Sen. James M. Inhofe, in one of his final actions as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, yesterday held a hearing to investigate whether press accounts have “over-hyped” predictions of global warming.
“The media often fails to distinguish between predictions and what is actually being observed on the Earth today,” the Oklahoma Republican said. “Rather than focus on the hard science of global warming, the media has instead become advocates for hyping scientifically unfounded climate alarmism.”
Mr. Inhofe will lose control of the environmental panel next month when Democrats assume the Senate majority, and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California will assume the gavel. She promises extensive hearings on global warming, and yesterday chastised Mr. Inhofe for scrutinizing global-warming coverage.
“In a free society, in what is the greatest democracy in the world, I do not believe it is proper to put pressure on the media to please a particular Senate committee view, one way or the other,” she said.
The two are polar opposites when it comes to climate change — Mr. Inhofe has called global warming “the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people,” while Mrs. Boxer has advocated efforts to significantly reduce greenhouse gases.
Mr. Inhofe, vilified by environmental groups for his position, said yesterday he fears “poorly conceived policy decisions may result from the media’s over-hyped reporting.”
The hearing was an opportunity for Mr. Inhofe to strike back at his critics, citing “overwhelmingly one-sided” reports on CBS, ABC and CNN and by Time, the Associated Press and Reuters.
He accused reporters, including former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, of failing to interview climate-change skeptics, and of omitting scientific data that contradicts global-warming theories. He also said reporters are motivated by money, quoting a French geophysicist who says alarmism “has become a very lucrative business.”
Dan Gainor, director of the Business and Media Institute, testified that 30 years ago reporters tried to convince the public “we would all freeze to death” in a predicted new ice age.
“In more than 100 years, the major media have warned us of at least four separate climate cataclysms,” he said, adding there is a “media obsession” with former Vice President Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Australian climate-change researcher Robert M. Carter said the press employs “Frisbee science” that is “invariably alarmist in nature.”
Naomi Oreskes, a professor of science studies at the University of California at San Diego, told the panel yesterday that while scientists still argue over the details, “there is a consensus” the climate is changing.
David Deming, a geologist at the University of Oklahoma, disagreed.
“There is no sound scientific basis for predicting future climate change with any degree of certainty,” he said. “It would be foolish to establish national energy policy on the basis of misinformation and irrational hysteria.”
Mrs. Boxer cited comments from oil and bank executives who say global warming is a real occurrence, and promised Congress can “do what it takes to change course and protect the future for our children and grandchildren.”