Oh lordy, this is hilarious.

First, David Bellamy of The Conservation Foundation writes a letter to New Scientist denying global warming and claiming that “555 of all the 625 glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich, Switzerland, have been growing since 1980.”

Subsequent letters debunked the claim, but it’s a curious claim to begin with, yes? So writer/journalist George Monbiot decided to look into it, and after much valiant labor, tracked down the source. To quote from Tim Lambert’s summary:

He got it from a crackpot web site (“The next ice age could begin any day”), which got it from Larouche’s 21st Century Science, which got from SEPP, which seem to have made it up. Plus he made a typo, turning 55% into 555. [Emphasis mine.

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A typo! And yet it instantly spread through flat-earth circles, becoming part of the skeptical gospel.

I conclude with a quote from Monbiot that both Lambert and Mooney share, but which can’t be spread too widely:

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It is hard to convey just how selective you have to be to dismiss the evidence for climate change. You must climb over a mountain of evidence to pick up a crumb: a crumb which then disintegrates in the palm of your hand. You must ignore an entire canon of science, the statements of the world’s most eminent scientific institutions, and thousands of papers published in the foremost scientific journals. You must, if you are David Bellamy, embrace instead the claims of an eccentric former architect, which are based on what appears to be a non-existent data set. And you must do all this while calling yourself a scientist.