On this morning’s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace touted his show’s “fair and balanced” bona fides by claiming he was going to host a debate on whether climate change actually exists. Promoting the conversation on its website, the official blog of the show wrote, “Does climate change exist? We’ll have a fair and balanced debate on Fox News Sunday.”
The debate pitted prominent global warming denier, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), against the author of climate change legislation in the House, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA). When Wallace pressed Inhofe to confront the fact that the last decade has been the hottest in recorded history, Inhofe — true to form — denied the reality:
WALLACE: The fact is, just this week, the world meteorological organization said that this decade is the warmest on record, and that 2009 is the 5th warmest year on record. Does that mean nothing?
INHOFE: It means very little. Because that was based on the same flawed science — the IPCC science — that we have been looking at.
Wallace wrapped up the conversation by saying, “This is a debate that will continue.” Watch a compilation:
Fox’s presentation of a “debate” over global warming science is a classic example of the “false balance” that the traditional media often employs to discuss the issue. The media watchdog group, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, observed that the journalistic norm of “balance” has given disproportionate attention to false perspectives: “By giving equal time to opposing views, the major mainstream newspapers significantly downplayed scientific understanding of the role humans play in global warming.”
By Climate Guest Blogger on Dec 13, 2009 at 10:02 am
This post, by guest blogger Mindy S. Lubber, President, Ceres, was first published here.
So why are Nike, Johnson Controls and Sempra Energy sending top execs to Copenhagen to monitor the international climate talks.
To block a strong climate deal, right? No, wrong.
Dozens of U.S. companies are here advocating for a tough international pact that reduces pollution and accelerates clean energy innovation. The political uncertainty surrounding climate change regulation — both in the U.S. and globally – is stifling their businesses.
“We’re looking to come out with a deal,” said Clay Nesler, vice president of global energy and sustainability at Johnson Controls Inc., a Wisconsin-based company with 133,000 global employees. “We’d like to see the uncertainty reduced. Businesses around the world want this to be settled so they can start reducing their emissions.”
Many of the companies here are unequivocal about the need for dramatically reducing global carbon emissions.
John Emerson had an interesting post yesterday about the role of people with postgraduate degrees in American politics and the Democratic Party coalition. But he refers to that group as a “wonk demographic” which he associates with “cultural elites, and expert administration.”
In that light, I do think it’s worth keeping in mind that a very lunch chunk of the people with advanced degrees in the United States are primary and secondary school teachers. And that’s especially true when you’re looking at the segment of the “wonk demographic” that votes reliably for Democratic candidates. I’m not sure that a sixth grade teacher is the image that comes to mind when words like “wonk” and “expert administration” get tossed around—it’s a pretty standard middle-class occupation with practitioners to be found all across the country.
By Climate Guest Blogger on Dec 13, 2009 at 9:51 am
Tea-time with TVMOB
This is a guest post by Dr. Benjamin Hale. I’m filing this under humor because I don’t have a category for unintentional humor and/or intentional tragedy.
Explosive, Breaking News!
One of the stranger features about this Copenhagen conference is that so many people involved in the climate debate, from many sides, are all in the same town, all at the same time. Among the people inside and outside of the COP, the skeptic community has come to town.
My observation the other day that the country has become ungovernable has been treated with general scorn by the right-wing blogosphere. Glenn Reynolds, for example, had the simple quip “Funny, that dumb cowboy Bush seemed to get a lot done with fewer votes in Congress.”
Well, okay, but did he get a lot done?
Maybe “ungovernable” was not a good word for this, but I meant to convey the fact that the political system seems incapable of addressing large-scale objective problems. For example, there’s the long-term fiscal deficit. For another example, there’s anthropogenic climate change. For another example, our tax code is a very inefficient means of raising revenue. For a final one, our health care system involves a massive level of waste. These are real problems, not just ideological bugaboos. And I don’t think anything from the Bush administration experience should give us confidence that they’re solvable. Mostly Bush got “a lot done” by dodging those problems. When he did edge toward tackling them—his tax reform commission, for example—he got nowhere.
Perhaps the clearest way of making the point is simply the observation that George W Bush’s administration had a horrible record. Remember how by the time he left office his political party was completely discredited? Remember how conservatives were distancing themselves from the Bush legacy? If that’s what success looks like in modern American government, then we’re really doomed.
Yesterday, a top negotiator for the small island nations of the world said that the nations of the world assembled in Copenhagen — soon including President Obama and other world leaders — “have to discuss” the proposal of the tiny Pacific island state of Tuvalu to make an absolute effort to stop global warming. Tuvalu has formally proposed to amend the international climate treaty to reduce the concentrations of global warming pollution to 350ppm from 387ppm, and strictly limit further warming to less than double what has already occurred. Tuvalu is “in the eye of the cyclone” of global warming, already severely damaged by increased cyclones, sea level rise, and coral bleaching.
Tuvalu’s insistence that their amendment to dramatically strengthen the Kyoto Protocol be formally debated shut down the public negotiations during the first week when China and other powerful developing nations objected. In an interview with the Wonk Room, Antonio Pedro Monteiro Lima — Cape Verde’s Ambassador to the United Nations and Vice Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) — conceded that the small island states were willing to accept a consensus result that did not achieve all of the demands in the Tuvalu proposal:
If we can avoid voting, it is the best. If you can reach consensus, that’s the best. But the Tuvalu propsition is only a proposition. We have to discuss it. Of course, China has its own idea on this, and we understand what China is saying. But I think that Tuvalu has the right to put this forward. Because Tuvalu is in the eye of the cyclone, like all of us. They have the right to ask for the maximum, and perhaps . . .
The interview took place at the end of a press conference with two of the top organizers for the international climate movement, Bill McKibben of 350.org and Ricken Patel of Avaaz.org. In an impassioned speech, the ambassador fluently explained that the youth of the world must provide a voice for the small island nations and other countries on the front lines of global warming. Monteiro Lima said that above all, his delegation wants to see a “legally binding outcome” to the Copenhagen talks, because “we cannot go to our people and say we have nothing”:
A legally binding outcome, this is our demand, which includes perhaps not all of our demands, but a lot of our demands. It is very crucial for us. But a legally binding document is absolutely necessary at the end of this meeting. Because we cannot go to our people and say we have nothing.
The primary objection to the consideration of the Tuvalu proposal made by other developing countries is that it could block the passage of an extension of the legally binding (but developing-country-friendly) Kyoto Protocol. Its terms are politically unacceptable to both most developed and developing nations, as it would require strict reductions in pollution from all large polluting nations, rich and poor. Those reductions would be the only way to achieve the pollution and warming limits the small island nations are arguing are necessary to their survival. In the plenary session, China and some other nations questioned whether the Tuvalu amendment would kill the Kyoto Protocol. Ambassador Monteiro Lima explained that was absolutely not the case:
No, because the Tuvalu amendment doesn’t mean the killing of the Kyoto Protocol. We just want some amendments in the Kyoto Protocol. Nobody in AOSIS is asking for the disappearance of the Kyoto Protocol. No! There was a misunderstanding. We don’t want that. Those who want to kill the Kyoto Protocol are not us.
Several developed nations — including Canada and Japan — have explicitly called for the end to the Kyoto Protocol, preferring the Long-term Commitment to Action (LCA) track of nationally determined targets for both developed nations and the richest developing countries. The European Union is open to some extension of the Kyoto Protocol in parallel with the LCA approach.
Delegates ultimately adopted the stop-gap solution put forward by Hedegaard when the plenary resumed later in the day: The chair will name members of an informal workgroup to be co-chaired by one Annex I country (developed) and one non-Annex I country (developing) to study whether the contact group should be appointed. The workgroup will report back on Dec. 14.