WATCH: What’s Really Going on With Arctic Sea Ice?

Slate writer Phil Plait debunks the recent misinformation about melting ice and explains why you should care about climate change.


Scientists announced today that Arctic sea ice has officially reached its minimum extent for the summer, shrinking to 5.1 million square kilometers. That’s significantly higher than last year’s record low of just over 3.4 million square kilometers, a fact that has led conservative news outlets and even members of Congress to suggest that worries about global warming and melting ice are overstated.

But as astronomer and Slate writer Phil Plait explains in this video, these claims are “incredibly misleading.”

“You can’t look year-to-year, that’s not the right way to do this,” says Plait. “The right way to do this is to look over a long period of time. And when you do that, you see that the minimum extent of sea ice in the Arctic is decreasing over time…the trend is definitely downward.”

According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, which tracks the ice melt, this year’s minimum extent was the sixth lowest in the 35-year satellite record. “The pattern we’ve seen so far is an overall downward trend in summer ice extent, punctuated by ups and downs due to natural variability in weather patterns and ocean conditions,” said NSIDC director Mark Serreze in a press release. “We could be looking at summers with essentially no sea ice on the Arctic Ocean only a few decades from now.”

Or, as Plait puts it: “We’re below average. It’s getting worse over time. The cause is global warming. And the cause of that is us.”

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate