There was much warmist trumpeting last week, led by The Independent and the BBC, over a German businessman's claim that two of his ships had managed to sail round the Arctic coast of Russia. "A triumph for man, a disaster for mankind" proclaimed The Independent. The opening of "the fabled North-East Passage", it said, is "a vivid sign of climate change in the Arctic".
While other papers speculated that this could slash journey times for container ships to and from the Far East, Greenpeace hailed it as further proof of the urgent need to halt global warming at December's Copenhagen conference.
It was not long, however, before my colleague Richard North, on his EU Referendum blog, tore the story to shreds. The Arctic journey round the top of Russia, it emerged, had been made scores of times before. These went back at least to 1935 when the trip was made by four Soviet freighters. In 1940 a German raider used it to sink seven merchantmen in the Paciific. Since 1979 the Arctic route has been regularly used by ships sailing between Russia and Vancouver.
It turned out that the German shipowner was a rabid warmist. His ships needed the services of a Russian icebreaker and there is no way such a route could be used by any ships larger than 20,000 tons because they need to be of shallow draught and strengthened against ice. In other words, this warmist publicity stunt was no more than a silly-season fable.
It did aptly coincide, however, with the moment when the Arctic ice began its annual re-freeze last week – earlier than usual. At the end of this summer's melt, the ice area was 25 per cent greater than its record low in September 2007.