False Balance Lives: Bloomberg News Gives Equal Weight To Climate Disinformer And Scientists

False balance is alive and well at even the best media outlets (see links below). Bloomberg news, famous for the post-Sandy cover story,“It’s Global Warming, Stupid,” now proves they can be the stupid ones, in a Monday piece on “Greenhouse Gases Hit Threshold Unseen in 3 Million Years”:

Happy Plants

“The Earth has had many-times-higher levels of CO2 in the past,” said Marc Morano, former spokesman for Republican Senator James Inhofe and executive editor of Climate Depot, a blog that posts articles skeptical of climate change. “Americans should welcome the 400 parts-per-million threshold. This means that plants are going to be happy, and this means that global-warming fearmongers are going to be proven wrong.”

Yes, “Happy Plants” is Bloomberg’s header. Plants will be so damn happy when it is 10° F warmer and a third of the arable land has been turned to dust bowl!

And yes, Bloomberg actually quoted Marc Morano, the Charlie Sheen of global warming, former denier-in-chief for Sen. James Inhofe (R-OIL) — “among the first reporters to write about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign.”

As Media Matters notes, you should know your news article is pushing false balance when you are quoting someone making the exact same argument as a “rock bottomWall Street Journal op-ed:

Marc Morano is not a scientist and has no scientific education. He is paid by an oil-industry funded organization to confuse the public about climate change, and has compared climate science to the Mayan calendar, Nostradamus, and medieval witchcraft. Moreover, his argument is laughable: by focusing on how carbon dioxide stimulates plant growth in a controlled environment, he ignores that our huge emissions of it and other greenhouse gases are warming up the planet, thereby increasing the risk of extreme rainfall and drought to the detriment of agriculture. A Wall Street Journal op-ed made the same argument on Thursday, leading to a deluge of condemnation.

So why is Bloomberg News not only featuring Morano, but giving his discredited argument equal weight to the extensive evidence presented by scientists?

Equally lame, Bloomberg trots out a long-debunked denier talking point:

Skeptics of man’s influence on warming temperatures note that while CO2 levels in the atmosphere have continued to rise since the 1990s, no year has been statistically warmer on average than 1998, with higher levels for 2005 and 2010 falling within the margin of error for that year, according to data compiled by the U.K. Met Office.

Is Bloomberg really suggesting that those who are skeptical of man’s influence on warming temperatures have any credibility?

Somehow the 2000s were still the hottest decade on record — and somehow 90% of manmade global warming ended up precisely where scientists said it would (see “Global Warming Has Accelerated In Past 15 Years, New Study Of Oceans Confirms“).

Even as written, this torturous myth is beneath Bloomberg:

Even if the UK Met Office’s ranking of 2010 and 2005 as the warmest years on record globally is within the margin of error for 1998 (U.S.’s NASA and NOAA both rank 2010 and 2005 as statistically warmer than 1998), the fact that the difference between these individual years is small illustrates again that we should pay more attention to the long-term trend. As NASA explained, “all three [surface temperature datasets] show the last decade is the warmest in the instrumental record.”

Bloomberg can — and must — do better.

Related Posts:

47 Responses to False Balance Lives: Bloomberg News Gives Equal Weight To Climate Disinformer And Scientists

  1. Superman1 says:

    Why are we getting yet another example of media bias? We know the media is biased. It is owned by the wealthy, the advertisers are wealthy, and for myriad reasons they want to downplay what is happening with the climate. How many data points do we need to make this case?

  2. Superman1 says:

    Why not address the other side of the coin, as I did last week? David Goldstein published a provocative article in HuPO, certainly worth of discussion. After two days, it had received 24 ‘clicks’. An irrelevant article on Jody Arias received 4,000 ‘clicks’ after one day!

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    This has nothing to do with bad reporting. Bloomberg and his execs cowered before the oil companies after taking a beating over the “It’s the global warming, stupid” headline after Sandy. Quoting a person like Mark Morano is a signal that they are back on message, along with the rest of MSM.

    Bloomberg has enough money to ignore them but, like all billionaires, he wants more.

    In 1983, 50 media companies controlled 90% of US content. Now there are six- Disney, Viacom, CBS, Newscorp, General Electric, and TimeWarner. They act in lockstep, and except for Viacom are politically conservative and relentlessly greedy. Educate the public? Nahh.

  4. Superman1 says:

    This is not unusual; I have seen climate articles get similar (lack of) response in HuPo previously and in Salon. My takeaway message is that, even in these so-called ‘progressive’ media outlets, there is minimal interest in climate change, at least relative to the other trivia they present. And, if climate change is not getting attention in the ‘progressive’ media, what can we expect it to receive in the MSM?

  5. Jim B says:

    It’s just so old.

    Joe, you’re a great man. You doggedly keep after the nonsense time and again. And again.

    Thank you.

  6. Superman1 says:

    So, the MSM start out with little intrinsic interest in addressing climate change because of the bias of their owners and advertisers, and they see little interest in the topic from the readership, as my above examples illustrate. So, what is it that would incentivize them to publish more and unbiased articles on climate change? Why not address the full problem?

  7. speakoutforscience says:

    So many are focused on surface temperature as the telling sign of climate change/global warming while ignoring the the oceans are absorbing up to half of all human CO2 emissions. Their heat capacity is nearly 1000 times that of the atmosphere; by absorbing heat in the summer and releasing it in winter, they are instrumental in moderating our climate and ensure that changes happen gradually. Human-caused climate change is making the oceans warmer and more acidic, and if these processes are allowed to continue unchecked, they will drastically alter our climate and the marine ecosystem. Because the oceans are warming, the global ice sheets are melting at unprecedented rates.

  8. prokaryotes says:

    Re CO2 is plant food

    The first and most obvious retort to this argument is that plants require more than just CO2 to live. Owners of industrial greenhouses who purchase excess CO2 also invest considerable effort in keeping their plants at optimum growing conditions, particularly with respect to temperature and moisture. As CO2 continues to change the global climate, both of these variables are subject to change in an unfavorable way for a certain species in a certain region (Lobell et al. 2008, Luo 2009, Zhao and Running 2010, Challinor et al. 2010, Lobell et al. 2011). More and more it is becoming clear that in many cases, the negatives of drought and heat stress may cancel out any benefits of increased CO2 predicted by even the most optimistic study.

    But there is a more subtle point to be made here. The majority of scientific studies on enhanced CO2 to date have been performed in just these types of enclosed greenhouses, or even worse, individual growth chambers. Only recently have researchers begun to pull away from these controlled settings and turn their attention to outdoor experiments. Known as Free-Air CO2 Enrichment or “FACE”, these studies observe natural or agricultural plants in a typical outdoor setting while exposing them to a controlled release of CO2, which is continuously monitored in order to maintain whichever ambient concentration is of interest for the study

    excess CO2 shows some benefit to C3 plants, but no significant benefit to C4 plants. Cure and Acock 1986 (a greenhouse study) showed excess CO2 gave a 35% photosynthesis boost to rice and a 32% boost to soybeans (both C3 plants), but only a 4% boost to C4 crops. More recently, Leaky et al. 2006 (a FACE study) did not find any statistically significant boost in photosynthesis or yield for corn (a C4 crop) under excess CO2.

    Going a bit deeper, it has recently been found that in some C3 plants—such as cotton and many bean species—a further enzyme known as RuBisCO activase is required to convert RuBisCO into its “active” state, the only state in which it can be used for photosynthesis. The downside of this is that the activase enzyme is much more sensitive to high temperatures compared to RuBisCO itself, and also responds poorly to excess CO2: Heat can destroy the structure of the activase enzyme at temperatures as low as 89.6 F, while excess CO2 reduces the abundance of the cellular energy molecule ATP that is critical for RuBisCO activase to function properly (Crafts-Brandner & Salvucci, 2000, Salvucci et al. 2001). This effect may potentially nullify some of the gains expected from excess CO2 in these plants.

    A specific plant’s response to excess CO2 is sensitive to a variety of factors, including but not limited to: age, genetic variations, functional types, time of year, atmospheric composition, competing plants, disease and pest opportunities, moisture content, nutrient availability, temperature, and sunlight availability. The continued increase of CO2 will represent a powerful forcing agent for a wide variety of changes critical to the success of many plants, affecting natural ecosystems and with large implications for global food production. The global increase of CO2 is thus a grand biological experiment, with countless complications that make the net effect of this increase very difficult to predict with any appreciable level of detail.

  9. Tom King says:

    Thank God for kryptonite.

  10. Joe Romm says:

    Uhh, this is a climate blog and news site. Next question. Or, rather, enough with the tedious questions.

  11. catman306 says:

    Thanks. This poster needs his/her own blog, not yours.

  12. fj says:

    Yes, it is not clear why Bloomberg is allowing this level of disinformation to proceed.

    Perhaps it is a fear of a pending collapse of the 6 trillion dollar fossil fuel bubble recently reported on by BloombergNews . . . or, a case of the threat of the world being held hostage by the fossil fuel industry . . . ?

    . . . something in which time is not on the side of the fossil fuel industry which must also rapidly divest from fossil fuels in order to survive . . .

  13. Joan Savage says:

    Re “Happy Plants”

    Yeah, some plants are happier at 100F than 90F. Unfortunately that elect group of “happy plants” doesn’t include corn or soy.

    Ohio State’s summary of high temperature effects:

    What’s with Bloomberg anyway? They got their rep by being on top of the research about products and markets.

  14. Joan Savage says:

    Remember one of the signs of GHG-based global warming is increase in night-time temperatures?

    The Ohio State write up on corn and soy has several paragraphs about night-time heat. Here’s a key statement:
    With high night temperatures more of the sugars produced by photosynthesis during the day are lost; less is available to fill developing kernels or seeds, thereby lowering potential grain yield. High night time temperatures result in faster heat unit (GDD) accumulation that can lead to earlier corn maturation, whereas cool night temperatures result in slower GDD accumulation that can lengthen grain filling and promote greater dry matter accumulation and grain yield.

  15. Mike Roddy says:

    Oil and coal companies should be nationalized, by executive order. This is not a big deal- Venezuela, Saudi Arabia etc are doing fine with state oil companies. If we do so, it should be with the intention of winding down production, in cooperation with other climate concerned producers.

  16. Superman1 says:

    Tom, I remember you. You worked in a funeral parlor. You were known as Bud, the King of Biers!

  17. fj says:

    Mike Roddy, “coal and oil companies should be nationalized.

    The fossil fuel divestment and other initiatives weaning civilization off fossil fuels may be forcing the hand.

    This is a really good thing; though unlikely so quickly.

    Hope-a-hope-a-hope . . .

    Much better if they tag along kicking a screaming . . .

  18. rollin says:

    I think that we need to get over the fact that the news is often not news, it’s entertainment. Setting up a debate or argument is much more entertaining than just somebody getting on a pulpit and telling people the way it is. It doesn’t matter how stupid or harmful it is, if it gets people inflamed or just gets them to watch longer, that is the point.

    Once out or the ivory tower, it’s a shark feeding frenzy. Look what it has done to politics and government. Scientists don’t stand a chance. Idiocy will wear them down or at least soak up all their time fighting it. Never argue with an idiot, sometimes it’s difficult to tell which is which.

    Plants will be much happier when we are gone and stop messing with them, or at least when we are back in the stone age.

  19. Thanks for the reference, Joan. That coincides with my experience of growing / eating California cherries. Those grown in the Central Valley (Fresno Count) have much higher night time temperatures than those grown in the Santa Clara Valley… once prolific but now limited to a few growers in Morgan Hill and Gilroy… where night time temperatures are affected by westerly, ocean cooled winds that begin to blow around 3 PM. However, the Santa Clara Valley fruit wins the taste test every time.

    Fresno was not always like this, but years of continued irrigation increases local humidity and it holds more heat.

  20. Tom King says:

    Superman1: Yes,
    I’ll be sleeping in the old crypt-tonight :)

  21. Merrelyn Emery says:

    They have to ignore the oceans because if they didn’t, it would spoil their little story about no warming since 1998, ME

  22. BobbyL says:

    I don’t think simply stating the ownership of media companies is enough to make the argument (with the exception of NewsCorp). I think you need concrete examples where directives from higher ups resulted in editors and reporters downplaying climate change or some concrete connection between ownership and editorial content. Other than that you simply are left with correlations. Are there whistle blowers from the editorial side who have provided information supporting the view of corporate interference with editorial content regarding climate change? Have any editors or reporters resigned because of pressure from above to keep climate change out of their stories? More information is needed to make your case convincing.

  23. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Looks like they are really stepping it up now. Extract every last dollar until it all crashes down around them, ME

  24. Superman1 says:

    That’s not how organizations work. People are hired based on viewpoints they have expressed. In order to ‘succeed’, the provide a product they know management wants. You’re not going to find a written record. it’s not required.

  25. Superman1 says:

    The reporters know what the owners want, and they also know what the readers want. As I’ve shown above, it’s not climate change!

  26. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yes, and with an international agreement we would have a real winner, ME

  27. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    This is why we need a program to outline laws against crimes against humanity through deliberate disinformation concerning climate destabilisation, to be introduce, with retrospectivity and universal jurisdiction, whenever a sane Government is elected to power, somewhere. I find it staggering that those who are actively and ceaselessly working to prevent action to avert a disaster that will take millions, or billions, of lives, and destroy the habitability of this planet for our species, are allowed to get away with it, with no worries whatsoever. These are by very, very, far the gravest crimes in human history, yet no-one proposes giving the climate criminals even the least reason to suspect that they will face justice, some day, for their wickedness. As usual a war is waging within humanity between Good and Evil, and, as ever, only one side is bothering to turn up.

  28. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The plutocrats are becoming uneasy as their world system collapses. The serfs have been kept quiet for decades with bread in the form of mass consumption and circuses in MSM brainwashing and brain-destroying ‘titietainment’, but now, as the economy collapses under debt and inequality, as poverty, misery, want and the fear of falling into them, spreads across the Western world, and as the global untermenschen refuse to follow orders from the White, Western, Bosses, the danger of revolt is growing. When the bubble blown up by ‘quantitative easing’ blows, it will be on, for young and old, as we used to say to indicate a coming fracas. The Bosses want to keep a lid on things, just a little longer, and puncturing the multi-trillion fossil fuel asset bubble is way, way, too risky, just to save a few billion ‘useless eaters’ who they fear and hate.

  29. Joan Savage says:

    I hope you can stand the pun, as that is really a sweet example.

  30. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The news, these days, is simply Rightwing brainwashing propaganda. That’s why the Bosses hate and fear the web, and will gut it, be sure of that. Right up Obama’s path, I’d say, like his treatment of the whistle-blowers he ‘promised’ to protect.

  31. Ed Leaver says:

    I’m not entirely convinced national governments should increase their vested interest in ever higher ghg emissions.

  32. ronggly says:

    Again this old chestnut from the deniers, that no year recently has been warmer than 1998, hence no warming since then. This is simply because 1998 contained a very strong El Nino event.

  33. BobbyL says:

    So where is your evidence supporting that statement? And where are these corporations finding all these editors and reporters with conservative viewpoints? From conservative schools of journalism? And how do they even obtain this information on political views? And why are all these editorial people discarding their objectivity that they were trained to have? Perhaps these people are simply interested more often in reporting human interest angles on weather events rather than getting into the extremely technical issues concerning the influence of climate change on specific weather events. I think are many possible explanations for what news eventually gets out in addition to an attempt by owners to influence news reporting to serve a political agenda.

  34. BobbyL says:

    If these allegedly conservative media corporations are trying to hire conservative news people they seem to be doing a lousy job. A Pew survey a few years ago found very few conservatives among 222 journalists and news executives. “Only six percent said they considered themselves conservatives and only two percent said they were very conservative. This compares with 36 percent of the overall population that describes itself as conservative. Most journalists, 53 percent, said they’re moderate. 24 percent said they were liberal and eight percent very liberal.”

  35. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Believe me Bobby, for once Super has it completely correct. And how else do you explain the total bias of the Rightwing MSM? Please don’t insult my intelligence by repeating the old ‘journalists are liberals’ canard, because it is no longer even mirth-inducing.

  36. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The Aztecs used to feed their zinnias with human blood, to keep them happy.

  37. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    And die knowing that you have left a suppurating mess for those who will be alive when you have turned to mud. I am constantly bemused that, with so much evidence around, contemporary and from history, of Rightwing malevolence and misanthropy, that people still refuse to face up to the true nature of our enemies.

  38. prokaryotes says:

    A start would be to make compensation claims for the indirect damage through their products.

  39. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Mulga, the great mass of our people were captured about 250 years ago by being imprisoned in systems of hierarchical dominance and there they remain, rendered silent and sullen and accepting of their own maladaptive reactions, ME

  40. Superman1 says:

    “as their world system collapses”. How do you explain the DOW in this ‘collapse’?

  41. Superman1 says:

    Wouldn’t work. The so-called climate activists, as reflected here, want to be fed on a diet of information Pablum, not raw kale!

  42. BobbyL says:

    The coverage of climate change by the press has been not up to par for two decades but the hypothesis that this is due to a right wing corporate agenda is wrong. The main reason is the nature of journalism. One, there has been a switch from pursuing the truth to providing balance. This explains the scientist vs denier stories that have been so common. Two, the press simply has not found a way to make climate change a compelling story. Generally the press is guilty of hyping threats to increase the audience. However, because of the nature of climate change which is slowly evolving and full of scientific uncertainties the reverse of hyping has occurred. It would be in the media’s interest to play up the threat of climate change to increase readers and ratings but they haven’t found a way.

  43. Superman1 says:

    This is the problem of trying to re-create history based on the written word. Bureaucrats and political leaders do their best not to document their nefarious deeds and orders. Rather, they hire the ‘right’ people who have much ambition, who want to ‘succeed’ at all costs, and who will do exactly what their bosses want done without having to be told.

  44. Superman1 says:

    Mulga, “for once”!!! Have you no shame?? Even Rupert would not stoop to such levels!

  45. Superman1 says:

    They are essentially accessories to geocide, no different from the driver of the getaway car who is charged with being an accessory to mur**r.

  46. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Bubble economics, a precursor to disaster capitalism. The 0.01% are doing great-the rest, not so much. I know where my loyalties lie.

  47. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ‘Let them eat cactus-or loco weed, for the Mad Hatters’.