The British Antarctic Survey released an interesting tidbit late last month:

The retreat of Antarctic ice shelves is not new according to research published this week (24 Feb) in the journal Geology by scientists from Universities of Durham, Edinburgh and British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

A study of George VI Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula is the first to show that this currently healthy ice shelf experienced an extensive retreat about 9500 years ago, more than anything seen in recent years. The retreat coincided with a shift in ocean currents that occurred after a long period of warmth. Whilst rising air temperatures are believed to be the primary cause of recent dramatic disintegration of ice shelves like Larsen B, the new study suggests that the ocean may play a more significant role in destroying them than previously thought.

The Larsen B ice shelf gained attention back in March 2002. The New York Times carried before-and-after pictures of the melting on its front page. The third paragraph of the accompanying article (on Page 3) stated:

While it is too soon to say whether the changes there are related to a buildup of the “greenhouse” gas emissions that scientists believe are warming the planet, many experts said it was getting harder to find any other explanation.

Now, I don’t consider myself an expert on global warming. But I do know that some in the scientific community disagree on whether humans have contributed to the effect. The latest information from the British Antartic Survey, a 60-year-old scientific organization that receives its funding ultimately from the British government, certainly adds to that debate. If the ice shelves melted 9,500 years ago, then why must we assume that human-caused pollutants are to blame for any current melting. Seems like a legitimate question for an objective reporter to ask.

But this new information has appeared nowhere in the New York Times.

Of course, it could be worse. This London-based Associated Press writer chose to write the story as another win for global warming proponents.

The current retreat of ice shelves in the Antarctic due to global warming is nothing new but this time the problem is manmade and therefore potentially more serious, according to research released Wednesday.

The reporter found a scientist (within the BAS) who argued that point, although this dire conclusion is nowhere on the official release from the organization. The lede isn’t accurate; the research didn’t generate that conclusion, one scientist did.

Furthermore, nowhere in the AP article does the author attempt to answer the seemingly obvious question: Who was to blame for the melt that happened 9,500 year ago?

Perhaps someone should write a book examining this issue…

HAT TIP: Tim Blair.