With an unusually intense heat wave sweeping the nation, Fox News has been silent on global warming, which scientists say makes heat waves like this one more likely. By contrast, Fox News repeatedly used winter storms to mock global warming -- one of several problems with Fox's coverage of climate change highlighted in a new mini-documentary by Media Matters Studios:
Most flagrantly, Fox Nation and Fox News personalities Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Gretchen Carlson, Steve Doocy, Stuart Varney, and Eric Bolling all seized upon the February 2010 blizzard to mock Al Gore and suggest that the storm undermines the science supporting global warming. That same winter, Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon ordered the network's journalists to cast doubt on climate change data.
In reality, that winter included "the eighth warmest December" since records began in 1880, the "fourth warmest" January, and the "sixth warmest" February according to global temperature data from NOAA. 2010 tied for the warmest year on record, and 2000-2009 was by far the warmest decade on record.
Over the past week, Fox News has not mentioned human-induced climate change or global warming while reporting on or discussing the current heat wave, according to a search of Snapstream video and Nexis transcripts.
The Washington Post reported that this "long duration, widespread heat wave continues to bake virtually the entire central U.S" and "969 daily high temperature records were either tied or broken in the country" through July 16. The Post further reported:
Climate change research indicates that manmade emissions of greenhouse gases may already be increasing the likelihood of extreme heat events like this one, including the 2003 European heat wave that killed tens of thousands. Also, recent studies have projected much hotter summers beginning as soon as just a few decades from now as the climate continues to warm. However, it will take months if not years for scientists to determine whether climate change has played a role in turning up the heat so far this summer, and in this heat wave specifically.
NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt told Media Matters it's "very probable that any particular heat wave happening now will be shown to have become more likely because of global warming," adding: "Of all the different extreme events that can happen, the partial attribution of heat waves to ongoing climate change is one of the easier connections."
The conservative media campaign in support of House GOP efforts to overturn light bulb efficiency standards signed into law by President Bush centers on two primary claims: 1) That we will all be forced to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when the standards take effect and 2) That CFLs are terrible.
It is simply not the case that consumers will have to use CFLs, contrary to what conservative media outlets claimed in at least 40 instances over the past seven months. Moreover, these media outlets have used false and misleading attacks to demonize CFLs, which can save households more than $57 per bulb, according to Consumer Reports.
In at least 40 instances since the beginning of 2011, conservative media outlets wrongly told consumers that the light bulb efficiency standards scheduled to take effect in 2012 will require them to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
Today, House Republicans voted to block light bulb efficiency standards passed in 2007. For months, conservative media have demonized the standards, portraying them as far-left, nanny state overreach. For instance, Fox's Charles Payne declared this week that the efficiency standards are designed to advance the "tree hugger" ideology:
Occasionally, in their hurry to link the efficiency standards with the "tree hugger" left, they've gotten a key fact wrong. A Washington Times column a by Ted Nugent attributes the light bulb standards to "this administration's energy policy," when in fact they were passed by George W. Bush.
Indeed, the history of federal efficiency standards is covered in the fingerprints of the last three Republican presidents.
Steve Milloy claimed in a Washington Times op-ed that air pollution from power plants is "not causing air-quality or public-health problems" and that EPA's clean air regulations "will bring no health or environmental benefits." However, health experts disagree with Milloy, who previously downplayed the dangers of secondhand smoke while taking money from the tobacco industry.
To celebrate the Fourth of July, Fox & Friends fired up a grill and hosted climate change contrarian Joe Bastardi to mock concerns about global warming. Responding to a New York Times op-ed on ways to lower the carbon footprint of holiday cooking, Bastardi, who is not a scientist, rambled off a familiar list of climate fallacies:
BASTARDI: It sounds to me like it's the last gasp of a desperate movement because I think they know things are turning around, the overall global temperature and they're trying to grasp at any straw they can get their hands on. The human contribution every year to global - to CO2 - is .09 parts per million. That means if you made a million dollars, which I know you do, you'd be taxed 9 cents on it. Now, if you take the ocean and the atmosphere together, the human contribution is so tiny you can't even measure it.
Contrary to Bastardi's claim, the "tiny" size of the human CO2 contribution tells us nothing about whether those emissions are changing the climate. What matters is how much CO2 concentrations have changed and how that affects the Earth's carbon cycle.
As the Congressional Research Service explains, the release of CO2 from fossil fuel use causes the otherwise balanced carbon cycle to overflow into the atmosphere:
If humans add only a small amount of CO2 to the atmosphere each year, why is that contribution important to global climate change? The answer is that the oceans, vegetation, and soils do not take up carbon released from human activities quickly enough to prevent CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere from increasing. Humans tap the huge pool of fossil carbon for energy, and affect the global carbon cycle by transferring fossil carbon--which took millions of years to accumulate underground--into the atmosphere over a relatively short time span. As a result, the atmosphere contains approximately 35% more CO2 today than prior to the beginning of the industrial revolution. As the CO2 concentration grows it increases the degree to which the atmosphere traps incoming radiation from the sun, which further warms the planet.
Fox Nation is claiming a recent study, covered by Reuters, found that "Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduce Global Warming":
In fact, the study said that the "cooling effect" of the "rapid growth in short-lived sulfur emissions," largely due to Chinese coal consumption, "partially offsets rising greenhouse gas concentrations." Responding to the Fox headline, the study's lead author, Robert Kaufmann, wrote via email:
Now come the worst part of publishing an article on a topic of general interest...the distortions. Sulfur emissions ARE NOT GREENHOUSE GASES and the article carefully separates the two. Sulfur emissions are known as radiatively active gases because they reflect incoming solar radiation back to space. But they are not greenhouse gases, which affect Earth's energy balance by absorbing out-going long wave radiation. So the headline is PATENTLY FALSE.
The Associated Press also reported that "sulfur's cooling effect is only temporary, while the carbon dioxide from coal burning stays in Earth's atmosphere a long time." The new study suggests that as China and other developing nations begin to control their sulfur emissions, it will be more difficult for the long-term global warming trend to hide.
The Washington Times published an op-ed by Evan Bayh and Andy Card arguing that "Congress needs to dial back Obama's rule-making machine." However, the Times failed to disclose that Bayh and Card are employed by the Chamber of Commerce to promote its deregulation agenda through media appearances.
A June 2 memo from Chamber President Tom Donohue reported that "the Chamber has recently enlisted former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and former Senator Evan Bayh who will carry a bipartisan message on regulatory reform out around the country through a 'road show' of speeches, events, and media appearances at various local venues."
The op-ed by Bayh and Card echoes Donohue's memo, which outlines how the Chamber will be "making the case for broader regulatory reform" and "telling the story about the dangers and costs of over-regulation."
For instance, Donohue wrote that the Chamber is "working to build support" for the following policies:
Bayh and Card called for similar changes: Passing "legislation in Congress to guarantee an up-or-down vote, with no Senate filibuster, on regulations with an economic impact of more than $100 million," granting citizens "judicial access and tools they need to hold federal agencies accountable for limiting regulatory burdens and for using sound science to support proposed rules," and requiring "more rigorous cost-benefit analysis" with "independent verification."
A Wall Street Journal editorial obscured the fact that a Duke University study strongly suggested methane from a natural gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, contaminated water supplies.
On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace criticized a University of Maryland study which indicated that Fox News viewers are more misinformed than the consumers of other news media. Wallace said the study labeled those who "questioned whether climate change is occurring" as misinformed, and suggested that doing so would be improper.
The study actually asked, "Do you think that MOST SCIENTISTS believe that" 1) Climate change is occurring, 2) Views are evenly divided or 3) Climate change is not occurring. Noting that the correct answer is that most scientists believe that climate change is occurring, the study found that of those who said they watched Fox News "almost every day," 60 percent got it wrong -- significantly higher than the consumers of other news sources.
A Stanford University study similarly found that "more exposure to Fox News was associated with more rejection of many mainstream scientists' claims about global warming, [and] with less trust in scientists."
It is a fact that climate change is occurring, and anthropogenic global warming is so well-supported in peer-reviewed research that, as the Maryland study notes, the United States' National Academy of Sciences and "97% of self-identifying actively publishing climate scientists agree" that it is occurring.