Newsweek's Climate Editorial Screed Violates Basic Standards of Journalism
August 5, 2007
Posted By Marc Morano – Marc_Morano@EPW.Senate.Gov – 9:33 PM ET
UPDATE: August 12, 2007 - Newsweek Editor Calls Mag's Global Warming 'Deniers' Article 'Highly Contrived' - Excerpt: A contributing editor of Newsweek, slapped down his own Magazine for what he termed a "fundamentally misleading" article about the global warming "denial machine.” Newsweek debunks itself following an Inhofe EPW Press Blog report exposing the Magazine for sloppy and embarrassing reporting.
See Updated EPW Blog: LINK
Newsweek's Climate Editorial Screed Violates Basic Standards of Journalism
Newsweek Magazine’s cover story of August 13, 2007 entitled, “The Truth About Denial” contains very little that could actually be considered balanced, objective or fair by journalistic standards. (LINK)
The one-sided editorial, masquerading as a “news article,” was written by Sharon Begley with Eve Conant, Sam Stein and Eleanor Clift and Matthew Philips and purports to examine the “well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks and industry has created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change.”
The only problem is -- Newsweek knew better. Reporter Eve Conant, who interviewed Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the Ranking Member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, was given all the latest data proving conclusively that it is the proponents of man-made global warming fears that enjoy a monumental funding advantage over the skeptics. (A whopping $50 BILLION to a paltry $19 MILLION and some change for skeptics – Yes, that is BILLION to MILLION - see below )
This week’s “news article” in Newsweek follows the Magazine’s October 23, 2006 article which admitted the error of their ways in the 1970’s when they predicted dire global cooling. (See: Senator Inhofe Credited For Prompting Newsweek Admission of Error on 70's Predictions of Coming Ice Age – LINK )
Use of Word ‘Denier’
First, let’s take a look at Newsweek’s use of the word “denier” when describing a scientist who views with skepticism the unproven computer models predicting future climate doom. The use of this terminology has drawn the ire of Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado's Center for Science and Technology Policy Research. “The phrase ‘climate change denier’ is meant to be evocative of the phrase ‘holocaust denier,’” Pielke, Jr. wrote on October 9, 2006 (LINK)
Newsweek Fails Basic Arithmetic
Newsweek reporter Eve Conant was given the documentation showing that proponents of man-made global warming have been funded to the tune of $50 BILLION in the last decade or so, but the Magazine chose instead to focus on how skeptics have reportedly received a paltry $19 MILLION from ExxonMobil over the last two decades.
Paleoclimate scientist Bob Carter, who has testified before the Senate Environment & Public Works committee, explained how much money has been spent researching and promoting climate fears and so-called solutions.
“In one of the more expensive ironies of history, the expenditure of more than $US50 billion on research into global warming since 1990 has failed to demonstrate any human-caused climate trend, let alone a dangerous one," Carter wrote on June 18, 2007. (LINK )
[Note: The U.S. alone has spent $30 billion on federal programs directly or indirectly related to global warming in just the last six years, according to one estimate. (LINK) ($5.79 billion in 2006 alone) Adding to this total is funding from the UN, foundations, universities, foreign governments, etc. Huge sums of money continue to flow toward addressing climate fears. In August, a State Treasurer in California "proposed a $5 billion bond measure to combat global warming," according to the Sacramento Bee. (LINK) Even if you factor in former Vice President Al Gore's unsubstantiated August 7, 2007 assertion that $10 million dollars a year from the fossil fuel industry flows into skeptical organizations, any funding comparison between skeptics and warming proponents utterly fails.(LINK) ] Update: Gore to launch $100 million a year multimedia global warming fear campaign. Gore alone will now be spending $90 million more per year than he alleges the entire fossil fuel industry spends, according to an August 26, 2007 article in Advertising Age. (LINK)
Global Warming 'A Big Cash Grab'
Meteorologist Dr. Roy W. Spencer, formerly a senior scientist for climate studies at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and currently principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, called the Newsweek article part of a “coordinated assault” on skeptics.
“[Newsweek] alleges that a few scientists were offered $10,000 (!) by Big Oil to research and publish evidence against the theory of manmade global warming. Of course, the vast majority of mainstream climate researchers receive between $100,000 to $200,000 from the federal government to do the same, but in support of manmade global warming,” Spencer wrote in an August 15, 2007 blog post. (LINK)
James Spann, a meteorologist certified by the American Meteorological Society, suggests scientific objectively is being compromised by the massive money flow to proponents of man-made climate fears.
"Billions of dollars of grant money is flowing into the pockets of those on the man-made global warming bandwagon. No man-made global warming, the money dries up. This is big money, make no mistake about it. Always follow the money trail and it tells a story," Spann wrote on January 18, 2007. (LINK) "Nothing wrong with making money at all, but when money becomes the motivation for a scientific conclusion, then we have a problem. For many, global warming is a big cash grab," Spann added.
'An Entrenched Interest'
Atmospheric physicist Dr. Fred Singer, co-author of the book "Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years," also detailed the extensive financing machine the proponents of man-made global warming enjoy.
"Tens of thousands of interested persons benefit directly from the global warming scare—at the expense of the ordinary consumer. Environmental organizations globally, such as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the Environmental Defense Fund, have raked in billions of dollars. Multi-billion-dollar government subsidies for useless mitigation schemes are large and growing. Emission trading programs will soon reach the $100 billion a year level, with large fees paid to brokers and those who operate the scams," Singer explained on June 30, 2007. (LINK)
"In other words, many people have discovered they can benefit from climate scares and have formed an entrenched interest. Of course, there are also many sincere believers in an impending global warming catastrophe, spurred on in their fears by the growing number of one-sided books, movies, and media coverage," Singer added.
For a detailed breakdown of how much money flows to promoters of climate fear, see a Janaury 17, 2007 EPW blog post: (LINK)
"The [climate] alarmists also enjoy a huge financial advantage over the skeptics with numerous foundations funding climate research, University research money and the United Nations endless promotion of the cause. Just how much money do the climate alarmists have at their disposal? There was a $3 billion donation to the global warming cause from Virgin Air’s Richard Branson alone. The well-heeled environmental lobbying groups have massive operating budgets compared to groups that express global warming skepticism. The Sierra Club Foundation 2004 budget was $91 million and the Natural Resources Defense Council had a $57 million budget for the same year. Compare that to the often media derided Competitive Enterprise Institute’s small $3.6 million annual budget. In addition, if a climate skeptic receives any money from industry, the media immediately labels them and attempts to discredit their work. The same media completely ignore the money flow from the environmental lobby to climate alarmists like James Hansen and Michael Oppenheimer. (ie. Hansen received $250,000 from the Heinz Foundation and Oppenheimer is a paid partisan of Environmental Defense Fund) The alarmists have all of these advantages, yet they still feel the need to resort to desperation tactics to silence the skeptics. (LINK) Could it be that the alarmists realize that the American public is increasingly rejecting their proposition that the family SUV is destroying the earth and rejecting their shrill calls for 'action' to combat their computer model predictions of a 'climate emergency?'" (See EPW Blog for full article – LINK )
As Senator Inhofe further explained in a September 25, 2006 Senate floor speech: “The fact remains that political campaign funding by environmental groups to promote climate and environmental alarmism dwarfs spending by the fossil fuel industry by a three-to-one ratio. Environmental special interests, through their 527s, spent over $19 million compared to the $7 million that Oil and Gas spent through PACs in the 2004 election cycle.” (LINK)
Senator Inhofe further explained: "I am reminded of a question the media often asks me about how much I have received in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry. My unapologetic answer is ‘Not Enough,’ -- especially when you consider the millions partisan environmental groups pour into political campaigns." (LINK)
Now contrast all of the above with how much money the “well funded” skeptics allegedly receive.
The Paltry Funding of Skeptics (by comparision)
The most repeated accusation is that organizations skeptical of man-made climate fears have received $19 Million from an oil corporation over the past two decades. This was the subject of a letter by two U.S. Senators in 2006 (See Senators letter of October 30, 2006 noting the $19 Million from Exxon-Mobil to groups skeptical of man-made global warming – LINK )
One 2007 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant of $20 million to study how “farm odors” contribute to global warming exceeded all of the money that skeptics reportedly received from an oil giant in the past two decades. To repeat: One USDA grant to study the role of “farm odors” in global warming exceeded ALL the money skeptics have been accused of receiving from an oil giant over the past two decades. (Excerpt from article: “The United States Department of Agriculture has released reports stating that when you smell cow manure, you're also smelling greenhouse gas emissions.” (LINK or LINK )
As erroneous and embarrassingly one-sided as Newsweek’s article is, the magazine sunk deeper into journalistic irrelevance when it noted that skeptical Climatologist Patrick Michaels had reportedly received industry funding without revealing to readers the full funding picture. The magazine article mentions NASA’s James Hansen as some sort of example of a scientist untainted by funding issues. But what Newsweek was derelict in reporting is that Hansen had received a $250,000 award from the Heinz Foundation run by Senator John Kerry’s wife Teresa in 2001 and then subsequently endorsed Kerry for President in 2004. (LINK )
MIT climate scientist Richard Lindzen has noted how proponents of man-made climate fears enjoy huge funding advantages. "Alarm rather than genuine scientific curiosity, it appears, is essential to maintaining funding," Lindzen wrote in a April 12, 2006 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. (LINK) "Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis," Lindzen added. (For more on the vilification of climate skeptics see LINK)
Science Vindicating Skeptics
Finally, Newsweek’s editorial rant attempts to make it appear as though the science is getting stronger in somehow proving mankind is driving a climate catastrophe. There are, however, major problems with that assertion.
Scientists are speaking up around the globe to denounce Gore, the UN and the media driven “consensus” on global warming. Just recently, an EPW report detailed a sampling of scientists who were once believers in man-made global warming and who now are skeptical. [See May 15, 2007 report: Climate Momentum Shifting: Prominent Scientists Reverse Belief in Man-made Global Warming - Now Skeptics: Growing Number of Scientists Convert to Skeptics After Reviewing New Research – LINK ]
Mathematician & engineer Dr. David Evans, who did carbon accounting for the Australian government, detailed how he left the global warming funding "gravy train" and became a skeptic. “By the late 1990's, lots of jobs depended on the idea that carbon emissions caused global warming. Many of them were bureaucratic, but there were a lot of science jobs created too. I was on that gravy train, making a high wage in a science job that would not have existed if we didn't believe carbon emissions caused global warming," Evans explained. "But starting in about 2000, the last three of the four pieces of evidence outlined above fell away or reversed,” Evans wrote. “The pre-2000 ice core data was the central evidence for believing that atmospheric carbon caused temperature increases. The new ice core data shows that past warmings were *not* initially caused by rises in atmospheric carbon, and says nothing about the strength of any amplification. This piece of evidence casts reasonable doubt that atmospheric carbon had any role in past warmings, while still allowing the possibility that it had a supporting role,” he added. (LINK)
In addition, just last week, three new scientific studies further strengthened the skeptics’ views on climate change. (LINK) Further, a recent analysis of peer-reviewed literature thoroughly debunks any fears of Greenland melting and a frightening sea level rise. [See July 30, 2007 - Latest Scientific Studies Refute Fears of Greenland Melt - LINK ]
Newsweek: A Media Dinosaur
The question remains: Is Newsweek even a news outlet worth taking the time to respond to in posts like this? Does Newsweek, a quirky alternative news outlet, even have an impact on public policy anymore?
Journalism students across the world can read this week’s cover story to learn how reporting should not be done. Hopefully, that will be Newsweek’s legacy -- serving as a shining example of the failure of modern journalism to adhere to balance, objectivity and fairness. Anyone who fails to see this inconvenient truth is truly (to borrow Newsweek's vernacular) a “denier.”
Background of recent climate science developments:
Even the alarmist UN has cut sea level rise estimates dramatically since 2001 and has reduced man’s estimated impact on the climate by 25%. Meanwhile a separate 2006 UN report found that cow emissions are more damaging to the planet than all of the CO2 emissions from cars and trucks. (LINK)
The New York Times is now debunking aspects of climate alarmism. An April 23, 2006 article in the New York Times by Andrew Revkin stated: “few scientists agree with the idea that the recent spate of potent hurricanes, European heat waves, African drought and other weather extremes are, in essence, our fault (a result of manmade emissions.) There is more than enough natural variability in nature to mask a direct connection, [scientists] say.”
The New York Times is essentially conceding that no recent weather events are outside of natural climate variability. So all the climate doomsayers have to back up their claims of climate fears are unproven computer models of the future. Of course, you can’t prove a prediction of the climate in 2100 wrong today. It’s simply not possible.
Climate Computer Models Not So Reliable
Recently, a top UN scientist publicly conceded that climate computer model predictions are not so reliable after all. Dr. Jim Renwick, a lead author of the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, admitted to the New Zealand Herald in June 2007, “Half of the variability in the climate system is not predictable, so we don't expect to do terrifically well." (LINK)
A leading scientific skeptic of global warming fears, Dr. Hendrik Tennekes, former CEO and director of research for the Netherlands' Royal National Meteorological Institute, took the critique of climate models that predict future doom a step further. Tennekes wrote on February 28, 2007, "I am of the opinion that most scientists engaged in the design, development, and tuning of climate models are in fact software engineers. They are unlicensed, hence unqualified to sell their products to society." (LINK)
Ivy League geologist Dr. Robert Giegengack of the University of Pennsylvania noted “for most of Earth’s history, the globe has been warmer than it has been for the last 200 years. It has rarely been cooler,” Giegengack said according to a February 2007 article in Philadelphia Magazine. (LINK) The article continued, “[Giegengack] says carbon dioxide doesn’t control global temperature, and certainly not in a direct linear way.”
Climatologist Dr. Timothy Ball explained that one of the reasons climate models fail is because they overestimate the warming effect of CO2 in the atmosphere. Ball described how CO2's warming impact diminishes. “Even if CO2 concentration doubles or triples, the effect on temperature would be minimal. The relationship between temperature and CO2 is like painting a window black to block sunlight. The first coat blocks most of the light. Second and third coats reduce very little more. Current CO2 levels are like the first coat of black paint,” Ball explained in a June 6, 2007 article in Canada Free Press. (LINK)
New data is revealing what may perhaps be the ultimate inconvenient truth for climate doomsayers:
Global warming stopped in 1998.
Dr. Nigel Calder, co-author with physicist Henrik Svensmark of the 2007 book “The Chilling Stars: A New Theory on Climate Change,” explained in July 2007: (LINK)
“In reality, global temperatures have stopped rising. Data for both the surface and the lower air show no warming since 1999. That makes no sense by the hypothesis of global warming driven mainly by CO2, because the amount of CO2 in the air has gone on increasing. But the fact that the Sun is beginning to neglect its climatic duty – of battling away the cosmic rays that come from ‘the chilling stars’ – fits beautifully with this apparent end of global warming.”
Perhaps the conversion of many former scientists from believers in man-made global warming to skeptics (LINK) and the new peer-reviewed research is why so many proponents of a climatic doom have resorted to threats and intimidation in attempting to silence skeptics. (See: EPA to Probe E-mail Threatening to ‘Destroy’ Career of Climate Skeptic - LINK )
It is ironic that Newsweek quoted former Colorado Senator Tim Wirth to promote climate fears and vilify skeptics. After all, it was Wirth who reportedly said in 1990: "We've got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing — in terms of economic policy and environmental policy." (LINK)
It seems that the science underlying the claims of climate fears may not be as important to the global warming activists as their proposed tax and regulatory "solutions."
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EPW Inhofe Press Blog Note: A blockbuster U.S. Senate report is set to be released in the Fall 2007 that will feature hundreds of scientists (many current and former UN scientists) who have spoken out recently against Gore, the UN, and the media driven climate “consensus.” Please keep checking this blog for updates.
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