March Madness: Full-Court Press on Global Warming

     Behind a cover that read, Be Worried. Be Very Worried, Time informed its readers: in the past five years or so, the serious debate has quietly ended. That was a common assumption of media reports in the last two weeks.

     In its April 3 piece, Newsweek explained the timing of the latest round of climate change coverage. The article, headlined The New Hot Zone, included the explanation: Books, films and a slick ad campaign make global warming the topic du jour.

     Newsweeks Jerry Adler detailed part of the coordinated campaign the Ad Councils global warming ad released on the same day as the premiere of a lavishly produced documentary, The Great Warming. Adler added that two major books on the subject were due out in March, and May will bring the release of An Inconvenient Truth, former Democratic presidential candidate Al Gores one-man crusade against warming in both film and book form.

     Adler and fellow contributors Karen Breslau and Vanessa Juarez acknowledged dissent on global warming, citing the petition signed by more than 17,000 scientists. That petition stated: There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earths climate.

     The Newsweek writers, however, dismissed those 17,000 scientists and the research they had cited. Because the signers began endorsing the petition in 1998, Newsweek derided them for using decade-old data to make a political point in 2006.

Anything but Equal Time for Experts
     When it came to dissenters on the causes and effects of global warming, Time referred to them as: the naysayers many of whom were on the payroll of energy companies who have become an increasingly marginalized breed.

     The media have marginalized those who present scientific evidence that man is not causing the bulk of global warming, and that nature is in a series of cycles of warming and cooling.

     One of those voices is James M. Taylor, managing editor of The Heartland Institutes Environment and Climate News. Newsweeks April 3 issue called one of his positions preposterous, rather than treat his comments in an even-handed manner.

     On the broadcast front, ABCs World News Tonight gave Virginia State Climatologist Pat Michaels the third degree on March 26. Reporter Geoff Morrell called Michaels one of a handful of skeptics, in a tiny minority. The entire story attempted to undermine Michaels position, calling him a scientist who was friendly with the oil industry.

     Even government experts who dared question the medias concerted effort were either ignored or pushed to the fringe. The March 20 CBS Evening News included a Jim Acosta story discussing the danger of storms and the hypothesis that climate change was giving them added power.

     Acosta interviewed Georgia Tech researcher Judith Curry, who had just released a study about the possible risk of increasing hurricane intensity associated with global warming.

     Max Mayfield from the governments own National Hurricane Center followed and said that natural variability alone is what this can be attributed to. Acosta then cited how the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration says flat out that the two are not related. But Curry got the last word saying, That is misleading

     In a rare story that treated both sides more equally, CNNs Rob Marciano interviewed Dr. William Gray, who has studied hurricanes for 50 years. Gray, of Colorado State University, said on the March 23 Your World Today that man is not causing global warming.

     As far as causing the globe to warm, we have not done that, Gray said. Marciano added that Dr. Gray says the warming is natural, a regular feature of global cycles, and not from greenhouse gases.

     The March 19 60 Minutes used a unique way to give standing to one government expert. Co-host Scott Pelley described James Hansen as arguably the worlds leading researcher on global warming, before claiming that Hansen has been somehow censored by the government. That censoring apparently didnt apply to his CBS performance. Hansen was part of a more-than-13-minute segment where he was given 10 separate quotes.

     Hansen, according to Pelley, calls himself an independent, and hes had trouble with both parties. But according to the Cybercast News Service, Hansen publicly endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president and received a $250,000 grant from the charitable foundation headed by Kerry's wife. The Cybercast News Service, also operated by BMI parent the Media Research Center, went on show how Hansen had even praised Sen. Kerry, declaring that John Kerry has a far better grasp than President Bush on the important issues that we face.

Senators Kyoto Votes, Kyoto Costs Conveniently Ignored
     An ongoing theme of media coverage was blaming President Bush for pulling out of the Kyoto accord. This strategy has been documented by the Business & Media Institute in the report Destroying America To Save The World and was a theme of the Time magazine spread.

     While Time admitted Kyoto was an imperfect accord, the cover story said it was undeniable that the White Houses environmental record was dismal, including the abandonment of Kyoto. That wasnt the only mention in the April 3 issue. In other parts of the global warming package, writers claimed the Bush Administration dropped out of Kyoto and The Bush Administration, in turn, has rejected Kyoto.

     The magazine left out the fact that the Senate, which must OK all treaties, voted 95-0 against Kyoto on July 25, 1997. Obscuring that truth, one article included comments from senators now unable to get through the Senate even mild measures to limit carbon. The article mentioned four senators by name: John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). Of those, Domenici was listed as a co-sponsor of the vote against Kyoto and all four voted against Kyoto, along with former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (D-Mass.).

     Media reports have continued to ignore the massive costs to the U.S. economy and the world from Kyoto or other emissions-cutting mandates. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated in 1998 that U.S. compliance with Kyoto could cost between $100 billion and $400 billion annually.

     But Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said the costs are a lot higher than the prevailing estimates when the United States was looking into Kyoto in the late 90s.

     The models basically agreed that for the U.S. to meet its targets in the transportation sector, the price of gasoline would have to go up about 75 cents a gallon, Ebell said. But despite recent rises in gas prices, demand has not waned enough to make much of a difference in emissions output.