A front page story in USA Today on Wednesday hyperbolically pushed recent storms as proof of global warming, warning, "Weather disasters target N. America." (Weather disasters are targeting America?) Citing a study by a Munich-based insurance firm, reporter Doyle Rice hyped, "The number of natural disasters per year has been rising dramatically on all continents since 1980, but most notably in North America where countries have been battered by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, searing heat and drought, a new report says."
Rice didn't explain the credentials of Munich Re or its scientific background. For a study dealing with climate change, the company is hardly objective. Their website declares: "It is one of the greatest risks facing mankind. In recent years, Munich Re has actively supported and advanced climate protection and adaptation to global warming."
How can an organization both investigate climate change and, at the same time, advocate for legislation?
It wasn't until the final three paragraphs that Rice allowed an alternative voice:
Other experts take issue with Munich Re's findings.
"Thirty years is not an appropriate length of time for a climate analysis, much less finding causal factors like climate change," says Roger Pielke, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado.
Atmospheric scientist Clifford Mass of the University of Washington says once data are adjusted for population there is no recent upward trend in tornado or hurricane damages.
Wouldn't the above point negate the entire story? Additionally, doesn't such a statement warrant better placement than the next-to-last paragraph?
The full USA Today article can be found here.