The upcoming wave of misinformed journalists

cartoon gore wrong againThe other day I received an email from a budding journalist still in high school who is “currently attending the James Ansin/Peace Sullivan Workshop for Journalism and New Media at the University of Miami.” He was writing an article on climate change and wanted to do a phone interview. Unfortunately, his email went into my spam folder and by the time I found it a few days later and responded, he replied that he was on a deadline and he had already finished the story. He also tweeted his request, which I did @respond only to hear the murmur of crickets.

Most journalists who contact me give me a timetable of when they need to go to press (or post online), but since he is a student I let it pass. Normally, I give journalists, aspiring or otherwise, the names of climate scientists that they can speak with because, after all, they are the experts in their chosen field. But I missed the chance. At least I thought I did. Yesterday I got this one-line email from our soon-to-be journalist:

“Is it possible that I may be able to interview a climate change denier over the phone?”

So our ‘student’ wasn’t actually writing an article on climate change or looking for opposing viewpoints. Instead he had made up his mind and used the all-too-familiar ‘denier’ label that is popular with environmentalists and activist journalists. Not quite sure what they are teaching him at this school, but if that is the future of journalism, the wave of misinformation is only just beginning.

Here is my response to his ‘denier’ email:

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Dear David,

I’m afraid I don’t know any climate change deniers. I’ve heard of Holocaust deniers, moon-landing deniers, AIDS deniers, and have even read about the Flat Earth Society, but with respect to climate change deniers, I don’t know a single person. I do know of skeptical climate scientists who think “global warming is the theory that increased levels of carbon dioxide and certain other gases are causing an increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere because of the so-called greenhouse effect.”

And based on the not-so-subtle word choice in your email, it seems you already have strongly held beliefs regarding climate change. As a journalism student it’s very important you don’t actually express those beliefs out loud lest your tissue-thin veil of impartiality comes crumbling down. It also appears the requisite knowledge you need to write intelligently about the climate change debate is based on a lot of misinformation gleaned from all the obvious sources. So here is a quick tutorial:

The theory of global warming predicts that the “upper atmosphere will warm from trapped heat, just like a greenhouse. The surface of the Earth warms later. But since 1979 we’ve had orbiting satellites that can continuously measure the atmosphere five miles up. They show that the upper atmosphere is warming much less than the ground is. This satellite data have been re-analyzed dozens of times and are probably the most scrutinized data in the world. But the data from weather balloons agree with the satellites. They show much less warming than expected by the theory.”

Study after study shows no increase in extreme weather events over the past century. Or even in the last decade. That changed in the last five years when activists realized you can’t raise money without a good dose of fear.

Here’s how it works: scientists run a computer model showing that Greenland and/or the Arctic will melt and raise sea levels 20 feet or more. What they don’t tell you is that this may or may not happen in the next 1,000 years. Observational data shows Greenland is not losing its ice pack, the Arctic sea ice extent is the second largest since 2006 even now in July (the Northwest passage has been documented as being ice free over varying years since the late 1800s), sea level rise hasn’t increased by a single millimeter and is rising at the same rate it has always risen since exiting the last glacial period, Antarctic sea ice extent has increased over 30 percent since 1979 (when satellite observation began), and any melting that has occurred can be attributed to natural causes such as volcanic activity, deep ocean vents, tectonic plate friction, and so on.

Go back five years and look at all the predictions by all the scientists in all the newspapers of what should have happened by 2015. None have come true. If that little detail doesn’t give you pause, then I’m afraid nothing will. Look at Al Gore’s documentary. It was filled with such flagrant errors that a British judge said it couldn’t be shown in public schools without numerous disclaimers given to students before and after watching the film. The 97 percent consensus has been debunked so many times that it’s akin to being an old wives tale rather than good statistical modeling.

Everything I’ve written can be found by doing a simple Google search. The problem with facts is that they lack emotion and they are what they are: unequivocal. We don’t say we believe the sun is 92,960,000 million miles from Earth or that we believe it will rise every morning; or that we believe the moon orbits the Earth, which we believe orbits the sun; or that we believe light travels at 186,282 miles per second in a vacuum. But for some reason a good number of people say they “believe” in global warming, aka climate change. We know facts to be true. We believe theories to be right or wrong. And like most beliefs, they belong in church, not in science.

Einstein once said that no amount of experimentation can ever prove him right, but a single experiment can prove him wrong. The theory of global warming has been disproved so many times by so many scientists that you have to wonder why it still has legs. As one scientist told me “off the record”, if he wants a tax payer-funded grant to study the mating habits of the New England Tree Squirrel, he simply has to add the phrase “as affected by climate change” for it to get approved. The spigot gets turned on and the money starts flowing from the government and/or environmental organizations. Now that, as a journalism student, should be a story you could sink your teeth into. Or how atmospherically trained scientists at NASA and NOAA have literally multiplied like rabbits and have funneled tax dollars away from other departments (like the VENTS program to oceanography to life sciences) under the dubious goal of “saving the world.”

Scientist Art Robinson has spearheaded The Petition Project, which has gathered the signatures of over 31,000 scientists (including 9,029 with PhDs) who agree that there is “no convincing scientific evidence 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.”

So if you truly want to speak with climate scientists who don’t toe the global warming narrative, or believe it is occurring but it’s not the calamity some people want it to be in order to create a “global system of controlling energy production and consumption,” I will be more than happy to point you in the right direction. Or visit Climate Depot for one of the largest compendiums of factual up-to-date climate information. Otherwise I’m afraid I can’t help in finding something (climate change deniers) that only exists in the minds of environmentalists and a few in the mainstream media.