The Times Atlas Of The World, regularly updated since the Victorian age, proudly presents itself as ‘the most authoritative atlas in the world’. But its latest hefty edition, published at the eye-watering price of £150, has become the focus of a bizarre climate change row.
The new atlas shows the ice in Greenland — the northern hemisphere’s largest ice cap — to be melting so fast that, since 1999, nearly a sixth of it has vanished. An area the size of Britain and Ireland combined, once covered in ice and snow, has now become ‘green and ice free’.
The publishers said the map revealed a whole new island off Greenland’s east coast, formerly viewed as part of the mainland — but which the vanishing ice has now shown to be quite separate. Local inhabitants have even celebrated the event by giving it an Inuit name meaning ‘Warming Island’.
But no sooner was this shocking evidence of global warming reported than voices throughout the scientific community began to question the atlas’s claims.
For a start, there is nothing new about ‘Warming Island’ — it was clearly shown on maps with this name more than 50 years ago, long before the global warming scare began. And nor is there any evidence that Greenland had in recent years lost 15 per cent of its ice.
The U.S. climate-change sceptic science blog Watts Up With That pointed out that one reason why satellite images might have shown such a huge ice-loss was that a lot of Greenland’s coastal ice sheet has been blackened by soot and volcanic ash, so that it no longer shows up white on photographs from space.
Richard Betts, head of Climate Impact at the UK Met Office — who actually wrote the part of the Times Atlas text which covers climate change — then insisted on another blog that he had not been responsible for ‘any of that Greenland rubbish’
Britain’s leading polar ice experts at the Scott Polar Research Institute said recent satellite images of Greenland made clear that there are numerous glaciers and permanent ice cover where the Times Atlas shows ice-free conditions and the emergence of land. ‘There is to our knowledge no support for this claim in the published scientific literature,’ they said.
So one of the world’s most respected reference books, it seems, has been caught out perpetrating what amounts to yet more propaganda for the belief in global warming.
One of the most disturbing features of this is that copies of the new atlas may soon be found in school libraries, where it will be cited by teachers as yet more evidence that climate change is now dramatically changing the world we live in.
With active encouragement from the Government, whole generations of school-children have now had the apocalyptic threat of climate change pushed down their throats — not just in science classes, but in almost any subject you can think of (questions on the need to fight global warming have even cropped up in English GCSE papers).
In geography, the present curriculum no longer concentrates on countries, continents, rivers, mountains or cities. Instead, it insists that pupils should learn about global warming and climate change and the likely effects of rising sea levels.
The propaganda is all-encompassing. The Climate Change Schools Project, an outfit that exists in partnership with the Environment Agency and other government-funded bodies, promises on its website ‘to put global warming at the heart of the national curriculum . . . We want schools to become the “hub” of excellence in climate change teaching, learning and positive action in their local communities.’
When David Miliband was Labour’s education minister, he ordered that copies of Al Gore’s propaganda film An Inconvenient Truth should be sent to every school in the country. A High Court judge decided that the ‘apocalyptic vision’ of global warming presented in the film was politically partisan and not an impartial analysis of the science of climate change.
Mr Justice Barton ruled that the film contained nine errors so serious that the schools must be issued with corrections.
The Government’s response was to compile a 77-page document so long that scarcely a single school in the country used it and no pupil was any the wiser.
And now the new Times Atlas can be added to the approved propaganda list, to ensure that once again school students are being fed with the right-on, politically correct message — even though in this case it has been so damningly challenged by real scientific experts.
In a wider perspective, this embarrassing blunder by a commercial publishing house might not seem anything like so significant as all those grievous errors identified last year in the latest report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body that once prided itself as being the most prestigious source of authority on global warming in the world.
Few predictions of the IPCC’s 2007 report drew more attention, for instance, than its claims that, thanks to global warming, most of the Himalayan glaciers would have disappeared within 30 years; 40 per cent of the Amazon rainforest would similarly have vanished; while Africa could expect mass-famine as its crop yields were halved.
All these claims were eventually revealed as not to have been based on science at all. Like many others in that IPCC report, they were no more than reckless scare stories, dreamed up by environmental activists and pressure groups.
But the fact that responsible scientists who are by no means climate sceptics should have been so anxious to point out the errors in the Times Atlas is perhaps an indication that some of the lessons of those blunders by the IPCC have struck home.
The more responsible members of the ‘warmist’ scientific community seem now rather more on their guard than they were against the peddling of baseless scare stories to promote the case for global warming.
When so much now hangs on whether or not there is genuinely reliable evidence for man-made climate change, it is more vital than ever that the claims made to support that change are grounded in proper science
The Climate Change Act passed by the Labour government in 2008 threatens to become the most expensive piece of legislation in history as we try to reduce our carbon emissions by 80 per cent, building all-but-useless windmills and trying to find carbon-free energy sources at an unimaginable cost of £18bn every year for the next 50 years.
Our politicians still believe this is the best way to fight the warming threat. But too much evidence has come to light in recent years to suggest that much of their belief in global warming may be little more than a vastly over-blown scare.
If there is cheer to be derived from this story of the Times Atlas error, it might be that the people quickest to knock it on the head were scientists who still believe in proper scientific evidence before trying to scare the world witless.
We’re going to need much more of that if the world — and our schoolchildren — are going to be returned to sanity on the matter of climate change.
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Also see: New Times Atlas 'must be pulped' over climate change exaggeration row
- Tamara Cohen - Daily Mail