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What We Read Today 24 September 2014

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

  • Arctic sea ice melts to 6th-lowest level on record (Doyle Rice, USA Today) NASA satellite data has identified 17 September as the date of minimum ice coverage for the Arctic Ocean in 2014. The profile of rate of ice lost was a slow start (cool, storm-free May to July followed by rapid change for the final several weeks leading up to 17 September. This official report can be contrasted with the article from the Daily Mail which we featured on 01 September in WWRT (What We Read Today), reproduced below. See also discussions 'behind the wall'.

Click for larger image.

  • Articles about wars elsewhere in the world:

Nigeria Free Of Ebola, Final Surveillance Contacts Released (Forbes)

Palestinians Seek $3.8B in Aid for Gaza (abc News)

Michael Scott Moore: Journalist freed in Somalia (BBC News)

U.S. Invokes Iraq’s Defense in Legal Justification of Syria Strikes (The New York Times)

U.S. military leaders: Strikes in Syria are just the start of a prolonged campaign (The Washington Post)

US starts air strikes on Syria as shadowy new threat emerges (The Conversation)

Around world, mixed reactions to U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria (Carol Morello and Anne Gearan, The Washington Post)

Turkey hints at Iraq Mosul hostage exchange (BBC News)

Ukraine crisis: Rebels declare early poll date (BBC News)

Russian workers’ wage arrears protests send Putin a chilling reminder of the Yeltsin era (The Conversation)

There are 15 articles discussed today 'behind the wall'.

This issue is devoted 100% to discussion of polar ice cap data.

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  • Arctic sea ice reaches minimum extent for 2014 (National Snow & Ice Data Center) The extent of arctic sea ice has reached five of the six lowest extents in recorded history in the years 2010-2014. The other low was reached in 2007. The comparison made in the Daily Mail article for 2014 was to the 2012 all time record for minimum ice coverage. There is one valid point made in the Daily Mail: Al Gore, in his 2007 Nobel acceptance speech made a projection on the short-term steep decline rate for arctic ice in the immediately preceding years. Since 2007 the average extent of sea ice has been slightly larger than the 2007 area, which was equaled or smaller only in two years, 2011 and 2012. But there is no basis for claiming that the arctic ice cap is expanding, which was the fallacy developed by the Daily Mail. See next article.


  • Sea Ice Index: Extent and Concentration Trends (National Snow & Ice data Center) The trends in arctic ice extent vary depending on what time interval is covered. The 34-year trend is the black hashed line from the original graph. Some shorter-term trends have been added by Econintersect. Al Gore was viewing a slightly steeper long-term trend (red) and a very steep short-term trend (orange). His comments in 2007 could well have been biased by his willingness to consider that the 2001-2007 trend was an acceleration. The bias of the Daily Mail article was such that they chose to consider that the two year change 2012-2014 represented a reversal of the long-term trend and/or that the nearly flat trend from 2008-2014 represented an end to the long-term decline. Both biases led to unfortunate poor conclusions.


  • Scientists debate polar sea-ice opposites (Jonathan Amos, BBC News) Although the Antarctic sea ice has been growing over recent decades, the rate of growth is only about 1/10 the rate of arctic sea ice loss. In addition, this article quotes scientific sources that report the growth of Antarctic sea ice has more to do with wind patterns that with temperature. See next article.


  • Monckton skewers Steketee (Anthony Watts, Watts Up With That) This article claims that arctic sea ice loss has been matched by a Antarctic sea ice gain. See next article.
In fact, the global sea-ice record shows virtually no change throughout the past 30 years, because the quite rapid loss of Arctic sea ice since the satellites were watching has been matched by a near-equally rapid gain of Antarctic sea ice. Indeed, when the summer extent of Arctic sea ice reached its lowest point in the 30-year record in mid-September 2007, just three weeks later the Antarctic sea extent reached a 30-year record high. The record low was widely reported; the corresponding record high was almost entirely unreported.
  • Monckton Skewers Truth (Tamino, Open Mind) Debunk of previous article showing total global sea ice trend 1980-2012.


  • Antarctic ice should set record, but Arctic dwindles (Doyle Rice, USA Today) While the amount of sea ice at the Antarctic should set an all-time record high this month, Arctic ice shrank to its sixth-lowest level on record, scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported this week.


  • Why is southern sea ice increasing? (Skeptical Science) This was written in 2005 and last updated in 2011. For decades the air surface temperature has been increasing in Antarctica region but the extent of the sea ice has been growing. Antarctic sea ice is complex and counter-intuitive. Despite warming waters, complicated factors unique to the Antarctic region have combined to increase sea ice production. The simplistic interpretation that it's caused by cooling is false.
  • Revealed: Antarctic ice growing, not shrinking (Greg Roberts, The Australian) In this 2009 article it was stated that ice was expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap. See next article.
  • Is Antarctica losing or gaining ice? (Skeptical Science) This article criticizes the confusion of polar ice (glaciation over land) with sea ice. The sea ice extent has been increasing in winter months around Antarctica in recent decades while this article reports the glaciation (although varying from place to place) is overall declining. In Antarctica, sea ice grows quite extensively during winter but nearly completely melts away during the summer. That is where the important difference between Antarctic and Arctic sea ice exists as much of the Arctic's sea ice lasts all the year round. Essentially Arctic sea ice is more important for the earth's energy balance because when it increasingly melts, more sunlight is absorbed by the oceans whereas Antarctic sea ice normally melts each summer leaving the earth's energy balance largely unchanged.



  • The Escalator (Skeptical Science) One of the most common misunderstandings amongst climate change "skeptics" is the difference between short-term noise and long-term signal. This animation shows how the same temperature data (green) that is used to determine the long-term global surface air warming trend of 0.16°C per decade (red) can be used inappropriately to "cherrypick" short time periods that show a cooling trend simply because the endpoints are carefully chosen and the trend is dominated by short-term noise in the data (blue steps). Isn't it strange how five periods of cooling can add up to a clear warming trend over the last 4 decades? Several factors can have a large impact on short-term temperatures, such as oceanic cycles like the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) or the 11-year solar cycle. These short-term cycles don't have long-term effects on the Earth's temperature, unlike the continuing upward trend caused by global warming from human greenhouse gas emissions. These climate cycles are followed by Econintersect's climate economist Sig Silber and reported weekly in GEI News.

  • Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

Active vs. Passive in Global Investing (Financial Planning)

Another Big IPO Is Happening This Week (No, It's Not Alibaba) (TheStreet)

What’s Going on with Young Veterans in the Labor Market? (Brookings)

Is the Obama administration using bad accounting to hide healthcare failures? (Personal Liberty)

The Ebola Outbreak (Council on Foreign Relations)

Twitter Has Plans to Revolutionize Commerce and Here's How (TheStreet)

How to Survive 4 Major Retirement Hazards: Retirement Scan (Financial Planning)

What to Expect from the UN Climate Summit (Brookings)

Internet sales tax isn’t dead – it’s just napping until the midterm election is over (Personal Liberty)

Build the Green Economy (Boston Review)

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