John Vidal is probably the stupidest journalist reporting on climate change for the Guardian, which is quite an achievement given the stiff competition. It was Vidal, you may recall, who claimed that the sexual harassment allegations against Pachauri were part of a conspiracy cooked up by climate sceptics.

Today, Vidal says that it is Time to listen to the ice scientists about the Arctic death spiral. Who are the scientists Vidal says we should listen to? Well, it turns out there’s only one quoted (distinguishing between singular and plural doesn’t seem to be one of John’s areas of expertise), and guess what, it’s Peter Wadhams again.

Wadhams is of course notorious for his failed predictions of Arctic ice disappearance.

In the Telegraph in 2011 Wadhams declared that “It is really showing the fall-off in ice volume is so fast that it is going to bring us to zero very quickly. 2015 is a very serious prediction and I think I am pretty much persuaded that that’s when it will happen.” This was unchallenged by the journalist, showing that unquestioning promotion of climate hype crosses the political spectrum in the media.

The BBC told us that Arctic summers would be ice-free by 2013, quoting both Wadhams and Maslowski.

But most remarkable is this article by John Vidal himself, Arctic expert predicts final collapse of sea ice within four years, published in 2012.  I wonder whether John Vidal’s science skills extend as far as adding 2012 and four. If so, this might help him understand why he’s not taken seriously.

But Vidal isn’t just a gullible idiot, he’s misleading readers with falsehoods. In his article today he claims that “Wadhams says what other scientists will not”, implying that other climate scientists agree with him but don’t want to speak out. Nothing could be further from the truth. Other climate scientists have publicly ridiculed Wadhams for his extreme views, with comments such as “ridiculous projections with no basis in physics”,  “Entertaining break with Wadhams. Back to science now” and “Hasn’t Wadhams already predicted 4 of the last 0 ice-free summers?”  Yet Vidal describes Wadhams as an “experienced and rational scientist”.

Update 22/8:

Amazingly, the Guardian/Observer published two more articles promoting Wadhams’s alarmist pseudoscience and his new book on Sunday:

Next year or the year after, the Arctic will be free of ice, by Robin McKie, in the form of an interview, and

A Farewell to Ice by Peter Wadhams review – climate change writ large, a book review by Horatio Clare.

In not one of these does the author of the article try to get a view from another scientist.

Update 23/8:

Ed Hawkins has written a nice blog post Predicting an ice-free Arctic summer.  He picks up on a claim by Wadhams in the Robin McKie interview that “Most people expect this year will see a record low in the Arctic’s summer sea-ice cover”, and shows that this is not true by referring to predictions made by other groups. Also, in the comments, anonymous has given a thorough list of Wadhams’s previous failed predictions.

Richard Betts tweets this image, which shows just how extreme the Wadhams prediction (on the far left) for 2015 was. No wonder the Guardian loves him.





  1. Must remember to use this line:

    ““X says what other scientists will not”

    the next time I make the Argument From A Minority of One.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wadhams has been on this for a long time:

    NASA – Arctic Meltdown February 27, 2001

    “The Arctic ice cap is melting at a rate that could allow routine commercial shipping through the far north in a decade and open up new fisheries. Peter Wadhams of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge agrees that the Arctic could soon open up. “Within a decade we can expect regular summer trade there,” he predicts.”

    Arctic to be ‘ice-free in summer’ David Shukman, Science and environment correspondent, BBC News, 14 October, 2009
    “The Arctic Ocean could be largely ice-free and open to shipping during the summer in as little as ten years’ time, a top polar specialist has said.

    “It’s like man is taking the lid off the northern part of the planet,” said Professor Peter Wadhams, from the University of Cambridge. Professor Wadhams has been studying the Arctic ice since the 1960s.”

    Wikileaks cables show race to carve up Arctic – Newsnight Thursday, 12 May 2011

    “Prof Wadhams says in summer “it could easily happen that we’ll have an ice-free North Pole within a year or two”.

    Peter Pontificates:
    Vatican Adviser – “Our Time is Running Out – The Arctic Sea Ice is Going,” May 15th, 2015

    “When the Vatican recently held meetings with leading scientists about climate change in preparation for the Pope’s encyclical of June 2015, one of the invited guest speakers was Professor Peter Wadhams. “I’ve been measuring the ice thickness go down by 50% over the last 30 years. In the summer for instance, you used to see very heavy pack ice so that a ship would have great difficulty getting through it. Today, it’s more like a blue planet. It’s almost an ice-free Arctic.”

    Professor Wadhams’ submarine data was challenged some time ago:
    Arctic’s big melt challenged Friday, 4 May, 2001,

    Is Arctic Sea Ice Rapidly Thinning? Greg Holloway, and Tessa Sou Institute of Ocean Sciences, Sidney BC, Canada

    The Arctic Climate System Study: Climate and Cryosphere Project Newsletter, Number 1, September 2001 Ice and Climate News

    “In the case of submarine-inferred rapid loss of Arctic sea ice, combined modelling and data argue that a more physically plausible inference is that the ice was not “lost” but only shifted within the Arctic. The pattern of submarine sampling happened to miss the shift. Observations to date, together with model physics, imply only that the loss of sea ice volume is not inconsistent with the 3% per decade loss of ice area, a modest rate, itself not inconsistent with multi-decadal natural variability.”

    He thinks he is badly treated……..

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Dennis,

    “Wadhams has been on this for a long time.”

    I wonder what he has been on. My pet theory is that he was exposed to some ancient fungal spores in an ice core which opened the doors of perception for him and he’s never looked back since . . . .

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Can’t believe Wadhams’ still around selling his BS after his conspiracy theory about alarmist climate scientists being bumped off by intelligence agenices/aliens to keep the truth hidden.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. PM, Penguin’s blurb for Wadhams’ new book is consistent with Vidal’s 2012 prediction: ‘From his observations and the latest scientific research, [Wadhams] describes how dramatically sea ice has diminished over the past three decades, to the point at which, by the time this book is published, the Arctic may be free of ice for the first time in 10,000 years.’

    Or it may not be. Only two weeks until publication.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Like a bad magician, they keep saying ‘now’, confident that sooner or later the right card will hit the top of the deck. The conditions for a briefly ice free actic have probably been in place since the 1940s, interrupted by the (now GISS eradicated) cooling in the 50s, 60s, 70s. A series of ‘bad’ years would decimate the ice (and has) but a series of ‘good’ years would bolster it.

    In bad years the wind blows out of the Arctic towards us and Iceland, often caused by low pressure storms bringing us rain. When we have high pressure systems the ice tends to stay in the Arctic basin. Expect to see an increase in extent after the storms of the next few days but it will thin the ice out in the Arctic proper. So cold and wet months here reduce the ice volume but increase the extent until it has thinned such that there’s no more ice to stretch into the gaps. A lot of the damage to the ice volume is done in the autumn when we’re not really looking at the ice because the area has started growing. The ice was probably thinning in the 80s and 90s, even while the extent looked healthy.

    I’ve wondered if the positive phase of the Atlantic causes greater numbers of low pressure systems, exaggerating the ice loss due to wind. Would a phase switch see more high pressure systems and a period of ice growth?

    What warming, especially in the autumn, winter period might be doing is extending stominess later and it’s that, not the warmer winter itself, that is weakening the ice.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Brad, of course it may be true in some cases, Curry perhaps.

    Dennis, thanks for the extra links.

    Shub, it’s worse than that, he’s selling a book as well.

    The very first comment on the the Guardian thread politely pointed to one of Wadhams’s earlier failed predictions. Here’s what happened:

    Liked by 6 people

  8. Paul:

    The very first comment on the the Guardian thread politely pointed to one of Wadhams’s earlier failed predictions. Here’s what happened …

    That’s hilarious. Automatic deletion of failed predictions. Where do I sign up? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. “he claims that “Wadhams says what other scientists will not”

    You mean like claiming Evil Oil Orcs are capable of calling down lightning strikes to kill inconvenient scientists, for example?

    A Cambridge Professor has made the astonishing claim that three scientists investigating the melting of Arctic ice may have been assassinated within the space of a few months.

    Professor laxon fell down a flight of stairs at a New year’s Eve party at a house in Essex while Dr Giles died when she was in collision with a lorry when cycling to work in London. Dr Boyd is thought to have been struck by lightning while walking in Scotland.

    The man makes boxes of frogs look utterly sane!


  10. There have been some encouraging responses to the Guardian article from some climate scientists:

    Gavin Schmidt: “Wadhams says what other scientists will not” – mostly because they prefer to have physics behind their ideas.

    Ed Hawkins: Peter has been widely criticised by other polar scientists for his rather extreme views on Arctic sea ice.

    Liz Stephens: Really disappointed w/ @john_vidal sea ice piece. Says ‘time to listen to ice scientistS’ but only talks to one with extreme opinions.

    But Carbon Brief, supposedly “dedicated to analysis and fact-checking”, just provided a link to the article without questioning it. Which is curious, since their director Leo Hickman tweeted it yesterday with an acknowledgement that “other scientists not happy w/ him”.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Carbon Brief have a guest post from the NSIDC’s Florence Fetterer —

    Fetterer attempts to explain what C19th satellites would have found, were it possible to have sent wooden boxes and photographic plates into orbit, powered by steam.

    No surprises, it seems that the Arctic was extremely stable.

    It’s less obviously alarmist than Wadham, obviously. But is it any more plausible, or counter-factual?

    I’m also left wondering, is this really science? The past is prologue to the present and future, of course. And if there are ways of rescuing data or finding it from proxies, that’s all well and good.

    Fetterer claims “…the new dataset allows us to answer the three questions…” Which are,

    Has Arctic sea ice cover been this small since the start of the industrial revolution?
    Has sea ice ever declined this rapidly in the historical record?
    How is sea ice affected by natural fluctuations over multiple decades?

    Torturing data doesn’t often give you good answers — more signal than noise. And then there’s the so-whats and what-abouts that should caveat the significance of these questions. We know, for example that the beginning of the industrial revolution was colder in the Northern Hemisphere. And some have even suggested that cooler European climes contributed to scientific and technological development, necessity being the mother of invention.

    It doesn’t seem to me that the dataset contributes much to the understanding of big frozen expanses of ocean, and that the researchers’ questions aren’t really about an understanding of them, either.


  12. Ben, the sea-ice reconstruction going back to 1850, like other historical reconstructions, effectively makes the very significant decline which occurred during the 1920s-40s disappear. I’m seriously tempted to call it fraud.

    “What have we learned according to DMI´s international compilation of sea ice data?
    – That sea ice data has declined strongly even in the recent past before human CO2 outlet.
    – That Sea ice from a level not far from the 2006 level has recovered very fast 1938-1946.
    – That the Sea ice decline documented year after year in DMI maps after 1921 apparently is not shown in Cryosphere data for some reason.
    We do not have the WW2 data, but the maps of 1957-61 ice areas EXIST!”

    We don’t have records for 1940-45, but it seems the Arctic sea-ice may have made a remarkably swift recovery during that period after the low in 1938.


  13. Robert Ferris’ article for CNBC is categorised under the headline ‘Science’. You only have to read this one paragraph to realise that it is nothing of the sort:

    “Historically, sea ice forms every winter across the top of the planet, and covers much of the Arctic Ocean. Every summer, the ice melts a bit and retreats, only to repeat the cycle again. But since the 1980s, the ice has been retreating further and further overall, contributing to sea level rise, changes to ecosystems, and erosion so severe it is biting off chunks of coastlines in Alaska, Canada and elsewhere.”

    Will Robert Ferris go down in history as the man who disproved Archimedes’ famous Principle?


  14. Jaime, I think it’s just daft rather than fraud.

    The area is massive, and with respect to the single metric that is supposed to indicate the ‘health’ of not just that region, but the entire planet, extremely dynamic. Added to this, it’s extremely remote, hostile, and very little data exists.

    Yet it has been a feature of the climate news cycle for a decade. (Though the thinning/metling icecaps story was presupposed long before).

    It’s as central to the climatist’s calendar as Christmas and Easter are to Catholics. Birth, death, Resurrection, sin, etc.

    I put it down in part to the slow news months of July and August — the silly season — and the run up to the UNFCCC talks in early winter. It’s no accident that most climate alarm is published in the Autumn.


  15. This theme of Scientists who Dare not Speak the Truth has been around for a while. Here’s Monbiot in 2009, after attending the COP Copenhagen scientific foreplay meeting. (He went by train. It took 60 hours and cost him £600 which the Graun wouldn’t reimburse.)

    “Quietly in public, loudly in private, climate scientists everywhere are saying the same thing: it’s over…This, at any rate, was the repeated whisper at the climate change conference in Copenhagen last week. It is the obvious if unspoken conclusion of scores of scientific papers…”

    This comment of mine is still up:

    That’s our George. Even the voices in his head are peer-reviewed.

    But this one seems to have disappeared:

    On the night train that left Copenhagen
    George announced to the sleepy Schlafwagen
    (to tremendous applause)
    “I’ve just wet my drawers
    And beshat myself into the bargain.”

    Liked by 2 people

  16. The Guardian is promoting Wadhams’ – no doubt very profitable – foray into clifi catastrophism, ‘A Farewell to Ice’, whose title was supposedly inspired by Hemingway’s great novel set amidst an age of conflict. The ‘conflict’ in Wadhams’ life apparently arises through his outspokenness about the methane time bomb which is threatening the earth and all of humanity and the resultant persecution by “trolls and climate change deniers” which he is forced to endure (in between attempts on his life by shadowy fossil fuel organisations). I must say, “trolls and climate deniers” is not a very polite way to refer to his scientific peers, but barking does as barking is.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Interesting reading Jaime!

    — “Wadhams thanks Ernest Hemingway for his title. Climate change, a cause and an effect of ice loss, brings conflict that would have interested the great author. Persecuted by trolls and climate-change deniers, Wadhams made news last year when three of his peers met premature deaths. […] The ice he worries about most covers Arctic seabeds – permafrost from the last ice age. Losing this will release huge methane plumes. ” —

    I was pretty sure Wadhams had been more ‘persecuted’ by people in his own field than by climate sceptics in previous episodes of the Wadhams Show. The top result on Google for a search for “peter wadham gavin schmidt” is Paul’s blog. And that blog confirms own my memory of who Wadham’s tormentors were.

    Sceptics merely mocked as predictions came and went the way of so many green prognostications. Wadhams complained to NASA and the Royal Society about consensus scientists, and said that Big Oil had murdered his colleagues. Big Oil would be a fool to strangle such a gift.

    Horatio Clare re-writes recent history. But more interesting is the fact that climate science isn’t even able to keep discipline within its own ranks, much less ameliorate the rank alarmism in the Guardian epitomised by the likes of Vidal. We know why the Guardian prints alarmist copy. A bigger puzzle is why bigwig climate scientists struggle so much with each other, at their own events.

    By ‘discipline’, I don’t mean that it is right for science to control the narrative, or whatnot. But it is the Guardian and Wadhams’s critics who most emphasise consensus as the measure of truth. Moreover, by Guardian standards, Wadhams’ comments aren’t even all that egregious. My own question to the prospect of an ice-free Arctic summer is ‘so what’? It has no obvious consequences, whereas stories about thousands, or even millions of deaths from famine plagues pestilence and fire are routine, but go unchallenged. It’s just fricking ice, FFS.


  18. Schmidt’s attitude to Wadhams’ view of the doomosphere is interesting in that it allows some small degree of calibration as to how many floes short of an ice cap you have to be before the other priests will turn on you.

    I suspect most writers at the Guardian are not even aware of their differences.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. “BEN PILE says:
    21 Aug 16 at 1:41 pm
    […] It’s just fricking ice, FFS”

    Absolutely. As Susan Crockford often points out, the poley bears feed on the little baby seals in their ice cradles in the Spring, many months earlier than the annual ice minimum in the Autumn. (And no one in the “climate community” ever seems to consider asking the seals what they would prefer.)

    An ‘ice-free’ Arctic at the arse-end of Summer would be about as inconvenient as a national philosophers strike.


  20. Ed Hawkins joins the ice debate.

    Such dramatic sea ice forecasts make headlines. They are shared widely around the world. But, our credibility as climate scientists depends on communicating forecasts based on our best physical understanding. These forecasts may or may not change over time as more evidence accumulates. If we make predictions that turn out to be incorrect then that should be acknowledged, the reasons understood and our understanding reevaluated*.

    There are very serious risks from continued climatic changes and a melting Arctic but we do not serve the public and policy-makers well by exaggerating those risks. Journalists need to be aware of any past history of forecast successes or failures when writing articles.

    We will soon see an ice-free summer in the Arctic but there is a real danger of ‘crying wolf’ and that does not help anyone.

    He wants to have his cake and eat it though.


  21. The story has now reached the Times. Unfortunately most of it is paywalled but apparently it includes comments from Hawkins and Betts.

    Climate experts at war over prediction of ice-free Arctic

    A Cambridge University professor has been accused of “crying wolf” by predicting the imminent disappearance of Arctic ice. Peter Wadhams has been criticised by scientists who fear that he could undermine the credibility of climate science by making doom-laden forecasts.

    He repeatedly predicted that the Arctic would be “ice-free” by last summer, by which he meant it would have less than one million sq km of ice. His forecasts, reported around the world, turned out to be wrong.


    This link from Ed Hawkins seems to get round the paywall with a ‘sharetoken’ so we can read the whole thing including the comments of the other scientists. Ed says there’s a danger of crying wolf and it’s unwise to try to put a precise date on it. Richard Betts says “in the long term it will be an own goal.” (Richard, it already is an own goal!)
    Apparently “Professor Wadhams declined to comment apart from suggesting that he knew more about the Arctic than Dr Hawkins because he had been there on many research trips.”


  22. Thanks Paul. Here are the full quotes from Hawkins and Betts:

    Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading, analysed Professor Wadhams’ forecasts on a climate science website and questioned whether they should be taken seriously.

    He wrote: “There are very serious risks from continued climatic changes and a melting Arctic but we do not serve the public and policymakers well by exaggerating those risks. We will soon see an ice-free summer in the Arctic but there is a real danger of ‘crying wolf’.”

    Dr Hawkins said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN’s climate science advisory body, had forecast that the Arctic would be “reliably ice-free”, meaning more than five consecutive years below one million sq km, by the mid-21st century.

    Dr Hawkins said: “Putting a precise date on when we see the first days or weeks that are ‘ice-free’ is unwise because of the chaotic nature of the climate system and uncertainties in future greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Richard Betts, head of climate impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, also expressed concern. Writing on the same climate science website, he said: “When someone talks up imminent catastrophe, they might think they are getting a quick win by getting a scary story out there, but in the long term it will be an own goal.”

    Ben Webster then reprises the assassins episode, including the fact, that I’d forgotten, that the Independent Press Standards Organisation dismissed Wadham’s complaint against The Times and its report on the matter. He finishes “Professor Wadhams declined to comment apart from suggesting that he knew more about the Arctic than Dr Hawkins because he had been there on many research trips.”

    They call us deniers for questioning this “settled science”?


  23. Wadhams is having a slight grilling by Mishal Hussein on Today at the moment. At least she’s hinted at some controversy and debate surrounding his predictions.


  24. This author has a lot to be ashamed of: Ignorance…or willful ignorance. Leading people astray, playing on their need to feel safe. And for putting every living thing in more danger through helping those who need to close their eyes, keep them shut. Your article is a disgrace and a disservice us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. All I can wonder is how much the oil companies how promised to pay all you goons on this website. You do know that they’ll just bump you off in the end, and that’s the payment, right? *sigh*


  26. Hey Basile, seems you failed to notice who won the US Presidential election, and that he’s installing Rex Tillerson, chairman of Evil Oil Orc company Exxon as Secretary of State.

    It’s you Watermelons (you know, Green on the outside but Red on the inside) who are on the list now sunshine, and our hit squads have got your number, so if I were you I’d keep a sharp lookout for black helicopters.

    Actually, it would probably be safer for you to emigrate to a safe state, I hear North Korea is very congenial this time of year.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.