ABC's Guillen: Beware of Climate Hype

Something unprecedented happened on ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday: A correspondent questioned global-warming hysteria. Unfortunately, such basic skepticism was missing in every other report on climate change this week, as other network reporters continued to parrot Al Gore's warnings that the Earth is catastrophically warming.

The sole dissenter from the party line was ABC News Science Editor Michael Guillen. "The earth does things in cycles," Guillen noted. "Everything from the 24-hour day-night cycle, to a woman's 28-day menstrual cycle, to the yearly seasonal cycle, what goes up must come down and what goes down must come up. And from a geological point of view, we were in an ice age not so long ago, and what we've been doing for the last 10,000 years, if you take a really big picture, is warming up since then, rebounding from that ice age. So this might be just part of that." According to Guillen, "Even diseases are cyclic" and can't necessarily be blamed on global warming. He further pointed out the absurdity of "scary headlines" about the hottest weather in 120 years of record-keeping. "It would be like this," Guillen said, "If I watched you for 70 seconds, monitored your body for 70 seconds, and used that information to determine what your body's going to do for the rest of your life, that's pretty much what we're doing right now with [temperature] records."

For other reporters, it was business as usual. Of the evening news broadcasts on ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC, only the NBC Nightly News didn't trumpet Al Gore's August 10 press event on global warming.

Dan Rather, on that night's CBS Evening News, also showed traces of the symptoms Guillen diagnoses as hysteria. "Worldwide, July was the hottest month ever on record," Rather claimed in a brief story. "Once more, it was the seventh month in a row that global temperatures hit an all-time high."

Other reporters went further. Jim Moret, anchor of CNN's The World Today, told August 10 viewers that July "was the hottest month ever recorded on earth." Reporter Sharon Collins then claimed that "this year's extreme weather adds to the body of evidence that climate change is not only real, it's already here." She did note that there are skeptics of global-warming theories, and even ran a quote from Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, but then proceeded to taint the credibility of skeptics: "The oil and coal industries bankrolled a multi-million dollar campaign to throw cold water on predictions of a warming earth." Collins then falsely claimed that "most climate scientists agree with Al Gore's general assessment."

Guillen's ABC colleagues at World News Tonight were equally alarmist. "Some scientists, like Harvard's Paul Epstein, take the issue further," correspondent Ned Potter warned on August 10. "There's plenty of argument over this, but they say we're getting a taste of global warming, the changes in world weather caused by industrial pollution trapping heat in the atmosphere. That could bring more heat waves, droughts in some places, more floods in others, with more infectious rodents or insects as a result." Despite Potter's admission that there is "plenty of argument" about global warming's impact on human health, he didn't find time to present the arguments of the other side.

"Unfortunately, there's a lot of political hype" surrounding global warming, ABC's Guillen noted in closing his segment. Yes, and much of it comes from his fellow journalists. - Tim Lamer