Arctic Ice Hype

Published January 1, 2005

Editor’s note: Environmental scientist S. Fred Singer responded to a November 2 story in the Financial Times reporting on a recent study that claimed the Arctic ice cap is melting at an unprecedented rate–one that will cause it to disappear entirely by the year 2070. Singer’s letter was published in the Financial Times on November 8. For the benefit of our readers, we reprint Singer’s letter in its entirety, with his permission.

Your story informs that the Arctic ice cap will disappear by year 2070 (Nov 2) with all kinds of dire consequences to the ecology, the Gulf Stream, and sea level. According to an Arctic Council report put together by 250 scientists from eight nations, “the Arctic is warming at twice the global rate.” And separately, a strategy to combat this imminent catastrophe is being developed at a conference in Berlin just opened by Queen Elizabeth.

What can I say except: What warming? Forget about the tundra and about the wildlife for just a moment; the way to measure temperatures is with thermometers and they don’t show any Arctic warming.

Of course, I know that such warming is what greenhouse theory predicts. But there is this pesky matter of actual measurements that leads to the inconvenient conclusion that Arctic temperatures are not rising. In fact, the highest temperatures were recorded before 1940. Quite independently, Danish ice core data confirm that the climate “cooled between 1940 and 1995.”

And why, pray, is the Antarctic continent cooling so strongly while theory predicts a major warming? In fact, growing sea ice is interfering with the resupply of Antarctic weather stations, latest reports tell us.

Admittedly, the Arctic ice cap, the sea ice that covers the Arctic Ocean, has indeed thinned. But ice reacts slowly to temperature changes and is still responding to the remarkable pre-1940 warming that was of natural origin.

In any case, when floating sea ice melts, it does not raise sea levels–any more than melting ice cubes in a highball glass raise the water level. It is positively embarrassing to find a “scientific” report claiming that the rise from melting sea ice will be one meter when it is really zero. Big difference, don’t you agree?

S. Fred Singer ([email protected]) is president of The Science & Environmental Policy Project (, distinguished research professor at George Mason University, and professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia.