MSNBC host Chris Hayes released a documentary on climate change Friday, continuing relatively in-depth coverage of what he calls "the single greatest threat that we face." In fact, Media Matters found that even prior to this documentary, Hayes dedicated over 1 hour and 40 minutes to climate change since the launch of his primetime show -- more than three times that of four shows on CNN and Fox News combined in that same time period. Including the coverage that Hayes dedicated to previewing and airing the documentary "The Politics of Power" on Thursday and Friday, Hayes has covered climate change for over 3 hours -- about nine times those shows combined.
From April 1, when the show All In with Chris Hayes premiered, to August 14, Hayes discussed climate change 19 times, devoting approximately 1 hour and 42 minutes to the issue*. By contrast, CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront only mentioned climate change once for about two minutes, Anderson Cooper 360 didn't mention it at all, and Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity only mentioned climate change dismissively, devoting twelve and seven minutes to the topic, respectively. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow also devoted more coverage than these other four primetime shows combined, discussing climate change eight times for a total of 32 minutes.
During this time period, President Barack Obama gave a major speech on climate change, carbon dioxide levels exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in human history, wildfires in the West and flooding in the Midwest were worsened in the context of this carbon pollution, and Republican politicians made several colorful claims denying the overwhelming science on climate change as a pro-Obama group conducted a campaign to highlight exactly these types of remarks.
Fox Business is claiming that because 2013 Arctic sea ice extent is unlikely to beat the 2012 record low, melting in the region is "slowing," an idea one climate scientist called "absolutely ridiculous" in the context of a long-term decline.
On Wednesday, Fox Business' Charles Payne launched a segment on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) State of the Climate report by claiming that the agency "has forgotten to mention ... that 2012 was one of the coolest years of the decade," thereby "slowing down the melting of Arctic ice this summer."
This statement was based on a lack of understanding of "regression to the mean" -- or in the case of climate change, regression to the new mean. This and other mathematical concepts seem to give Fox a lot of trouble.
Unfortunately for baby harp seals, Payne is wrong about Arctic sea ice melt "slowing" -- it seems he either didn't grasp the aforementioned idea or didn't read NOAA's report very carefully. The State of the Climate found record low Arctic sea ice extent in 2012 and included this chart illustrating monthly trends compared to the 1979-2000 average:
As Skeptical Science explained, it's unsurprising that 2013 will not likely beat that record low if you consider "regression toward the mean":
[N]ote that neither [of two statistical predictions for 2013 Arctic sea ice extent] predicts that 2013 will break the 2012 record (3.6 million square kilometers). There is a principle in statistics known as "regression toward the mean," which is the phenomenon that if an extreme value of a variable is observed, the next measurement will generally be less extreme, i.e. we should not expect to observe record lows in consecutive years. This is because when extremes are reached and records are broken, a number of different variables generally have to align in the same direction to make this happen.
Fox News took the Interior Secretary's remarks on the urgency of climate change out of context to claim that the Obama administration is engaged in a "witch hunt" to purge climate deniers from the agency.
Fox & Friends hosted contributor Michelle Malkin Tuesday to suggest that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is planning on conducting a "witch hunt" because she said she "hope[s] there are no climate change deniers in the Department of the Interior." Malkin added that Jewell was "talking like a cult leader" and insinuated that the administration is full of "eco-zombies."
But extended video from the meeting undermines this attack. Jewell was not trying to intimidate anyone; rather, she was emphasizing the signs of climate change already evident on our public lands, and encouraging the department to heed those signs and address the broader issue through renewable energy leasing and other measures.
Here's what Jewell actually said and how Fox News clipped the video to make it seem like she was announcing a "witch hunt":
JEWELL: I hope there are no climate change deniers in the Department of the Interior. If you don't believe in it, come out into the resources, go on to some [federal] land, go to Alaska where the permafrost is melting, go into the Sierra, which used to retain a lot more water in its frozen form that's now running off the hillsides quicker, and we don't have the storage capacity to be able to serve the downstream users like the demand requires. We have far-reaching impacts in every part of the department, but we are in a unique position to actually be able to do something about it. How exciting is that?
It's hard to do justice to the extreme views of the new chairman for Oregon's Republican party. But reports on Art Robinson often didn't even come close, merely mentioning that he is a "skeptic of human-caused global warming," while leaving out the chairman's anti-scientific statements on evolution, AIDS, and nuclear waste.
Robinson is best known for organizing a petition rejecting climate change that claims to have 31,072 American scientist signatories, with "scientist" defined as anyone who claims to have a bachelor's degree in various fields including computer science, statistics, and metallurgy. Robinson, who is a chemist but has not done any scientific research into climate change, has acknowledged that fake names such as the Spice Girl's Geri Halliwell made it onto the list. The petition says little to rebut the consensus of the vast majority of scientists, as it does not state what percentage of people responded to the survey. Robinson told the conspiracy website WND.com in 2002 that ""[t]here is absolutely not a shred of evidence that humans are causing any change in the climate by generating CO2."
Furthermore, at no point during Robinson's candidacy for GOP chairman did the two largest Oregon papers (The Oregonian and The Eugene Register-Guard)* mention that Robinson has made several other claims that run counter to scientific research:
Nor did they mention* the following extreme views and conspiratorial claims from the former Congressional candidate (in fact, The Oregonian published an op-ed suggesting that Robinson has not engaged in "offensive and bizarre comments"):
The Washington Times is claiming that carbon emissions could be causing "global cooling" in contradiction of basic physics.
In an editorial Monday designed to ridicule Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) for convening a summit on clean energy in Las Vegas, the Times repeatedly referred to climate change as a "scam" and cited several "facts" that allegedly discredit it -- including that "there's new evidence that carbon-dioxide emissions, which first set off global-warming hysteria, are actually triggering global cooling."
But there isn't "new evidence" of that. Or any kind of evidence, really.
As Duke University scientist William Chameides explained to Media Matters when Fox News tried to advance this "utter nonsense" claim, scientists established the greenhouse effect "more than a century ago":
What CO2 does is trap a larger amount of the heat from the sun, preventing it from escaping and thus driving up temperatures. To argue otherwise is to argue that the greenhouse effect does not exist. In fact the existence of the greenhouse effect was established by scientists more than a century ago. It would be impossible to explain the temperatures of Mars and Venus, as well as the Earth, without invoking this effect.
The "greenhouse effect" is part of a complex process -- a "balancing act" -- that makes life on earth possible. However, mankind's use of fossil fuels has led to a surplus of these gases, which prevents more radiation than usual from escaping back into space, thus making the planet hotter. This is not the slightest bit controversial in the scientific community, and the reverse is a vanishingly remote belief even among the climate deniosphere. For instance, the chairman of the industry-funded George C. Marshall Institute, a physicist who has conducted no climate research but suggests we should be "clamoring for more" carbon dioxide, has said that "most people like me believe that industrial emissions will cause warming, but just much less than has been predicted by many computer models." Indeed, industrial emissions have already caused substantial warming, as seen in this chart from NASA:
From the August 12 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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The NRA's newly launched campaign to oppose a California legislative proposal to ban lead ammunition for hunting, Hunt for Truth, has already been pulled from the Internet along with an accompanying NRA press release announcing the initiative. Using archived webpages, Media Matters documents the NRA's repeated denial that lead ammunition poses a danger to wildlife, despite scientific evidence that lead ammunition threatens the survival of the critically endangered California condor.
Sean Hannity promoted a claim that dangerous "global cooling" is coming, adding sarcastically on his radio show, "I thought all scientists agreed on this -- apparently not." Sadly for Hannity, the claim did not come from a scientist -- in fact, it came from John Casey, a man that even climate "skeptics" labeled a "scam artist."
Here's a helpful list for Hannity to refer to next time he is looking for support:
When 97 percent of climate scientists accept manmade global warming, it's no wonder that those in denial are getting desperate for an "expert."
The New York Times failed to cover both a major government report and a scientists' statement indicating that global warming marches on, just months after the paper shuttered both its environment desk and an affiliated blog with the promise that coverage would not significantly change.
On Monday, the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a scientific organization comprising thousands of earth scientists, published a quadrennial renewal of its position statement affirming that "humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years." One day later, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released the annual "State of the Climate" report, showing that 2012 was among the 10 warmest years on record worldwide and saw record-low Arctic sea ice extent. NOAA included these charts, illustrating warming of 0.16°C (0.28°F) per decade since 1970 and plummeting Arctic sea ice extent compared to the 1979-2000 average, respectively:
The AGU statement garnered mentions by National Public Radio and NBCNews.com, and NOAA's "sobering portrait of vast swaths of the planet transformed by rising temperatures" was covered by the Associated Press, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and CBS, and featured in wire reports in The Washington Post and on the websites of Fox News, NBC and ABC.
However, you didn't read about either story in The New York Times.
The Washington Examiner is promoting a press release from a man predicting "global cooling" who even a climate "skeptic" has called a "scam artist."
The Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard writes that the "war between former Vice President Al Gore and his critics over global warming is about to hit the boiling point" with a "new claim" from John Casey that "global cooling" is coming. Who is John Casey? The Examiner says that Media Matters called Casey a scam artist "[b]ecause his predictions go against the mainstream." In fact, in 2010 Media Matters quoted blogger Tom Nelson -- who calls climate change a "hoax" -- warning that he thinks Casey is "a scam artist" trying to trick the "skeptic community" into bankrolling him.
Casey created the "Space and Science Research Corporation" (SSRC), which boasts that "it has a dedicated list of 'Supporting Researchers' who have committed their name and assistance to the mission of the SSRC." Four of these seven researchers are also listed as experts on Casey's other website, the "International Earthquake and Volcano Prediction Center," perhaps because they make no claim of expertise in climate change, instead stating that they study earthquakes and volcanoes.
Casey also has no background in climate science, possessing only an undergraduate degree in physics and math and a master's in management. Since we pointed that out in 2010, Casey has pumped up his biography, adding that he is "one of America's most successful climate change researchers and climate prediction experts," even though he does not appear to have ever published a single peer-reviewed paper on the subject.
Instead he wrote a self-published book on climate change "put together" with the help of an astrologer-cum-thoroughbred horse-racing advocate who claims to be the illegitimate daughter of Ernest Hemingway. He claims his book, Cold Sun, is "internationally acclaimed," citing one of his own volcano-specialist "Supporting Researchers" and an anonymous Amazon.com review. In it, Casey predicts that there will be "catastrophic shortages in the world's food supplies" from "global cooling," and that the first indicators of this will "be felt at any time and certainly by December 2012" (2012 was actually one of the 10 warmest years on record globally and the warmest year on record in the U.S.). Despite his claims of international prominence, neither Skeptical Science nor DeSmogBlog -- which maintain extensive records on the industry of faux-experts sowing doubt on climate change -- have ever written a single word about him.
Former Fox News host Glenn Beck once declared "Do I believe scientists? No. They've lied to us about global warming." But the study, by the Yale Project on Climate Communication, concludes that it's actually the other way around: conservative media consumers don't believe in scientists, therefore they don't believe in global warming.
The study suggests that watching and listening to outlets like Fox News and The Rush Limbaugh Show may be one reason that only 19 percent of Republicans agree that human activity is causing global warming, despite the consensus of 97 percent of climate scientists. The Yale researchers depicted five tactics used by conservative media to erode trust in scientists, which Media Matters illustrates with examples.
Conservative media typically turn to a roster of professional climate change contrarians and portray them as "experts" on the issue. What they don't mention is that most of these climate "experts" don't have a background in climate science and are often on the bankroll of the fossil fuel industry.
A Media Matters study detailed how certain climate contrarians have been given a large platform by the media, particularly Fox News.
For instance, Fox News cut away from President Barack Obama's recent climate change speech to host Chris Horner of the industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute -- giving approximately equal time to Horner and the president.
Fox News devoted two segments to a "sea turtle hospital," representing a change in tone from years of attacking a turtle conservation program. The network has frequently dismissed climate change, which poses a serious threat to turtles and other reptiles.
In two separate segments Friday, Fox & Friends reported on a North Carolina sea turtle rescue center, which mends loggerhead and green turtles injured by run-ins with boat propellers and other accidents. Fox News reporter Anna Kooiman noted that the turtles are "ambassadors for ocean conservation as a whole." Following footage of a turtle being released into the ocean after a rehab stint, Fox & Friends co-anchor Steve Doocy concluded, "this story has a happy ending."
Yeah, maybe not. While the center's efforts are admirable, and boat accidents and ocean debris do take a huge toll on sea turtles, these segments, like all Fox News coverage related to turtles over the last five years, ignored a much more systemic danger: climate change.
At least Fox News was sympathetic this time. Until now, the network's favorite turtle topic has been an allegedly wasteful Florida project designed to help freshwater turtles and other wildlife safely cross U.S. Highway 27 and avert dangerous roadway accidents. Fox News programs commented on the "turtle tunnels" 29 times in the last five years, most often in unabashedly negative terms because they were backed by funds from the 2009 federal stimulus package. The project was finished earlier than some opponents predicted and came in under budget, a fact that Fox News never mentioned.
Columnist Joe Nocera of The New York Times made a sweeping negative generalization about "mass tort" lawsuits and "plaintiffs' lawyers" because BP is currently paying out more in damages than it expected for the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
BP pled guilty to the felony manslaughter of 11 workers who perished when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in April 2010. In addition, BP pled guilty to lying to Congress about the extent of the resulting environmental catastrophe and agreed to a $4 billion plea agreement - a record sum in criminal penalties. BP also settled in civil proceedings for damage beyond the immediate blowout, such as the extensive economic and medical harm caused to those who depend on a Gulf of Mexico unpolluted by millions of barrels of oil.
Currently, BP, which remains the "world leader in deepwater drilling," is attempting to renege on this agreement.
Defending BP's appeal of its settlement and advertising campaign warning against potential claimants "tak[ing] money they don't deserve," Nocera claimed that many Gulf residents and business owners receiving court-ordered damage awards are "basically bystanders...[with] their hands out" represented by "plaintiffs' lawyers [who] gin up cases because, well, that's what they do." From the NYT:
One of the things I find particularly offensive is that the settlement includes criteria that virtually ensure that businesses unharmed by the oil spill will get compensation. All over the Gulf, lawyers are advising clients to line up at the BP trough, and they are doing so.
But how is this righting a wrong? Why is it appropriate to transfer money from BP shareholders to people who were basically bystanders and now have their hands out? When I posed this question to the plaintiffs' lawyers who sued BP, I received a lengthy statement from one of the lead lawyers, Steven Herman, describing a formula that, he noted several times, BP had agreed to, and even encouraged. He said that the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 was aimed at helping people who have been harmed "indirectly." What he didn't say is that the more claimants getting BP's money, the more money winds up with the lawyers themselves.
If some claimants or attorneys have profited from illegitimate claims, that is wrong.
As Congress considers legislation promoting energy efficiency, Media Matters examines the facts behind such efforts. Contrary to persistent myths in the media, increasing energy efficiency of appliances and buildings is a cost-effective way to benefit the environment and economy, and has historically enjoyed bipartisan support.
As House Republicans try to slash funding for research and development of new energy technologies, conservative figures who once proclaimed their support for such initiatives have been curiously silent.
Buoyed by Republican lawmakers, the House recently passed a spending bill that cuts funding for Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the key federal program that invests in research and development of new energy technologies, by 81 percent. ARPA-E is a bipartisan Bush-era creation modeled on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which spurred breakthroughs like the internet and stealth fighter. Now, even a midpoint reconciliation with the more generous Senate spending bill could leave funding for the program in tatters.
These cuts are an extreme departure from the rare interparty comity that has typically surrounded research and development for alternative energy. Indeed, conservative media figures have frequently embraced such efforts -- as opposed to programs that award loans to address the so-called "valley of death" between development and commercialization -- echoing the pro-ARPA-E views of free-market groups and some Republican leaders. Among the latter was former presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who supported increasing funding. But with ARPA-E now in trouble, these figures appear tongue-tied.