On Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, ABC News 20/20 co-anchor John Stossel trivialized global temperature increases, stating "[t]he globe is warming, but it's one degree." In fact, scientists have determined that the approximately 1 degree Fahrenheit * increase in global temperature during the 20th century has adversely affected several ecosystems and that a continuation of warming trends could be detrimental to humankind.
On the May 10 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, ABC News 20/20 co-anchor John Stossel downplayed the significance of global warming while promoting his new book Myths, Lies & Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel -- Why Everything You Know is Wrong (Hyperion, May 2006). Stossel stated that "[t]he globe is warming, but it's one degree." In fact, scientists have determined that the approximately 1 degree Fahrenheit * increase in global temperature during the 20th century has adversely affected several ecosystems and that a continuation of warming trends could be detrimental to humankind.
In 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was established by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), concluded in its "Third Assessment Report" that "[r]ecent regional changes in climate, particularly increases in temperature, have already affected hydrological systems and terrestrial and marine ecosystems in many parts of the world." According to the IPCC's Key Findings:
Examples of observed changes in response to 20th century warming include shrinking glaciers, thawing permafrost, earlier break-up of river and lake ice, lengthening of mid- to high-latitude growing seasons, poleward and altitudinal shifts of plant and animal ranges, declines of some animal and plant populations, and earlier tree flowering, insect emergence and egg-laying in birds.
The IPCC Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) also noted that, if these global warming trends persist as predicted over the next century, the impact on human systems could be catastrophic. "Projected adverse impacts" of climate changes, according to the IPCC, include:
- "[R]eduction in potential crop yields in most tropical and sub-tropical regions for most projected increases in temperature" and "in most regions in mid-latitudes"
- "Decreased water availability for populations in many water-scarce regions, particularly in the sub-tropics"
- "An increase in the number of people exposed to vector-borne (e.g. malaria) and water-borne diseases (e.g. cholera)"
Additionally, the IPCC noted that "simple extremes," such as "[h]igher maximum temperatures; more hot days and heat waves over nearly all land areas" -- which are deemed "very likely"-- could result in some of the following:
- "Increased incidence of death and serious illness in older age groups and urban poor"
- "Increased heat stress in livestock and wildlife"
- "Increased risk of damage to a number of crops"
- "Increased electric cooling demand and reduced energy supply reliability"
The IPCC also asserted that "[m]ore intense precipitation events" are "very likely over many areas," resulting in:
- "Increased flood, landslide, avalanche, and mudslide damage"
- "Increased soil erosion"
Stossel has previously claimed that global warming is "another foolish media-hyped scare," as Media Matters documented. In a December 10, 2004, 20/20 segment, Stossel reported on novelist Michael Crichton's book, State of Fear (HarperCollins, 2004), to present a one-sided view on the significance of global warming. During the segment, Stossel portrayed skepticism about global warming as just as scientifically valid as respectable scientific research and opinion showing that the climate is changing; misleadingly suggested that projections of the future global climate are comparable to a local news channel's "weather forecast"; and highlighted Crichton's claim that climate scientists have an incentive to exaggerate global warming in order to win grants.
From the May 10 broadcast of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: "Personal Story" segment tonight. As you may know, ABC newsman John Stossel has made a career of bursting myths, telling hard truths that some people don't want to hear. In his new book Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity, Mr. Stossel continues that tradition. He joins us now. OK, global warming. This is going to get you in big trouble. This is -- you know that, Stossel, right off the bat. Tell me what you think about global warming, and I'll tell you why you're going to get in trouble.
STOSSEL: Well, I rudely put it in the myth chapter with psychics and astrology, which is unfair. But it's become a religion.
O'REILLY: It has.
STOSSEL: For people.
O'REILLY: It has.
STOSSEL: The globe is warming, but it's one degree. Man probably has an impact, but we don't know for certain. But the hysteria, "We're all going to drown soon and Alaska's going to melt." This is the alarmist scientists who always get the most play in the media, and most scientists don't agree with that.
Correction: This item previously stated incorrectly that "scientists have determined that the approximately 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) increase in global temperature during the 20th century has adversely affected several ecosystems and that a continuation of warming trends could be detrimental to humankind."
In fact, the global temperature change over the past century has been approximately 1 degree Fahrenheit, though this number is disputed. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Academy of Scientists concluded that, since the late 19th century, global temperatures have increased 0.5-1.0 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 0.3-0.6 degrees Celsius). However, the IPCC found the global temperature increase to be somewhat higher, from 0.4 to 0.8 degrees Celsius (approximately 0.7-1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 19th century. Media Matters for America regrets this error.