How Forbes got it wrong: The real climate change data from NASA

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A NASA visualisation showing record low sea ice levels compared to 1979. Image courtesy of NASA

A new Forbes article which claimed that polar ice coverage has not changed since 1979 has been revealed to be based off misrepresented data.

Updated NASA data screengrab 250The article in Forbes titled ‘Updated NASA Data: Global Warming Not Causing Any Polar Ice Retreat’ based its entire argument around a single graph, which it claimed incorporated “new NASA data”.

The problem is however, it did no such thing.

The Manufacturer contacted NASA for comment on the article, which has been viewed more than 280,000 times. But the organisation flatly denied that it was the source of the “new data”.

“The article does not reference any NASA data source. The article links to a single graph posted on a University of Illinois website to support its claims. NASA has not released any new or updated data that supports these claims,” stated Stephen Cole, a Communications Officer from NASA.

James Taylor, the author of the Forbes article, who also works for a conservative think-tank called the Heartland Institute, appears to have invented the NASA connection for this data in an attempt to give it authenticity.

But this isn’t the only issue with the article

In a rebuttal to the article, a lead scientist from the University of Illinois explained that its data had been ‘cherry picked’ in order to support a conclusion.

“The author implies that since the most recent two years of polar sea totals are near the long-term average, that global warming is not causing the polar ice caps to recede. Cherry picking limited data to illustrate a point on climate change is not a compelling argument,” the scientist stated.

In actual fact, and in line with predictions made by climate scientists, the latest real NASA data shows that polar sea ice levels are indeed decreasing.

As a whole, the planet has been shedding sea ice at an average annual rate of 13,500 square miles (35,000 sq km) per year since 1979.

“…global sea ice is still decreasing,” said Claire Parkinson, climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “That’s because the decreases in Arctic sea ice far exceed the increases in Antarctic sea ice.”

And even Forbes agrees the Heartland Institute twists the facts

It seems even Forbes itself admits that the Heartland Institute is a misleading source of information on Climate change. In July, 2014, Forbes published an article titled ‘The Latest Climate Change Denial Fact Twisting’ which read:

“A new report from libertarian think tank Heartland Institute claims that new government data debunks the concept of global climate change. However, an examination of the full data and some critical consideration shows that the organization, whether unintentionally or deliberately, has inaccurately characterized and misrepresented the information and what it shows.”

So why has it published yet another article from the same group less than 12 months later? Forbes has yet to reply to our request for an explanation.

Article compiled by Tim Brown, Michael Cruickshank and Aiden Burgess.