Suzanne Golbenberg's story published in Monday's Guardian reporting the Antarctic ice sheet had already begun to collapse was picked up by the all across the mainstream media from the New York Times to CNN. All the reports the contained similar exaggerated headline giving the impression coastal cities were going to be underwater in the near future. In the third paragraph however, the reader learns this catastrophic prediction isn't expected to happen for another 1,000 years.
The ominous tone of the Guardian headline pictured above was repeated by NBC News, "West Antarctic Ice Sheet's Collapse Triggers Sea Level Warning;" the LA Times "Irreversible collapse of Antarctic glaciers has begun, studies says;" and the Associated Press, "Huge Antarctic ice sheet collapsing, scientists alarmed about sea level rise;" just to name a few. The real story is less frightening. The third paragraph of the Guardian article reads:
The loss of the entire western Antarctica ice sheet could eventually cause up to 4 metres (13ft) of sea-level rise, devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world. But the researchers said that even though such a rise could not be stopped, it is still several centuries off, and potentially up to 1,000 years away.
The scare tactic employed by the story headline was so egregious that NY Times environmental writer Andy Revkin, a global warming believer, criticized it and pointed to an article he penned five years ago covering the same topic.
Revkin followed up by criticizing the story in a NY Times piece which says in part:
That’s why it’s important to get beyond headlines — including the titles of papers — in considering new research pointing to the inevitable “collapse” of ice sheets in West Antarctica. To the public, collapse is a term applied to a heart attack victim on a street corner or a building stricken by an earthquake or bomb. To a glaciologist, it describes the transition to unavoidable loss of an ice sheet — a process that can take centuries to get into gear, and millenniums to complete.
Not mentioned in any of the articles is the fact that "Antarctic sea ice has expanded to record levels for April, increasing by more than 110,000sq km a day last month to nine million square kilometres."