DeSmog

Newsbusters Makes Fantastical Leaps of Logic on Oldest Living Tree News

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It didn’t take long for Noel Sheppard at Newsbusters to twist a new study on the discovery of the oldest living tree to fit his notion that the world’s top scientists have it all wrong when it comes to human-induced climate change.

The study, carried out by a team led by Leif Kullman, professor at Umeå University’s department of ecology and environmental science in Sweden, has found the world’s oldest tree living in the mountains of Sweden.

Somehow Shepard has got it in his head that this finding:

[results] in a total rewrite of climate history while bringing into serious question global warming theories espoused by Nobel Laureate Al Gore and his sycophant devotees.”

For a group like Newsbusters who is so “skeptical” of the mountains of scientific data concluding that human activity is the cause of global warming, they sure are willing to take any hint of counter-evidence and take it screaming to the hills.

And in this case, I don’t even think they have a hill to stand on. I’m not a scientist, so I’ve contacted Dr. Kullman to ask what, if anything, his findings say about the current human-induced warming.

In the meantime though, with a little digging (5 minutes on Google) further into the Swedish tree finding, I cannot find any robust evidence for Shepard’s grandiose claims. In fact, the National Geographic quotes Dr. Kullman as stating that these ancient trees are easier to find due to current warming:

“In fact, global warming made the ancient mountain conifers easier for the study team to find.

‘For many millennia they survived in the mountain tundra as low-growing shrubs perhaps less than a meter high,’ Kullman said. ‘Now they are growing up like mushrooms—you can see them quite readily.”’

And if that isn’t enough, Dr. Kullman also states in the same article that he’s very worried about the ancient tree’s survival:

“But climate change could also swamp these living Ice Age relics, he warned.

The treeline has climbed up to 655 feet (200 meters) in altitude during the past century in the central Sweden study area, the team found.

‘A great change in the landscape is going on,’ Kullman said. ‘Some lower mountains which were bare tundra less than a hundred years ago are totally covered by forest today.”’

In the fantasy world of Newsbusters and Noel Sheppard though this all somehow adds up to the conclusion that we should continue to ignore the threat of climate change that the world’s scientific organizations are telling us is caused by humans and is of great concern to the future of our planet.

Go figure.

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Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmog. He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning. Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks. Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder. Prior to DeSmog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health. In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications. Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

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