CBS: Global Warming Science Sound, ClimateGate Just a PR Problem

Katie Couric, CBS On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric lamented the impact ClimateGate and other recent scandals involving fraudulent global warming data have had on the climate change debate: “Experts insist the overall conclusion remains the same, that climate change is real, but...such errors provide ammunition to skeptics.”

In a report that followed, correspondent Mark Phillips cited accusations of data tampering against Penn State University climatologist Michael Mann, but explained: “An academic board today cleared Mann, saying his science holds up, but the damage may have already been done.” Phillips went on to detail other data errors, including a false United Nations climate panel report on melting Himalayan glaciers and the ClimateGate scandal at Britain’s East Anglia University.

Phillips observed how the “series of gaffes by climate change scientists,” has created “a frustrating time for those who believe the basic science in global warming remains true.” A clip was then played of Imperial College London climatologist Brian Hoskins fretting: “it appears the whole edifice has been undermined by these couple of bricks that are flaking a bit.”

Phillips concluded his report by explaining the real problem facing global warming advocates: “The scientists may still believe they’re winning the scientific argument, but they’re in danger of losing the public relations war.”    

Here is a full transcript of the segment:
6:47PM TEASE:

KATIE COURIC: When we come back, new doubts about climate change thanks to some sloppy work by scientists.

6:50PM SEGMENT:

KATIE COURIC: The U.N.’s climate chief admitted today scientists made mistakes in a major study of melting glaciers in the Himalayas. Experts insist the overall conclusion remains the same, that climate change is real, but as Mark Phillips tells us, such errors provide ammunition to skeptics.

MARK PHILLIPS: You know you’re in trouble when you’re being spoofed on YouTube.

PARODY SONG: Making up data the old hard way, fudging the numbers day by day.

PHILLIPS: The subject of the spoof is Michael Mann of Penn State University, who is accused of tampering with climate data to produce his famous hockey stick graph, which shows that the rise in manmade greenhouse gases corresponds to a rise in world temperatures. An academic board today cleared Mann, saying his science holds up, but the damage may have already been done.

SONG: Hide the decline.

PHILLIPS: The biggest splash these days in the global warming argument may not be caused by the world’s melting glaciers. It may be caused by a series of gaffes by climate change scientists. The latest one involves temperature data from weather stations in China used in global warming calculations. The problem is that where weather stations are matters. One located in the city will give a consistently higher temperature reading than one out in the country. The allegation is that the researchers used Chinese data when they didn’t really know where their weather stations were. It’s just a small part, they say, of a worldwide database, but it’s the little mistakes that matter. Mistakes like the line in the last report by the U.N. panel on climate change, which claimed glaciers in the Himalayas might disappear by the year 2035. The panel had to admit the claim was wrong and the climate change skeptics jumped in.

PATRICK MICHAELS [SENIOR FELLOW, CATO INSTITUTE]: Any scientist that read that 2035 figure just laughed because they knew it couldn’t be true. There’s no doubt the trust in the U.N. panel has been undermined.

PHILLIPS: Trust was already undermined by the series of leaked e-mails at Britain’s University of East Anglia, one of the world’s big climate science centers, would seem to show that inconvenient facts were being hidden. It’s a frustrating time for those who believe the basic science in global warming remains true.

BRIAN HOSKINS [PROFESSOR, IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON]: I am concerned that it appears the whole edifice has been undermined by these couple of bricks that are flaking a bit.

PHILLIPS: And that’s a danger, in your view?

HOSKINS: It is a danger. Oh, I totally agree.

PHILLIPS: The scientists may still believe they’re winning the scientific argument, but they’re in danger of losing the public relations war. Mark Phillips, CBS News, London.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC