Open mouth, insert foot

Published March 1, 2002

For advocates of global warming theory, new evidence showing no global warming could not have come at a worse time. The Science and Nature studies, and corroborating new satellite data, came immediately after some of the most frequent and alarmist global warming reports yet carried by the mainstream media.

On December 10, the lead sentence of a New York Times story proclaimed, “Antarctica appears to be melting and contributing to the slow rise in the oceans.”

On December 19, an Associated Press article trumpeted that “World Meteorological Organization (WMO) officials … called [recent temperature speculations] more proof of global warming caused by humans. They said the warming temperatures led to an increase in the severity and frequency of storms and droughts and other unusual weather conditions.”

The AP quoted a WMO official as saying, “Temperatures are getting hotter, and they are getting hotter faster now than at any time in the past.”

Also on December 19, ScienceDaily reported, “Records show that average winter temperatures are 10 degrees higher in parts of Antarctica today than they were 50 years ago. If that warming trend continues, say many climate experts, the vast Antarctic ice sheets could melt, causing catastrophic coastal flooding as the world’s oceans rise.”

ScienceDaily continued, “Ironically, say researchers, the most pristine continent on Earth is heating up primarily because of increased greenhouse gas emissions from cars, power plants, and other human endeavors elsewhere on the planet.”

The New York Times on December 23 explained a recent, localized warm spell as “It’s global warming, dude,” in the words of an interviewee. The article favorably quoted opinions that “I think the debate over whether climate is going to change is over” and “it was especially significant that 2001 had proved so warm.”

‘Tain’t necessarily so

And yet the month had not even closed when more significant reports began streaming in that global warming has in fact failed to occur.

Western Europe spent the middle of December trapped in one of the worst cold spells in memory.

On December 20, Melbourne, Australia eclipsed the record for the longest wait for its first 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) summer day. By failing to reach 30 by December 20, Melbourne broke a record that was set all the way back in the Little Ice Age.

On January 4, southern Europe was hit with almost unprecedented winter storms.

On January 8, the Arab Middle East, of all places, was hit with a rare blizzard, causing more than a foot of snow to fall in places like Jordan and Iraq.

Although the New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media failed to give any of these stories the same coverage it gave New York City’s “It’s global warming, dude,” mild December afternoon, the press could not subsequently ignore the Nature, Science, and satellite data reported above.

Showing newfound restraint after sounding the alarms regarding anecdotal and inaccurate reports of global warming all through the month of December, the media in January repeatedly cautioned, in the words of Michael Oppenheimer of Environmental Defense, “I’d be very careful with this … there is simply not enough data to make a broad statement” about the recent temperature data.