In Midst of Scorching Heat Wave, CBS Proclaims Global Warming Debate Over

     As sure as the sun rises in the east, when a heat wave engulfs the continental United States, it dawns on the media that “global warming” may be to blame. Such was the case with CBS’s Bob Orr on the July 31 “Evening News,” when the reporter consulted with Pew Center on Global Climate Change’s Jay Gulledge.


     “The average global temperature is getting hotter due to global warming,” Gulledge told Orr.


     “Gulledge says there’s no longer any serious debate” on climate change, Orr added. A short time later, Orr’s story was cut short just as Gulledge was explaining his theory that pollution in the 1960s and 1970s prevented global warming from occurring then.


     “Just to underline how hot it is, the remote truck that Bob Orr was broadcasting from just overheated and we had to shut it down,” anchor Bob Schieffer explained as the story ended abruptly.


     But is the van-unfriendly heat wave really damning proof of the impact of global warming? Not all climatologists agree, among them the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s John Christy.


     In written testimony to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on May 2, 2001, Christy urged the committee “to be suspicious of media reports in which weather extremes are given as proof of human-induced climate change.”


     He added that “weather extremes occur somewhere all the time,” including “the coldest combined November and December in 106 years” at the end of 2000, an event that “does not prove U.S. or global cooling.”


     In a Feb. 10, 2006, story, CNN’s Michael Coren noted that Christy cautioned the news network that “forecasting the future ‘gets messy quickly.’”


     “The Earth system has more unknowns that we are generally willing to acknowledge,” Coren quoted an e-mail from Christy. “Our pronouncements often express more confidence than is warranted given the level of ignorance in which we presently operate,” Christy added.


     What’s more, Gulledge’s claim that pollution staved off global warming is a novel explanation considering the media’s obsession with global cooling in the 1970s.


     As the Business & Media Institute reported in its recent “Fire and Ice” study on the history of media coverage of climate change, “The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, amidst hysteria about the dangers of a new ice age.”


     For example, on Jan. 11, 1970, “The Washington Post told readers to ‘get a good grip on your long johns, cold weather haters – the worst may be yet to come,’ in an article titled ‘Colder Winters Held Dawn of New Ice Age.’ The article quoted climatologist Reid Bryson, who said ‘there’s no relief in sight’ about the cooling trend.”