Matt Drudge featured a report on his website under the headline, "Gore Hearing On Warming May Be Put On Ice," stating that "Al Gore is scheduled before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday morning to once again testify on the 'urgent need' to combat global warming. But Mother Nature seems ready to freeze the proceedings." However, climate scientists -- including at least one who has disputed aspects of the scientific consensus on global warming -- completely reject the notion that short-term changes in weather, let alone an individual winter storm in January, bear any relevance to the global warming debate.
On January 26, under the headline, "Gore Hearing On Warming May Be Put On Ice," Internet gossip Matt Drudge featured a "[d]eveloping" report, stating that "Al Gore is scheduled before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday morning [January 28] to once again testify on the 'urgent need' to combat global warming. But Mother Nature seems ready to freeze the proceedings." Drudge's report quoted from an email it said it received from an anonymous "Republican lawmaker," which stated: "I can't imagine the Democrats would want to showcase Mr. Gore and his new findings on global warming as a winter storm rages outside." One version of Drudge's report also linked to a live weather forecast for Washington, D.C. However, as The New York Times reported on March 2, 2008, climate scientists -- including at least one who has disputed aspects of the scientific consensus on global warming -- completely reject the notion that short-term changes in weather, let alone an individual winter storm in January, bear any relevance to the global warming debate.
As Media Matters for America has previously noted, despite overwhelming evidence of human-caused global warming and warnings by experts that short-term weather conditions are not evidence for or against its existence, the Drudge Report, as well as media outlets, have previously suggested that winter storms are evidence against the existence of global warming. Indeed, on February 13, 2007, Drudge featured the headline, "House Hearing On 'Warming of the Planet' Canceled After Ice Storm." Drudge's report quoted from a "DC Weather Report" forecasting freezing rain, ice, and highs in the mid-30s for Washington, D.C., for February 14, 2007.
On February 14, 2007, CNN's Wolf Blitzer, as well as Fox News' Megyn Kelly and Brit Hume, reported on the cancellation of a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing on climate change due to severe winter weather conditions in Washington, D.C., with both Blitzer and Kelly deeming the turn of events "ironic," suggesting that cold weather and snow in February cast doubt on the existence of global warming.
Other recent examples of media figures suggesting that short-term cold weather events in December and January cast doubt on the existence of human-caused global warming include the following:
- Introducing the December 18, 2008, edition of his CNN show, Lou Dobbs said: "And tonight, unusual winter storms are dumping snow in unusual places across Western states, and a huge snowstorm is headed toward the Northeast. This is global warming?" During his segment on the issue, Dobbs hosted Heartland Institute senior fellow and science director Jay Lehr without disclosing that Heartland receives funding from the energy industry and without challenging Lehr's assertions that "[t]he last 10 years have been quite cool" and that "the sun" -- rather than humans -- is solely responsible for climate change.
Dobbs introduced his "special report" on what current weather "means for a discussion of global warming" by discussing substantial snowfall in parts of the United States and adding, "Perhaps Al Gore now is considering global warming isn't such a problem, because it is unusually warm in his home state of Tennessee. The forecast there calls for a high of 64 degrees in Nashville. Mr. Vice President, be careful."
- On the December 22, 2008, edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, guest host Douglas Urbanski cited Dobbs' December 18 segment to support the assertion, which has been widely discredited, that "man-made climate change" is "one of the biggest lies of our time." During the segment, Urbanski cited "snow in Las Vegas," "weather every place," and "cold records being set."
- On the January 22 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, on-screen text read, "Global What?" while Kelly teased an upcoming segment by saying: "[F]reezing temperatures in the Deep South, an arctic blast covering much of the nation. So if the world is getting warmer, then why is it so darn cold? Some answers next." While Kelly was speaking, Fox News showed scenes of snow.
- On January 26, moments after describing proposals to deal with global warming as "a new way to pick your pockets," Fox News host Sean Hannity said: "By the way, did you hear that, for only the second time in history, it snowed in the United Arab Emirates this weekend? Global warming?"
As Media Matters has noted, the IPCC's 2007 "Synthesis Report" concluded that "[w]arming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level" and that "[m]ost of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely [defined in the report as a ">90%" probability] due to the observed increase in anthropogenic [human-caused] GHG [greenhouse gas] concentrations." The IPCC report specifically rebuts the suggestion that nature is primarily responsible for global warming in the last 50 years:
The observed widespread warming of the atmosphere and ocean, together with ice mass loss, support the conclusion that it is extremely unlikely [<5% probability] that global climate change of the past 50 years can be explained without external forcing and very likely that it is not due to known natural causes alone. During this period, the sum of solar and volcanic forcings would likely [>66% probability] have produced cooling, not warming.
In comparing human-caused and natural "radiative forcing," (which is defined as "an index of the importance of [a] factor as a potential climate change mechanism"), the IPCC's February 2007 Working Group I Report "The Physical Science Basis" concluded that since 1750, "it is extremely likely [>95% probability] that humans have exerted a substantial warming influence on climate. This RF estimate is likely to be at least five times greater than that due to solar irradiance changes. For the period 1950 to 2005, it is exceptionally unlikely [<1% probability] that the combined natural RF (solar irradiance plus volcanic aerosol) has had a warming influence comparable to that of the combined anthropogenic RF."
By 11:03 p.m. on January 26, Drudge linked to his report as the lead headline on his website:
From the Drudge Report:
GORE HEARING ON WARMING MAY BE PUT ON ICE
Mon Jan 26 2009 17:59:26 ET
Al Gore is scheduled before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday morning to once again testify on the 'urgent need' to combat global warming.
But Mother Nature seems ready to freeze the proceedings.
A 'Winter Storm Watch' has been posted for the nation's capitol and there is a potential for significant snow... sleet... or ice accumulations.
"I can't imagine the Democrats would want to showcase Mr. Gore and his new findings on global warming as a winter storm rages outside," a Republican lawmaker emailed the DRUDGE REPORT. "And if the ice really piles up, it will not be safe to travel."
A spokesman for Sen. John Kerry, who chairs the committee, was not immediately available to comment on contingency plans.
Global warming advocates have suggested this year's wild winter spells are proof of climate change.