HOT & COLD MEDIA SPIN CYCLE: A CHALLENGE TO JOURNALISTS WHO COVER GLOBAL WARMING
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Source: U.S. Senate
SENATOR JAMES INHOFE CHAIRMAN, SENATE ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE
Contact: Marc Morano (firstname.lastname@example.org) Matt Dempsey (email@example.com)
Click here for highlights of the speech and to watch
Click here for pdf version with charts
SENATE FLOOR SPEECH DELIVERED MONDAY SEPTEMBER 25, 2006
I am going to speak today about the most media-hyped environmental issue of all time, global warming. I have spoken more about global warming than any other politician in Washington today. My speech will be a bit different from the previous seven floor speeches, as I focus not only on the science, but on the media’s coverage of climate change.
Global Warming -- just that term evokes many members in this chamber, the media, Hollywood elites and our pop culture to nod their heads and fret about an impending climate disaster. As the senator who has spent more time speaking about the facts regarding global warming, I want to address some of the recent media coverage of global warming and Hollywood’s involvement in the issue. And of course I will also discuss former Vice President Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Since 1895, the media has alternated between global cooling and warming scares during four separate and sometimes overlapping time periods. From 1895 until the 1930’s the media peddled a coming ice age.
From the late 1920’s until the 1960’s they warned of global warming. From the 1950’s until the 1970’s they warned us again of a coming ice age. This makes modern global warming the fourth estate’s fourth attempt to promote opposing climate change fears during the last 100 years.
Recently, advocates of alarmism have grown increasingly desperate to try to convince the public that global warming is the greatest moral issue of our generation. Just last week, the vice president of London’s Royal Society sent a chilling letter to the media encouraging them to stifle the voices of scientists skeptical of climate alarmism.
During the past year, the American people have been served up an unprecedented parade of environmental alarmism by the media and entertainment industry, which link every possible weather event to global warming. The year 2006 saw many major organs of the media dismiss any pretense of balance and objectivity on climate change coverage and instead crossed squarely into global warming advocacy.
SUMMARY OF LATEST DEVELOPMENTS OF MANMADE GLOBAL WARMING HOCKEY STICK
First, I would like to summarize some of the recent developments in the controversy over whether or not humans have created a climate catastrophe. One of the key aspects that the United Nations, environmental groups and the media have promoted as the “smoking gun” of proof of catastrophic global warming is the so-called ‘hockey stick’ temperature graph by climate scientist Michael Mann and his colleagues.
This graph purported to show that temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere remained relatively stable over 900 years, then spiked upward in the 20th century presumably due to human activity. Mann, who also co-publishes a global warming propaganda blog reportedly set up with the help of an environmental group, had his “Hockey Stick” come under severe scrutiny.
The “hockey stick” was completely and thoroughly broken once and for all in 2006. Several years ago, two Canadian researchers tore apart the statistical foundation for the hockey stick. In 2006, both the National Academy of Sciences and an independent researcher further refuted the foundation of the “hockey stick.”
The National Academy of Sciences report reaffirmed the existence of the Medieval Warm Period from about 900 AD to 1300 AD and the Little Ice Age from about 1500 to 1850. Both of these periods occurred long before the invention of the SUV or human industrial activity could have possibly impacted the Earth’s climate. In fact, scientists believe the Earth was warmer than today during the Medieval Warm Period, when the Vikings grew crops in Greenland.
Climate alarmists have been attempting to erase the inconvenient Medieval Warm Period from the Earth’s climate history for at least a decade. David Deming, an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma’s College of Geosciences, can testify first hand about this effort. Dr. Deming was welcomed into the close-knit group of global warming believers after he published a paper in 1995 that noted some warming in the 20th century. Deming says he was subsequently contacted by a prominent global warming alarmist and told point blank “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.” When the “Hockey Stick” first appeared in 1998, it did just that.
END OF LITTLE ICE AGE MEANS WARMING
The media have missed the big pieces of the puzzle when it comes to the Earth’s temperatures and mankind’s carbon dioxide (C02) emissions. It is very simplistic to feign horror and say the one degree Fahrenheit temperature increase during the 20th century means we are all doomed. First of all, the one degree Fahrenheit rise coincided with the greatest advancement of living standards, life expectancy, food production and human health in the history of our planet. So it is hard to argue that the global warming we experienced in the 20th century was somehow negative or part of a catastrophic trend.
Second, what the climate alarmists and their advocates in the media have continued to ignore is the fact that the Little Ice Age, which resulted in harsh winters which froze New York Harbor and caused untold deaths, ended about 1850. So trying to prove man-made global warming by comparing the well-known fact that today's temperatures are warmer than during the Little Ice Age is akin to comparing summer to winter to show a catastrophic temperature trend.
In addition, something that the media almost never addresses are the holes in the theory that C02 has been the driving force in global warming. Alarmists fail to adequately explain why temperatures began warming at the end of the Little Ice Age in about 1850, long before man-made CO2 emissions could have impacted the climate. Then about 1940, just as man-made CO2 emissions rose sharply, the temperatures began a decline that lasted until the 1970’s, prompting the media and many scientists to fear a coming ice age.
Let me repeat, temperatures got colder after C02 emissions exploded. If C02 is the driving force of global climate change, why do so many in the media ignore the many skeptical scientists who cite these rather obvious inconvenient truths?
My skeptical views on man-made catastrophic global warming have only strengthened as new science comes in. There have been recent findings in peer-reviewed literature over the last few years showing that the Antarctic is getting colder and the ice is growing and a new study in Geophysical Research Letters found that the sun was responsible for 50% of 20th century warming.
Recently, many scientists, including a leading member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, predicted long-term global cooling may be on the horizon due to a projected decrease in the sun’s output.
A letter sent to the Canadian Prime Minister on April 6 of this year by 60 prominent scientists who question the basis for climate alarmism, clearly explains the current state of scientific knowledge on global warming.
The 60 scientists wrote:
“If, back in the mid-1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary.” The letter also noted:
“‘Climate change is real’ is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified. Global climate changes occur all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural ‘noise.’”
COMPUTER MODELS THREATEN EARTH
One of the ways alarmists have pounded this mantra of “consensus” on global warming into our pop culture is through the use of computer models which project future calamity. But the science is simply not there to place so much faith in scary computer model scenarios which extrapolate the current and projected buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and conclude that the planet faces certain doom.
Dr. Vincent Gray, a research scientist and a 2001 reviewer with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has noted, “The effects of aerosols, and their uncertainties, are such as to nullify completely the reliability of any of the climate models.”
Earlier this year, the director of the International Arctic Research Center in Fairbanks Alaska, testified to Congress that highly publicized climate models showing a disappearing Arctic were nothing more than “science fiction.”
In fact, after years of hearing about the computer generated scary scenarios about the future of our planet, I now believe that the greatest climate threat we face may be coming from alarmist computer models.
This threat is originating from the software installed on the hard drives of the publicity seeking climate modelers.
It is long past the time for us to separate climate change fact from hysteria.
KYOTO: ECONOMIC PAIN FOR NO CLIMATE GAIN
One final point on the science of climate change: I am approached by many in the media and others who ask, “What if you are wrong to doubt the dire global warming predictions? Will you be able to live with yourself for opposing the Kyoto Protocol?”
My answer is blunt. The history of the modern environmental movement is chock full of predictions of doom that never came true. We have all heard the dire predictions about the threat of overpopulation, resource scarcity, mass starvation, and the projected death of our oceans. None of these predictions came true, yet it never stopped the doomsayers from continuing to predict a dire environmental future.
The more the eco-doomsayers’ predictions fail, the more the eco-doomsayers predict.
These failed predictions are just one reason I respect the serious scientists out there today debunking the latest scaremongering on climate change. Scientists like MIT’s Richard Lindzen, former Colorado State climatologist Roger Pielke, Sr., the University of Alabama’s Roy Spencer and John Christy, Virginia State Climatologist Patrick Michaels, Colorado State University’s William Gray, atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer, Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Oregon State climatologist George Taylor and astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas, to name a few.
But more importantly, it is the global warming alarmists who should be asked the question -- “What if they are correct about man-made catastrophic global warming?” -- because they have come up with no meaningful solution to their supposed climate crisis in the two decades that they have been hyping this issue.
If the alarmists truly believe that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are dooming the planet, then they must face up to the fact that symbolism does not solve a supposed climate crisis.
The alarmists freely concede that the Kyoto Protocol, even if fully ratified and complied with, would not have any meaningful impact on global temperatures. And keep in mind that Kyoto is not even close to being complied with by many of the nations that ratified it, including 13 of the EU-15 nations that are not going to meet their emission reduction promises.
Many of the nations that ratified Kyoto are now realizing what I have been saying all along: The Kyoto Protocol is a lot of economic pain for no climate gain.
Legislation that has been proposed in this chamber would have even less of a temperature effect than Kyoto’s undetectable impact. And more recently, global warming alarmists and the media have been praising California for taking action to limit C02. But here again: This costly feel-good California measure, which is actually far less severe than Kyoto, will have no impact on the climate -- only the economy.
Symbolism does not solve a climate crisis.
In addition, we now have many environmentalists and Hollywood celebrities, like Laurie David, who have been advocating measures like changing standard light bulbs in your home to fluorescents to help avert global warming. Changing to more energy-efficient light bulbs is a fine thing to do, but to somehow imply we can avert a climate disaster by these actions is absurd.
Once again, symbolism does not solve a climate crisis.
But this symbolism may be hiding a dark side. While greenhouse gas limiting proposals may cost the industrialized West trillions of dollars, it is the effect on the developing world’s poor that is being lost in this debate.
The Kyoto Protocol’s post 2012 agenda which mandates that the developing world be subjected to restrictions on greenhouse gases could have the potential to severely restrict development in regions of the world like Africa, Asia and South America -- where some of the Earth’s most energy-deprived people currently reside.
Expanding basic necessities like running water and electricity in the developing world are seen by many in the green movement as a threat to the planet’s health that must be avoided.
Energy poverty equals a life of back-breaking poverty and premature death.
If we allow scientifically unfounded fears of global warming to influence policy makers to restrict future energy production and the creation of basic infrastructure in the developing world -- billions of people will continue to suffer.
Last week my committee heard testimony from Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg, who was once a committed left-wing environmentalist until he realized that so much of what that movement preached was based on bad science. Lomborg wrote a book called “The Skeptical Environmentalist” and has organized some of the world’s top Nobel Laureates to form the 2004 “Copenhagen Consensus” which ranked the world’s most pressing problems.
They placed global warming at the bottom of the list in terms of our planet’s priorities. The “Copenhagen Consensus” found that the most important priorities of our planet included: combating disease, stopping malaria, securing clean water, and building infrastructure to help lift the developing nations out of poverty. I have made many trips to Africa, and once you see the devastating poverty that has a grip on that continent, you quickly realize that fears about global warming are severely misguided.
I firmly believe that when the history of our era is written, future generations will look back with puzzlement and wonder why we spent so much time and effort on global warming fears and pointless solutions like the Kyoto Protocol.
French President Jacques Chirac provided the key clue as to why so many in the international community still revere the Kyoto Protocol, who in 2000 said Kyoto represents “the first component of an authentic global governance.”
Furthermore, if your goal is to limit C02 emissions, the only effective way to go about it is the use of cleaner, more efficient technologies that will meet the energy demands of this century and beyond.
The Bush administration and my Environment and Public Works Committee have been engaged in these efforts as we work to expand nuclear power and promote the Asia-Pacific Partnership. This partnership stresses the sharing of new technology among member nations including three of the world’s top 10 emitters -- China, India and North Korea -- all of whom are exempt from Kyoto.
MEDIA COVERAGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE:
Many in the media, as I noted earlier, have taken it upon themselves to drop all pretense of balance on global warming and instead become committed advocates for the issue.
Here is a quote from Newsweek magazine:
“There are ominous signs that the Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production– with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth.”
A headline in the New York Times reads: “Climate Changes Endanger World’s Food Output.” Here is a quote from Time Magazine:
“As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval.”
All of this sounds very ominous. That is, until you realize that the three quotes I just read were from articles in 1975 editions of Newsweek Magazine and The New York Times, and Time Magazine in 1974.
They weren’t referring to global warming; they were warning of a coming ice age.
Let me repeat, all three of those quotes were published in the 1970’s and warned of a coming ice age.
In addition to global cooling fears, Time Magazine has also reported on global warming. Here is an example:
“[Those] who claim that winters were harder when they were boys are quite right… weathermen have no doubt that the world at least for the time being is growing warmer.”
Before you think that this is just another example of the media promoting Vice President Gore’s movie, you need to know that the quote I just read you from Time Magazine was not a recent quote; it was from January 2, 1939.
Yes, in 1939. Nine years before Vice President Gore was born and over three decades before Time Magazine began hyping a coming ice age and almost five decades before they returned to hyping global warming.
Time Magazine in 1951 pointed to receding permafrost in Russia as proof that the planet was warming.
In 1952, the New York Times noted that the “trump card” of global warming “has been the melting glaciers.”
BUT MEDIA COULD NOT DECIDE BETWEEN WARMING OR COOLING SCARES
There are many more examples of the media and scientists flip-flopping between warming and cooling scares.
Here is a quote from the New York Times reporting on fears of an approaching ice age.
“Geologists Think the World May be Frozen Up Again.”
That sentence appeared over 100 years ago in the February 24, 1895 edition of the New York Times.
Let me repeat. 1895, not 1995.
A front page article in the October 7, 1912 New York Times, just a few months after the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank, declared that a prominent professor “Warns Us of an Encroaching Ice Age.”
The very same day in 1912, the Los Angeles Times ran an article warning that the “Human race will have to fight for its existence against cold.” An August 10, 1923 Washington Post article declared: “Ice Age Coming Here.”
By the 1930’s, the media took a break from reporting on the coming ice age and instead switched gears to promoting global warming:
“America in Longest Warm Spell Since 1776; Temperature Line Records a 25-year Rise” stated an article in the New York Times on March 27, 1933. The media of yesteryear was also not above injecting large amounts of fear and alarmism into their climate articles.
An August 9, 1923 front page article in the Chicago Tribune declared:
“Scientist Says Arctic Ice Will Wipe Out Canada.” The article quoted a Yale University professor who predicted that large parts of Europe and Asia would be “wiped out” and Switzerland would be “entirely obliterated.”
A December 29, 1974 New York Times article on global cooling reported that climatologists believed “the facts of the present climate change are such that the most optimistic experts would assign near certainty to major crop failure in a decade.”
The article also warned that unless government officials reacted to the coming catastrophe, “mass deaths by starvation and probably in anarchy and violence” would result. In 1975, the New York Times reported that “A major cooling [was] widely considered to be inevitable.” These past predictions of doom have a familiar ring, don’t they? They sound strikingly similar to our modern media promotion of former Vice president’s brand of climate alarmism.
After more than a century of alternating between global cooling and warming, one would think that this media history would serve a cautionary tale for today’s voices in the media and scientific community who are promoting yet another round of eco-doom.
Much of the 100-year media history on climate change that I have documented here today can be found in a publication titled “Fire and Ice” from the Business and Media Institute.
MEDIA COVERAGE IN 2006
Which raises the question: Has this embarrassing 100-year documented legacy of coverage on what turned out to be trendy climate science theories made the media more skeptical of today’s sensational promoters of global warming?
You be the judge.
On February 19th of this year, CBS News’s “60 Minutes” produced a segment on the North Pole. The segment was a completely one-sided report, alleging rapid and unprecedented melting at the polar cap.
It even featured correspondent Scott Pelley claiming that the ice in Greenland was melting so fast, that he barely got off an ice-berg before it collapsed into the water.
“60 Minutes” failed to inform its viewers that a 2005 study by a scientist named Ola Johannessen and his colleagues showing that the interior of Greenland is gaining ice and mass and that according to scientists, the Arctic was warmer in the 1930’s than today.
On March 19th of this year “60 Minutes” profiled NASA scientist and alarmist James Hansen, who was once again making allegations of being censored by the Bush administration.
In this segment, objectivity and balance were again tossed aside in favor of a one-sided glowing profile of Hansen.
The “60 Minutes” segment made no mention of Hansen’s partisan ties to former Democrat Vice President Al Gore or Hansen’s receiving of a grant of a quarter of a million dollars from the left-wing Heinz Foundation run by Teresa Heinz Kerry. There was also no mention of Hansen’s subsequent endorsement of her husband John Kerry for President in 2004. (see PDF).
Many in the media dwell on any industry support given to so-called climate skeptics, but the same media completely fail to note Hansen’s huge grant from the left-wing Heinz Foundation. http://www.heinzawards.net/speechDetail.asp?speechID=6
The foundation’s money originated from the Heinz family ketchup fortune. So it appears that the media makes a distinction between oil money and ketchup money.
"60 Minutes” also did not inform viewers that Hansen appeared to concede in a 2003 issue of Natural Science that the use of “extreme scenarios" to dramatize climate change “may have been appropriate at one time” to drive the public's attention to the issue.
Why would “60 Minutes” ignore the basic tenets of journalism, which call for objectivity and balance in sourcing, and do such one-sided segments? The answer was provided by correspondent Scott Pelley. Pelley told the CBS News website that he justified excluding scientists skeptical of global warming alarmism from his segments because he considers skeptics to be the equivalent of “Holocaust deniers.”
This year also saw a New York Times reporter write a children’s book entitled” The North Pole Was Here.” The author of the book, New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin, wrote that it may someday be “easier to sail to than stand on” the North Pole in summer. So here we have a very prominent environmental reporter for the New York Times who is promoting aspects of global warming alarmism in a book aimed at children.
TIME MAGAZINE HYPES ALARMISM
In April of this year, Time Magazine devoted an issue to global warming alarmism titled “Be Worried, Be Very Worried.”
This is the same Time Magazine which first warned of a coming ice age in 1920’s before switching to warning about global warming in the 1930’s before switching yet again to promoting the 1970’s coming ice age scare.
The April 3, 2006 global warming special report of Time Magazine was a prime example of the media’s shortcomings, as the magazine cited partisan left-wing environmental groups with a vested financial interest in hyping alarmism.
“More and More Land is Being Devastated by Drought”
“Earth at the Tipping Point”
“The Climate is Crashing,”
Time Magazine did not make the slightest attempt to balance its reporting with any views with scientists skeptical of this alleged climate apocalypse.
I don’t have journalism training, but I dare say calling a bunch of environmental groups with an obvious fund-raising agenda and asking them to make wild speculations on how bad global warming might become, is nothing more than advocacy for their left-wing causes. It is a violation of basic journalistic standards.
To his credit, New York Times reporter Revkin saw fit to criticize Time Magazine for its embarrassing coverage of climate science.
So in the end, Time’s cover story title of “Be Worried, Be Very Worried,” appears to have been apt. The American people should be worried --- very worried -- of such shoddy journalism.
AL GORE INCONVIENIENT TRUTH
In May, our nation was exposed to perhaps one of the slickest science propaganda films of all time: former Vice President Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” In addition to having the backing of Paramount Pictures to market this film, Gore had the full backing of the media, and leading the cheerleading charge was none other than the Associated Press.
On June 27, the Associated Press ran an article by Seth Borenstein that boldly declared “Scientists give two thumbs up to Gore's movie.” The article quoted only five scientists praising Gore’s science, despite AP’s having contacted over 100 scientists.
The fact that over 80% of the scientists contacted by the AP had not even seen the movie or that many scientists have harshly criticized the science presented by Gore did not dissuade the news outlet one bit from its mission to promote Gore’s brand of climate alarmism.
I am almost at a loss as to how to begin to address the series of errors, misleading science and unfounded speculation that appear in the former Vice President’s film Here is what Richard Lindzen, a meteorologist from MIT has written about “An Inconvenient Truth.” “A general characteristic of Mr. Gore's approach is to assiduously ignore the fact that the earth and its climate are dynamic; they are always changing even without any external forcing. To treat all change as something to fear is bad enough; to do so in order to exploit that fear is much worse.” http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008597
What follows is a very brief summary of the science that the former Vice President promotes in either a wrong or misleading way:
- He promoted the now debunked “hockey stick” temperature chart in an attempt to prove man’s overwhelming impact on the climate
- He attempted to minimize the significance of Medieval Warm period and the Little Ice Age
- He insisted on a link between increased hurricane activity and global warming that most sciences believe does not exist.
- He asserted that today’s Arctic is experiencing unprecedented warmth while ignoring that temperatures in the 1930’s were as warm or warmer
- He claimed the Antarctic was warming and losing ice but failed to note, that is only true of a small region and the vast bulk has been cooling and gaining ice.
- He hyped unfounded fears that Greenland’s ice is in danger of disappearing
- He erroneously claimed that ice cap on Mt. Kilimanjaro is disappearing due to global warming, even while the region cools and researchers blame the ice loss on local land-use practices
- He made assertions of massive future sea level rise that is way out side of any supposed scientific “consensus” and is not supported in even the most alarmist literature.
- He incorrectly implied that a Peruvian glacier's retreat is due to global warming, while ignoring the fact that the region has been cooling since the 1930s and other glaciers in South America are advancing
- He blamed global warming for water loss in Africa's Lake Chad, despite NASA scientists concluding that local population and grazing factors are the more likely culprits
- He inaccurately claimed polar bears are drowning in significant numbers due to melting ice when in fact they are thriving
- He completely failed to inform viewers that the 48 scientists who accused President Bush of distorting science were part of a political advocacy group set up to support Democrat Presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004
Now that was just a brief sampling of some of the errors presented in “An Inconvenient Truth.” Imagine how long the list would have been if I had actually seen the movie -- there would not be enough time to deliver this speech today.
Following the promotion of “An Inconvenient Truth,” the press did not miss a beat in their role as advocates for global warming fears.
ABC News put forth its best effort to secure its standing as an advocate for climate alarmism when the network put out a call for people to submit their anecdotal global warming horror stories in June for use in a future news segment.
In July, the Discovery Channel presented a documentary on global warming narrated by former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw. The program presented only those views of scientists promoting the idea that humans are destroying the Earth’s climate.
You don’t have to take my word for the program’s overwhelming bias; a Bloomberg News TV review noted “You'll find more dissent at a North Korean political rally than in this program” because of its lack of scientific objectivity.
Brokaw also presented climate alarmist James Hansen to viewers as unbiased, failing to note his quarter million dollar grant form the partisan Heinz Foundation or his endorsement of Democrat Presidential nominee John Kerry in 2004 and his role promoting former Vice President Gore’s Hollywood movie.
Brokaw, however, did find time to impugn the motives of scientists skeptical of climate alarmism when he featured paid environmental partisan Michael Oppenhimer of the group Environmental Defense accusing skeptics of being bought out by the fossil fuel interests.
The fact remains that political campaign funding by environmental groups to promote climate and environmental alarmism dwarfs spending by the fossil fuel industry by a three-to-one ratio. Environmental special interests, through their 527s, spent over $19 million compared to the $7 million that Oil and Gas spent through PACs in the 2004 election cycle.
I am reminded of a question the media often asks me about how much I have received in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry. My unapologetic answer is ‘Not Enough,’ -- especially when you consider the millions partisan environmental groups pour into political campaigns.
Continuing with our media analysis: On July 24, 2006 The Los Angeles Times featured an op-ed by Naomi Oreskes, a social scientist at the University of California San Diego and the author of a 2004 Science Magazine study. Oreskes insisted that a review of 928 scientific papers showed there was 100% consensus that global warming was not caused by natural climate variations. This study was also featured in former Vice President Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,”
However, the analysis in Science Magazine excluded nearly 11,000 studies or more than 90 percent of the papers dealing with global warming, according to a critique by British social scientist Benny Peiser.
Peiser also pointed out that less than two percent of the climate studies in the survey actually endorsed the so-called “consensus view” that human activity is driving global warming and some of the studies actually opposed that view.
But despite this manufactured “consensus,” the media continued to ignore any attempt to question the orthodoxy of climate alarmism.
As the dog days of August rolled in, the American people were once again hit with more hot hype regarding global warming, this time from The New York Times op-ed pages. A columnist penned an August 3rd column filled with so many inaccuracies it is a wonder the editor of the Times saw fit to publish it.
For instance, Bob Herbert’s column made dubious claims about polar bears, the snows of Kilimanjaro and he attempted to link this past summer’s heat wave in the U.S. to global warming – something even alarmist James Hansen does not support.
POLAR BEARS LOOK TIRED?
Finally, a September 15, 2006 Reuters News article claimed that polar bears in the Arctic are threatened with extinction by global warming. The article by correspondent Alister Doyle, quoted a visitor to the Arctic who claims he saw two distressed polar bears. According to the Reuters article, the man noted that “one of [the polar bears] looked to be dead and the other one looked to be exhausted." The article did not state the bears were actually dead or exhausted, rather that they “looked” that way.
Have we really arrived at the point where major news outlets in the U.S. are reduced to analyzing whether or not polar bears in the Arctic appear restful? How does reporting like this get approved for publication by the editors at Reuters? What happened to covering the hard science of this issue?
What was missing from this Reuters news article was the fact that according to biologists who study the animals, polar bears are doing quite well. Biologist Dr. Mitchell Taylor from the Arctic government of Nunavut, a territory of Canada, refuted these claims in May when he noted that
“Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present.”
Sadly, it appears that reporting anecdotes and hearsay as fact, has now replaced the basic tenets of journalism for many media outlets.
ALARMISM HAS LED TO SKEPTICISM
It is an inconvenient truth that so far, 2006 has been a year in which major segments of the media have given up on any quest for journalistic balance, fairness and objectivity when it comes to climate change. The global warming alarmists and their friends in the media have attempted to smear scientists who dare question the premise of man-made catastrophic global warming, and as a result some scientists have seen their reputations and research funding dry up.
The media has so relentlessly promoted global warming fears that a British group called the Institute for Public Policy Research – and this from a left leaning group – issued a report in 2006 accusing media outlets of engaging in what they termed “climate porn” in order to attract the public’s attention.
Bob Carter, a Paleoclimate geologist from James Cook University in Australia has described how the media promotes climate fear:
“Each such alarmist article is larded with words such as ‘if’, ‘might’, ‘could’, ‘probably’, ‘perhaps’, ‘expected’, ‘projected’ or ‘modeled’ - and many involve such deep dreaming, or ignorance of scientific facts and principles, that they are akin to nonsense,” professor Carter concluded in an op-ed in April of this year.
Another example of this relentless hype is the reporting on the seemingly endless number of global warming impact studies which do not even address whether global warming is going to happen. They merely project the impact of potential temperature increases.
The media endlessly hypes studies that purportedly show that global warming could increase mosquito populations, malaria, West Nile Virus, heat waves and hurricanes, threaten the oceans, damage coral reefs, boost poison ivy growth, damage vineyards, and global food crops, to name just a few of the global warming linked calamities. Oddly, according to the media reports, warmer temperatures almost never seem to have any positive effects on plant or animal life or food production.
Fortunately, the media’s addiction to so-called ‘climate porn’ has failed to seduce many Americans.
According to a July Pew Research Center Poll, the American public is split about evenly between those who say global warming is due to human activity versus those who believe it’s from natural factors or not happening at all.
In addition, an August Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll found that most Americans do not attribute the cause of recent severe weather events to global warming, and the portion of Americans who believe global warming is naturally occurring is on the rise.
Yes -- it appears that alarmism has led to skepticism.
The American people know when their intelligence is being insulted. They know when they are being used and when they are being duped by the hysterical left.
The American people deserve better -- much better -- from our fourth estate. We have a right to expect accuracy and objectivity on climate change coverage. We have a right to expect balance in sourcing and fair analysis from reporters who cover the issue.
Above all, the media must roll back this mantra that there is scientific “consensus” of impending climatic doom as an excuse to ignore recent science. After all, there was a so-called scientific “consensus” that there were nine planets in our solar system until Pluto was recently demoted.
Breaking the cycles of media hysteria will not be easy since hysteria sells -- it’s very profitable. But I want to challenge the news media to reverse course and report on the objective science of climate change, to stop ignoring legitimate voices this scientific debate and to stop acting as a vehicle for unsubstantiated hype.
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