AP Article Boosts "Critics" Of Global Warming Science

Blog ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

In an article about House Republicans' attempts to stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions, the Associated Press provided undue credibility to the arguments of unnamed "critics" who say there is no significant evidence for man-made global warming. From the report:

Officials said the House bill, which was to be offered Wednesday, would nullify all of the steps the EPA has taken to date on the issue, including a finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health.

In addition, it seeks to strip the agency of its authority to use the law in any future attempts to crack down on the emissions from factories, utilities and other stationary sources.

Many scientists say carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollution contribute to global warming, and the attempt to reduce them is a major priority for President Barack Obama as well as environmentalists. Critics argue the evidence is thin and new rules would drive up costs for businesses and consumers and cause job losses. [emphasis added]

How many scientists is "many"? The Associated Press itself reported in 2009 that "the vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring" due to human activity. Indeed, surveys have shown that 97 percent of scientists who specialize and are active in climate research agree that human activity is a significant factor in the observed warming trend.

And who are the "critics" arguing that "the evidence is thin"? The Associated Press itself has said that a "vast body of evidence" shows "the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions."

But you wouldn't know that from AP's he-said, she-said report today, which seems to follow the widely-derided Fox News rules for climate reporting.

Max Boykoff of the University of Colorado has analyzed media coverage of climate change since 2004 and concludes that news reports can amplify the voices of those with little scientific credibility by presenting their claims as balance against the results of rigorous climate research:

"One problem occurs when outlier viewpoints are not individually evaluated in context," said Boykoff. "A variety of influences and perspectives typically have been collapsed by mass media into one general category of skepticism. This has been detrimental both in terms of dismissing legitimate critiques of climate science or policy, as well as amplifying extreme and tenuous claims."

Such claims are amplified when traditional news media position noncredible contrarian sources against those with scientific data, in a failed effort to represent opposing sides, said Boykoff.

Unless AP can show that the "critics" cited in the article have dealt credible blows to the "vast" body of evidence supporting man-made global warming, their claims should be removed from the report.

Posted In
Environment & Science, Climate Change
Network/Outlet
Associated Press
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