Washington Post Magazine Scoffs at Global Warming Skeptics

Washington Post Magazine Scoffs at Global Warming Skeptics
Rival paper Washington Times, meanwhile, presents views on both sides of vigorous debate on warming and hurricane strength.

By Ken Shepherd
Business & Media Institute
May 30, 2006

     Days before the 2006 hurricane season begins, The Washington Times noted that scientists are hotly debating the impact, if any, that global warming has on the strength of tropical cyclones. Unlike the Times, however, Joel Achenbach presented a dismissive look at scientists skeptical of the global warming link in his May 28 Washington Post magazine article.

     This isnt a theory anymore. This is happening now, Achenbach insisted of global warming. He added that many scientists warn listening to skeptics could cause inaction that could lead to a wildly destabilized climate for the first time since the dawn of human civilization.

     The Post writer agreed with those scientists, dismissing skeptics as inhabiting a parallel Earth where global warming isnt happening, or that it is happening, but not from human causes and without catastrophic impact. To knock down critics like the University of Virginias Pat Michaels, Achenbach set up a government scientist as a voice of dispassionate reason.

     They argue not as scientists but as lawyers, Achenbach quoted National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientist Pieter Tans. Their purpose is to confuse, so that the public gets the idea that there is a raging scientific debate. There is no raging scientific debate, Tans scoffed.

     But as The Washington Times Tom Carter reported on May 29, other government scientists including a colleague of Tans at NOAA strongly disagree about the nature of the global warming debate.

     Everyone here is doing science. This debate is confusing for us. Im sure it is confusing for everyone else, Carter quoted Chris Landsea, science and operations officer at NOAAs National Hurricane Center. Landsea chalks up intense hurricanes to a natural multi-decade cycle, not global warming.

     Landseas view is similar to Michaels, who in the Oct. 20, 2005, Atlanta Journal-Constitution argued that only 10 percent of storm-to-storm variation in intensity is related to sea surface temperatures. Ninety percent is due to other factors, some of which are actually less favorable to hurricanes in a warmer world.

     The Business & Media Institute has previously documented how the media have treated global warming science as settled and beyond debate.