The Dernogalizer

July 23, 2009

Burned by the Press

Filed under: Climate Change — Matt Dernoga @ 2:32 pm
Tags: , ,

I have a column out today criticizing the media’s coverage of global warming as being so poor that too many people don’t have accurate information, or any information at all about global warming or global warming legislation.  Sources are below the column.

The media: Problems of the news re-cycle

MATT DERNOGA

On June 16 the White House released the “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States” report. It was written by 13 government science agencies, compiled largely during the George W. Bush administration, and completed under President Barack Obama. The report lays out the specific devastating regional impacts a warming climate would have on all regions of the country, along with the current effects of greenhouse gas emissions already in the atmosphere. The take-away message is the country would become a hellhole if there are not drastic reductions in emissions.

If a tree falls in a forest and the media aren’t around to hear it, does it make a sound? You probably didn’t hear about the report, but one story that did get a lot of press last month was how the Environmental Protection Agency suppressed an internal report that questioned the legitimacy of man-made global warming. I’m not surprised Fox News ran with the story without doing the slightest bit of investigative journalism. Even more disgraceful is how other members of the mainstream media followed suit: For example, CBS reported “EPA May Have Suppressed Report Skeptical of Global Warming”. 

Any respectable journalist could recognize the “report” is nothing more than comments on the EPA’s endangerment finding greenhouse gas emissions should be regulated under the Clean Air Act, comments proposed by an economist named Alan Carlin. Not a report, and not a scientist making the comment. Strikes one and two. Strike three is that the references Carlin used for this “report” consist of recycled global warming denial talking points from blogs. Heck, one was even copied and pasted nearly word-for-word from a fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute.

Want another example of missed coverage? Think back to when Michael Jackson died. It was a day before major global warming legislation was getting voted on in Washington. Opponents were frustrated, since no one knew the House was busy passing legislation that would reorganize and replace the entire energy infrastructure of the country in a few decades. Proponents were in disbelief that the most important piece of legislation in a long time barely got a whisper.

Want more botched coverage? Try Rice University, which released a paper in Nature Geoscience about how climate models can’t explain all the heating indicated in the geologic record during a major climactic shift 55 million years ago. The message to take from the paper was “we could be underestimating how hot the Earth will get.” The headline by USA Today read “Could we be wrong about global warming?” Ladies and gentlemen, your mainstream media. 

This isn’t to say that all media outlets are to blame, or that every single story about global warming is done terribly. But properly reported articles are like needles in a haystack. The truth is that far too many stories on global warming have been missed or dismissed. Most that get covered are grossly misrepresented, and make up a 30 second “he said, she said” soundbite or a paragraph buried on page A20. Fair and balanced has become more important than truthful and objective. I’m sorry to say the end result may be ink tainted with blood. We’ve all been burned by the press. 

Matt Dernoga is a senior government and politics major. He can be reached at mdernoga@umd.edu

http://www.examiner.com/x-10722-Orlando-Science-Policy-Examiner~y2009m6d28-CBS-jumps-a-Whale-Shark (on CBS messing up story)

http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/06/26/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5117890.shtml (CBS’s story)

http://www.globalchange.gov/ (the Global Impacts Report)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jun/16/climate-change-sea-level (the Global Impacts Report)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34Voi6qFZhU (Fox News reporting on EPA)

http://deepclimate.org/2009/06/30/suppressed-carlin-report-based-on-pat-michaels-attack-on-epa/ (EPA report copying Pat Michaels)

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/06/bubkes/ (more debunking of EPA “report”)

http://deepclimate.org/2009/06/28/epas-alan-carlin-channels-pat-michaels-and-the-friends-of-science/ (more debunking of EPA report)

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Patrick_Michaels (Pat Michaels of the Cato Institute)

http://blogs.reuters.com/environment/2009/07/17/countering-the-contrarians-on-global-warming/ (Rice University mistake)

http://blogs.usatoday.com/sciencefair/2009/07/could-we-be-wrong-about-global-warming.html (USA today’s bad headline)

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2 Comments »

  1. […] Cross-posted from: here […]

    Pingback by Burned by the Press « It’s Getting Hot In Here — July 25, 2009 @ 3:54 pm | Reply

  2. […] Cross-posted from: here […]

    Pingback by Burned by the Press | CCAN Blog — July 25, 2009 @ 3:56 pm | Reply


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