During Saturday’s NBC Nightly News coverage of recent weather phenomena, like the flooding in San Antonio, heavy snowfall in Vermont, and tornado aftermath in Oklahoma, correspondent John Yang posed the question, “Why all this severe weather?” and then stated that “government scientists say it’s partly the result of manmade climate change.” That statement was followed by a clip of Kenneth Kunkel, a NOAA scientist, who claimed that our continued contribution to greenhouse gases “will warm the globe and … increase the risks of certain types of extremes” in weather occurrences. [Link to the audio here]
We saw similar reporting tactics months earlier after Hurricane Sandy devastated seaside resorts in New Jersey, as many networks have interviewed “experts” who claim that anthropogenic, or manmade, contributions to the production of greenhouse gases have caused global warming, which they claim is the cause of the recent happenings in nature.
A fellow NewsBusters contributor wrote about the spike in global warming coverage after Hurricane Sandy here.
The issue in the global warming debate is if human contributions are to blame, or if this warming is simply part of a meteorological cycle that the Earth goes through, which is largely undecided in the scientific community according to a Manhattan Institute report. Regardless of whether global warming is caused by man or not, there is no definitive evidence or agreement in the scientific community that climate change contributes to the formation of deadly storms like hurricanes or tornadoes.
To their credit, PBS and National Geographic have recently reported that, because there is evidence on both sides of the argument, the only thing that scientists can agree on is that it is too early to say definitively whether or not atmospheric warming has or will cause such powerful storms. In fact, the National Geographic article even hypothesizes that an increase in the planets average temperature could contribute to a decrease in the most violent tornadic activity, meaning less of the EF-5 storms like the one which hit Moore, Oklahoma, last Monday.
Therefore, it is premature and dishonest for news networks to share only one side of the discussion with the implication that these assertions are the agreed upon consensus opinions of the scientific community when they truly only reflect the personal views of a single contributor.
Furthermore, it is inappropriate for liberal news networks to use natural tragedies such as the occurrences in Oklahoma and in the Northeast to advance their left-wing environmental agenda. The journalism should be focused on reporting the factual news story instead of using such catastrophe for political gain.
For reference, the transcript of NBC’s coverage follows:
NBC Nightly News
May 25, 2013
JOHN YANG: Devastating tornados. Searing heat waves. Withering droughts and related wildfires. And powerful hurricanes.
CHRIS WARREN: With more people living in the danger zone, whether it's tornado alley or along the coast, when extreme weather does happen, there's a greater chance someone will be impacted.
YANG: 2012 was the hottest on record and saw 11 disasters that each cost $1 billion in damage, the costliest year since 2005. Superstorm Sandy alone, more than $50 billion. This year's already seen near record snow cover. Across this region, rivers are still rising. Massive spring flooding and violent tornado outbreaks including the EF-5 twister that mowed down Moore, Oklahoma. This summer, NOAA predicts up to 11 hurricanes in the Atlantic, as many as six of them major.
GERRY BELL: The climate factors that we have and the computer models all point to an active or very active hurricane season.
YANG: Meteorologists say we're in an active hurricane pattern that began in 1995 when the
number of tropical storms and hurricanes tripled from the year before. It's remained high ever since.Why all this severe weather? Government scientists say it's partly the result of manmade climate change.
KENNETH KUNKEL: If we continue to increase atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, we will warm the globe and that will bring certain risks into play or increase the risks of certain types of extremes.