a late 2017 season snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, against an article written in the Independent in 2000, which warned of decreasing snowfall in the future due to climate change. Zegers describes this apparent evidence as natural contradiction, a popular climate change denier argument that argues because the weather is colder than usual, the climate cannot be warming (Zegers, 2018). An article by CNN explains the how this argument is actually invalid. Many people confuse weather, the short-term local conditions with climate, which is the broader and more long-term conditions. Such confusion allows climate deniers to sway readers who don’t know better, with little knowledge of climate change or low scientific literacy (Criss and Jones, 2019). While it is important to stay critical Delingpole hasn’t demonstrated this in his work, and has clear bias in his opinionated writing and lack of well-informed evidence.
Delingpole’s article is one of many that attempts to dissuade readers of the issue of climate change. His strong stance, along with others like in Lindzens article, aims to criticise climate scientists’ warnings of climate change. Despite this current research on sea ice disagrees with his conclusions. While being critical is important in the scientific community, his article loses merit due to his clear bias and unreliable evidence.
1. Criss, D. and Jones. J, 2019, Here’s your answer when someone asks ‘How can it be so cold if there’s global warming?’, Accessed 21 June 2019. [online] CNN. Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/29/weather/global-warming-cold-weather-explainer-wxc-trnd/index.html
2. Ephrat Livni, 2019, “What the 17th century’s “Little Ice Age” teaches us about climate change”, Quartz, 22 February, accessed 16 June 2019, https://qz.com/1554962/what-17th-centurys-little-ice-age-teaches-us-on-climate-change/
3. James Delingpole, 2017, “DELINGPOLE: Ship of Fools III – Global Warming Study Cancelled Because of ‘Unprecedented’ Ice”, Breitbart, accessed 16 June 2019, https://web.archive.org/web/20170613215910/http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/06/13/delingpole-ship-of-fools-iii-global-warming-study-cancelled-because-of-unprecedented-ice/
4. Richard Lindzen, 2017, “Straight Talk about Climate Change”, Unsettled Science, 30 November, accessed 16 June 2019, https://link-springer-com.wwwproxy1.library.unsw.edu.au/content/pdf/10.1007/s12129-017-9669-x.pdf
5. Trevor Nace, 2018, “Arctic Sea Ice is Growing Faster Than Before, But There’s A Catch”, Forbes, 10 December, accessed 16 June 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2018/12/10/arctic-sea-ice-is-growing-faster-than-before-but-theres-a-catch/#5c1375e61ef4
6. Zegers, L. (2018). Climate Change Discourses and the Influence of the Denial Machine on Left and Right News Media. Leiden: Leiden University.
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