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What The Media Tell Americans About Free Enterprise

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June 1998


Cool to Opposing Climate Views
Networks Don't Mention Legions of Scientists Who Question Global Warming Theories

Fifteen thousand scientists sign a petition proclaiming their skepticism toward currently fashionable global warming theories, and the networks are silent.

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.

Rich Noyes


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