Ignorant And Proud: Northeast Snowstorm Brings Out the Worst in the Climate Denial Punditocracy

by Ben Dimiero, in a Media Matters cross-post

By any reasonable measure, last week was not a good one for conservative media figures that believe climate scientists are somehow fabricating the theory of climate change.

Richard Muller, a physicist at University of California, Berkeley, announced the results of new research from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project affirming that the planet is getting warmer and confirming the accuracy of several other existing global temperature records.

As the Associated Press explains, while the findings are “no different from what mainstream climate scientists have been saying for decades,” what’s especially notable about Muller’s findings is “who is behind the study”:

One-quarter of the $600,000 to do the research came from the Charles Koch Foundation, whose founder is a major funder of skeptic groups and the tea party. The Koch brothers, Charles and David, run a large privately held company involved in oil and other industries, producing sizable greenhouse gas emissions.

A study funded in part by oil industry interests finds that the planet is getting warmer and that climate scientists have “truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that” — this seems like the kind of thing that should give pause to people that refuse to accept data from supposedly biased sources like NASA.

But for conservatives like Fox host Eric Bolling, last week was actually a net positive in the fight to prove that climate change is a “scam.” Why? Because it snowed in the northeastern United States….

A single winter storm does nothing to disprove that the planet is getting warmer, but that doesn’t stop scientifically illiterate pundits from hi-fiving and telling nonsensical jokes about Al Gore every time it snows. Indeed, in what’s becoming an increasingly-tedious yearly tradition, several conservative media figures pointed to this weekend’s snowstorm as evidence that the theory of climate change is falling apart. It isn’t.


As the New York Times reported, scholars sought to remind people in the wake of the October storm that “single storms, no matter how dramatic, say little about overall climate patterns,” and that certain patterns of extreme weather — even winter weather — are consistent with global warming:

Robert Stavins, an economist at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, said a surprise winter storm no more disproved climate change than a hot day in August proved it.

But larger patterns of extreme storms and precipitation, even if accompanied by cold snaps, support the theory of global warming, he and several climate researchers said, because warming oceans are sending more moisture into the air.

Nevertheless, on his Fox Business show on Friday — as well as on Twitter — Eric Bolling once again proudly broadcast his ignorance, teasing the last segment of the program by pointing out that “it’s snowing and not even Halloween,” and boasting about how this would give him a chance to give his upcoming guest “more grief about this global warming nonsense.”

After the commercial, Bolling replayed a clip from last December of him throwing a copy of An Inconvenient Truth into a snow bank and asserting, “I have to tell you, Mr. Gore, an inconvenient truth? I call it a bold-faced lie. Sorry about that. Global warming? Here is your global warming.”

During the ensuing segment, while on-screen text asked questions like, “Global Warming: A Scam?,” some of Bolling’s guests tried to explain to him that the earth is actually getting warmer, while he responded with lazy talking points about Climategate (which Bolling apparently thinks involved something called “East Anglican [sic] University”).

People like Bolling are, at the very best, almost unfathomably intellectually lazy. Bolling — along Jim Hoft and Fox Nation, who also used the snow to take potshots at climate change — won’t be swayed by mountains of evidence that the planet is getting warmer, because the scientists involved are scheming liberals (or something).

But when an independent study agrees that the earth is warming, they just ignore it in favor of giggling about how it is snowing outside.

— Ben Dimiero is a research fellow at Media Matters for America. This piece was originally published at the Media Matters website.

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29 Responses to Ignorant And Proud: Northeast Snowstorm Brings Out the Worst in the Climate Denial Punditocracy

  1. John McCormick says:

    Eric Bolling sounds like a frat guy who bellowed dirty jokes every chance he had to make a fool of himself.

    What America needs is an Ed Hummell who can describe the influence of Arctic ice melt back on the next winter’s weather. Blocking highs and jet streams dipping very low and sweeping into northern Mississippi is what views need to hear.

    How to get persons with Hummelll’s knowledge in front of the camera is what we have to figure out.

    Will we have to wait five or six years and many peer-reviewed studies and reports to finally see the connection between the summer Arctic and the Northeast winters?

    Yeah. Science is a demanding sport and we wait while we suffer a million climate cuts.

  2. Tom Lenz says:

    The show’s title, Follow The Money, explains it all clearly enough. Time to Occupy Fox!

  3. They think they can bully mother nature and get away with it. It would be funny if it weren’t for the fact that people are listening to them… and delaying action to mitigate and adapt to the coming chaos.

  4. climatehawk1 says:

    Agreed. I don’t think there is a need to look too deeply for psychological motives here.

  5. Peter Mizla says:

    Shall I call the ‘Pseudo Democrat’ Dannel Malloy’s office today?

    I am enjoying them eating crow.

  6. Lou Grinzo says:

    Follow the money, indeed.

    The obvious point that so many of us, including me, sometimes forget is that when dealing with deniers the people at the bottom of the pyramid (as in the unpaid bloggers) are in this fight for ideological reasons. In other words, for them it’s a matter politics, and all that loaded term means in the US — i.e. it’s more sport than anything else — and not science.

    At the top of the pyramid are the people who make money via denialism. For them, it’s pure economics: What can they say and do to maximize their income. The issue of how pathetic it is that such buffoons not only find an audience of willing believers, but one large enough to keep them in business, is another issue entirely.

  7. Joan Savage says:

    Let’s call it a fall snow storm. It occurred closer to the equinox in September than to the solstice in December.
    It did not stick on the ground like a real winter snow storm.

    I come from Syracuse, which has an average around 111 inches of total snowfall a year; last year it reached 179 inches. We have fall snows, winter snows and spring snows.

    There are differences.

    If you call snow in October “winter,” you give credence to the idea that the planet hasn’t warmed.

    Bear in mind that more moisture in the atmosphere year-round can extend a snow season. I hope that is self-explanatory, but maybe not.

  8. Bill Goedecke says:

    Climate change is the more apt description of what is happening with climate. Warming may be the trend, but the overall range is expanding. The problem is partially a poor understanding of basic statistics. Plus people want to hear that there aren’t any problems and they seek out Fox news and like to reaffirm that. The man is serving his audience (meaning – slopping up the order).

  9. bjedwards says:

    I think it is time to metaphorically drag these kind of people out to the street and publicly laugh at them and treat them no differently than 9/11 Truthers — incompetent, conspiracy-driven, loons.

    There’s nothing like satire and public embarrassment to get people’s attention.

  10. Fire Mountain says:

    Should it surprise us that the stronger the evidence of climate change becomes, and the more severe the impacts, that those whose fundamental worldview is challenged by these developments should become more violently insistent in their denial?

  11. knoxkp says:

    Entirely predictable. This would have been a story if the wankers, liars, big-oil corporate shills didn’t pretend the snow storm disproves AGW. It is ironic that this comes the very week that a koch bros. sponsored study says climate change is well under way.

    I tire of talking about whether or not global warming is occurring – I want to have conversations about the best course of action we should be taking. With that in mind here is a link to a story about a very cool electric car: The Renault Fuelnce ZE


  12. Crank says:

    But that can’t be.

    Only last week, following the publication of the Berkeley report, every denier who has ever been near a microphone was explaining how irrelevant it was, because no denier ever in history has suggested that the Earth wasn’t warming. Deniers have only ever disputed the cause of the warming, and never that the Earth was warming. That’s just a strawman!

    Remember? So you must have this wrong. Or something.

  13. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    What Crank said. Every time some denier says warming has stopped, we should link to all the places where deniers claimed they never suggested that the earth wasn’t warming. In return, when a denier says they never claimed the earth wasn’t warming, we can link them to people like Bolling who say it isn’t warming. Let the warming-but-not-us deniers pick on Fox-it-isn’t-warming deniers for a while.

    People like Bolling are, at the very best, almost unfathomably intellectually lazy.

    That certainly is the most generous thing you can say about them, and even that is a vast understatement. Bolling sounds like he’d fit right in with the others in Pierce’s book, Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free.

  14. richard pauli says:

    Wait, so the NYTimes is saying that one data point has nothing to do with the data set?!?

  15. Some European says:

    I highly recommend that organizations like Media Matters make hundreds of backup copies of their material. There’s going to be a very, very strong incentive to make all this disappear in about 10 to 15 years.
    I strongly recommend that these pundits start investing in private islands. They might not be able to walk the streets anymore, shortly.

  16. Artful Dodger says:

    I suppose ‘Punidiot-ocracy’ is just too hard to pronounce.

  17. Berbalang says:

    With the publication of the Berkeley Report the deniers only have one course of action. Since a logical, rational examination of the data supports Global Warming then it is obvious that logical, rational thought is at fault and must be eliminated. It is going to get really ugly.

  18. Peter Mizla says:

    According to the AP A new report by the IPCC to be released next week;

    Freakish weather disasters — from the sudden October snowstorm in the Northeast U.S. to the record floods in Thailand — are striking more often. And global warming is likely to spawn more similar weather extremes at a huge cost.

    The report says costs will rise and perhaps some locations will become “increasingly marginal as places to live.”

    Here in Connecticut- its going to be some time before we recover from this destructive storm, that has left a huge mess, human suffering, and a population still reeling from TS Irene just 2 months ago.

  19. Artful Dodger says:

    Prof. Richard Muller appeared on Martin Bashir today. Good outing of Romney, Perry, and the Koch Bros. climate denial.

  20. Ron Taylor says:

    These guys on Fox know exactly what they are doing. Their job is to keep up a steady drumbeat of mockery of climate science among those who live in Fox World. That is what they are paid to do. They are performers. They have no interest at all in the truth. So rational responses to them are pointless.

  21. Joan Savage says:

    So, the new ‘uncertainty’ spin is going to be how much of the global warming is from human activity.

    Not too long ago there was a succinct response to the “How Much” question, and I for one would like to see it again.


  22. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Is it really going to take that long? ME

  23. John Hartz says:

    The AFP article, “Climate change linked to extreme weather” published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Nov 1, 2001 is a sneak preview of the IPPC’s “Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” (SREX)

    The new report’s main conclusions about future trends include:

    – It is “virtually certain” — 99-100% sure — that the frequency and magnitude of warm daily temperature extremes will increase over the 21st century on a global scale;

    – It is “very likely” (90-100% certainty) that the length, frequency and/or intensity of warm spells, including heat waves, will continue to increase over most land areas;

    – Peak temperatures are “likely” (66-100% certainty) to increase — compared to the late 20th century — up to 3.0 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050, and 5.0 C (9.0 F) by 2100;

    – Heavy rain and snowfall is likely to increase over the next century over many regions, especially in the tropics and at high latitudes;

    – At the same time, droughts will likely intensify in other areas, notably the Mediterranean region, central Europe, North America, northeastern Brazil and southern Africa.

    To access the article, go to:

  24. SecularAnimist says:

    Ben Demiero wrote: “People like Bolling are, at the very best, almost unfathomably intellectually lazy.”

    I have a suggestion.

    Let’s stop pretending that deliberately dishonest, bought-and-paid-for propagandists peddling calculated, scripted, focus-group-tested LIES are “ignorant” or “intellectually lazy”.

    It may well be that the audience of gullible dupes to whom they are peddling their LIES are “ignorant” and “intellectually lazy”, but the propagandists of denial are neither. They know exactly what they are doing, and they are very good at it, and they are utterly without conscience.

  25. Jim Pettit says:

    Here’s a fun fact: between October 28 and October 30, more than 260 individual snowfall records were broken in the Northeast. Meanwhile, between the 29th and the 31st, just two low temperature records were broken in the same area. The obvious take-away: this past weekend’s monster snows were less likely to have been caused by record cold than they were by record amounts of precipitable moisture in the atmosphere.

  26. Ed Hummel says:

    I’d just like to add a little bit to the points you just made concerning my region here in central Maine. Despite having a relatively cool few days the previous week that set up the snow event this past weekend over the Northeast, the overall average temperatures for October in this region were significantly above normal. At my house, the average high was 58.7 while the normal high is 57.2 and the average low was 42.4 while the normal is 38.0.

    With regard to the storm itself, Joan Savage made an important observation back on comment #5 about calling this a fall storm, not a winter storm, and she’s quite right. The circumstances that surround an October snow storm in the Northeast are quite different from those that would occur in January. For one thing, the ground is still quite warm from the summer heating and there really isn’t much Arctic air to draw on yet to provide the surface temperatures needed to make the precipitation fall as snow and then actually accumulate and stay put. October is the month when we usually first start to see noticeably colder air masses from north central Canada start to make brief incursions in to the Midwest and Northeast. Usually they come after a storm system has already gone by while dropping some heavy rain that could end as some lingering snow showers and flurries as the colder air starts to come in behind the storm. What was unusual with this recent storm was that the jet stream pattern set up in such a way that just enough Canadian air become established over the Northeast just before a typical fall storm system got organized over the Southeast and moved northeastward with a lot of moisture toward New England and then out to sea south of Nova Scotia. Just a few degrees warmer on the surface and we probably would have been talking about another flooding event over parts of the the Northeast. Instead, temperatures away from the coast remained just cold enough (low 30sF) to keep the precipitation all or mostly snow and we saw massive tree damage instead because of the heavy, very wet snow sticking to the nearly fully leafed trees across the southern New England and New York regions. I should also point out that leaf change and fall has generally be significantly later than usual this season so that there was more damage than would have occurred to trees if a more normal leaf fall had already occurred. I would assume that our significantly warmer than normal autumn nights have had a big influence on the timing of leaf coloring and fall this year across the Northeast. But I’m sure that Mr. Bolling would find plenty of ways to ridicule what I’ve just said, even if he had to lie through his teeth while smiling to his audience.

    And to John McCormack at #1, thanks for the kind comments, but I’m only doing my job!

  27. jyyh says:

    I got no sources on that, but it’s 50% at least (calculated from the observed amounts of carbon isotopes) and the extremist 100% at the most (assuming all the changes on natural biotopes are caused by humans (it can’t be the orbital (or solar) cycles, they’re too slow). Likely it’s somewhat lower than 100%, at least if one assumes food production by humans to be within ‘natural’, whether this should include the gas used to plow is another matter.

    The exact measurement and subsequent calculations could likely be done by feeding various types of plants CO2 including C-isotopes of fixed amounts. I saw an article where this was done on one type of plant sometime but can’t remember the reaction coefficients.

  28. pudge1671 says:

    Ya know, if somebody spit in bollings face everytime he came out in public I think he’d get the hint.

  29. Realist - Bipart says:

    Um, I live in Jersey and there are still 6 inches on the ground. Not to mention that we’ve had record lows for a week. It hasn’t snowed in October in New York City in 26 years. This is a highly leftist board, so I am not spending much time here, but I like to see both sides. I don’t agree with either. Climate changes are cyclical, get used to it, its going to get a lot colder.