Scott Pelley hyped the latest United Nations global warming report on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, proclaiming that "climate scientists have never seen greenhouse gas readings like what they announced today....scientists with the United Nations said that greenhouse gases, which influence climate change, have hit their highest level in 800,000 years – mostly because industry is ramping up in the developing world".
John Blackstone underlined the supposed apocalyptic nature of this finding. He asked a University of California, Berkeley researcher Daniel Kammen if it was "too late" to do anything about climate change. However, Blackstone failed to mention that this sole talking head has advised President Barack Obama on energy policy. He just noted Kammen's academic affiliation: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
JOHN BLACKSTONE (voice-over): Daniel Kammen studies climate change at the University of California, Berkeley.
DANIEL KAMMEN, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY: The more we ignore the problem – the more we get sea level increase, temperature rises, crop failures – we pay a larger cost to try to address that.
BLACKSTONE (on-camera): Is it too late?
KAMMEN: It's not too late to act if we put our minds to it. We have lots of technologies and science and new policy tools available, but we're wasting time. When we know it's a problem, we've got to solve it.
Pelley teased the correspondent's report with his dire language, and added that the U.N. report stated that "mankind has upset the natural balance of our atmosphere". Blackstone led by revisiting his 2008 trip to Antarctica, and pointed out that "even there – far from any immediate sources of pollution – scientists find increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the air."
The CBS journalist then summarized the report's findings – that "CO2 levels have continued the steady rise that began in 1958 at 315 parts per million; reaching 394 parts per million last month. High levels of carbon dioxide can create a warming blanket around the Earth. The U.N. says the gas is responsible for 80 percent of the warming effect on the planet's climate."
Later in the segment, Blackstone played his soundbite from Kammen, including his "is it too late" question to the Obama senior adviser. He concluded his report with more doom and gloom: "Rising temperatures and melting polar ice are expected to raise the sea level by about 12 inches by the year 2050. Since carbon dioxide remains in the air for a century or more...CO2 released today will be impacting the climate far into the future."
Back in February 2013, the correspondent played up how apparently, "reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming could make a dramatic difference for many birds". He later added that "while birds are moving to adapt to global warming, Audubon scientists say climate change may be coming too quickly for some to survive".
[Update, Thursday, 6:28 pm Eastern: the full transcript of John Blackstone's report from Wednesday's CBS Evening News can be read at MRC.org.]