To hear conservatives tell it, Santa Claus is most definitely white, and his home isn't melting. At least that's what Fox News, with its recent barrage of attacks on an ad in which Santa warns about the impact of climate change on his Arctic home, would lead you to believe.
In December, the environmental group Greenpeace released an ad featuring the butler from Downton Abbey as a distraught Santa, who warns that as climate change drives continued Arctic ice melt, he may have to cancel Christmas. The ad calls for protecting the Arctic from offshore oil drilling, which, in a grim irony, is only possible in the region because of the ice melt.
The cheeky video was a "new low" achieved by "any-means-necessary" tactics, according to Fox News. It was also a chance to deny climate change. Rush Limbaugh declared "The ice is not melting at the North Pole," and a Fox News guest said "Santa's home is going to be fine ... for a long, long time to come." Fox News co-host Eric Bolling claimed contrary to any temperature record that "the globe is getting colder":
But Santa is right: the North Pole is melting. Arctic ice registered a record low in 2012 in line with a long-term melting trend. The sea ice extent in 2013 was not as low as 2012's (as was expected), but it was still among the lowest extents in the 35-year record, and does not represent a "recovery":
These recent recordings combined with more uncertain reconstructions (the uncertainty range is represented in shaded red in the graphic below) indicate that current Arctic sea ice extent is lower than at any time in the last 1,450 years:
Others, including Bill O'Reilly, tried to turn to the other side of the globe, where East Antarctica reached a record low temperature, to cast doubt on climate change. However, ice scientists explained that one cold record in one spot of the Antarctic has "little to do with global warming" and that this "is likely an unusual random reading in a place that hasn't been measured much before and could have been colder or hotter in the past and we wouldn't know," the Associated Press reported.
If you think this nonsense remains quarantined in the conservative media bubble, think again. CNN portrayed the facts on Arctic ice melt in a "he said-she said" manner, featuring a climate denial group saying "Santa should be celebrating the return of the ice!"