Discussing a Greeley Tribune article about climatologist and global warming skeptic William Gray of Colorado State University, Scott James on his September 10 Fox News Radio 600 KCOL broadcast heralded Gray's expertise on climate change issues without noting, as the Tribune did, the scientific basis of challenges to Gray's climate change credentials and theories.
On his September 10 broadcast, Fox News Radio 600 KCOL's Scott James referred to "an article by Rebecca Boyle in the Greeley Tribune" in touting the expertise of Colorado State University climatologist and global warming skeptic William Gray. Although James took issue with the Tribune's labeling Gray a "climate contrarian," he did not note that Gray's expertise on climate change has been called into question by other scientists and news reports, as Colorado Media Matters has documented. James, host of Ride Home with The James Gang, also did not cite any of the article's passages detailing the scientific consensus with which Gray disagrees.
As Colorado Media Matters has noted, James on a previous broadcast called Gray "[o]ur environmental hero" for Gray's efforts to discredit "research arguing that humans were causing global warming." During the same broadcast, James asked, "How long is it before Al Gore's gotta be calling him 'a global warming denier!'? ... 'Denying global warming is like denying the Holocaust! So therefore, you must be a Nazi!' "
Reading the headline to Boyle's article, James stated that "Bill Gray [is] among the minority of scientists who doubt the causes for global warming," adding, "Some leading researchers say the renowned hurricane expert has 'missed the boat.' " Defending Gray's position that human activity is not to blame for warmer global temperatures, James then asserted, "Here's a guy who has been doing this ... longer than most of these global-warming yahoos have been alive." James later added that he wanted to say, "Thank you, Doctor Gray, for stickin' to what you believe. Thank you, sir, for hangin' in there. Don't let 'em beat you up too hard."
As Colorado Media Matters has documented, Gray's credentials on the topic of climate change have been called into question even among mainstream skeptics. Joel Achenbach wrote in a May 28, 2006, profile of Gray in The Washington Post Magazine that "when you press him [Gray] on his theory of how thermohaline circulation has caused recent warming of the planet and will soon cause cooling, he concedes that he hasn't published the idea in any peer-reviewed journal. He's working on it, he says."
As Achenbach noted, the blog Real Climate -- produced by scientists who support the scientific consensus on global warming -- "published a detailed refutation of Gray's theory, saying his claims about the ocean circulation lack evidence. The Web site criticized Gray for not adapting to the modern era of meteorology, 'which demands hypotheses soundly grounded in quantitative and consistent physical formulations, not seat-of-the-pants flying.' " According to Achenbach, "The field [atmospheric science] has fully embraced numerical modeling, and Gray is increasingly on the fringe."
Criticism of Gray's global warming "theory" has not been limited to supporters of the scientific consensus on global warming. Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of meteorology Richard S. Lindzen -- whom Achenbach described as the global warming skeptic with "probably ... the most credibility among mainstream scientists" -- said of Gray: "His knowledge of theory is frustratingly poor." Gray himself told Achenbach, "I have nobody really to talk to about this stuff."
As the Tribune reported, "It's important to note that Gray does not dispute that the Earth's climate has been warming for the past several years. He just disagrees about the cause -- and in disagreeing, he finds himself in the minority opinion among most of the world's experts on climate change." The Tribune further reported -- in passages that James did not read on the air -- that "a safe majority of climate scientists now say the recent warming trend is the result of human activity":
The National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science are among scientific organizations to have taken the position that evidence shows humans have an effect on the climate. These positions are based on data that supports that hypothesis.
When averaged over all land and ocean surfaces, temperatures today are about 0.75 degrees Celsius warmer than at the beginning of the 20th century, before the start of the Industrial Age.
And almost half that increase has taken place in the past 30 years.
From the September 10 broadcast of Fox News Radio 600 KCOL's Ride Home with The James Gang:
JAMES: Now Al Gore -- politician. Bill Gray -- meteorologist. For a lot of years. I didn't realize Bill's 77 years old. I read that yesterday in an article by Rebecca Boyle in the Greeley Tribune. A really interesting and long article about Bill, and how he's a -- let me find this here -- I loved it, a "climate contrarian." [reading] "CSU's Bill Gray among the minority of scientists who doubt the causes for global warming. Some leading researchers say the renowned hurricane expert has 'missed the boat.' " Here's a guy who has been doing this most of -- longer than most of these global-warming yahoos have been alive. He's saying, is there any argument that the globe's warming? Of course there's not, globe's gettin' warmer -- at least warmer within the data that we have. But he says it's caused by natural things here on the planet, by some sort of mechanism that he described in this article that basically churns the Earth's currents around and brings cold water to warm, and warm water to cold, and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So that, maybe combined with some sunspot activity -- or some sun activity -- is what's causing the increase in temperature. Guess what, it'll go back again, because these things are circular. But now he's a climate contrarian. [laughs] I've never met the guy. We've interviewed him a couple of times; nice man. One day when I meet him I want to say, "Thank you, Doctor Gray, for stickin' to what you believe. Thank you, sir, for hangin' in there. Don't let 'em beat you up too hard." I don't think he cares; I really don't. I hope that's the case. He's been doing it longer than most of 'em have been alive. What does he know; he's now the climate contrarian.