The most “hyped” (to use Morano’s word) phrase of the whole affair seemed to be quote from a scientist at the British Antarctic Survey (which did onsite aerial reconnaissance of the break-up) who said that that remaining 5,000-square-miles of the Wilkins ice shelf (fully ninety-six percent of the total area) is “hanging by a thread.” That made it into the Sydney Morning Herald headline that Morano cited, and it is certainly true for the time being, but it is also possible (and many scientists and reporters noted this) the coming winter in the Southern Hemisphere will boost longevity. Whatever the case may be, describing all this coverage as “hype” is a definite stretch.


But you don’t have to take my word for it. See, for example, the only two major newspaper editorials that addressed the collapse. The New York Times had this:


Nothing dramatizes the urgency of global warming quite like a fracture of this scale. There is nothing to be done about a collapsing polar ice sheet except to witness it. It may be too late to stop the warming decay at the boundaries of Antarctic ice, yet there is everything to be done. Humans can radically change the way they live and do business, knowing that it is the one chance to find a possible limit to radical change in the natural world around us.


The Times in London had this:


The disintegration of a large section of the Wilkins ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula does not in itself presage major global sea level rises, still less the end of life as we know it. But there is no longer any reasonable doubt that climate change is the cause; that it would take centuries of lower temperatures for these ice shelves to re-form; and that if they do not, the great ice sheets of the Antarctic interior will be the next to melt.


Hype? I think not. But thanks anyways to Morano for provoking the mental gymnastics.

Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.