Media Hype on Climate Change Is Nothing New: Inhofe

Published March 1, 2007

Alarmism over climate change is unsupported by the weight of scientific evidence, and proposals by environmental activists to impose drastic actions are unwarranted, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, stated on the Senate floor on September 26, 2006.
In his address, Inhofe summarized the state of climate change science, drawing upon the latest scientific research.
Reproduced below is the third installment in an ongoing series presenting Inhofe’s address, edited for length. Environment & Climate News will publish subsequent parts of the address in upcoming issues.

French President Jacques Chirac provided the key clue as to why so many in the international community still revere the Kyoto Protocol. In 2000 he said Kyoto represents “the first component of an authentic global governance.”

Furthermore, if your goal is to limit CO2 emissions, the only effective way to go about it is the use of cleaner, more efficient technologies that will meet the energy demands of this century and beyond.

The Bush administration and my [Senate] Environment and Public Works Committee have been engaged in these efforts as we work to expand nuclear power and promote the Asia-Pacific Partnership. This partnership stresses the sharing of new technology among member nations, including three of the world’s top ten emitters–China, India, and South Korea–all of whom are exempt from Kyoto.

Media Advocacy Flip-Flops

Many in the media, as I noted earlier, have taken it upon themselves to drop all pretense of balance on global warming and instead become committed advocates for the issue.

Here is a quote from Newsweek magazine:

“There are ominous signs that the Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth.”

A headline in the New York Times reads: “Climate Changes Endanger World’s Food Output.”

Here is a quote from Time magazine:

“As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval.”

All of this sounds very ominous. That is, until you realize that the three quotes I just read were from articles in 1975 editions of Newsweek magazine and the New York Times, and Time magazine in 1974.

They weren’t referring to global warming; they were warning of a coming ice age.

Let me repeat, all three of those quotes were published in the 1970s and warned of a coming ice age.

Global Warming in 1939

In addition to global cooling fears, Time magazine has also reported on global warming. Here is an example:

“[Those] who claim that winters were harder when they were boys are quite right–weathermen have no doubt that the world at least for the time being is growing warmer.”

Before you think this is just another example of the media promoting Vice President Gore’s movie, you need to know that the quote I just read you from Time magazine was not a recent quote; it was from January 2, 1939.

Yes, in 1939. Nine years before Vice President Gore was born and over three decades before Time magazine began hyping a coming ice age, and almost five decades before they returned to hyping global warming.

Time magazine in 1951 pointed to receding permafrost in Russia as proof that the planet was warming.

In 1952, the New York Times noted that the “trump card” of global warming “has been the melting glaciers.”

Frozen with Fear

There are many more examples of the media and scientists flip-flopping between warming and cooling scares.

Here is a headline from the New York Times reporting on fears of an approaching ice age: “Geologists Think the World May be Frozen Up Again.”

That sentence appeared over 100 years ago in the February 24, 1895 edition of the New York Times.

Let me repeat. 1895, not 1995.

A front-page article in the October 7, 1912 New York Times, just a few months after the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank, declared that a prominent professor “Warns Us of an Encroaching Ice Age.”

The very same day in 1912, the Los Angeles Times ran an article warning that the “Human race will have to fight for its existence against cold.” An August 10, 1923 Washington Post article declared: “Ice Age Coming Here.”

Different Tack

By the 1930s, the media took a break from reporting on the coming ice age and instead switched gears to promoting global warming:

“America in Longest Warm Spell Since 1776; Temperature Line Records a 25-year Rise” stated an article in the New York Times on March 27, 1933. The media of yesteryear was also not above injecting large amounts of fear and alarmism into their climate articles.

An August 9, 1923 front page article in the Chicago Tribune declared: “Scientist Says Arctic Ice Will Wipe Out Canada.” The article quoted a Yale University professor who predicted large parts of Europe and Asia would be “wiped out” and Switzerland would be “entirely obliterated.”

Climate Cartoon

A December 29, 1974 New York Times article on global cooling reported that climatologists believed “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.”

The article also warned that unless government officials reacted to the coming catastrophe, “mass deaths by starvation and probably in anarchy and violence” would result. In 1975, the New York Times reported, “A major cooling [was] widely considered to be inevitable.”

Familiar Alarmism

These past predictions of doom have a familiar ring, don’t they? They sound strikingly similar to our modern media promotion of [our] former vice president’s brand of climate alarmism.

After more than a century of alternating between global cooling and warming, one would think this media history would serve a cautionary tale for today’s voices in the media and scientific community who are promoting yet another round of eco-doom.

Much of the 100-year media history on climate change that I have documented here today can be found in a publication titled “Fire and Ice” from the Business and Media Institute.

For more information …

“Fire and Ice,” published by the Business and Media Institute on May 17, 2006, is available through PolicyBot™, The Heartland Institute’s free online research database. Point your Web browser to and search for document #20560.