The arctic will be "ice-free by 2013." "An ice-free Arctic is] definitely coming, and coming sooner than we previously expected." These were but some of the breathless pronouncements made by scientists, climatologists, and even NASA over the last decade or so. All the while, the summers were getting colder and the ice caps more voluminous — quite a bit more, apparently.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the Arctic ice cap grew by nearly a million square miles from 2012-2013, an increase of 60% year over year. This sharply contradicts earlier reports of doom-and-gloom and a climate change-induced apocalypse (not to mention, hyperbolic and slightly-ridiculous Hollywood blockbusters). Back in 2007, the BBC — in a report echoed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center — touted the following headline: “Artic summers ice-free by 2013”.

“Scientists in the US have presented one of the most dramatic forecasts yet for the disappearance of Arctic sea ice,” said the BBC’s science reporter, Jonathan Amos.

“This is not a cycle; not just a fluctuation. In the end, it will all just melt away quite suddenly,” said Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University.

Across the pond, the Obama administration has made climate change — the new, politically-expedient term for anthropogenic “global warming” — a central tenet of his NASA policy, eschewing existing plans to return to the moon or anything more tangible anytime soon.

And yet even the National Snow & Ice Data Center was recently forced to admit that “August 2013 ice extent was 2.38 million square kilometers (919,000 square miles) above the record low August extent in 2012.”

Was this an expected regression to the mean or part of a greater trend?

You may have noticed that we experienced an unusually cool summer — and, like me, you might have felt like we skipped summer (and all the outdoors fun I’m used to).

“August 2013 was the coolest since 2004, while the summer as a whole was the coolest since 2009,” noted the Washington Post (certainly no climate change skeptic).

Skeptics have long argued that global warming — or “climate change”, anthropogenic or not — is a natural phenomenon and part of a cyclical trend. The scant evidence to support a consistent warming pattern, in fact, led to activists adopting the more inclusive “climate change” terminology — the theory being that rising levels of CO2 and man-made pollutants cause wild weather patterns and gross temperature fluctuations.

But this new data would indicate that we’ve actually entered a period of sustained cooling (a concept that’s been around at least as long as its warmer cousin).

“We are already in a cooling trend, which I think will continue for the next 15 years at least,” said Anastasios Tsonis of the University of Wisconsin.

The Daily Mail invited a comparison with the cooling period from 1965 to 1975, which led scientists to predict a new ice age.

I don’t subscribe to either apocalyptic extreme — a global meltdown or new ice age — but I would caution against committing billions of dollars on plans to combat a scenario that’s far from certain (despite the loud protests of celebrity endorsees like Al Gore and even Harrison Ford).

Governments around the world have dumped precious resources into fixing a phenomenon that has probably ceased of its own accord (whether humans contributed to its rise or decline or had no effect whatsoever). Meanwhile, investment firms (like Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management) make a fortune selling bogus “carbon credits,” and the entire racket rests on guilt — making prospective clients (i.e., everyone) feel guilty for their own “carbon footprint.”

And this is all based on the theory (yes, the theory) of anthropogenic global warming, the most visible evidence being the supposed melting of the polar ice caps. I’m a bit skeptical, myself (in case you hadn’t figured it out), and I don’t think we can afford to waste money that we don’t have on such a shaky presumption.