David Bellamy's glacier growing myth finally put to rest

David Bellamy's glacier growing myth finally put to rest
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This story has history. In 2005, a former UK environmentalist named David Bellamy had a letter published in New Scientist magazine claiming that:

Indeed, if you take all the evidence that is rarely mentioned by the Kyotoists into consideration, 555 of all the 625 glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich, Switzerland, have been growing since 1980.”

Guardian columnist George Monbiot tracked down the origins of Bellamy’s claim after the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich told Monbiot that “This is complete bullshit.”

Monbiot traced Bellamy’s fantasy of growing glaciers back to a site maintained by climate misinformation specialist Fred S. Singer and his pollution-industry-friendly organization Science and Environmental Policy Project. The SEPP commentary stated:

And indeed there is some evidence of that. The World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich, Switzerland, in a paper published in Science in 1989, noted that between 1926 and 1960 more than 70 percent of 625 mountain glaciers in the [mid-latitude] United States, Soviet Union, Iceland, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy were retreating. After 1980, however, 55 percent of these same glaciers were advancing. (my emphasis)

So what of this 1989 paper in Science? Tim Lambert reports that:

” …the source was a paper published in Arctic and Alpine Research, not Science. And it was published in 1988, not 1989. And it wasn’t written by The World Glacier Monitoring Service but by Fred Wood of the OTA. And it didn’t say that 55% of 625 glaciers were advancing, but that 55% of 446 glaciers were advancing. And it wasn’t since 1980 it was from 1979 to 1980. So the only thing that SEPP/Singer got right about the article was the 55% number. And that was the bit that Bellamy turned into 555. So as well as Bellamy’s statement being wrong overall (the vast majority of observed mountain glaciers are actually retreating), every single part of it was wrong.”

“Complete bullshit” seems to be a bit of an understatement at this point considering how far this totally incorrect claim traveled around the internet. Even today, some version of the glacier myth seems to be in circulation – making this an outrageous success for the disinformation specialists and another explanation of why people are still confused about the reality of climate change.



For more on the who’s who of the climate denial industry, check out our comprehensive climate deniers research database.

David Bellamy's glacier growing myth finally put to rest

Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmogBlog.

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 DeSmogBlog, 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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