"Fox News science columnist seeks sources to mock climate science — even if they know it is accurate"
Fox also hosts Joe Bastardi to push ‘utter nonsense’ on climate — but fails to question his unscientific claims about cooling.
In December, we learned that Fox News managing editor Bill Sammon required journalists and producers that report on even the most unequivocal scientific facts about global warming to dispute those facts “IMMEDIATELY.” This has now been carried to its illogical extreme.
Gawker reports that Fox News anti-science columnist Gene Koprowski is “seeking sources to to explain the ‘ridiculousness’ of the idea of global warming causing snow.” Koprowski “posted this request to Profnet, the service that brings together desperate journalists and publicity-hungry sources” [italics added]:
1. ENVIRONMENT/TODAY: Global Warming Causing More Snow? Come Again? “” FoxNews.com
Deadline: Feb 01, 2011 11:00 PM EST
Former Vice President Al Gore told Bill O’Reilly that: “A rise in global temperature can create all sorts of havoc, ranging from hotter dry spells to colder winters, along with increasingly violent storms, flooding, forest fires and loss of endangered species.” We need comments from someone who can point out the ridiculousness of his argument, even if you accept the somewhat-implausible argument. I’ve been assigned this story just now by Fox News in New York for the science and technology desk. I’m looking for comments. Please send comments via e-mail. Please send your name, title and company you represent. Please send comments by 10 p.m. CST. Contact: Gene Koprowski, [redacted]
You can’t make this stuff up — unless you work for Fox News, that is.
Koprowski wants to be able to quote people calling the argument ridiculous — even if they know it is true (which, of course, it is).
No wonder a recent poll found, “Greater exposure” to Fox News will lead to “increased misinformation” on policy issues, especially climate science.
In fact, as I and other have noted many times, the scientific literature is pretty clear that indeed global warming will cause more snow — especially in warm years (see “An amazing, though clearly little-known, scientific fact: We get more snow storms in warm years!“). Indeed, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) U.S. Climate Impacts Report from 2009 reviewed that literature and concluded:
Cold-season storm tracks are shifting northward and the strongest storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent.
[For the record — not that the record matters to Fox — but that quote ascribed to Gore was in fact Gore quoting the Chicago Tribune.]
Dr. Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, explained to me:
- “There is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago. It’s about a 4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms and it’s unfortunate that the public is not associating these with the fact that this is one manifestation of climate change.”
- “We’ve seen other examples out in Seattle last year, and also of course the flooding in New England and the exceptionally heavy snow storms in Washington DC this year“¦. The same mechanism actually applies to the heavy snow, all you have to do is have the right weather conditions and for it to be cold enough and this precipitation just turns into snow. The very heavy snowfall amounts are actually related to the fact that the moisture that’s coming into that region is coming off of the tropical or sub tropical Atlantic where there’s abundant moisture and more moisture than there used to be: demonstrably more moisture than there used to be 30 years ago.”
Koprowski spreads disinformation for a living, as a quick glance of his columns makes clear:
- Global Cooling Is Coming — and Beware the Big Chill, Scientist Warns
- What Alarming Sea Level Rise? Observational Data Reveals No Change, Scientist Says
- Scientist Disputes EPA Finding that Carbon Dioxide Poses Threat to Humans
Too bad he wasn’t old enough to be around to write “Scientist disputes Surgeon General finding that cigarette smoking is harmful to your health.”
So FoxNews is always on the lookout for someone to provide ‘balance’ against even the most unequivocal scientific facts. Supposedly they are also on the lookout for people to provide a balanced against claims of cooling. Fox News managing editor Bill Sammon’s email to the network’s staff stated:
we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.
But that’s not what they do when they bring on In-Accuweather’s chief long-range forecaster, Joe Bastardi. Bastardi is, of course, one of the most debunked and unscientific long-range forecasters in the world (see “major scientific misstatements by Bastardi“).
As Media Matters writes today, “Fox & Friends hosted meteorologist and climate skeptic Joe Bastardi to cast doubt on global warming by making several dubious claims, including that El Ni±o is responsible for warming during the past 30 years. Moreover, Bastardi is not a climate scientist, and previous claims by Bastardi have been criticized by climate experts.”
Here’s the video:
I know you are shocked, shocked that Fox has nobody there to call his nonsense into question. Note that while Bastardi makes those absurd predictions again and again, he won’t even take a simple bet about them. Since I’ve debunked him enough recently, I’ll just excerpt MM’s excellent expert debunking:
Bastardi Claims El Ni±o Caused Warming Over Past 30 Years
Bastardi Attributes Rising Temperatures To El Ni±o. On February 2, Fox & Friends hosted Bastardi, who claimed that “there’s been a general trend upward here [in temperatures] over the last 30 years … because the Pacific has been warm,” referring to the phenomenon known as El Ni±o. From Fox & Friends:
BASTARDI: Now, if we go to 30-year satellite temperatures, you can see there’s been a general trend upward here over the last 30 years. That’s because the Pacific has been warm, there’s been high sunspot activity. That’s turning around now. And the global temperature has crashed from that peak in the middle of 2010 all the way down to January, we’re well below normal and I believe 2011 will be near normal. What’s very interesting about this, folks, is usually after a La Ni±a winter, the following winters are colder. [Fox News’ Fox & Friends, 2/2/11]
In Fact, Climate Scientists Say El Ni±o Can’t Explain Long-Term Global Warming
Scientists Say El Ni±o Can’t Explain Long-Term Warming Trend. David Pierce, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography responded to the question, “How do climate scientists know that the warming in the past 30 years is not due to El Ni±os?” by writing that “the main way we know that El Ni±o is not responsible for the ‘global warming’ in recent decades is that the up-and-down temperature sequence of the El Ni±os and La Ni±as does not match the long-term, secular rise in temperatures”:
This question reminds me of when I was young, and my grandfather took me and my 5-year old cousin on an elevator ride. My grandfather told her that if she jumped up and down, she could jump to the top of the building. So she energetically jumped up and down, and after a minute the elevator doors opened, and there we were at the top of the building! My cousin was mighty impressed.
Of course, she was only 5, so we can forgive her for not understanding that it’s perfectly possible for two things to be happening at the same time. She was jumping up and down, but the elevator car was going up at the same time. El Ni±o and the warming we have seen over the last 30 years are like that. We have had El Ni±os (warm events) and La Ni±as (cold events), which push the Earth up and down in temperature. (By the National Center for Environmental Predictions’s [sic] count — they are part of NOAA, who also runs the National Weather Service — we have had about 11 El Ni±o (warm) events since 1970, and about 10 La Ni±a (cold) events). At the same time, there has been a long-term, systematic warming of the planet. So the main way we know that El Ni±o is not responsible for the “global warming” in recent decades is that the up-and-down temperature sequence of the El Ni±os and La Ni±as does not match the long-term, secular rise in temperatures.
Another way you can check if El Ni±o/La Ni±a are responsible for [t]he planetary warming is by examining the regions that they tend to influence, and see if there is a match. The planetary warming can be seen across broad swaths of the globe, but is concentrated in the polar regions. El Ni±o warming is concentrated in the tropics. So the spatial signature of El Ni±o warming does not match the spatial pattern of global warming either. [Email to Media Matters, 1/26/11]
Kevin Trenberth Of NCAR Called Bastardi’s Previous El Ni±o Claim “Utter Nonsense.” Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), told Media Matters via email:
The heat has to come from somewhere. In El Ni±o: or really the ENSO cycle of El Ni±o and then La Ni±a, the heat builds up during La Ni±a, and then is redistributed and comes out of the ocean during and following El Ni±o.
This is well documented (I can point you to papers). So there is a mini global warming (increase in temperature) in the latter part of El Ni±o.
The heat has to come from somewhere and so if the climate is warming because of a warm cycle in the Pacific, where did the heat come from? If it just comes from the ocean then the ocean must be cooling down. It isn’t. Of course it is global warming from increased greenhouse gases that warms the ocean!
The statements are utter nonsense. [Email to Media Matters, 1/26/11]
RealClimate: Scientists Have “Known For Decades” That El Ni±o Correlates With Global Temperatures. From a July 2009 post on Real Climate, a science blog written by working climate scientists:
First, there is an atrocious paper that has just been published in JGR by McLean, de Freitas and Carter that is doing the rounds of the denialosphere. These authors make the completely unsurprising point that that there is a correlation between ENSO indices and global mean temperature – something that has been well known for decades – and then go on to claim that that all trends are explained by this correlation as well. This is somewhat surprising since their method of analysis (which involves taking the first derivative of any changes) eliminates the influence of any trends in the correlation. [RealClimate.org, 7/24/09]
Scientists Seek To Account For El Ni±o Effects When Evaluating Climate Change. Physicist John Cook wrote on his website that “[t]here have been various attempts to filter out the ENSO signal from the temperature record,” adding that analyses have confirmed that El Ni±os have a “strong short term effect on global temperature but cannot explain the long term trend.” From the post:
An examination of the temperature record from 1880 to 2007 finds internal variability such as El Ni±o has relatively small impact on the long term trend (Hoerling 2008). Instead, they find long term trends in sea surface temperatures are driven predominantly by the planet’s energy imbalance.
There have been various attempts to filter out the ENSO signal from the temperature record. We’ve examined one such paper by Fawcett 2007 when addressing the global warming stopped in 1998 argument. Similarly, Thompson 2008 filters out the ENSO signal from the temperature record. What remains is a warming trend with less variability. [SkepticalScience.com, 9/3/10]
Climate Experts Have Previously Criticized Bastardi’s Claims
UCS Spokesman: Bastardi Doesn’t Have “Expertise In What’s Happening With Our Climate From A Long-Range Perspective.” From a September 23, 2010, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article:
Which brings us to a slightly sticky subject: Dr. Gray, like Mr. Bastardi, firmly believes that human-generated global warming isn’t happening but is just part of a natural phenomenon of long-term warming and cooling trends.
Both have received considerable flak for this — New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert called Mr. Bastardi’s position “ridiculous” in a column — but Mr. Bastardi loves a good argument, so he appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News program last year to debate the issue with Bill Nye, “The Science Guy.” Then, in April, he faced off on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” against Brenda Ekwurzel of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“He’s among a minority of meteorologists, mostly on television, who say these things and who don’t have expertise in what’s happening with our climate from a long-range perspective,” said Aaron Huertas, a spokesman for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It’s about as valid as a climate scientist criticizing Mr. Bastardi’s annual hurricane predictions.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/23/10]
UCS Fact-Checks Bastardi’s Dubious Claims Following Discussion On Global Warming With UCS Climate Scientist. In April 2010, Bastardi appeared on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report to debate global warming science with UCS climate scientist Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel. Following the show, UCS debunked several of the dubious claims made by Bastardi that were, as UCS noted, “at odds with mainstream climate science.” From the UCS release:
Bastardi claimed: “The drivers that have been pushing this [global warming], the Pacific Ocean being warm, the Atlantic Ocean being warm, they’re all going to come off. So if CO2 continues to rise and temperatures continue to flatten out, which they’ve done over the past five or 10 years starts falling, we’ll know…. I think we’re going to find out that global warming is basically natural.”
It is true that natural cycles, such as the Arctic Oscillation, El Ni±o and La Ni±a will continue to play a significant role in affecting the climate over the course of years and decades. But global warming is raising the temperature baseline on which they all operate. Since 1880, the Earth has significantly warmed as carbon dioxide levels have continued to rise. Changes to natural climate drivers, including the sun, volcanic activity and the cycles Bastardi cites are not significant enough to explain the jump in global temperatures over the past several decades. In fact, climate scientists would be shocked if the increase in carbon dioxide levels–which have increased more than 40 percent since the pre-Industrial era–were not raising global temperatures.
Global temperatures have not “flattened out” over the past five or 10 years. Such claims focus on short-term climate shifts and use particularly hot years, such as 1998, as their starting point. In reality, the past 10 years have been the hottest decade on record.
Bastardi claimed that the “[Arctic sea] ice has just returned to normal…. If you look at today’s Arctic ice sheet, it’s back to where it was two, three, four, five years ago….”
Bastardi’s statement is based on a short-term look at Arctic sea ice extent, a measure of the area encompassed by the furthest edges of ice coverage. This year’s maximum winter sea ice extent was particularly late, thanks to a cold spring. But over the last six years or more, the maximum extent of sea ice has remained well below the 1979 to 2000 average extent, both in the winter and summer. This past winter was no exception. Sea ice extent is still below average.
In any case, a better measure of the stability of Arctic sea is sea ice thickness and its persistence over time. The new 2010 melt season is about to begin with more thin ice than usual. Thin ice likely will melt quickly in the summer. [UCS, 4/7/10]
Romm Criticizes Bastardi And Right-Wing Disinformation Campaign Against Global Warming Science. Citing a Think Progress post, climate expert Joe Romm criticized Fox News and host Bill O’Reilly for promoting Bastardi’s claim that the “globe is cooling.” [Climate Progress, 9/15/09; Think Progress, 9/14/09]
Climate Scientists Overwhelmingly Agree That Global Warming Is Happening
Recent Warming Trend Is Established By Temperature Measurements, Other Observations. The National Climatic Data Center explains that the “warming trend that is apparent in all of the independent methods of calculating global temperature change is also confirmed by other independent observations”:
Thousands of land and ocean temperature measurements are recorded each day around the globe. This includes measurements from climate reference stations, weather stations, ships, buoys and autonomous gliders in the oceans. These surface measurements are also supplemented with satellite measurements. These measurements are processed, examined for random and systematic errors, and then finally combined to produce a time series of global average temperature change. A number of agencies around the world have produced datasets of global-scale changes in surface temperature using different techniques to process the data and remove measurement errors that could lead to false interpretations of temperature trends. The warming trend that is apparent in all of the independent methods of calculating global temperature change is also confirmed by other independent observations, such as the melting of mountain glaciers on every continent, reductions in the extent of snow cover, earlier blooming of plants in spring, a shorter ice season on lakes and rivers, ocean heat content, reduced arctic sea ice, and rising sea levels. [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climatic Data Center, accessed 1/14/11]
JR: I’m going to insert a better temperature figure from Skeptical Science (see “Comparing all the temperature records“):
I’ve added a new graphic to the list of Hi-rez Climate Graphics: a composite of all the major global temperature records, going back to 1890 (obviously the satellite records [RSS and UAH] only begin in the late 20th century). Many thanks to Benjamin Franz who sent me the spreadsheet of all the data.
Back to MM post:
IPCC: Most Of Recent Warming Is Very Likely Due To Increase In Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change — a scientific body compiling research from thousands of scientists — concluded in 2007 that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level” and that “most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely [defined in the report as a ‘>90%’ chance] due to the observed increase in anthropogenic [human-caused] GHG [greenhouse gas] concentrations.” [Pages 8 and 17, Synthesis Report, Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, 2007]
29 Prominent Scientists In The U.S.: “The Body Of Evidence That Human Activity Is The Dominant Cause Of Global Warming Is Overwhelming.” In a December 4, 2009, letter to Congress, 29 prominent scientists, including 11 members of the National Academy of Sciences, stated: “The body of evidence that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming is overwhelming. The content of the stolen emails has no impact whatsoever on our overall understanding that human activity is driving dangerous levels of global warming.” [UCS, 12/04/09]
1,700 Scientists In The United Kingdom: Global Warming “Is Due Primarily To Human Activities.” More than 1,700 scientists from the United Kingdom signed a statement responding “to the ongoing questioning of core climate science and methods.” The statement said: “We, members of the UK science community, have the utmost confidence in the observational evidence for global warming and the scientific basis for concluding that it is due primarily to human activities.” [U.K. Met Office, 12/10/09 accessed from Climate Progress]
American Association For The Advancement Of Science: “[S]cientific Evidence” Shows “That Global Climate Change [Is] Caused By Human Activities.” On December 4, 2009, the American Association for the Advancement of Science stated that it “has reaffirmed the position of its Board of Directors and the leaders of 18 respected organizations, who concluded based on multiple lines of scientific evidence that global climate change caused by human activities is now underway, and it is a growing threat to society.” The statement also said that “the illegal release of private emails stolen from the University of East Anglia should not cause policy-makers and the public to become confused about the scientific basis of global climate change.” [AAAS, 12/04/09]
Bastardi … Has Repeatedly Cast Doubt On Global Warming Science
Bastardi Believes Man Made Global Warming Isn’t Happening. A September 23, 2010, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette profile of Bastardi reported:
Which brings us to a slightly sticky subject: Dr. Gray, like Mr. Bastardi, firmly believes that human-generated global warming isn’t happening but is just part of a natural phenomenon of long-term warming and cooling trends. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 09/23/10]
O’Reilly Hosts Bastardi To Claim That “The Globe Is Actually Cooling.” During the September 9, 2009 edition of Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor, Bastardi cast doubt on global warming and claimed that “global cooling is the cause of draught in California.. at least over the past ten years.” [Fox News’ Fox & Friends, 09/09/2009]
I’d add that the traditionally conservative and staid U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the equivalent of our scientific Supreme Court, concluded its recent review of climate science:
A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems”¦.
Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.
And so it is a scientific “settled fact” that the Earth is warming.
On Fox News, however, settled scientific facts must always be disputed and ridiculed whereas falsehoods must repeated endlessly without challenged.
- Long wrong Joe Bastardi cooks the books to smear NSIDC. Time for Accuweather to fire him: National Snow & Ice Data Center explains Bastardi can’t read graphs and “is unclear as to how standardized anomalies are derived”
- Joe Bastardi can’t read a temperature anomaly map and so spins another conspiracy theory: Says pre-1978 temperatures use “magic readjustment”
- Accuweather’s Joe Bastardi admits, “Earth continues warmest winter since satellite measurements started”: Then he invents a new, self-contradictory theory of warming.
- Meteorological Malpractice: Accuweather’s Joe Bastardi pushes the “70s Ice Age Scare” myth again
- O’Reilly’s weatherman, befuddled Bastardi: “Global cooling is actually a cause of drought in California”
- Joe Bastardi asserts “The coming cooling of the planet overall will return it to where it was in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s”