Accuracy in Media

Al Gore’s new film on climate change, “An Inconvenient Truth,” hit theaters on May 24. We can almost guarantee that the media will go crazy over it. Most of the media share Gore’s view that man-made global warming is real, and that the federal government and the United Nations should do something drastic about it. Some seem to think the film could propel Gore into the White House in 2008. But we have found skeptics of the Gore theory as far away as Australia.

In response to my last commentary on how the media act as if there are no critics of the theory worth paying any attention to, I received a note from a scientist in Australia, Bob Carter, who wrote, “Congratulations on your column on April 21 regarding global warming. Your call for more balanced reporting is strongly needed, and I do encourage you to continue with it.” Carter, who is a geologist at James Cook University, in Queensland, engaged in paleoclimate research, directed me to an article of his from the Telegraph in England, in which he points out that though there was in fact some warming between 1970 and 1998, there has been none since then. Here is his website, where you can read a number of articles challenging the conventional wisdom, and find a list of 40 other scientists who agree with him.

In effect, Carter is pleading for balance from the media. But the media don’t seem to care. A Washington Post article earlier this month by Doug Struck continued the media onslaught to convince us that global warming is rapidly destroying the world, in this case contributing to disease and pestilence. It quotes the World Health Organization (WHO) as concluding that “climate change is already taking more than 150,000 lives per year.” Struck writes that global warming “is fueling the spread of epidemics in areas unprepared for the diseases,” and attributes this to “many health experts worldwide.”

According to Struck, “The World Health Organization has identified more than 30 new or resurgent diseases in the last three decades.” He says that this sort of “explosion” of diseases is something that used to be couched in terms of the future, but instead is happening now.

The only attempt at balance in this article comes when Struck acknowledges that “The spread of disease is affected by many uncertainties, including unforeseen resistance to antibiotics, failures of public health systems, population movement and yearly climate swings. For that reason, some scientists have been cautious about the link between disease and global warming.”

He also acknowledges that “Some scientists see global warming as a natural cycle that will soon reverse itself.” But he doesn’t name any of them, nor does he offer their perspective. Perhaps he believes, like Scott Pelley of CBS, who did a recent piece for 60 Minutes arguing for the man-made global warming theory, that it’s hard to find balance. Pelley said that “his team tried hard to find a respected scientist who contradicted the prevailing opinion in the scientific community, but there was no one out there who fit that description?This isn’t about politics or pseudo-science or conspiracy theory blogs…This is about sound science.”

But Ronald Bailey of Reason magazine and the Cato Institute, and a long-time global warming skeptic, responded to the Post’s article. He points out the flaws in the arguments about the various diseases allegedly being spread by global warming. For example, regarding malaria, Bailey said: “This mosquito-borne parasite was probably first brought to the Americas 500 years ago by Spanish explorers. Historically, malaria outbreaks occurred as far north as Sweden and Finland. Malaria was endemic to most of the United States until the 20th century and it wasn’t eradicated until 1950 in the southern U.S. when disease-carrying mosquitoes were controlled by the application of DDT.”

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has published Marlo Lewis’s devastating critique of Time magazine’s April 3, 2006, cover story telling people to “be very worried” about climate change. He calls the Time treatment “one-sided advocacy from start to finish.”

There is clearly a debate going on in and out of the U.S. as to what is happening to the climate. But the media don’t want you to hear both sides of it.




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