Glenn Beck cited two global-warming skeptics -- William M. Gray and Bjorn Lomborg -- to support his doubts that humans are "the ones causing" global warming, and that "even if" humans are causing global warming, there isn't much they can "realistically do about it." But the methodology and results of studies by both Gray and Lomborg have been debunked by the overwhelming majority of environmental scientists.
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On the September 21 edition of his CNN Headline News program, Glenn Beck cited two global-warming skeptics -- William M. Gray and Bjørn Lomborg -- to support his doubts that humans are "the ones causing" global warming, and that "even if" humans are causing global warming, there isn't much they can "realistically do about it." But the methodology and results of studies by both Gray and Lomborg have been debunked by the overwhelming majority of environmental scientists, as Media Matters for America has documented.
Beck began his segment on global warming by declaring: "Global warming is real. My issue is whether or not we're the ones causing it, and, even if we are, what can you realistically do about it?" As purported evidence that humans might not be "the ones causing" global warming, Beck cited Gray, professor emeritus of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, whom Beck described as "a respected scientist." But as Media Matters for America has noted, a May 28 Washington Post Magazine article by Joel Achenbach reported that Gray's methodology regarding climate change "is increasingly on the fringe" and noted that even global warming skeptics have distanced themselves from Gray. Further, Beck claimed that the "best he [Gray] could do for a media platform ... was a speech at the Larimer County Republican Club breakfast in front of about 50 people." In fact, in addition to the Washington Post Magazine, Gray was also mentioned as recently as September 20 on Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume and was quoted on CNN's The Situation Room as recently as September 12.
Later in the program, Beck hosted Lomborg, an associate professor of statistics in the Department of Political Science at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, to discuss how U.S. efforts to combat global warming demonstrate that, in Beck's words, "our priorities are all mixed up." Lomborg stated that "[w]e actually had some of the world's top economists" look at how to handle global warming, and that they concluded it would be very costly and "do very little good." Lomborg similarly argued in his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World (Cambridge University Press, 2001), which purported to conduct a "non-partisan evaluation" of environmental data in the hope of offering the public and policymakers a guide for "clear-headed prioritization of resources to tackle real, not imagined, problems," that the concerns of scientists regarding the world's environmental problems -- including global warming -- were universally overblown. Yet as Media Matters documented, Scientific American magazine ran a series of articles from four well-known environmental specialists that lambasted Lomborg's book for "egregious distortions," "elementary blunders of quantitative manipulation and presentation that no self-respecting statistician ought to commit," and sections "poorly researched and ... rife with careless mistakes." The Union of Concerned Scientists similarly reported that Lomborg's findings and methodology "fail to meet basic standards of credible scientific analysis."
From the September 21 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: I actually do believe that global warming exists. Did you hear that? Global warming is real. My issue is whether or not we're the ones causing it and, even if we are, what can you realistically do about it?
Now, you know why that probably sounds controversial is because all of the scientists who are out there saying, "Hold on, hold on, wait a second," when it comes to this stuff, their voice is never heard. It's the other side, the fear-mongering side, the "Oh, we're going to burn to death" side that gets the media attention and gets the grant money flowing.
For example, Bill Gray, he's a respected scientist. He's from the -- he's from Colorado State University. He recently said that global warming is due to natural changes in ocean circulation patterns and, that even if he's wrong, there's nothing humans can do to stop it. Unfortunately, the best he could do for a media platform -- you know, I mean, until now -- was a speech at the Larimer County Republican Club breakfast in front of about 50 people.
BECK: Bjørn Lomborg, he is the -- the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist. He was once known as deep-green environmentalist, but now he's switched sides. He believes our priorities are all mixed up. Bjørn, what was it that changed your mind?
LOMBORG: Well, Glenn, I thought everything was going to hell. I thought air pollution was getting worse, that our chemical load was causing explosive cancer rates. Turns out not to be true. And so, of course, you've got to start thinking and rethinking our understanding of the environment, and that applies particularly to climate change.
BECK: Here is one of the things that have convinced me that global warming is happening. I mean, you look at the glaciers, and you see them melting. How do you explain that?
LOMBORG: Well, part of the melting is definitely due to the fact that we're coming out of a little ice age, but you are also seeing at least an extended melt-off, so part of this is probably due to climate change now.
So, as you say, climate change is happening, but the real question we have to ask ourselves is: How much can we do against it? And how much is it going to cost?
We actually had some of the world's top economists look at this, and their answer was it's going to cost $150 billion a year trying to do the Kyoto Protocol, but it will do very little good. It will basically postpone global warming six years in 2100.