Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on FNC's 'Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

Networks Do 92 Climate Change Stories; Fail to Mention ‘Lull’ in Warming All 92 Times

ABC, CBS and NBC ignore ‘mystery’ warming plateau in favor of alarmism about sea levels, allergies, weather.
  • Recent years’ slowdown in global warming completely ignored by networks 92 climate change stories in 2013.
  • Stories citing experts or the latest studies promoting alarmism get covered more than 8 times as often as critical experts and studies.
  • Although many scientists say no, ABC, CBS and NBC continue to link weather events like tornadoes, hurricanes, heat waves and more to climate change nearly one-fourth of the time.  

President Barack Obama’s new climate change initiative will purportedly share “a national plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change and lead global efforts to fight it.” Although he intends to demand action, most Americans do not see climate change as a “major threat,” according to Pew Research.

The Washington Post reported Obama will include “a plan to limit carbon-dioxide emissions from existing power plants.” That’s an agenda item the media will love. It was just a month ago when CBS “This Morning” interviewed Time magazine senior writer Jeffrey Kluger on May 11 who said “we have to curb the use of fossil fuels.”

No doubt the broadcast networks will cheer the president’s efforts, since they’ve spent years warning of the threat of climate change, even in the face of science that challenges their view. This year they’ve worried about many things including “raging infernos, surging seas, howling winds,” reported alarmist claims that weren’t accurate and connected weather to climate when scientists disagree. The networks have also completely ignored the “lull” in warming in recent years, in all 92 stories about climate change they reported in 2013.

One ABC report was typical, warning: “Many cities had record warmth, including Washington, D.C. where a lack of action on manmade climate change is likely to mean 2012 is just a glimpse into an unpleasant future, according to many scientists.”

Just since Jan. 1, 2013, ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news programs have aired 92 stories about “climate change” or “global warming.” Not a single one of those stories mentioned the “warming plateau” reported even by The New York Times on June 10. The Times wrote, “The rise in the surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. And that lull in warming has occurred even as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace.” Even though the Times piece wasn't published until June 10, a warming slowdown had been reported by foreign media outlets in November 2012, and by The Economist online in March, Reuters in April and BBC online in May of 2013.

The problems with climate forecasting models weren’t mentioned either, even though a researcher at Sweden's University of Gothenburg found that many climate models couldn’t correctly model known temperatures in China. Investor’s Business Daily reported on March 28 that “Only half of the 21 analyzed climate models were able to reproduce the changes in some regions of China," he said. "Few models can well reproduce the nationwide change."

In an interview with Der Spiegel on June 20, German climate scientist Hans von Storch of the Meteorological Institute of the University of Hamburg pointed to the major problems of climate modeling. “So far, no one has been able to provide a compelling answer to why climate change seems to be taking a break. We're facing a puzzle. Recent CO2 emissions have actually risen even more steeply than we feared. As a result, according to most climate models, we should have seen temperatures rise by around 0.25 degrees Celsius (0.45 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past 10 years. That hasn't happened. In fact, the increase over the last 15 years was just 0.06 degrees Celsius (0.11 degrees Fahrenheit) -- a value very close to zero. This is a serious scientific problem that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will have to confront when it presents its next Assessment Report late next year,” he explained.

The Media Research Center’s Business and Media Institute looked at all the “climate change” or “global warming” stories from Jan. 1, 2013, through June 15, 2013, aired on ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news programs. BMI found that out there were more than 8 times as many stories that cited a study or included a scientist promoting global warming alarmism than cited a study or included a scientist challenging alarmism (25 stories to 3 stories). Nearly one-fourth  of the stories this year (22 of 92) also connected (or at least asked if there was a connection) weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes, snow or flooding to climate change, in spite of the many scientific critics of those claims.

Of course in 2010, when the weather seemed to contradict the message of global warming alarmism Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said, “It is important that people recognize that weather is not the same thing as climate.”

8 Times the Alarmism

New reports, studies or scientists that warned of the threat of climate change from concern over penguin populations, to predictions of sea level rise continued to be promoted by the networks in 2013. There were stories or news briefs warning that flying would become more turbulent because of climate change, connecting allergies to global warming, and others worrying about glacial melt and sea level rise.

There were 25 networks reports that mentioned a new report or analysis or that cited a scientist who promoted the climate alarmist viewpoint. That was 8 times as many as the other side; there were only three stories that cited a report or included such a scientist challenging alarmism.

The networks consulted scientists from NASA and NOAA as well as activists like Michael Oppenheimer from Princeton, who has gotten climate predictions wrong in the past. “Nightly News” interviewed Kenneth Kunkel from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center on May 25 who continued the hype, saying “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.”

The networks also included other people promoting alarmism who were not counted in this analysis because they weren’t on to discuss a new study and they aren’t scientists. Editors and reporters from Time magazine went on network broadcasts and hyped the threat of climate change. And NBC interviewed global warming activist and former Vice President Al Gore in three separate stories.

One of those times was Jan. 29, on “Today.” Matt Lauer and Gore were discussing Gore’s latest book and Lauer asked the former vice president about skepticism of the danger of global warming.

“I want to talk to you about some polling. If you talk to Americans, about four in five people in this country believe that climate change is happening, global warming is real and it’s going to present a problem. But there’s a group inside that large group, and it’s not an insignificant group, and they don’t believe that climate change is manmade or exacerbated by humans. Does that surprise you?” Lauer asked.

Gore then slammed anyone with a different point of view claiming that “there’s been a lavishly funded, well-organized effort to convince – to try to convince people of falsehoods ...”

In spite of science, networks continue to link weather to climate

Weather events that did a lot of damage and claimed lives, like the recent Oklahoma tornado and last year’s “Superstorm Sandy” were cited as incontrovertible proof of climate change. Scientists who argued otherwise were left out of the broadcasts. Even snowfall, wildfires and droughts were mentioned in some reports as examples of what one reporter called “globalweirding.”

On Jan. 8, NBC “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams mentioned a new report on the cost of extreme weather saying “natural disasters caused a total of $160 billion damage around the world in 2012 ... These new numbers coincide with a new official look at just how hot our past year was.” Anne Thompson followed up his introduction by linking the “year of extreme weather” to “nature and man made climate change.”

Meteorologist Joe Bastardi has vehemently opposed such connections and told Forbes.com columnist Larry Bell, “The fact is that those alarmist claims [about weather getting more extreme because of man made climate change] simply aren’t true.”

Another natural disaster had NBC “wondering” on May 25. NBC’s Lester Holt cited the Moore, Okla., tornado saying it “has a lot of us wondering if things have gotten even more extreme than usual.” John Yang’s follow-up report mentioned “devastating tornadoes. Searing heat waves. Withering droughts and related wildfires and powerful hurricanes.”

Yang later directly blamed weather on climate change citing “government scientists” who say it is at least “partly the result of manmade climate change.”

Just one day earlier, NBC’s Matt Lauer tried to get New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to blame Superstorm Sandy on global warming. He called it a “distraction.” But “Today’s” Al Roker had his mind made up about Sandy’s relationship with climate.

On April 3, Willie Geist, Natalie Morales and Roker were discussing a public policy poll of “20 widespread conspiracy theories.” One of those “theories” was that “global warming is a hoax.” Roker was astounded to learn that 37 percent of Americans “don’t believe in global warming,” and exclaimed: “Two words: Superstorm Sandy.”

CBS was less certain of the connection between Sandy and global warming, but the network was no less adamant that climate change is a problem. On the May 28 “Evening News” Norah O’Donnell said, “Earlier in the broadcast, we showed you the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy. Whether climate change is to blame for it is the subject of debate. But there’s not doubt that the climate is changing. Dean Reynolds introduces you to some folks who are out to prove it.” 

But was warming to blame for Sandy and for hurricanes as some have claimed? Professor of Environmental Studies Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. from the University of Colorado has said: “There is no evidence that disasters are getting worse because of climate change.” “There’s really no evidence that we’re in the midst of an extreme weather era – whether man has influenced climate or not,” Pielke added.

The networks made a big deal of the “extreme” weather and claims that 2012 was the “hottest year ever.” ABC’s Diane Sawyer said it was the hottest year the U.S. had seen, “hotter, not by a little, but by a landslide ... the red flags of warning about extreme heat all across the globe.”

Over on CBS “This Morning” May 24, Bryan Walsh of Time magazine was discussing the hurricane forecast for 2013. Charlie Rose said, “I assume there are many causes, but is climate change one of them?” Walsh declared that “It is one of them. I mean, scientists are always working on this. But what we think is that it does make these storms stronger if not more frequent.”

What he didn’t clarify is that hurricanes are not happening more frequently. In fact, NOAA data shows that hurricanes have been on the decline and the worst decade for category 3, 4 and 5 hurricanes in the U.S. was the 1940s.

The networks were wrong on both counts: extreme weather and the supposedly “hottest” year on record. NOAA had put out a press release about 2012 being the warmest year, but was only referring to the lower 48 states. That’s a big difference!

As for the supposedly “extreme” weather year of 2012, things were also not as they appeared. Strong tornadoes have been on the decline in the U.S. since the 1950s, and climatologist Roy Spencer pointed out that since there was warming during this time “Obviously, the conclusion should be that warming causes fewer strong tornadoes, not more (Or, maybe a lack of tornadoes causes global warming!).”

ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer” provided a rare admission on June 3 when Sawyer said, “a lot of us were wondering this weekend if climate change is somehow creating a lot more tornadoes than usual. The answer is no.”

Sadly, the networks’ bias on climate change has been happening for decades. In 2007, BMI found that global warming proponents overwhelmingly outnumbered those with dissenting opinions. On average for every skeptic there were nearly 13 proponents featured. ABC did a slightly better job with a 7-to-1 ratio, while CBS's ratio was abysmal at nearly 38-to-1.

Another BMI Special Report, Fire and Ice, noted that print media have warned about impending climate doom four different times in 100 years. Only they can’t decide if mankind will die from warming or cooling. BMI conducted an extensive analysis of print media’s climate change coverage back to the late 1800s.

It found that many publications now claiming the world is on the brink of a global warming disaster said the same about an impending ice age – in the 1970s. Several major ones, including The New York Times, Time magazine and Newsweek, have reported on three or even four different climate shifts since 1895.

Methodology

The MRC’s Business and Media Institute analyzed all stories mentioning “climate change” or “global warming’ on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “World News with Diane Sawyer,” “World News Saturday” and “World News Sunday,” CBS’s “This Morning,” and “Evening News” and NBC’s “Today” and “Nightly News” from Jan. 1, 2013, to June 15, 2013. A few casual mentions, such as the mention of climate change in a a fashion story, were excluded from the analysis.