NPR: Remember That Whole Global Warming Problem People Once Worried About?

You may recall that classic Onion story from November 2010, “Report: Global Warming Issue From 2 Or 3 Years Ago May Still Be Problem.”  It included the image at the right captioned, “This 2007 chart predicting rising temperatures worldwide could still possibly be worth looking at today.”

Well, apparently NPR missed it. In a story last Friday, “Budget Deal Provides Tax Breaks For Green Energy,” NPR reports:

The tax benefits for green energy that Congress extended were originally created over the past decade. At the time, it seemed that energy sources, especially homegrown ones, were scarce. The country also seemed to be on the verge of setting limits on emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

“There was a sensible reason to want to subsidize a transformation,” says energy analyst Kevin Book. It’s harder to make a case for renewable energy now, given the booms in natural gas and oil, he says.

“All of these things are different now: Demand is declining, supply is increasing, the decarbonization mandate has weakened if not disappeared, and energy security isn’t the risk that it used to be,” he says.

Book predicts that the New Year’s tax package may be the last big payday for green energy.

Yeah, might as well have an extended quote from someone arguing there’s no need to ever decarbonize or incentivize green energy again, ’cause that whole global warming thing is so last year.

Or rather, so one week ago. Because on December 30, NPR filed an interview with Bill McKibben with this headline:

2013: A Tipping Year For Climate Change?

The story’s introduction spells out precisely why the decarbonization mandate has strengthened in the past year:

This year’s extreme weather was one for the record books; 2012 is slated to be the hottest summer on record.

The worst drought in 50 years struck the South and Midwest, devastating the U.S. agriculture industry. Deadly floods and superstorms paralyzed the northeast and other parts of the country.

While the public is in shock by extreme weather events that have taken place, environmentalist Bill McKibben and other members of the science community say it is a result of climate change.

“We’ve already passed all kinds of tipping points,” McKibben, the founder of, tells weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden. “The NASA scientist Jim Hansen was saying, ‘There’s no other word for where we are now than planetary emergency.'”

Memo to NPR editors: Make up your mind! Has “the decarbonization mandate … weakened if not disappeared” — or are we in a “planetary emergency”?

Hint — it’s the latter:

BTW, if you think that bloggers are the only ones who mess up their URLs (i.e. their original headlines), check out NPR’s slugs for both those stories:


D’oh! I guess good editors are hard to come by these days.

Very Related Post:

NPR now commits itself to avoiding the worst excesses of “he said, she said” journalism

31 Responses to NPR: Remember That Whole Global Warming Problem People Once Worried About?

  1. Dano says:

    National Petroleum Radio goes through these phases where they forget how to report. I wonder if it is because the Repub plants are in charge at these times.



  2. Senior says:

    It is truly sad that NPR has been so adversely affected by right-wing bias & manipulation.

    Lately, I have been pondering why media continues to screw up regarding anything to do with the environment. I recall how the vast majority of journalists pooh-poohed and put down the original Club of Rome Report: The Limits to Growth, 1972. The authors used computer modelling to track the interactions of 5 variables – world population, industrialization, pollution, food production and resource depletion (including water). While journalists touch on these issues occasionally they never do so in the systemic or systematic way that the authors of The Limits To Growth did.

  3. M Tucker says:

    Morning Edition mentioned the ongoing drought, the difficulty barge traffic is having on the Mighty Miss and how that is impacting the economy. They did mention the warmest year on record thing and did bring up how it is not possible to say that AGW is entirely to blame. They do not editorialize. They simply report whatever is said by those they interview. Heck, as long as ol’ Obama is OK with the status quo why should anyone worry, right? No big body count of first graders to morn over with AGW. Sandi, shmandi…it’s just weather. As long as NJ and NY eventually get some help everything is OK. Our leaders move on to the next big thing to upset the public. As long as the public is happy about the weather…

  4. Lore says:

    Even as events overtake the standard ” it’s still all a mystery narrative”, the media and the public generally remain unfazed.

    Just today, as the MSNBC environmental affairs corespondent explained the dire circumstances of a record breaking year, Andrea Mitchell exclaimed, “we need some warm weather anyway for the inauguration.”

  5. D. R. Tucker says:

    Meet the 85-year-old Concord, Massachusetts woman who just led her city in becoming the
    first in the nation to ban the sale of plastic water bottles. Jean Hill says bottled water is the
    “biggest scam ever” and she put her muscle where her mouth is with persisting against the
    odds! Next Anna Fahey talks about the benefits of putting her family on a buying ban in 2012
    and Josh Fields Millburn, co-author of
    The Minimalists, discusses why he gave up “the good life”
    in his late 20’s to find happiness with just a few possessions.

  6. Ken Barrows says:

    Don’t worry: the oil and gas boom will end soon enough. Oil rigs have increased every year for the past ten as prices have risen. But prices cannot rise much more without restricting economic activity. And if they don’t, rigs won’t, and production will eventually fall even for NG.

  7. Paul Magnus says:

    This is a problem everywhere…. the right hand is rouge while the left one is desperately trying to cling to sanity.

  8. Jack Burton says:

    Check out the weather forecast for the Australian continent in the coming days!
    According to ABC Australia, some interior areas of Australia may be looking at 50-55C for highs. Areas like New South Wales and Victoria could see 45C in many areas. Fire danger will peak again with these high temperatures. Winds will be a problem, but not nearly as strong as a few days ago.
    How many remember some time back when Typhoon YASI, a record storm by every measure plowed into the Queensland coast. Luckily it hit unpopulated coastal areas. But this storm broke every record.
    I enjoy reading the increasingly hysterical comments by climate change deniers in the Australian newspaper, comments sections. They are clearly is damage control mode.
    This Australian extreme weather makes one wonder what is ahead for the USA this summer.
    I can say as a resident of Northern Minnesota, that we are having no real winter this year. Sure, it is just below freezing, but we usually, in normal times would be 30 degrees or 40 degrees colder than what we have now. Last year was a year without a winter. Climate here is way out of whack.

  9. Paul Magnus says:

    Some of the scientist are shooting us in the foot. They need to start getting it right and getting it consistent.

  10. Jack Burton says:

    If warming has stalled, then why the melting arctic, Greenland, world wide glaciers. Why the radical rise in extreme weather?
    Warming has stalled, what do they mean, air temperatures? Or the total warming budget, most of which goes into oceans and Ice?
    I swear I am getting sick of the British Met Office producing a story every week saying global warming isn’t a worry.
    What the hell is going on there anyways.

  11. Sasparilla says:

    I wonder the same about the weather, here in nothern Illinois we’re heading towards highs in the mid 50’s at the end of the week….makes me wonder if we’ll skip freezing the big lakes like last year.

  12. michael says:

    NPR has been going downhill for a while now. Diane Rehm recently just had 2 deniers on compared to one journalist who accepts the scientific method. It was a disgrace and one reason I have stopped contributing to NPR.

  13. Henry says:

    We really need to listen very carefully. This is the sound of the left-wing media backing away (albeit slowly) from the AGW narrative. Add to that some ‘scientific’ types, like the Met office, and more and more seem to be hedging their bets.
    Unfortunately, it has become somewhat fashionable to NOT take AGW seriously now.

  14. David B. Benson says:

    Grim reading.

    And its not as cold as it used to be for this time of year here either.

  15. Ozonator says:

    Evil Inhofe’s organ donar’s provided by EssoKoch have to work somewhere womb-like. “Vitter Purges Environment Committee Staff” (By Amy Harder;, 1/9/13).

  16. Paul Magnus says:

    Climate Portals

    Sea level rise could lead to a cooler, stormier world – 07 January 2013 – New Scientist
    If sea level rises significantly due to global warming, chilled seas caused by melting icebergs might temporarily cool the planet’s surface

  17. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Crews have been racing to put out the >30 still active fires before conditions worsen tomorrow and the fires run again. NSW, Vic and ACT are all on total fire bans again tomorrow, which I can’t remember happening before. Wildlife, ecological and stock losses are already huge -getting grim and we are only at 0.8C, ME

  18. Ozonator says:

    My condolences, move to Bangladesh to recognize AGW –

    “Bangladesh has recorded its lowest temperatures in nearly 60 years, an unexpected result of global warming, scientists said. In the capital of Dhaka and elsewhere in the country the temperature dropped to 37.7 degrees F Wednesday … Experts are blaming the cold temperatures on more intense cold fronts resulting from global warming melting polar ice. … Aninun Nishat, an environment specialist” (“Record low temperatures in Bangladesh”;, 1/9/13).

    A SecDef Chuck Hagel would send emergency teams to Israel unlike the extreme GOP currently sending their investors’ AGW –

    “11 dead as Mideast battered by hail, snow, rain” (by Staff Writers, Ramallah, Palestinian Territories; AFP;, 1/9/13).

  19. Spike says:

    Yes in the UK I’ve only had 2 or 3 morning frosts this winter, and no snow where I live as yet.

  20. Tom Lewis says:

    While disparaging the lamestream media, let’s not leave out CBS News, the “Tiffany Network,” and its formerly stellar Sunday Morning program. Of late they have been showcasing David Pogue of The New York Times doing environmental stories. A couple of months ago he — honest to God — used sock puppets to illustrate the nuances of the “debate” over whether climate change exists. (“No, it doesn’t! Yes it does.”) A couple of weeks ago he did a cheerleaders’ piece on hydraulic fracking. This is him talking, not an industry spokesman: “In fracking we drill way, way down, past the water table, as far as a mile deep and then – here’s the technologically amazing part – we make a right turn, and drill horizontally through that layer of shale, so we can “slurp up” all the delicious oil and gas.” Isn’t that great, America? And to make it even better, “the finished well quietly pumps out gas for 30 to 50 years.”
    Sounds more like the Texaco network.

  21. BillD says:

    I was also shocked and upset to read in another venue that climate change was no longer a concern. I guess that journalists and politicians just count the number of stories and comments to decide the issue. I sure hope that Obama has more than a passing reference to climate change in his State of the Union address. As a scientist, I understand why scientists can’t attribute specific events to climate change, but the wording does not need to come out that “we can’t tell and aren’t sure. I’m looking forward to a long bike ride on Saturday with temps in the mid 50’s oF in the upper Midwest. Small lakes now have ice fishermen, but they had better use caution this weekend. After all, January is nearly half over and it’s nearly spring.

  22. Icarus62 says:

    That’s right – we really need a ‘Total Climate System Heat Content’ metric which takes into account ocean heat content, ice melt, surface temperature and atmospheric temperature (think those are the main things). It’s downright misleading to talk about a slowdown in tropospheric warming without mentioning ENSO and without mentioning the absence of any such slowdown in rising ocean heat content and global ice melt.

  23. catman306 says:

    If NPR’s coverage of Climate Change and what’s causing it, a subject we know about, leaves much to be desired, so too must their coverage of other subjects that we don’t know so much about.

    Except for their news on the hour, I’ve stopped even LISTENING.

    The Republican implants have succeeded in destroying one of the last unbiased news sources on the air. All praise George Bush.

  24. Raul M. says:

    I’m not surprised it’s warmer last year, (such a broad statement warmer last year) as the standard prediction was that it was going to be an exceptionally warm year.

    Yep when cooking the bottom of the pan closest to the burner gets hotter first.
    And it seems as though the air gets hotter first when the sun starts shineing. Thats is probably why the air temp. is much higher than the one degree of warming.

    So if there is 5 degrees of warming then the air temp will be 5 to 10 times warmer in general with some locations getting 50 degrees warmer?

    Not surprised some newscasters don’t really know what they are talking about. The subject already has supercomputers dedicated to the study because it is such a big topic. But extreem amounts of trivia can grow into basic truths.

    Last year was warmer!!!!????!!!!

  25. Spike says:

    In fairness the Met Office work has been spun hard by our less reputable MSM and denialist factions. The Met Office state:

    “The latest decadal forecast… shows that the Earth is expected to maintain the record warmth that has been observed over the last decade, and furthermore a substantial proportion of the forecasts show that new record global temperatures may be reached in the next 5 years.”

    The Guardian covered this and contains this quote:

    Prof Chris Rapley, professor of climate science at University College London: “I despair of the way data such as this is translated as ‘global warming has stopped’! Global mean temperatures – whether measured or predicted – are not the issue. What matters is the energy balance of the planet and the changes that an energy imbalance will drive in the climate system – as well as the consequences for humans.

    90% of the energy imbalance enters the ocean and is not visible to the global mean surface temperature value. The continuing rise in sea level demonstrates ongoing energy accumulation in the ocean (as well as a contribution from melting land ice).

    Even if the global mean temperature were to remain unchanged, if the geographic patterns of temperature and rainfall change, the consequences will still be potentially severe. We only need to look at what is going on in Australia at this very moment.

  26. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    I grew up in a rural area of northern Illinois back in the 19-aught-40’s and 50’s. I remember the phrase “January thaw” from those days as a description of the two or three day string of above freezing daily high temperatures in January that most years brought. Afterward, it would usually be March before the next thaw.

  27. Jack Burton says:

    Yes, on nearly every front NPR has become a national disgrace. Their climate change coverage is more denial than reality.
    Worst of all is the endless cheer leading for America’s wars and propaganda build up for more wars.
    I would sooner die that contribute 1 dime to this gang of liars and propagandists. The Republicans have made them roll over and play by the FOX news playbook. Conservatives in Britain long ago tamed the BBC and turned them into FOX news clones and downright war mongering liars. A bloody disgrace!

  28. Raul M. says:

    Last year was warmer is a recurring statement.
    Last year was progressively warmer.
    This year will be warmer than last year because the Arctic feedbacks will overdo other natural cycles?
    Is runaway global warming sure to be happening when the feedbacks overcome all other natural cycles?

  29. Wes says:

    I’m coming to the conclusion that we are watching the human race fail its final exam and commit suicide. Apparently the prospect of total ecosystem collapse has just become “an extremist meme from the alarmist community” instead of the dead certain result of the path we’re on. We need more scientists to overcome their professional hesitation to speak in a way that might be seen as exaggeration and say loudly in public what they say in private – we gotta change or we’re all gonna die.

  30. Michelle M says:

    Rouge? Or rogue? The former means red (the color).