The news media constantly misuse extreme weather examples to generate fear of global warming, but when record cold or record snow sets in journalists don't mention the possibility of global cooling trends. While climatologists would say weather isn't necessarily an indication of climate, it has been in the media, but only when the weather could be spun as part of global warming.
In Iowa, temperatures are 30 degrees below normal according to the Des Moines Register. That's a near-record low. Beijing is facing the coldest temperatures in decades according to Australia's The Age.
And in Pichccahuasi, Peru, bitter cold may cause the extinction of communities of alpaca farmers suffering from pneumonia and other respiratory problems. Ironically, that Guardian (U.K.) report called the region an anomaly "in a world growing ever hotter."Despite such extreme cold around the world, the three networks are not forecasting a period of global cooling. In fact, in the past three months there has been only one mention of "global cooling" on the networks. That was in an NBC "Today" about geo-engineering (manipulating) the global climate to create global cooling to combat global warming.
But when record heat was in the news global warming got the blame. NBC highlighted melting glaciers in Peru on Dec. 8 and declared that "climate change is to blame." That story cited United Nations claims that the decade might be the warmest since 1850 - also the same year the Little Ice Age ended.
When a heat wave hit the U.S. in July 2006, CBS "Evening News" consulted Pew Center on Global Climate Change's Jay Gulledge.
"The average global temperature is getting hotter due to global warming," Gulledge told CBS.
In a Cosmo magazine style quiz, Newsweek called the deadly European heat wave of 2003 "a human fingerprint" of "man-made climate change."
And in 2008 Stanford University professor Dr. Stephen Schneider told ABC's "Good Morning America" that methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are making hot temperatures even hotter.
"While this heat wave like all other heat waves is made by Mother Nature, we've been fooling around by turning the knob and making a little bit hotter," Schneider said on June 9, 2008. "[W]e've already increased by 35 percent the amount of carbon dioxide which traps heat. We've added 150 percent more methane, which also traps heat."
Dr. Roy Spencer, the principal research scientist for the University of Alabama at Huntsville, disagreed with Schneider. Spender told the Business & Media Institute that making a connection between the East Coast heat wave and emissions was "too much."
John Christy, a climatologist at the same university as Spencer, testified to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on May 2, 2001. He 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."