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Exaggerations run rife while the reality is strangely absent from recent reporting on melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

Breathless reporting last week of a new estimate of Greenland’s
melting ice.

It’s higher than it was before:

“The changes on the Greenland ice sheet are happening fast, and
we are definitely losing more ice mass than we had anticipated,”
says study co-author Isabella Velicogna of the University of

Could be scary? USA Today has its cake and eats it:

“If the entire Greenland ice sheet melted, which is not
predicted, scientists estimate that global sea levels would rise
about 20 feet, according to the National Snow and Ice Data

Is there a single journalist out there who bothered to ask the
obvious question: what percentage of its ice mass is Greenland
losing each year, so how long have we got before the 20 feet engulf
us all?

Not that I could see. So I looked it up.

The new study says Greenland lost 385 cubic miles between 2002
and 2009. Sounds a lot.

Greenland has 700,000 cubic miles of ice. (

So it’s losing 1% per century, 0.01% per year. Funny that number
never appeared in the news reports.

For Pete’s sake, journalists, do your job.

By Matt Ridley | Tagged:  rational-optimist