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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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Myth Deconstruction - Glacier (EN)


Deconstructing climate misinformation to identify reasoning errors
Cook, J., Ellerton, P., & Kinkead, D. (2018). Deconstructing climate misinformation to identify reasoning errors. Environmental Research Letters, 13(2), 024018. Link to PDF & Link to Supplement

Step-by-step deconstruction

The table below is inspired by the simplified supplement and may differ slightly from what is shown in the GIF. This is mostly due to make the text fit into the available space which made it necessary to reword some of it.

1 Identify claim Glaciers around the world are increasing, disproving global warming.
2 Argument structure Premise 1: Some glaciers are increasing.
Premise 2: Glaciers cannot increase in warming conditions.
Conclusion: Global warming isn't happening.
3 Inferential Intent


4 Validity INVALID
Premises refer to local warming conditions while the conclusion is about global warming, hence the premise does not lead to the conclusion.
4a Hidden premises Premise 1: Some glaciers are increasing.
Premise 2: Glaciers cannot increase in warming conditions.
Premise 3: Global warming means warming everywhere.
Conclusion: Global warming isn't happening.
5 Check premises Premise 1 is true.
Premise 2 is false: oversimplification. Glacier change is based on a number of factors such as temperature and precipitation. It is possible for local conditions to be such that increased precipitation causes glaciers to grow more than warming temperatures cause melt.
Premise 3 is false. Impossible expectations. Some regions may experience cooling or no temperature change during global warming."
6 Status of claim FALSE
The argument is made valid with an extra premise but contains two false premises.
7 Summary of fallacies Oversimplification: Glaciers are influenced by a number of factors, predominantly temperature and precipitation. While most glaciers will retreat under warming conditions, some glaciers may even grow if precipitation and local conditions are favorable. Nevertheless. overall, glaciers across the globe are shrinking at an accelerating rate, threatening water supplies for millions of people.

Impossible expectations: Global warming doesn't mean that every single location on the planet is warming.

Related material

Are glaciers growing or retreating?

Blog post with background information about the myth deconstructions: Myth deconstructions as animated gifs

To learn more about the fallacies used in the myth deconstructions: A history of FLICC: the 5 techniques of science denial

Other versions

Printable Version | Back to Graphics by Skeptical Science

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