Joe Scarborough Misfires On Climate Change


MSNBC host Joe Scarborough claimed that "there is still a debate" in the scientific community about "how much man contributes" to climate change, but the reality is that the vast majority of climate scientists agree human activities are the dominant cause of global warming. Although Scarborough frequently stresses that he believes humans play a role in climate change, this isn't the first time he's made a statement that conflicts with established climate science.

Scarborough Claimed "There Is Still A Debate" Among Scientists On Extent Humans Are Contributing To Climate Change

Scarborough: Scientific Community Is Still Debating "How Much Man Contributes" To Climate Change. During the February 3 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Scarborough made the point that there is no scientific justification for concern that vaccinations can lead to autism. But he did so in a way that cast doubt on the extent of scientific consensus around man-made climate change:

SCARBOROUGH:  There is not, at least in the science community, a debate about [vaccines causing autism] anymore. This is not even close, this is not even close -- there is still a debate on climate change, the effects of climate change, how quickly climate change is coming on us. How much man contributes. There are a thousand different variables in that debate.

Scarborough: "There Are A Lot Of Different Studies" That Differ On "Degrees" Of Human Role In Climate Change. Scarborough returned to the topic later in the program, stressing that he believes "man has contributed" to climate change, but continuing to maintain that there is a "scientific debate" about the degree of human involvement: 

SCARBOROUGH: I'm saying though, there are a billion variables that go in there. We can talk about the middle ages, we'll probably both agree on climate change, that it's man -- that man has contributed to it, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. There are a lot of different studies out there to talk about the degrees. On vaccines, there is no scientific debate. None.

Fact: The Vast Majority Of Climate Scientists Say Human Activities Are The Main Cause Of Climate Change

NASA: "Most Climate Scientists Agree" Human Activities Are The "Main Cause" Of Climate Change. According to NASA, "Most climate scientists agree the main cause of the current global warming trend is human expansion of the 'greenhouse effect' -- warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space." [, accessed 2/4/15]

IPCC: 95-100% Probability That Humans Are "Dominant Cause" Of Global Warming. According to the latest report by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), "It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century." The IPCC defines "extremely likely" as having 95-100% probability. [IPCC, 2013: Summary for Policymakers, emphasis original]

Scientists As Certain That Human Activities Are Driving Global Warming As They Are That Cigarettes Can Kill. The Associated Press reported that the "president of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, Ralph Cicerone, and more than a dozen other scientists contacted by the AP" agreed that the degree of certainty seen in the IPCC report "is most similar to the confidence scientists have in the decades' worth of evidence that cigarettes are deadly." [Associated Press, 9/24/13]

Scarborough Previously Claimed Only An "Extremist" Would Think "Florida Is Going To Be Underwater" In 100 Years

Scarborough: "If You Think That Florida Is Going To Be Underwater In 50 To 75 To 100 Years, You're An Extremist." Scarborough has previously said that "man has a very big contribution" to global warming. Yet in those same comments, he also questioned another firmly established scientific finding about the impacts of climate change - that climate change will result in sea level rise that will place large portions of Scarborough's home state of Florida underwater.  On the November 18, 2014 edition of Morning Joe, Scarborough stated:

[I]f you think that Florida is going to be underwater in 50 to 75 to 100 years, you're an extremist. If you want to say -- there's a difference between being an environmental activist and being an environmental alarmist. Again, I believe in global warming. I believe in climate change. I believe that man has a very big contribution to that. I believe we have to slow down carbon emissions. [Morning Joe, 11/18/14]

Scarborough: It Will Be "Maybe A Gazillion Years" Before Florida Is Underwater. During a discussion with co-host Mika Brzezinski on the March 11, 2014 edition of Morning Joe, Scarborough similarly suggested it would be "a gazillion years" before climate change might cause Florida to be underwater, and that Brzezinski and Democrats should "read a science book" if they think otherwise:

SCARBOROUGH: [Y]ou know what, I believe that there is climate change. But I don't believe that Florida is going to be underwater, like, in August.

BRZEZINSKI: Right, no, it won't be, but your great grandchildren might have less Florida. And your great, great, great grandchildren but you know what...

SCARBOROUGH: Maybe a gazillion years from now.

BRZEZINSKI: It's the Republican state of mind: me now, money.

SCARBROUGH: No, it's not that. It's the Democratic state of mind: scare, scare, scare. You guys seriously should read a science book. You're so anti-science, you're anti-math when it come to the deficit and the debt. You know, you know, seriously, you're so anti-intellectual.

Fact: National Climate Assessment Indicates Large Portion Of Florida Could Be Underwater By 2100

National Climate Assessment Estimates Florida Will Lose 37,500 Acres To Sea Level Rise By 2100. According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program's 2014 National Climate Assessment:

Agricultural areas around Miami-Dade County and southern Louisiana with shallow groundwater tables are at risk of increased inundation and future loss of cropland with a projected loss of 37,500 acres in Florida with a 27-inch sea level rise, which is well within the 1- to 4-foot range of sea level rise projected by 2100. [U.S. Global Change Research Program, National Climate Assessment, 2014]

National Climate Assessment Prepared By More Than 300 Experts, Approved By National Academy Of Sciences Panel. According to the National Climate Assessment overview, "A team of more than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee produced the report, which was extensively reviewed by the public and experts, including federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences." The authors who contributed to the National Climate Assessment include experts from NASA, NOAA, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the UK Meteorological Office, and several universities. [U.S. Global Change Research Program, National Climate Assessment: Overview, accessed 2/4/15; U.S. Global Change Research Program, National Climate Assessment: Frequently Asked Questions, accessed 2/4/15]

U.S. Geological Survey Estimates 2-Foot Sea Level Rise In Florida By 2060. As Reuters has reported, "Climate change is already impacting Florida coastal communities, which could see a 2-foot rise in sea level by 2060, the United States Geological Survey has warned." According to the U.S. Geological Survey, an increase in sea level rise of 1 meter (approximately 3.3 feet) would affect more than 840,000 Floridians. [Reuters, 7/1/14; U.S. Geological Survey, Sea Level Rise Animation - Florida, accessed 2/4/15]

Posted In
Environment & Science, Climate Change
Joe Scarborough
Morning Joe
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