Nets Panic: Clock at Zero in 'Life and Death' Effort to Avoid 'Global Catastrophe'

“Facing a clock some say has ticked down to zero, today 192 nations came together to take on a potential global catastrophe,” a dire ABC reporter Bob Woodruff ominously intoned from Copenhagen on Monday’s World News with “Saving the Planet?” on screen.

Those attending the conference on climate change “where an official said today the clock has ticked down to zero and it's time to act,” NBC anchor Brian Williams warned, “say it's so late in the game, so much damage has been done, they fear they can already see how this ends.” Anne Thompson then declared: “This is about life or death -- 192 countries are here in Copenhagen to cut the carbon emissions changing the climate and threatening the very existence of some nations and their people.”

Echoing that theme, CBS’s Mark Phillips stood in water up to his neck and then became completely submerged to illustrate the feared impact of rising sea levels: “The Maldives have become the canary in the global warming coal mine.”

NBC and ABC raised “ClimateGate” in passing – without actually using the term – only to dismiss the revelations. “The man who leads the U.N. panel that blames human activity for climate change said the science is broad and consistent,” Thompson reassured NBC viewers. Woodruff applied the “denier” pejorative as he asserted “climate change deniers say these e-mails are proof humans aren't causing global warming,” but “U.S. officials say the evidence proves otherwise.”

Ending on an upbeat note, at least in the eyes of liberals, Woodruff contended “one thing the U.S. has in its favor here in Copenhagen is a new President with star power who is more willing to negotiate a climate treaty than his predecessor.”

On Monday’s CBS Evening News, Phillips set up his stunt of standing in rising levels of water:

No place in the Maldives is higher than 7 feet, ten inches above sea level. 80 percent of the land lies three feet or less above the waves. And sea levels are predicted to rise by as much as 23 inches this century according to the UN's climate change panel. Other, more recent studies using newer data have warned the world's oceans may rise even higher. Even the least bad scenario for sea level rise would have the place looking like this [standing in water]. Worst predictions would have the place looking like this [water up to his neck]. Or worst of all, like this [submerged].

(Monday’s NBC Nightly News used Bangladesh for its story on rising seas and ABC, on Sunday night, went to southern Louisiana to spread the same fear.)

Weekend roundup: “ABC and NBC Acknowledge 'ClimateGate,' But Remain Undeterred: 'Science is Solid'”

The MRC’s Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide transcripts of the Monday, December 7 stories on ABC and NBC:

ABC’s World News:

CHARLES GIBSON: Today’s announcement comes as delegates from around the world gather in Copenhagen for the largest global warming conference in history. It is a meeting that those concerned about global warming have pointed to for years, saying if anything is to be done, it will be done there. Bob Woodruff is in Copenhagen.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Welcome to Copenhagen.

BOB WOODRUFF: Facing a clock some say has ticked down to zero, today 192 nations came together to take on a potential global catastrophe.

CONNIE HEDEGAARD, UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE OF PARTIES: This is our chance. If we miss this one, it could take years before we get a new and better one.

WOODRUFF: Delegates began hammering out the details of an agreement that would move away from fossil fuel pollution that is warming the planet. President Obama will offer a 17 percent cut in emissions by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. Developing nations – including India and China – are proposing their own cuts. But they are not deep enough, scientists say.

RICHARD SOMERVILLE, SCRIPPS INSTITUTION OF OCEANOGRAPHY: There’s a limit on how much gases you can put in before Mother Nature shows you what the climate system will do. And Mother Nature bats last.

WOODRUFF: Another major issue, financing. The U.N. says poor nations need tens of billions of dollars every year to help adapt to everything from rising sea level to dying crops. Today, there was also an effort to derail the talks. Saudi Arabia claimed a series of stolen e-mails, in which climate scientists appear to fudge data, undermine the need to act on global warming. Climate change deniers say these e-mails are proof humans aren't causing global warming. U.S. officials say the evidence proves otherwise.

JONATHAN PERSHING, CHIEF U.S. NEGOTIATOR: The science is incredibly robust. And as we look forward, I worry much, much more about not acting urgently than I do about what will ultimately be a small blip.

WOODRUFF: One thing the U.S. has in its favor here in Copenhagen is a new President with star power who is more willing to negotiate a climate treaty than his predecessor. Delegates hope they will leave here with a firm blueprint to address climate change and the momentum to get there. Bob Woodruff, ABC News, Copenhagen.

NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS, IN OPENING TEASER: On our broadcast tonight, the gathering storm about climate change at a global gathering where an official said today the clock has ticked down to zero and it's time to act.

...

WILLIAMS: Good evening. While some still insist the evidence just isn't convincing, others attending this week's global gathering on climate change say it's so late in the game, so much damage has been done, they fear they can already see how this ends. The leaders at this conference are making it clear it's going to take a lot more than changing a few light bulbs or driving hybrid cars. Today there was an urgency in their voices. It's where we begin tonight, our chief environmental affairs correspondent, Anne Thompson, in Copenhagen. Anne, good evening.
                        
ANNE THOMPSON: Good evening, Brian. This is about life or death – 192 countries are here in Copenhagen to cut the carbon emissions changing the climate and threatening the very existence of some nations and their people.

LEAH WICKHAM: I'm a long way from home today.

THOMPSON: Leah Wickham pleaded for her native Fiji, breaking down as she spoke about what rising sea levels could do to her children.

WICKHAM: It is my hope that their lifetimes will never be affected by devastating climate change.

THOMPSON: Her words accompanied by petitions from 10 million people demanding action. Over and over today, the U.N. conference delegates heard countries must reduce their carbon emissions, emissions that are warming the planet.

YVO DE BOER, U.N. FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE: The clock has ticked down to zero. After two years of negotiation, the time has come to deliver.

THOMPSON: The urgency slowed by a recent controversy over stolen e-mails. Skeptics insist the e-mails show some scientists manipulated climate data. Today, oil-rich Saudi Arabia – which is resisting carbon cuts – said the e-mails have shaken trust in the science of global warming. But the man who leads the U.N. panel that blames human activity for climate change said the science is broad and consistent.

RAJENDRA PACHAURI, INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE: The evidence is now overwhelming that the world will benefit greatly from early action.

THOMPSON: And not by accident today, in Washington the Environmental Protection Agency ruled greenhouse gases threaten America's health and welfare.

LISA P. JACKSON, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Starting next spring, large emitting facilities will be required to incorporate the best available methods for controlling greenhouse gas emissions when they plan to construct or expand operations.

THOMPSON: Yvo de Boer, the U.N.'s chief negotiator here in Copenhagen, says the toughest issue is building trust among major economies that all will truly reduce their carbon outputs.

DE BOER: I think it's critical for the United States to see that china is really stepping up to the mark and taking action. And, equally, I think it's critical for China to see that the United States is showing leadership.

THOMPSON: And the pressure is on. In less than two weeks, President Obama and 109 other heads of state will come here for the finale of this conference, raising the stakes even higher.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center