On Special Report, correspondent Molly Henneberg uncritically aired Sen. James Inhofe's false claim that "[i]t was warmer in the '30s than it is today," and Inhofe's baseless assertion that "it was warmer in the 15th century than it is today."
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On the December 6 edition of Fox News' Special Report, during a report about committee hearings held by outgoing Environment and Public Works Committee chairman Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) to "turn up the heat on the media coverage of global warming" and focusing on " 'the hype of global warming' and what causes it," Fox News correspondent Molly Henneberg uncritically aired Inhofe's false claim that "[i]t was warmer in the '30s than it is today," and Inhofe's baseless assertion that "it was warmer in the 15th century than it is today."
In fact, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies' average global mean surface temperatures data demonstrate that Inhofe's claim that "[i]t was warmer in the '30s than it is today," is false:
Similarly, a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report, released in June, appears not to support Inhofe's assertion that "it was warmer in the 15th century than it is today." According to the NAS report, "presently available proxy evidence indicates that temperatures at many, but not all, individual locations were higher during the past 25 years than during any period of comparable length since A.D. 900."
From the NAS report:
- It can be said with a high level of confidence that global mean surface temperature was higher during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period during the preceding four centuries. This statement is justified by the consistency of the evidence from a wide variety of geographically diverse proxies.
- Less confidence can be placed in large-scale surface temperature reconstructions for the period from A.D. 900 to 1600. Presently available proxy evidence indicates that temperatures at many, but not all, individual locations were higher during the past 25 years than during any period of comparable length since A.D. 900. The uncertainties associated with reconstructing hemispheric mean or global mean temperatures form these data increase substantially backward in time through this period and are not yet fully quantified.
Further, as Media Matters for America noted, in 2003, Inhofe called global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." However, as Media Matters has documented, organizations representing thousands of scientists share the consensus view that, according to the June 2006 NAS report, "human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming" of the planet.
From the December 6 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
HENNEBERG: Turning up the heat on the media coverage of global warming, Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe wanted his last hearing as chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee to focus on, what he calls, "the hype of global warming" and what causes it.
INHOFE: It's being distorted by the media. It's something that needs to be called to the attention of the American people. Seventy percent of the people out there, Molly, think that, you know, that the climate is changing and it's due to the, what they call, anthropogenic gases -- Methane, CO2 -- and when in fact, there is -- there is really is questionable science as to whether or not that has anything to do with it.
HENNEBERG: To make his point, a panel of mainly scientists suggested to the committee that temperatures may be rising, but not because of what people do, although that's what other scientists and the media might report.
ROBERT M. CARTER (adjunct professorial research fellow at James Cook University): The reason it's a problem is it's diverting our attention from what is a real climate problem, and that is natural climate change, not human-caused climate change.
HENNEBERG: Certainly, there has been tremendous coverage of the topic. Earlier this year, Time magazine put out a special report on global warming, saying, "Be Worried. Be Very Worried." And then there's Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth.
GORE [video clip]: The scientific consensus is that we are causing global warming.
HENNEBERG: But Senator Inhofe says the science on that is not settled.
INHOFE: Yes, there is -- we're going through a warming period but, throughout history, we've gone through these warming periods. It was warmer in the '30s than it is today; it was warmer in the 15th century than it is today. Let's let God work his thing, keep the cycles going, and if there's something that we can do -- certainly, we do want to clean up the air, clean up the pollution -- CO2 is not a pollutant.
HENNEBERG: But one Inhofe critic says the science is undeniable, and so the senator has to pick another target.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this town, if you don't get your way, you blame the media.
HENNEBERG: And California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, who will take over as chair of the committee in January, indicated that she's not buying it either.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: We can't, as policymakers, it seems to me, turn our backs on the overwhelming scientific evidence and opinion.
HENNEBERG: In fact, Senator Boxer said yesterday that global warming is, quote, a potential crisis of a magnitude we've never seen. And when she chairs the committee, she says one of her goals is to press for mandatory caps on industrial carbon dioxide emissions.