Hysteria About Climate Change Increasing

This is the kind of news story that media outlets should be ashamed of:

"Glaciers are shrinking at record rates and many could disappear within decades, the U.N. Environment Program said Sunday.

Scientists measuring the health of almost 30 glaciers around the world found that ice loss reached record levels in 2006, the U.N. agency said."

So, the ball is out the park on the first pitch. Glaciers are shrinking at record rates, the seas will rise and fill with the blood of dead polar bears, plagues, famine, dogs and cats living together, the end of the world as we know it.

Then there is the call for action:

"He urged governments to agree stricter targets for emissions reductions at an international meeting next year in the Danish capital, Copenhagen."

... and kicking some money towards climate change research wouldn't hurt either, I suppose.

But then:

"On average, the glaciers shrank by 4.9 feet in 2006, the most recent year for which data are available."

So now we have a number that's just sitting there. 4.9 feet sounds like a lot, but how much did glaciers melt in 1956? 1896?

It's a bit like saying I'm tall because I'm 2 inches taller than my brother.

Buried at the bottom, long after most readers would have run into the streets to organize a Kyoto Protocol protest, comes the context:

"Haeberli said glaciers lost an average of about a foot of ice a year between 1980 and 1999. But since the turn of the millennium the average loss has increased to about 20 inches."

So, eight more inches. Some context, but it's not really enough. An eight inch increase could be considered a lot, but what was the increase from 1960 to 1980? What if in the next few years the glaciers shrink less, so the average works out to be 'around a foot'?

Oh, wait, careful consideration doesn't sell newspapers, or get people scared. My mistake.

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