Climate alarmism a perennial

Study: Journalists have often blown hot and cold on issue

June 3, 2006

by David Kopel

If you like glaciers, you'll enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park. That any glaciers exist there in 2006 might have surprised readers of the Nov. 7, 1937, Rocky Mountain News.According to the 1937 News,scientific measurement of the glaciers in Rocky Mountain National Park showed that "these sheets of 'eternal' ice, within a few short decades, may be 'eternally gone.' "

The Newspointed to climate graphs showing that "winters are not what they used to be in the Never Summer Range." Thus, the glaciers were "inexorably retreating to extinction."

"Can it be possible that the Earth is undergoing a slow, but steady climactic change?" asked another Denver paper. The article pointed out that the "The winters are becoming colder, and the summers drier and hotter." The changes were taking place "all over the continent", while "In Europe we hear of climatic changes as strange as they are unaccountable." The newspaper was the Denver Tribune,and the year was 1874.

As the Tribunenoted, climate change is nothing new. As the Newsdemonstrated, neither are alarmist, inaccurate media predictions about climate. The Business and Media Institute, a branch of the right-wing Media Research Center, recently published Fire and Ice,a study detailing the national media's terrible record of climate hysteria over the last century.

For example, The New York Timesin 1895 predicted widespread global cooling. In 1924, the paper reported "Signs of New Ice Age." But in 1933, 1952, 1959, and 1969, the Timesdeclared global warming. Then in 1974 and 1975, the Timesdecided that the new ice age was coming, with catastrophic consequences: "the facts of the present climate change are such that the most optimistic experts would assign near certainty to major crop failure in a decade" leading to "mass deaths by starvation and probably in anarchy and violence."

The Washington Postannounced a "New Ice Age" in 1970, and, in 1974, Fortuneagreed, touting a scientist who predicted that a billion people would die from starvation caused by global cooling. Timemagazine declared global warming in 1939, global cooling in 1974, and currently believes in global warming.

Although it's very difficult to predict the weather very far in advance, the historical record shows that it's hard to go wrong by discounting the alarmism of journalists warning about extreme climate change.

As Paul Campos noted in last Tuesday's News,former Vice President Al Gore claims that scientific skeptics of global warming are merely being paid off by big oil companies. But in fact, Colorado's most prominent skeptic is Colorado State University professor of atmospheric science William Gray, who has directly harmed his own financial interests by speaking out.

As detailed in a major profile in The Washington Post,Gray has lost most of his government grants because of his relentless presentation of evidence in support of his view that man-made global warming is a hoax. While the Boulder Daily Camerareprinted the story of Colorado's controversial scientist, The Denver Post- which has access to Washington Postarticles - did not.

The Newsand The Denver Postdo recognize Gray as an expert on atmospheric science, and have published dozens and dozens stories citing his hurricane forecasts and analysis, including stories this Thursday. They have quoted Gray's accurate prediction in the late 1990s that decades-long lull in hurricane activity on the Atlantic Coast was coming to an end, and his spring 2005 predictions for very intense hurricanes in the summer; such stories often quote other scientists affirming Gray's pre-eminence in the study of atmospheric science. Yet in the Newsand Postcombined, one can find only a few paragraphs even mentioning Gray's analysis of global warming.

The Newsand Posthave published hundreds of stories, many of them locally written, about global warming. Many of these stories exaggerate the degree of scientific certainty regarding global warming issues. Yet by little noting the evidence presented of eminent experts such as William Gray, the papers are presenting a skewed and misleading perspective on the scientific data.

Among the many other global warming skeptics whose views are rarely presented by journalists who claim to speak on behalf of "scientists" are Sallie Baliunas (Harvard, astrophysics); Robert C. Balling Jr. (Arizona State, director of the Office of Climatology); Richard Lindzen (MIT, meteorology); Patrick J. Michaels (Cato Institute, past president of the American Association of State Climatologists); Frederick Seitz (Rockefeller University, past president of the National Academy of Sciences).

Do you think it's newsworthy if Colorado's governor hosts the head of a foreign nation and declares his support for amnesty for illegal aliens from that nation? The Denver papers didn't think so, so it was only by reading The Irish Timesthat I found out that when Gov. Bill Owens hosted a dinner for visiting Irish President Mary McAleese on May 19, Owens "expressed support for an immigration bill that would allow tens of thousands of illegal Irish immigrants to remain in the U.S. and eventually apply for citizenship."

The Newscovered only Mc- Aleese's speech to the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, while the Postcovered the speech as well as the state dinner with Owens that evening, but did not report on his remarks about immigration.

Dave Kopel is research director at the Independence Institute, an attorney and author of 10 books. He can be reached at .


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