scientists sign a petition proclaiming their skepticism toward
currently fashionable global warming theories, and the networks are
A politician holds a press
conference to promote those same theories, and CBS, CNN, and NBC all
trumpet the news, and don't even mention the 15,000 scientists who
think it's all hot air.
Such is the scenario which
played out on June 8. That day, Vice President Al Gore held a press
conference to promote plans to reduce supposed greenhouse gas
emissions. Not one of the three networks who covered Gore's event
presented any skeptical views.
On CNN's The World Today,
anchor Joie Chen announced that there was "more evidence of El Nino,
but there could be a new culprit in the picture - global warming."
CNN correspondent Ann Kellen then reported that "flooding and the
extensive damage from this winter's El Nino storms could become more
commonplace, according to Vice President Gore, who is blaming global
warming for making El Nino worse."
CBS correspondent Jerry
Bowen, on the June 8 Evening News, concurred: "Wildfires in
tinder-dry Mexico, freak ice storms in Maine, the deluge in
California - all El Nino-related. And today, says the Clinton
administration, you can add global warming to the list."
At NBC, Tom Brokaw told
viewers on that evening's Nightly News that "temperatures are
up, a lot. The heat wave will only continue through the summer,
adding to the concerns about global warming. This is not a temporary
condition. The consequences could be considerable." Correspondent
Robert Hager then concluded that "the real long-range threat is for
more El Ninos, such as we've just had, and that driven by global
warming, the worst could be yet to come."
All three network reports
included alarmist soundbites from Gore and scientists who agree with
him. For instance, on CNN Gore said, "This winter's El Nino gives us
a taste of the extreme erratic weather that our children and
grandchildren can expect more of unless we take action to reverse
the trend of global warming."
A pretty bleak picture.
Except that many scientists completely disagree. None of the June 8
network reports mentioned a petition organized this year by Dr.
Arthur Robinson, director of the Oregon Institute for Science and
Medicine. The petition, signed by more than 15,000 scientists, says
that limits on "greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder
the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and
welfare of mankind.
"There is no convincing
scientific evidence," it continues, "that human release of carbon
dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in
the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's
atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is
substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon
dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and
animal environments of the Earth."
Ignoring non-alarmist views
on global warming has become an entrenched pattern in network
reporting of climate change. A Free Market Project Special Report
from December of last year found that only seven of 48 global
warming stories over a five-year period even mentioned that there
were scientists skeptical of catastrophic climate-change theories.
And of those seven, only two brought up the actual arguments of
skeptical scientists, such as the contention that most of the
warming over the past 100 years occurred prior to the large increase
in greenhouse gas emissions after the second World War.
On many issues, network
reports are biased because they fail to give the best
arguments from both sides of the debate. On climate change, most
reporters don't even mention that there is a debate.