A person needn’t be a buffoon or political hack to be skeptical of global warming. That would be news to The Washington Post’s news desk, however.
A Post article on May 19 falsely reported that there is a “consensus” among scientists and a growing portion of the American public that human carbon emissions are causing a dangerous, long-term increase in worldwide temperatures. The facts, overwhelmingly, show no such consensus.
The Post’s David A. Fahrenthold reported that Republican “warming skeptics” are becoming ever bolder on Capitol Hill even as “most” or a “consensus” of “scientists around the globe have rejected their main arguments - that the climate isn’t clearly warming, that humans aren’t responsible for it, or that the whole thing doesn’t amount to a problem.” He continued: “Public opinion has also shifted” in favor of warming’s existence and importance.
The latter claim is risible. Earlier this month, Gallup poll editor Frank Newport told U.S. News & World Report’s Paul Bedard that on global warming, “Any measure that we look at shows Al Gore’s losing at the moment. The public is just not that concerned.” The highest number of respondents ever, he said - 41 percent - thinks warming claims are exaggerated. That 41 percent swamped the 28 percent who think the threat is “underestimated.” Of eight major “environmental issues” (including water pollution and loss of rain forests), the public ranked warming last. The Pew Research Center in January reported climate change ranking dead last among 20 major public concerns.
Respected scientists are far from united on the issue. Reports in August from the International Geology Congress - and from other conferences or major scientific organizations in Canada, Japan, Australia and elsewhere - indicate majorities disagreeing with climate-change dogma. Republicans on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works have compiled a list of more than 700 well-credentialed scientists, including many who once believed in warming, who argue against the warming theory.
More than 31,000 scientists have signed a Global Warming Petition expressing doubts. The founder of the Weather Channel, John Coleman, has written that warming is “the greatest scam in history.” As far back as two years ago, The Post’s own Juliet Eilperin reported that consensus on warming was shrinking, not growing. And for good reason. Earth temperatures actually have dropped since 1998. The National Snow and Ice Data Center in April showed more Arctic sea ice than in any April since 2003. Even many prominent warming supporters acknowledge that their own models now forecast cooling for the next 30 years.
Whichever group of scientists is correct, the simple fact is that the idea of consensus is a myth.
The Post reported none of this. The only examples of warming skeptics The Post cited were those of foot-in-mouth Republican politicians. The story features a huge highlighted quote from House Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio, who misspoke in an April ABC interview to the effect that the issue was whether carbon dioxide is a carcinogen. A Boehner spokesman says the leader meant to question whether it is a pollutant, which is a perfectly reasonable issue.
The Post’s Mr. Fahrenthold did not ask Mr. Boehner’s office if the congressman still thinks the issue involves carcinogens. Yet the story was published as if Mr. Boehner’s comment, ludicrous on its face, represents his continuing understanding rather than a simple verbal error of the sort frequently made in live interviews.
The Post portrayed all skeptics as “irrelevant” ignoramuses asking “head-scratching” questions in an “odd way” that is not “germane,” but it refused to provide a single sentence acknowledging the growing debate among widely admired scientists. The misreporting in favor of a far-from-proven theory is enough to make any fair-minded person extremely hot - under the collar.