What is the purpose of this message?...
"Global warming could lead to a greener Greenland"
Release date: 08/04/2004
Research published in Nature suggests that enough greenhouse gases could be in the atmosphere as early as 2050 to melt the massive ice-sheet that covers Greenland. As a result, sea levels could rise by around seven metres over the next 1,000 years.
Page last updated 08 April 2004
Well, spontaneous as I can be, I sent the below email to the University of Reading's Press department.
For obscure reasons I landed on the University of Reading home page and I was struck by the Press release with the title "Global warming could lead to a greener Greenland".
This title sounds so nice! Its original title in Nature however is "Climatology: Threatened loss of the Greenland ice-sheet".
Now, Mrs. Rayner, why is it that you are trying to embellish things? Will this lead to more students and more funding for your University? If that is the case, then one must seriously ask what is more important, the correct account of events or publicity.
Many people read head lines only and a greener Greenland does not sound half as threatening as sea level rise of seven meters that will inundate much of England, even if this would be 350 to 1000 years in the future.
I would like to remind us of the fact that our written history goes back some 5500 years. Thus 350 years is not so very far away - only 14 generations of 25 years each.
I believe the communication of the climatological and other ecological messages is crucial to the benefits that they may have to survival of our species homo sapiens sapiens.
Communication specialists agree that messages must be hard hitting and immediate and repetitive, before practical consequences in everyday life can occur.
Actually, climate change is already happening and it is unstoppable for two reasons:
1. We continue to discharge greenhouse gases into our atmosphere
2. The greenhouse gases that are in the atmosphere can never be sequestered to the extent and in the short period of time necessary. We are releasing these gases in one millionth of the time that has been required in a far away past to accumulate in fossil fuel deposits.
As I write this I wonder what we then can and should do to avert catastrophe, apart from dramatically reducing our lifestyles to pre-industrial age levels (which we will be forced to do anyway once fossil fuels run out).
Maybe we should start a UN programme for population reduction and resettlement to areas that will not be inundated by rising sea levels and that will also be safe from inundations because of heavy rainfalls and the ensuing floodings.
I have possibly shocked you, Mrs Rayner, but don't take it too personal. My remarks are addressed to all and you happened to be in the front line.
And, by the way, the USA administration has recently published a study that says climate change could also lead to a very sudden new ice age. You may read the editorial of The Ecologist on that issue on my page "Apocalypse Now"
With kind regards ... Helmut Lubbers (18 April 2004)
Press release at University of Reading
Article in Nature
contact Craig Hillsley, Press Officer, University of Reading, on +44 (0)118 378 7388 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to ask why "Greenland could become Greener" rather than "Greenland research forbodes a real catastrophy" or similar more realistic title.
What do you think?
Update 22 Sept 2007: The Press Release is now here: http://www.reading.ac.uk/about/newsandevents/releases/PR518.asp
I did not get a reply from the gentlemen.