One week ago, Tropical Cyclone Nargis struck Burma, tracing an unprecedented path of devastation across this poor nation of 55 million, called Myanmar by its military dictatorship. On May 6, Jeff Poor wrote for the Business & Media Institute (BMI) a story entitled, “Al Gore Calls Myanmar Cyclone a ‘Consequence’ of Global Warming,” which was subsequently linked on the Drudge Report. Poor claims:
Using tragedy to advance an agenda has been a strategy for many global warming activists, and it was just a matter of time before someone found a way to tie the recent Myanmar cyclone to global warming.
Poor wrote that Gore said in an interview on National Public Radio, “The year before, the strongest cyclone in more than 50 years hit China – and we’re seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming.” (Listen here.)
In fact, the audio clip has been doctored and the conclusion that “Al Gore Calls Myanmar Cyclone a ‘Consequence’ of Global Warming” is false:
Gore Says Myanmar Cyclone Not A Consequence Of Global Warming. The BMI headline ignores that Gore says in the interview that “any individual storm can’t be linked singularly to global warming – we’ve always had hurricanes.”
Gore Properly Described Relationship Between Storms And Global Warming. In the interview, Gore discussed Nargis and the devastating storms that struck China in 2006 (Typhoon Saomai) and Bangladesh in 2007 (Cyclone Sidr). He goes on to say that “the emerging consensus” among climate scientists is that the “the trend toward stronger and more destructive storms appears to be linked to global warming, and specifically to the impact of global warming on higher ocean temperatures in the top couple of hundred feet of the ocean, which drives convection energy and moisture into these storms and makes them more powerful.”
Story Presents False Clip Of Interview. The audio clip included with the online story includes two segments that have been spliced together, out of order, to mislead the listener as to Gore’s actual meaning. The actual transcript (see below) makes it clear Gore was saying that the “consequences” of global warming we’re seeing was the melting of the polar ice cap, which is unequivocally due to anthropogenic climate change.
Business & Media Institute Is Part Of Right-Wing Message Machine. BMI is a right-wing “free-enterprise” front group that is part of Brent Bozell’s conservative media machine, the Media Research Center. Poor describes himself on his Facebook page as a “professional jerk” with “very conservative” political views.
The actual transcript reveals that Gore was speaking in response to a question about conservative pastor John Hagee’s claim in a 2006 interview with Terry Gross that “Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.”
Poor’s story is being amplified and further distorted by the right-wing media machine. This morning, the Fox News “Fox and Friends” team covered the devastation of Nargis by attacking Gore’s “ill-advised” comments, claiming he is “in hot water again with climatologists.” Steve Doocy hosted Dr. William Gray, who has claimed that manmade global warming is “a big scam.” Here are Doocy’s two questions to Dr. Gray:
Al Gore says that the cyclone that’s killed a lot of people linked to global warming. Is that accurate?
When Al Gore says the big cyclone has killed all those people because of global warming, that’s, according to you, just wrong.
The people truly guilty of “using tragedy to advance an agenda” are Pastor Hagee, Jeff Poor, Matt Drudge, Steve Doocy, and their conservative ilk.
UPDATE: HT Dr. Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground Wunder Blog: Sea surface temperatures were over a full degree Celsius above average in the region where Nargis intensified before landfall, as can be seen from this May 1 National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration satellite map:
UPDATE II: Glenn Beck pushed the false story on his CNN show on May 7, and Media Matters exposes that Brett Baier claimed on the May 8 edition of Fox News Special Report: “Former Vice President Al Gore says global warming is to blame for the cyclone in Myanmar.”
UPDATE III: From ConWebBlog:
Poor’s BMI article now notes a “clarification” that “The original audio for this story included two accurate audio clips but placed in the incorrect order. They are now included on this story as separate clips.” Poor posted a version of his article at NewsBusters, but it doesn’t mention that Gore said that “any individual storm can’t be linked singularly to global warming,” it contains the original misleading out-of-order audio clip, and it contains no “clarification.”
Actual Transcript of Al Gore’s Interview with Terry Gross:
GROSS: What do you think about when you hear a reaction like that to Katrina?
GORE: My friends in New Orleans said, ‘Well, if that’s the case, how come God spared the French Quarter?’ Of course that’s silly.
It’s also important to note that the emerging consensus among the climate scientists is even though any individual storm can’t be linked singularly to global warming — we’ve always had hurricanes — nevertheless, the trend toward more Category 5 storms, the larger ones, the trend toward stronger and more destructive storms appears to be linked to global warming. And specifically to the impact of global warming on higher ocean temperatures in the top couple hundred feet of the ocean, which drives convection, energy and moisture into these storms and makes them more powerful.
And as we’re talking today, Terry, the death count in Myanmar from the cyclone that hit there yesterday has been rising from 15,000 to way on up there to much higher numbers now being speculated.
And last year a catastrophic storm, last fall, hit Bangladesh. The year before, the strongest cyclone in more than 50 years hit China.
And we’re seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming. The entire north polar ice cap, normally the size the lower 48 states, give or take an Arizona, is melting before our eyes. 40 percent melted in the last twenty years. And in the summer months, it could be completely gone, in one scientific estimate, in as little as five years.