Almost isn’t good enough.

When reporters and bloggers paraphrase science findings in the news, any misrepresentation, however slight, can turn into a “troll trap” and add fuel to conspiracy-threorist fires.

Case in point: The Verge ran a global warming impact piece last Thursday with a screaming headline reading “Global warming and sea ice loss made Hurricane Sandy worse, study says.”

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NOAA Satellite Suomi-NPP captured this image of Sandy on the east coast last October. (Courtesy: NASA)

The problem is that the cited study did not conclude that global warming made Sandy worse; it suggested a logic based on observations and science that would support such an idea.

You can read the uncorrected proof of a March 2013 Oceanography magazine article summarizing the study’s findings for yourself here, but let me review the particulars:

– The Ocenaography article does a good job describing how record-breaking de-icing of the arctic ocean this year allowed more cold air incursions farther south over North America.

– The arctic changes force more undulations in the jet stream, which allows “blocking highs” to suspend the westward movement of storm systems in the usual manner.

– Sandy was a storm that got re-routed towards the Atlantic coastline because of one of these unusual patterns.

All well and good, but the Oceanography article goes to great lengths to point out the following:

“Although a direct causal link has not been established between the atmospheric phenomena observed in late October and the record-breaking sea ice loss observed…all of the observations are consistent with such an interpretation.”

The Oceanography author goes on:

“…Perhaps the likelihood of greenhouse warming playing a significant role in Sandy’s evolution as an extratropical superstorm is at least as plausible as the idea that this storm was simply a freak of nature.”

With their brazen headline, Carl Franzen and the editors of The Verge decided to amp up the story with authoritarian certainty that was not present in the cited article.

Global warming deniers love this stuff: They feast on certainty, generalizations, and lapses of understanding that make it past editors – claiming each mis-statement or, in this case, overstatement, is proof of the vast eco-nazi conspiracy.

So let’s keep it tight out there, ok?

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Records fell last August in Arctic sea ice extent. (Courtesy: NOAA’s National Snow and Ice Data Center)

Stevie had it Right…

The great prophet Stevie Wonder said “When you believe in things that you don’t understand you suffer.  Superstition ain’t the way.”

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Stevie Wonder (Photo CC: Wikipedia Commons)

Oddly however, (with a guilty nod towards Stevie), I find my self questioning the alignment of the cosmos over the past few days:  Several mainstream news items dared to state that the most public findings of the science of global warming are not a matter of debate anymore (among those who study it).

Well I’ll be darned.

Some refreshingly crisp stories and informed analyses managed to get some attention, based on their Google-search numbers last week…

Here is the New York Times offering a deeper look into CO2 levels and the end of the last ice age.  Worthy of  a full read.

Here is a good discussion of the real story behind the often cited solar-variability “theory” for recent warming (i.e., blaming it on sunspots, solar activity, etc.) from our friends at the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang last week. (Bottom line: Sunspots and quasi-decadal solar output changes add little to the surface temperature change signature.)

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Solar irradiance changes are dwarfed by manmade climate forcing. (cc:Wikipedia Commons)

And here’s a pleasantly frank discussion from the State of Kansas, that great bastion of (failed) evolution deniers who this time seem to be at wits end over all sorts of brazen bills and mandates.  In one case it seems they are trying to balance accepting grants for wind energy with the desire to ensure “debate” on global warming is amped up in schools.

Except, points out one University of Kansas teacher, Johannes J. Feddma, there is no debate:

“We’ve known for over a century about the greenhouse effect and how humans might change it. This is nothing new from a science perspective.”

One bill in the Kansas House would outlaw any activity that uses public money on “sustainability.”

You think we’re not in Kansas anymore?

Guess again.

We’ll keep hearing this nonsense until Stevie’s admonition is soundly addressed.