Stephanopoulos Fears 'False Comfort' of an Actual Climate Change Solution

On the Oct. 23 “Good Morning America,” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos was troubled. The source of his disquiet was a new Pew Research poll released on Oct. 22 that shows “just 57 percent of Americans see solid evidence” of global warming. [Emphasis ours.] This represents a 14 percent drop since last year. Additionally, the number of those who believe climate change is caused by human activity fell 11 percent. To the media’s true believers – and those who just like reporting a good scare story – these numbers are upsetting.

GMA in particular has a stake in making sure Americans believe they’re destroying the planet, since the morning show has been a tireless purveyor of climate change propaganda. Stephanopoulos referenced the poll in introducing a segment on the new book “Superfreakonomics,” which offers “radically different” solutions on how to “save our planet.”

“Superfreakonomics” co-author Stephen Dubner agreed with Stephanopoulos that global warming “very well may be” a serious problem. But he then argued that “the proposed solution of carbon mitigation as the one and primary path [to combating climate change] will be too little and too late, and it’s too optimistic.”

He said that the “Superfreakonomics” solution is much more effective and realistic: a garden hose shot 100,000 feet into space, floating on balloons, pumping sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere.

Nathan Myhrvold, the founder and CEO of Intellectual Ventures, helped the “Superfreakonomics” authors determine the impact of this “solution” and he said that just a two-inch thick hose “would prevent arctic species from going extinct, like polar bears.”  He even claimed that “we could dial back the temperature of earth to anything you like. So we could eradicate global warming; we could take it back to pre-industrial levels.”

Stephanopoulos wasn’t buying such an easy solution to something the media has presented as catastrophically complex. He fretted:

But a lot of scientists who have studied this for an awful long time say you're not just simplifying, you're over simplifying. And here's what the Union of Concerned Scientists said about this book. They said, “The chapter on global warming is riddled with misrepresentations. The ‘Superfreakonomics’ authors appear to have taken a purposely contrarian position on climate change, science and economics.” They basically say you're being contrary for the sake of being contrary so you can sell books.

The “Union of Concerned Scientists” is, of course, a liberal group, claims that global warming is “one of the most serious challenges facing us today.” Dubner was unsurprised by their criticism because his book didn’t represent the entrenched political and financial incentives of the global warming activist movement.” Were he a global warming activist, “I would hate this book too,” he said. Which makes sense. If climate change is the club you use to force Americans to behave only in ways you deem desirable, a solution to climate change is most unwelcome.

But Stephanopoulos defended groups that are “trying to save the planet”:

Even Nathan Myhrvold … says that this solution has to be the absolute last resort. And there is a problem. You talk about this in the book – you talk about these problems of externalities. One of the externalities could be people hear, ‘Ah well, ya know what? There’s a real easy solution. We just need a garden hose.’  So they get complacent. You take false comfort in this. And you don't do the things you need to do.

And Dubner readily agreed, replying, “Exactly. It could raise what we write about in the book – it could create an excuse to pollute.” And so to calm media’s fear that this solution could be just “too good to be true,” Dubner added, “It’s the idea of – you have seat belts in cars. Let's say you just added them. You make the driver much safer. Does that mean you want to go around driving drunk all the time? No, you don't.”

And of course what would be a global segment piece without condemning the listeners for not doing enough. Did you buy a Prius thinking you could save the planet? Not good enough.

“There are a lot of kinds of misconceptions, particularly about carbon emissions,” said Dubner. “It turns out that for every person who buys a Prius, to put out fewer carbon emissions, and then, if you drive to the grocery store to buy some hamburger, you're canceling yourself out. Why? Because the production of meat is incredibly greenhouse gas intensive. The production of kangaroo, let’s say, is not. The reason why is because cows emit methane. All the cows and other ruminants in the world actually contribute more greenhouse gas emissions than all the transportation sectors of the world.”

Well, nobody said being environmentally correct would be easy … Wonder what kangaroo burgers taste like …