Fox News is raising the red herring of Solyndra to attack President Barack Obama's proposal for an alternative vehicle research fund as a potential waste of "taxpayer dollars." But the proposal would be funded by existing fees on oil and gas companies and has received bipartisan support for its potential to improve our energy security.
The government currently collects over $10 billion a year in fees from oil and gas companies drilling on federal lands. In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama proposed directing $200 million of that, or a total of $2 billion over 10 years, toward research into alternative transportation technology including vehicles that can run on electricity, biofuels or natural gas. The program would aptly be named the "Energy Security Trust," as it would work to reduce our dependence on oil. A White House spokesman told Bloomberg News that the proposal "wouldn't add to the debt because money would be shifted from other programs." Yet Fox News' America's Newsroom suggested on Thursday that the administration would be using "taxpayer dollars," adding to the debt:
On Fox News, Republican strategist Brad Blakeman denied the scientific consensus on manmade climate change, saying "For every one scientist that says there is, I'll give you 10 scientists that said it's not manmade":
But in fact, credible surveys have repeatedly found that the vast majority of climate scientists agree humans are changing the climate. For instance, a 2009 survey published by the American Geophysical Union found that 97 percent of those who specialize in climate science said human activity is contributing to rising global temperatures:
Fox News co-host Greg Gutfeld attacked President Barack Obama for connecting wildfires to climate change. But scientists say climate change has increased fire risks in parts of the Western U.S. by promoting warmer and drier conditions, and the number of wildfire acres burned each year is on the rise.
In his second inaugural address, Obama called for action to avoid the destructive impacts of climate change, saying, "Some may deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms." On the January 29 edition of Fox News' The Five, Gutfeld criticized Obama for suggesting that wildfires were "somehow linked" to climate change, claiming that there were "a third fewer U.S. wildfires in 2012":
Gutfeld's statistic came from a Washington Post column by George Will that compared the number of U.S. wildfires in 2012 to 2006 -- a year that saw the most wildfires since 1982. By cherry-picking data from that year, Will obscured the upward trend in acres burned from wildfires. In fact, the number of acres burned by wildfires in 2012 was the third-highest on record in the U.S., and the National Research Council states that "large and long-duration forest fires have increased fourfold over the past 30 years in the American West" as increased temperatures have dried soils and plants and boosted tree-killing beetles. While wildfires are influenced by numerous factors, the U.S. Global Change Research Program stated that "Wildfires in the United States are already increasing due to warming":
A Bloomberg News article claims that new data from Norway "Shows" that global warming is "Less Severe Than Feared." But Bloomberg failed to mention that this claim is based on a PhD thesis that has not yet been peer-reviewed or accepted for publication by any scientific journal.
A press release by the Research Council of Norway states that new research has found that the amount that earth's temperature will rise if we continue emitting greenhouse gases at our current rate will be lower than estimates from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC, a group that assembles thousands of experts to review and summarize predominantly peer-reviewed research on climate change, estimates that doubling the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would cause warming between 2°C and 4.5°C (3.6° to 8.1° F), and estimates that 3°C (5.4° F) is the most likely outcome. By contrast, the Norwegian study estimates that 1.9°C (3.4° F) is the likely outcome.
But the research, which runs counter to the IPCC and the extensive body of research on this topic, is actually a PhD thesis. It has not been accepted by a scientific journal and thus should be treated as preliminary. And according to environmental scientist Dana Nuccitellli, writing at the climate science website Skeptical Science, the study may be flawed, by "overfitting the short-term natural variability" in temperatures.
Conservative media have denigrated solar energy by denying its sustainability, ignoring its successes, and arguing the U.S. should simply cede the solar market to China. Yet this booming industry has made great strides, and with the right policies can become a major source of our power.
In contrast to official temperature records showing a consistent warming trend, Fox Business reporters have claimed that the "temperature basically hasn't changed much since the ice age" and that it's actually "getting colder." Fox News figures have also denied the scientific consensus that human activity is driving climate change, claiming that carbon dioxide "literally cannot cause global warming" and suggesting that "Mars wobbles" or "wind farms" may be causing it instead. Those are just some of the 10 dumbest things Fox News, Fox Business and their websites said about climate change in 2012:
1. Fox Reporter: "The Temperature Basically Hasn't Changed Much Since The Ice Age." During the Ice Age, much of North America, northern Europe and southern South America were covered with ice sheets. Natural climate cycles led to the end of the Ice Age tens of thousands of years ago. In the last century, temperatures have increased dramatically as a result of our massive emissions of greenhouse gases. Yet Fox Business reporter Tracy Byrnes claimed in March that "the temperature basically hasn't changed much since the Ice Age," before confusing global warming with the depletion of the ozone layer:
2. During Record-Breaking Heat, Fox Anchor Claims "It's Getting Colder." During the third warmest summer on record in the U.S., David Asman, who hosts shows on both Fox News and Fox Business, claimed "it's getting colder":
3. Fox "Expert": Carbon Dioxide "Literally Cannot Cause Global Warming." Joe Bastardi is a meteorologist that is often presented as a climate change expert on Fox News, even though he has no climate science training. Bill O'Reilly has cited Bastardi as the reason that he is "skeptical" about global warming, but scientists have called Bastardi's statements "completely wrong," "simply ignorant," and "utter nonsense." In March, Bastardi attempted to "throw out 150 years of physics" by dismissing the greenhouse effect -- the reason there is life on Earth -- as impossible. Bastardi stated on Fox Business that carbon dioxide (CO2) "literally" -- yes, literally -- "cannot cause global warming" because it doesn't "mix well in the atmosphere." But physicist Richard Muller told Media Matters that CO2 is actually "completely mixed."
4. Fox Reporter: "Mars Wobbles" May Be Causing Climate Change. Elizabeth MacDonald, a Fox Business reporter who often appears on Fox News, incorrectly said in November that "there's no consensus on what's causing climate change, and asked "is it solar flares? Is it the Mars wobbles? Is it the earth's axis tilting in a different way? I mean, that's the issue." After being subject to mockery, she tried to walk back her comments saying she doesn't "think Mars wobbles cause hurricanes," but did not explain her previous comments.
5. Fox Website: "Wind Farms Cause Global Warming." In April, a study found that nighttime temperatures in areas around Texas wind farms were higher than in areas without wind turbines. Fox Nation, a section of FoxNews.com, linked to a story about the study with a headline declaring that wind farms "cause global warming." But the study's authors called this coverage "misleading," explaining that it is "[v]ery likely" that "wind turbines do not create a net warming of the air and instead only re-distribute the air's heat near the surface, which is fundamentally different from the large-scale warming effect caused by increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases."
CNN anchor Piers Morgan hosted a "debate" on climate science between Bill Nye "The Science Guy" and professional climate misinformer Marc Morano. As Morano spewed myths about climate change, CNN failed to disclose that he has no scientific training and is paid by an industry-funded organization.
Offering two "viewpoints" about temperature data and suggesting that scientific facts are up for "debate" is misleading in and of itself. During the segment, Morano claimed that we "have gone 16 years without global warming according to UN data." Nye pushed back, saying "This will be the hottest two decades in history, in recorded history. So when you throw around a statement like the UN says it's not the hottest 20 years, I got to disagree with you." But the audience was left unaware that Morano was highlighting a short time period to obscure the overall warming trend, as illustrated by this chart from Skeptical Science:
Fox News' Lou Dobbs is accusing President Obama of "trying to subvert the national sovereignty," "circumvent[t] our constitution," and impose "unprecedented ... rule by fiat" by participating in UN climate change negotiations, even though the latest round of talks is expected to accomplish little.
The UN climate change summit in Doha, Qatar is not expected to produce any new commitment to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change, and if it does, any treaty would need to be ratified by a supermajority in the Senate. Yet Dobbs claimed Obama is trying to "rule by fiat" by supporting action on climate change, even as anchor Megyn Kelly pointed out that Americans support doing more:
But far from "trying to subvert the national sovereignty," Obama was recently praised by the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board for "veto[ing]" an attempt by Europe to levy a carbon tax on U.S. airlines in one of his first moves after re-election.
The Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club irresponsibly aired a photo that it said "allegedly shows what happened to a man after he stepped onto a broken CFL and his foot became infected with mercury poisoning." But the photos, which have circulated online, are believed to be a hoax because the damage they show is unlikely to have come from the small amount of mercury present in energy-efficient compact florescent lamps (CFLs).
The November 27 edition of Pat Robertson's The 700 Club aired graphic images of a foot that was "allegedly" injured from stepping on a broken CFL:
The images originally came from e-mails highlighting what appeared to be a flyer from Caterpillar equipment dealer WesTrac, but that Australian company said that it did not create the document. The images were later circulated in a Salisbury, MD, fire department newsletter, but according to the website Snopes -- which specializes in exposing online hoaxes - fire department officials later stated that they believe they were duped by an "Internet-falsehood":
Although attempts were made to verify the validity of the information, initial Internet searches provided no compelling evidence to dispute the information. We now believe that the information we used as the basis for our April 2012 Newsletter was an Internet-falsehood which started circulating numerous years ago and had an ulterior motive and purpose.