Senator Challenges Media to Report Objectively

Published May 1, 2007

Global warming alarmism is unsupported by the weight of scientific evidence, and proposals by environmental activists to impose a drastic global warming prevention program are unwarranted, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, stated on the Senate floor on September 26, 2006.

Reproduced below is the fifth and final installment in an ongoing series presenting Sen. Inhofe’s address, edited for length.

Following the promotion of An Inconvenient Truth [last summer], the press did not miss a beat in their role as advocates for global warming fears.

ABC News put forth its best effort to secure its standing as an advocate for climate alarmism when the network put out a call for people to submit their anecdotal global warming horror stories in June 2006 for use in a future news segment.

Brokaw’s Biased Documentary

In July 2006, the Discovery Channel presented a documentary on global warming narrated by former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw. The program presented only those views of scientists promoting the idea that humans are destroying the Earth’s climate.

You don’t have to take my word for the program’s overwhelming bias; a Bloomberg News TV review noted, “You’ll find more dissent at a North Korean political rally than in this program” because of its lack of scientific objectivity.

Brokaw also presented climate alarmist James Hansen to viewers as unbiased, failing to note his quarter-million-dollar grant from the partisan Heinz Foundation or his endorsement of Democrat presidential nominee John Kerry in 2004 and his role promoting former Vice President Gore’s Hollywood movie.

Brokaw, however, did find time to impugn the motives of scientists skeptical of climate alarmism when he featured paid environmental partisan Michael Oppenheimer of the group Environmental Defense accusing skeptics of being bought out by the fossil fuel interests.

Big Alarm Dollars

The fact remains that political campaign funding by environmental groups to promote climate and environmental alarmism dwarfs spending by the fossil fuel industry by a 3 to 1 ratio.

Environmental special interests, through their 527s, spent over $19 million compared to the $7 million that oil and gas [interests] spent through PACs [political action committees] in the 2004 election cycle.

I am reminded of a question the media often asks me about how much I have received in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry. My unapologetic answer is “not enough”–especially when you consider the millions [of dollars] partisan environmental groups pour into political campaigns.

Engineered ‘Consensus’

Continuing with our media analysis: On July 24, 2006 the Los Angeles Times featured an op-ed by Naomi Oreskes, a social scientist at the University of California at San Diego and the author of a 2004 Science magazine study. Oreskes insisted a review of 928 scientific papers showed there was 100 percent consensus that global warming was not caused by natural climate variations. This study was also featured in former Vice President Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

However, the analysis in Science magazine excluded nearly 11,000 studies, or more than 90 percent of the papers dealing with global warming, according to a critique by British social scientist Benny Peiser.

Peiser also pointed out that less than 2 percent of the climate studies in the survey actually endorsed the so-called “consensus view” that human activity is driving global warming, and some of the studies actually opposed that view.

New York Times Hype

But despite this manufactured “consensus,” the media continued to ignore any attempt to question the orthodoxy of climate alarmism.

As the dog days of August rolled in, the American people were once again hit with more hot hype regarding global warming, this time from the New York Times op-ed pages. A columnist penned an August 3 column filled with so many inaccuracies it is a wonder the editor of the Times saw fit to publish it.

For instance, Bob Herbert’s column made dubious claims about polar bears and about the snows of Kilimanjaro, and he attempted to link this past summer’s heat wave in the United States to global warming–something even alarmist James Hansen does not support.

Polar Bears Look Tired?

Finally, a September 15, 2006 Reuters news article claimed polar bears in the Arctic are threatened with extinction by global warming. The article, by correspondent Alister Doyle, quoted a visitor to the Arctic who claims he saw two distressed polar bears.

According to the Reuters article, the man said “one of [the polar bears] looked to be dead and the other one looked to be exhausted.” The article did not state the bears were actually dead or exhausted, rather that they “looked” that way.

Have we really arrived at the point where major news outlets in the U.S. are reduced to analyzing whether or not polar bears in the Arctic appear restful? How does reporting like this get approved for publication by the editors at Reuters? What happened to covering the hard science of this issue?

What was missing from this Reuters news article was the fact that according to biologists who study the animals, polar bears are doing quite well. Biologist Dr. Mitchell Taylor from the Arctic government of Nunavut, a territory of Canada, refuted these claims in May when he noted that:

“Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present.”

Sadly, it appears that reporting anecdotes and hearsay as fact has now replaced the basic tenets of journalism for many media outlets.

Smear Campaign

It is an inconvenient truth that so far, 2006 has been a year in which major segments of the media have given up on any quest for journalistic balance, fairness, and objectivity when it comes to climate change. The global warming alarmists and their friends in the media have attempted to smear scientists who dare question the premise of manmade, catastrophic global warming, and as a result some scientists have seen their reputations and research funding dry up.

The media has so relentlessly promoted global warming fears that a British group called the Institute for Public Policy Research–a left-leaning group–issued a report in 2006 accusing media outlets of engaging in what they termed “climate porn” in order to attract the public’s attention.

Bob Carter, a paleoclimate geologist from James Cook University in Australia, has described how the media promotes climate fear:

“Each such alarmist article is larded with words such as ‘if,’ ‘might,’ ‘could,’ ‘probably,’ ‘perhaps,’ ‘expected,’ ‘projected,’ or ‘modeled’–and many involve such deep dreaming or ignorance of scientific facts and principles that they are akin to nonsense,” professor Carter concluded in an op-ed in April 2006.

False Projections

Another example of this relentless hype is the reporting on the seemingly endless number of global warming impact studies that do not even address whether global warming is going to happen. They merely project the impact of potential temperature increases.

The media endlessly hypes studies that purportedly show global warming could increase mosquito populations, malaria, West Nile Virus, heat waves, and hurricanes, threaten the oceans, damage coral reefs, boost poison ivy growth, [and] damage vineyards and global food crops, to name just a few of the [alleged] global warming-linked calamities.

Oddly, according to the media reports, warmer temperatures almost never seem to have any positive effects on plant or animal life or food production.

Alarmism Creates Skepticism

Fortunately, the media’s addiction to so-called “climate porn” has failed to seduce many Americans.

According to a July [2006] Pew Research Center Poll, the American public is split about evenly between those who say global warming is due to human activity versus those who believe it is from natural factors or not happening at all.

In addition, an August Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll found most Americans do not attribute the cause of recent severe weather events to global warming, and the portion of Americans who believe global warming is naturally occurring is on the rise.

Yes–it appears that alarmism has led to skepticism.

People Deserve Better

The American people know when their intelligence is being insulted. They know when they are being used and when they are being duped by the hysterical left.

The American people deserve better–much better–from our fourth estate. We have a right to expect accuracy and objectivity on climate change coverage. We have a right to expect balance in sourcing and fair analysis from reporters who cover the issue.

Above all, the media must roll back this mantra that there is scientific “consensus” of impending climatic doom as an excuse to ignore recent science. After all, there was a so-called scientific “consensus” that there were nine planets in our solar system until Pluto was recently demoted.

Breaking the cycles of media hysteria will not be easy since hysteria sells–it is very profitable. But I want to challenge the news media to reverse course and report on the objective science of climate change, to stop ignoring legitimate voices [in] this scientific debate, and to stop acting as a vehicle for unsubstantiated hype.