Charlie Rose Slams 'Climate Deniers,' Invites on Expert Who Predicted North American 'Food Riots' in 1995

Charlie Rose, during a panel discussion about the new UN report on climate change, had the audacity to insult global warming skeptics as “climate deniers” even as he brought on a so-called expert who once predicted the “greenhouse effect” would cause “food riots” all across North 1995.

Everyone remembers the great North American Food Riots of ‘95? Right? Well that crazy scenario was dreamed up by one of the UN report co-authors Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer. On PBS's Charlie Rose show Oppenheimer dismissed climate change skeptics as people who “just like to stand away from the crowd.”

Well who can blame them? When the crowd is constantly fear-mongering with wild speculation like this: “[By 1996] The Platte River of Nebraska would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers.” 

That and the “food riots” prophecy were made by Oppenheimer in his 1990 book Dead Heat:

“[By] 1995, the greenhouse effect would be desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots…[By 1996] The Platte River of Nebraska would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers.”

Yet Oppenheimer and the other guests on the panel were treated with the utmost respect by Rose as he joined them in more global warming scare tactics.

After Rose claimed that “even some people who are climate deniers...are saying, yes something is going on,” Oppenheimer warned that if something wasn’t done “there’s gonna be hell to pay.”

The following is the relevant portion of the March 31 edition of PBS’s Charlie Rose show:

CHARLIE ROSE: Global warming and its effects made headlines this week. A new United Nations report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change outlines a global threat to health, economic prosperity, food and water. The chairman of the panel said nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by impacts of climate change. A growing scientific consensus suggests the risks of global warming are not a problem for the future, they’re with us already.

Joining me from Collegetown, Pennsylvania Michael Mann. He is a professor at Penn State University. He is the author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. Here in New York    Jeffrey Sachs. He is the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Also Michael Oppenheimer, a professor at Princeton and one of the main authors of the ICC study. I’m pleased to have all of them here.

I said to Jeffrey [Sachs] when he sat down it’s worse than we thought. And he said you can be sure that’s true. The piece that says ice caps are melting. Sea ice in the arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying. Fish and other creatures are migrating towards the poles, are going extinct. Oceans are rising at a pace that threatens. Coastal oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb CO2 and organic matter frozen in soils is now melting. What’s going on?
ROSE: It’s my impression – you are much closer, all of you are much closer to this than I am – that even some people who are climate deniers because they’re hung up about the manmade aspect of it are looking at the consequences, are looking at what’s happening in the Arctic and are saying, yes something is going on.

MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY:  Every time one of these reports comes out, you convince a few more people who are dyed-in-the-wool opponents. But there’s gonna be a hard core who are never gonna cede on this. And there are complex reasons for that. With some people they just like to stand away from the crowd. With some people it’s economic self-interest. The point is you can’t wait for everybody to agree.

You know the climate change that we’re experiencing now is essentially baked in. That is we can’t do much about what’s going to happen over the next 10 or 20 years no matter what we do on emissions except try to protect ourselves, try to have better coping and adapting mechanisms. But if we don’t act now when reducing emissions a lot, we’re gonna, there’s gonna be hell to pay for particularly the next generation. This is our kids we’re talking about.

ROSE: Beyond leadership, which is an important and essential fact, what else has to happen to create the kind of urgency and fear that’s a call to action?

JEFFREY SACHS, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY:  I think in addition to fear, we need to hear more solutions. And that we also haven’t heard enough of. So fear can open the eyes for at least a moment but it can also get people to tune down or even tune out sometimes. What I think would be really necessary and when I said about the U.S. Government, I hope, I’d like to see some clear leadership about the things to do.

— Geoffrey Dickens is Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.