Media Use Crazy Weather to Hype Global Warming, Despite Admissions Weather Isn't Climate

Last winter, as blizzard snowfalls piled up into several feet in the nation's capital, conservatives mocked global warming alarmists for trying to link weather incidents to global warming. But as summer heat waves, volcanoes and sinkholes have appeared recently, climate alarmists proved they missed the point.

A top Obama administration scientist attacked global warming skeptics during the winter by pointing out that "weather is not the same thing as climate." ABC's Bill Blakemore argued the same thing in order to defend the existence of manmade global warming on Jan. 8, 2010.

But Associated Press, USA Today, The New York Times and The Washington Post have all promoted a connection between the extreme heat and weather around the world this summer and global warming. One CNN host asked if the events were the "apocalypse" or global warming. The Huffington Post proposed naming hurricanes and other disasters after climate change "deniers."

"Floods, fires, melting ice and feverish heat: From smoke-choked Moscow to water-soaked Iowa and the High Arctic, the planet seems to be having a midsummer breakdown. It's not just a portent of things to come, scientists say, but a sign of troubling climate change already under way," the AP wrote, sounding more like Al Gore than an objective news agency.

AP cited the World Meteorological Organization, NASA and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) saying that "extremes" were expected in a warming scenario. But its report didn't include any other viewpoints or propose other possible reasons for the weather events. And it failed to point out the scandals connected to IPCC, NASA and the warming movement as a whole.

The 2009 ClimateGate scandal and subsequent scandals undermined the very credibility of the climate alarmist movement, but were underreported by the network news media.

AP left out meteorologists who explained some of those events based on jet stream activity. According to New Scientist magazine, the jet stream is being blocked right now and has consequently slowed down. Meteorologists say that the jet stream's slower movements are responsible for the deadly fires in Russia, the floods in Pakistan and other rare weather events. "The unusual weather in the US and Canada last month also has a similar case," New Scientist wrote.

Discover Magazine expounded on the New Scientist article saying "this happens from time to time, and it sets the stage for extreme conditions when weather systems hover over the same area."

Despite other explanations and viewpoints, The New York Times also linked weather to climate saying, "the collective answer of the scientific community [whether global warming is causing more weather extremes]" is "probably."

Like the Times, many news outlets promoted the connection between warming and weather, but were careful to briefly note that individual weather events cannot be proven to have been caused by global warming. Out of the Times' 1,302 word article, only 113 words were used to offer a caveat saying it is difficult to link "specific weather events" to climate change and to quote a NASA scientist who admitted he hasn't "proved it" yet.

Semantics aside, those mainstream stories were nearly as biased in their coverage as blatantly left-wing websites like the Huffington Post.

Huffington Post argued that "global weirding" incidents such as landslides, sinkholes and volcanoes are "consistent" with global warming.

The site interviewed David Orr, a professor of environmental studies and politics at Oberlin College, who said, "you ask is this evidence of climate destabilization, the only scientific answer you can give is: It is consistent with what we can expect." The complete list of "weird" stuff was heat waves, floods, landslides, wildfires, ice islands, sinkholes, volcanoes, dead fish and oyster herpes.

Dead fish and oyster herpes? Huffington Post said, "These are certainly stories to be filed under weird: Although climate change can't necessarily be held responsible, some scientists are suggesting it as the instigator of strange ocean occurrences."

The fact is that the alarmists and the news media will find someone to support claims that just about everything is correlated to man-made global warming. MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan even claimed that Snowpocalypse (the nickname for the blizzard activity on parts of the East Coast) was consistent with global warming.

Media Says Warming Predictions ‘Supported' by Weather Events, Push Government Action

It has been a summer of wild weather and related disasters from fires in Russia, to giant sinkholes, to floods in Pakistan and Europe. All of this has sparked the news media's desire to reignite the climate alarmist movement after a scandal-filled winter.

The headlines said it all: "In Weather Chaos, a Case for Global Warming," proclaimed one Times header. The USA Today warned, "Think this summer is hot? Get used to it." The AP story hyping weather disasters' correlation to warming was called, "Climate Change Predictions Supported By Summer of Fires, Floods And Heat Waves: IPCC."

"The weather-related cataclysms of July and August fit patterns predicted by climate scientists," AP declared. The story criticized the U.S. unwillingness to cap carbon emissions.

"The U.S. remains the only major industrialized nation not to have legislated caps on carbon emissions, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week withdrew climate legislation in the face of resistance from Republicans and some Democrats," AP said. A bit later, they quoted a UN "specialist" who argued "much more needs to be done."

Perhaps under the strain of working at CNN, meteorologist Chad Myers actually switched views since 2008, when he said "to think that we could affect weather all that much is pretty arrogant."

But on Aug. 10, Myers said "Yes," when asked if the weather phenomena were manmade. Myers, however, offered this qualification: "Is it 100 percent caused by man? No. There are other things involved. We are now in the sunspot cycle. We are now in a very hot sun cycle. We are, we are - many other things going on ..."

CNN host Fareed Zakaria also used the crazy weather to promote legislative action on emissions - pushing Cato Institute's senior fellow Pat Michaels to accept the idea of a carbon tax.

After another guest warned of devastation if we fail to act on the issue of global warming, Zakaria turned to Michaels and said: "You hear all this. Doesn't it worry you? I mean, I understand your position, which is, you know, we don't have a substitute for fossil fuels right now. But surely that isn't an argument for stand pattism?"

MICHAELS: No.

ZAKARIA: Don't you want to do something about this?

MICHAELS: What I worry about more is the concept of opportunity cost. We had legislation, again, that went through the House last summer which would have cost a lot and been futile. And when you, when you take that away, or when the government favors certain technologies and politicizes technologies, you're doing worse than nothing. You're actually impairing your ability to respond in the long run, and that's my major concern along this issue.

ZAKARIA: But if you were to have a carbon tax, if you were to have a gas tax -

MICHAELS: YOU, can put in the carbon tax...

Zakaria pushed Michaels further, arguing that it is a "simple" law of economics to tax a behavior if you want less of it. But Michaels stressed that the problem is how high the tax would have to be to reduce carbon dioxide enough to make a difference, and the "political acceptability" of such a tax."

The CNN host's biased segment, which included three panelists (Michaels included), used the apocalyptic weather as a set up:

"It has been a scorcher of a summer. Record high temperatures all over the United States, huge chunks of glacier the size of four Manhattan islands breaking off Greenland. One-third of Pakistan is now under water. Fires burning out of control in Russia. Floods in Europe," Zakaria said on Aug. 15. "So is this just another summer on planet Earth? Or is it the apocalypse? Or is it global warming?"

His panel of guests was stacked 2-to-1 (3-to-1 if Zakaria is counted) in favor of legislative action to stop global warming and failed to consider that weather is not climate. NASA's Gavin Schmidt and Jeffrey Sachs, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, were on the panel with Michaels.

Zakaria accepted Schmidt's views unquestioningingly, but then challenged and argued with Michaels' points, going so far as to ask about his research funding.

Schmidt is a favorite climate change expert for many news outlets, including the Times. He told the paper, "If you ask me as a person, do I think the Russian heat wave has to do with climate change, the answer is yes. If you ask me as a scientist whether I have proved it, the answer is no - at least not yet."

Environmental studies professor Roger Pielke, Jr. responded to that on his blog saying: "This neatly sums up the first of two reasons why I think that the current debate over whether greenhouse gas emissions caused/exacerbated/influenced recent disasters around the world is a fruitless debate. It is not a debate that can be resolved empirically, but rather depends upon hunches, speculation and beliefs. Debates that cannot be resolved empirically necessarily involve extra-scientific factors."

In another post, Pielke criticized the World Meteorological Organization (which was cited by AP) for issuing a statement saying that the severe weather events "matches IPCC projections."

"The WMO statement is (yet) another example of scientifically unsupportable nonsense in the climate debate. Such nonsense is of course not going away anytime soon," Pielke said, noting that the IPCC didn't make any projections for 2010.

MSNBC Snows Viewers, Along with the rest of the Media

During the winter, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., poked fun at alarmists when his grandchildren built an igloo on the National Mall and called it "Al Gore's New Home." Fox News host Glenn Beck sarcastically made fun of an Al Gore "disappearance" (implying that since the snow started falling Gore wasn't publicly warning about climate change) and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Kennedy wrote in 2008 that global warming had resulted in "anemic winters" in Washington, D.C. The 2009-2010 winter and its multiple blizzards contradicted Kennedy's claims, Beck noted.

Despite media and lefty claims, conservatives weren't trying to say that the snowy winter disproved global warming. Rather they were arguing that strange weather should not be used as evidence to support climate change (summer or winter). But that was exactly what the left and the news media had been doing, and it is what they are doing again this summer.

Alarmists like Al Gore, Bill Nye "The Science Guy," and MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan had claimed the severe weather was "consistent" with global warming. Gore blamed three straight days of rain on warming saying, "Just look at what has been happening for the last three days," Gore said. "The so-called skeptics haven't noted it because it's not snow. But the downpours and heavy winds are consistent with what the scientists have long warned about."

Ratigan claimed that "these ‘snowpocalypses' that have been going through DC and other extreme weather events are precisely what climate scientists have been predicting, fearing and anticipating because of global warming."

His rant continued: "Why is that? The thinking that warmer air temperatures on the earth - a higher air temperature - has a greater capacity to hold moisture at any temperature," Ratigan said. "And then as winter comes in, that warm air cools full of water, and you get heavier precipitation on a more regular basis. In fact, you could argue these storms are not evidence of a lack of global warming, but are evidence of global warming - thus the 26 inches of snowfall in the DC area and the second giant storm this year." [Emphasis added]

Ratigan also criticized a TV spot by Virginia Republicans designed to ridicule proposed climate change policies that could hurt the state's job situation.

Global warming alarmists in the media and academia proved last winter that they want it both ways: weather can "support" their opinions about global warming, but weather cannot disprove or discredit those same opinions. So they continue to link everything, even seemingly contradictory weather events like droughts and floods, to the problem of climate change.

UN Climate Conference May Have Trouble in Mexico

The recent media hype over unusual weather events may be designed to counter declining public fears over global warming. After all, unless the public thinks global warming is a threat they are unlikely to support costly government intervention or make drastic changes in their lives.

After the flop at Copenhagen, proponents of global warming alarmism wanted the next UN Climate Change Conference, coming up this November/December, to move forward toward curbing emissions. But recent news reports indicate the Mexico meeting may not be as successful as they'd hoped.

According to The Christian Science Monitor, the Cancun meeting scheduled to begin Nov. 29 and run through Dec. 10 seems "to have been thrown into reverse - at least for now."

"Unfortunately, what we have seen over and over this week is that some countries are walking back from the progress made in Copenhagen and what was agreed there," Jonathan Pershing, leader of the U.S. negotiating team, said according to the Monitor.

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Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.