Blog: Science Global Warming: Are We Getting the Whole Story?
Michael Asher - August 7, 2006 6:00 PM
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Is the media attempting to educate us on climate change... or just alarm us?
One year ago, a study published in Nature claimed proof that hurricanes strength has increased in recent years due to global warming. The paper was picked up by news wires, and made alarmist headlines across the nation. Its author, Kerry Emmanuel, gave countless interviews to newspapers and radio stations. Time Magazine even named him to their 100 People Who Shape Our World list.
Last week, a similar study was published in Science. However, this paper, written by a team of four researchers, claims Emmanuel's work was fundamentally flawed, and that the data doesn't support any increase in hurricane intensity. The paper showed that estimation of storm strength has increased in recent years, mostly due to better satellite imagery, and that storms in decades past were actually stronger than we first thought. Unlike the earlier study, this report was greeted with resounding silence. No headlines, no guest show appearances, and no special award from Time.
Also last week, the noted CSU research team responsible for forecasting Atlantic storm activity quietly lowered its 2006 hurricane forecast down to 7 storms. Last year, 15 hurricanes formed in the Atlantic, a fact that was widely touted by the media as an effect of global warming. When they increase their forecast-- it's news. Forecast decreases, however, appear to be not newsworthy. Is the public really not interested? Or is the media exposing its bias?
Last week also coincided with a major heat wave across the Eastern US. Predictably we saw oodles of stories linking this to global warming. What we weren't told, however, was the current heat wave had nothing on the summer of 1930, a period that set heat records for many US cities that remain unbroken today. The hottest single temperature the US ever recorded came earlier still, all the way back in 1913.
The above examples are, unfortunately, just the tip of a very large iceberg. Dr Richard Lindzen is one of the scientists leading the charge against global warming alarmism. Lindzen, the Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at MIT, was a member of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and has twice testified before Congress on global warming. In a recent editorial, Lindzen points out the role the media and politics are playing in hyping global warming, and how little scientists really know about climate change. The New York Times refused Dr. Lindzen's letter...though it did run an op-ed on the dangers of global warming written not by a scientist, but by a journalism teacher.
The earth is most definitely in a slight warming trend at present. What we don't know is how long it will continue, whether or not it will be harmful, and how much, if any, is due to us humans. Given the unequal level of reporting, one has to ask-- is the media really attempting to educate people on the issue? Or is it playing the part of political activist, and trying to control public opinion? You be the judge.