CNBC has rolled out a week of climate change programming. The special coverage comes after a Media Matters report finding that the majority of CNBC's climate reporting in the first half of 2013 was misleading, leading over 28,000 people to call for improved coverage in a petition organized by the advocacy groups Forecast the Facts and Environmental Action.
On Monday, CNBC host Carolin Roth reported on "CNBC's special week of climate coverage" on her daily news show Worldwide Exchange. Tuesday, Roth again mentioned the "special week on climate change" during a segment on shale gas. On the show, Emily Wurth from Food and Water Watch asserted that "we know that all climate scientists tell us that we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and we can't drill for every last drop of oil and gas."
However, this special programming has so far been limited to Worldwide Exchange, while CNBC's worst offenders are still misleading their audience on climate change.
Both mainstream and conservative media outlets have responded to the recent spike in gasoline prices by circulating talking points rooted in politics rather than facts. As a whole, these claims reflect the misconception, perpetuated by the news media, that changes in U.S. energy policy are a major driver of oil and gasoline prices.
As many faith leaders have recognized, climate change presents a massive ethical challenge since those least responsible for global warming are among the most vulnerable to its consequences, including water scarcity, climate-sensitive diseases, and sea level rise. Yet in response to the recent international climate talks, conservative media outlets are mocking developing countries for seeking adaptation assistance, saying they just want to "cash in" on "climate gold."
The December 12 print edition of The Weekly Standard features a cover story by Steven Hayward titled "Climategate (Part II): A sequel as ugly as the original," which discusses the recent release of more hacked emails from the climate research center at the University of East Anglia in the UK.
Hayward acknowledges from the outset that he did not do "an extended review" of the emails -- and this is evident in his analysis -- but he still asserts that "longtime critics of the climate cabal are going to be vindicated." Hayward claims the emails constitute more than "a 'smoking gun' of scientific bias" and reveal "the rank politicization of climate science."
Throughout the 3,500-word story, Hayward quotes from 10 of the email exchanges, but not one of them actually supports his thesis that mainstream climate science is driven by politics. Let's take them one at a time:
1. Hayward Cites Email About Page Limits To Claim That "Politics Drives The Process." A 2004 email from Jonathan Overpeck advises a colleague to "decide on the main message and use that to guid[e] what's included and what is left out." Hayward claims that this email "reinforce[s] the impression that politics drives the process". But a closer look at the full email reveals that Overpeck is simply asking Villalba to condense a document into "0.5 pages of HIGHLY focused and relevant stuff" in order to meet page limits.
2. "Political Spin" Email Actually Showed How Critiques Among Scientists Improved IPCC Report. Hayward cites an email from then-Met Office scientist Peter Thorne to Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia in February 2005 criticizing an early draft of the IPCC report for putting a "political spin" on the science. As we've shown, Thorne's concerns were incorporated into the final version of the chapter released two years later, showing the self-policing nature of the field. Indeed, Hayward later concedes that "the final chapter was amended along lines Thorne recommended," while maintaining that the scientists dismissed "several other objections and contrary observations."
3. & 4. Hayward Quotes Emails Of Scientists Criticizing Activists' Exaggerations Of The Evidence. Hayward quotes emails from two scientists in 2000 and 2007 expressing frustration with environmental advocates misusing science to further their political agenda. Hayward goes on to ask if leading climate scientists ever "publicly" call out exaggerations and distortions of the science. Turns out, they do that all the time.
CLAIM: The Weekly Standard wrote that in the final days of the Bush administration, "OMB [Office of Management and Budget] 'remanded' the application back to DOE for further review and modification. As when the Supreme Court remands a case to lower courts for reconsideration, this step is usually tantamount to killing the application."
FACTS: The Department of Energy's loan guarantee credit committee, not the OMB, remanded the application, saying that that although the Solyndra project "appears to have merit," the committee needed more information. The loan programs staff -- still under the Bush administration -- subsequently developed a schedule to complete Solyndra's due diligence that would approve the conditional commitment in early March 2009 and close it by April 2009. Even FoxNews.com reported that "the Bush officials were still weighing the decision on a loan right up until the handover to the Obama administration." In March the credit committee, staffed with the same career officials that previously remanded the application, recommended approval.