Are the Media Giving You the Whole Story on Global Warming?

by | Nov 1, 2002

Some of the facts, but not all of them.

Reports on global warming fill our screens and newspapers. Time magazine’s April issue, for example, carried a sixteen-page special report on global warming, featuring a frying earth on its cover. “Global Warming Is Real and Not Going Away,” declared a recent front page of USA Today. “Global Warming Is Getting Worse,” announced a recent headline in the New York Times. Yet, despite the extensive coverage, there is much on global warming that is left unreported.

Take for instance the cooling trend in the lower five miles of the atmosphere, detected by weather balloons, and independently confirmed by NASA’s orbiting satellites. This data, gathered from all over the globe, through precise microwave and radio measurements, shows an average drop of 0.19ºF in air temperature since 1979. The National Academy of Sciences finds this cooling trend, which conflicts with the global warming hypothesis, “so pronounced as to be difficult to explain.”

Most media reports ignore the evidence for cooling and focus instead on records from land stations, which indicate a 1°F increase in surface temperatures during the 20th century. What they fail to report is that this increase was measured mostly in and around urban centers, and therefore indicates urban–not global–warming.

Also left unreported is the fact that 90 percent of this 1°F urban warming occurred before 1940. If carbon dioxide emitted by industries and cars was causing this warming, should not most of the increase in temperature have occurred after 1940, when industries and cars became more plentiful and, consequently, carbon emissions increased significantly?

Even more interesting, but also left unreported, is the fact that from 1946 until 1975, while industrialization expanded and carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere increased, urban surface temperatures actually cooled. At the time, many in the media feared a new ice age.

Such facts throw into question the belief that human activities are the primary cause of global warming exists and that industrialization is affecting the earth’s temperature. Nevertheless, the New York Times recently stated: “Human activity is the dominant force behind . . . global warming.”

If man is not the primary cause of climate change, what is?

Dr. Fred Singer, professor of environmental sciences and former director of the National Weather Satellite Service, explains that climate change is a natural phenomenon, which has been going on for hundreds of millions of years. Ice core samples from the Arctic, for example, show an 18ºF temperature variation during the last 160,000 years. Dr. Singer further notes that solar activity greatly affects the temperatures and the climate on earth.

But most reports in the media ignore the existence of dissenting views such as Dr. Singer’s. According to Scientific American, “few scientists doubt the atmosphere is warming.” Time magazine bluntly claims: “Scientists no longer doubt that global warming is happening.”

Any reporter actively in search for the facts on global warming would easily discover that during the last three years more than 17,000 American scientists, including geophysicists, climatologists, meteorologists, and oceanographers, have signed the Oregon Petition declaring that “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of . . . greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” []

Such omissions on the part of reporters are unjustifiable, and so are their irresponsible attempts to scare people. CNN warns of “disastrous weather changes” resulting in “more floods, droughts, storms, and hurricanes.” Scientific American forecasts “death by drowning or starvation” and the “emergence, resurgence and spread of infectious disease.”

But many scientists, among them Dr. Frederick Seitz, former president of the National Academy of Sciences, think that the catastrophic scenarios are mistaken, and that a warming of the earth would actually be beneficial to mankind and to life in general: “Warmer weather extends growing seasons and generally improves the habitability of colder regions.” Furthermore, increases in carbon dioxide would boost the growth of crops and forests, which feed on this gas.

Given all this contrary evidence and scientific dissent, why is the bulk of reporting biased towards the belief in a disastrous, man-made global warming?

The answer is that the media have largely accepted the environmentalist premise that civilized man–by exploiting nature to fulfill his needs–is not the creator but the destroyer of human values. This non-objective premise is held with blind, religious fervor. Holding the premise dogmatically, the media have no eyes or ears for evidence against it. Their view of man as inherently destructive automatically leads them to distrust all that man creates. That is why most reporters unquestioningly report that factories, power plants, and cars are causing a catastrophic global warming. And that is why thirty years ago they unquestioningly reported that factories, power plants, and cars were causing a catastrophic global cooling.

If you want to know the truth about global warming–or acid rain, or the ozone hole, or any other environmental issue–you must keep in mind that the media are not giving you the true story. And the reason for that is very simple. They are reporting on the world as they see it: distorted through green lenses.

Made available through the Ayn Rand Institute.

David Holcberg, a former civil engineer and businessman, is now a writer living in Southern California. He is a former writer for the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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