Joe Bastardi Pulls a Charlie Sheen on Fox News, Pushing “Utter Nonsense” on Climate Science

Joe Bastardi has become the go-to anti-scientist for Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News. But normally Bastardi doesn’t dress up his disinformation in this much blatant Charlie-Sheen-esque pseudoscience.

by Jocelyn Fong, in a Media Matters repost.

Those who watched Fox News over the weekend were treated to a brief but ambitious science lesson on “Why CO2 Can’t Cause Warming”:

Oh boy. Let’s take these one at a time.

During the segment Fox’s global warming expert, Joe Bastardi, who is employed by the WeatherBELL meteorological consulting firm, declared that the theory of human-induced climate change “contradicts what we call the 1st law of thermodynamics. Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. So to look for input of energy into the atmosphere, you have to come from a foreign source.”


It’s not clear what to conclude from this except that Fox and Bastardi are not familiar with the greenhouse effect. Climate scientists aren’t claiming that humans are creating energy. They’re saying that humans are trapping more energy by increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Duke University scientist William Chameides, who called Fox’s claims “utter nonsense,” explained via email:

It is true that global warming requires a source of heat. In this case it comes from the sun. What CO2 does is trap a larger amount of the heat from the sun, preventing it from escaping and thus driving up temperatures. To argue otherwise is to argue that the greenhouse effect does not exist. In fact the existence of the greenhouse effect was established by scientists more than a century ago. It would be impossible to explain the temperatures of Mars and Venus, as well as the Earth, without invoking this effect.

Bastardi went on to claim Le Chatelier’s Principle “says that any system in distress, physical or chemical in the atmosphere, tries to return toward normalcy. And that is why you’re seeing temperatures level off.”

In fact the notion of a system moving toward “normalcy,” or more accurately, toward a new “equilibrium,” explains why greenhouse gases do cause warming, rather than “Why CO2 Can’t Cause Warming.” By preventing infrared energy from efficiently escaping to space, increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere make it more difficult for the earth to maintain its previous energy balance, and thus its previous temperature.

Kevin Trenberth, Senior Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, explained via email that the system “re-creates equilibrium” by heating up, since the surface and atmosphere radiate more at a higher temperature. As a result, “it reaches a new equilibrium but at a higher temperature,” he said, adding: “And of course we keep adding more CO2 so we have not reached that new state yet.”


Though it appears that Bastardi cites Le Chatelier’s Principle in a general sense and not in reference to any specific process, the principle does have implications for “the uptake of fossil fuel carbon by the ocean,” according to David Archer of the University of Chicago’s Department of Geophysical Sciences. He said, “Without Le Chatelier’s principle, the climate crisis would be much worse than it is, but even with this buffering, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is rising and will continue to remain elevated for tens of thousands of years into the future. So to suggest that Le Chatelier’s principle is going to save us is wrong.” And the principle certainly doesn’t establish that “CO2 Can’t Cause Warming.”

And that’s not all Fox got wrong.

Bastardi claimed that human-induced climate change is implausible because “When you look at carbon dioxide, it increases 1.5 parts per million a year. We contribute 3 percent of that, which means the human contribution is 1 part per 20 million.” Chameides says it’s “not true” that human activities represent such a small fraction of the annual increase in CO2, adding: “Isotopic data show that the increase is mostly traceable to burning of fossil fuel.”

And as the Congressional Research Service explained, the human CO2 contribution is important even if it makes up a small amount of the atmosphere because it affects the Earth’s carbon cycle and “the oceans, vegetation, and soils do not take up carbon released from human activities quickly enough to prevent CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere from increasing … As a result, the atmosphere contains approximately 35% more CO2 today than prior to the beginning of the industrial revolution.”

Bastardi also claimed that “We have warmed up overall over the last 20 to 30 years, over the last 200 years because of the sunspot cycles. You can trace it to the sunspot cycles and you can trace it to the movement of the ocean.” Chameides responds:

Bastardi attributes the warming to: a) sunspots — no there has been no secular trend in sunspots over the past 2–3 decades; b) the ocean — no, data show that the ocean has heated up over the past 20 -30 years; in other words the ocean has absorbed heat from the atmosphere not the other way around.

Lastly, Bastardi claimed that satellites allow us to “measure the temperatures without having to readjust things.” In fact, satellite temperature data do require adjustments, as Roy Spencer, who maintains the UAH satellite temperature record, has explained.

by Jocelyn Fong

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Below are old comments from the earlier Facebook commenting system:

There are days when I can’t help but wonder if these people are actually the vanguard of a Venusian invasion whose mission it is to terraform the planet to their liking.

13 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 4:16pm

Shaheer Cassim · Victoria, British Columbia

Honestly, they’re probably just trying to melt the polar caps to get at the wealth and oil. Technology and God will save them they think. However Rick Perry might discover otherwise.

1 · Like · Reply · August 10 at 4:47pm

Steve Deitz · Student Volunteer at Congressional Research Service

Best. Comment. Ever.

Like · Reply · August 10 at 8:06pm

Christopher Winter · University of Iowa

There was a 1996 movie about that: The Arrival.

The Arrival (1996)1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards ” Zane ( Charlie Sheen), a young, mild-mannered astronomer discovers an… the unwanted characters FB inserts into URLs.)

Like · Reply · August 11 at 8:19pm

Roger Lambert · University of Vermont

Talking about why propagandists like this belong in jail, and why Fox ‘News’ should be pulled from the airwaves for violating their public charter is a more interesting and ultimately more productive conversation.

4 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 3:30pm

  • Prokaryotes — · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Yes, exactly!

False climate change data a Crime Against Humanity · Like · Reply · August 10 at 4:33pm

Robin Indeededo

>Prokaryotes — In the alternate universe, perhaps. But in OUR Bizarro universe, it is NOT illegal to lie on a “news” program ( Just google “lawsuit truth news florida” !!!!!!

1 · Like · Reply · August 10 at 4:43pm

Robin Indeededo

>Roger Lambert:In the alternate universe, perhaps. But in OUR Bizarro universe, it is NOT illegal to lie on a “news” program ( Just google “lawsuit truth news florida” !!!!!!(sorry, Prokaryotes)

Like · Reply · August 10 at 4:45pm

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laska1818 (signed in using Yahoo)

It’s Fox News folks. Just another day at the office for the forces of evil. Yeah I know, that was a cheap shot and not really funny. It would be mildly amusing seeing him make a fool of himself with his utter lack of knowledge of basic physics, but as I started out it’s Fox News folks.

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 3:57pm

Bryan Seigneur · Troy Montgomery

This is a laughing stock, denying the greenhouse effect entirely, and doing so in your face. In friendly debate among intellectual friends (smart conservatives and libertarians) this is like dog excrement you can rub their noses in and say “What’s the matter, guys? Don’t you know you’re going down if you stick with this unreality?”


PSDo you know if I can make a donation to Media Matters earmarked to improve their video hosting? I never wait less than 5 minutes for that stuff to buffer.

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 2:23pm

Shaheer Cassim · Victoria, British Columbia

When Climate-Collapse happens, at least we know who to throw off the lifeboats first. Or use as food.

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 4:37pm

John Poteet · Top Commenter · Chico, California

I’m not sure my hottest compost heap could digest that.

1 · Like · Reply · August 10 at 6:30pm

Prokaryotes — · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Why doesn’t he stick to steroids?

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 3:15pm

Dennis Tomlinson

Ya, what Al Gore said.

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 2:26pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

Castor -If you’re as smart as you think you are.Do this , tell me where in the whole history of the earth, were hundreds of millions low grade heat engines running 24/7, using carbon deposits from like a billion years years of nature burying sunlight. That’s not in the proxy records sport. And everyone of those engines takes “fresh air”, and makes waste heat & “Exhaust Gases”.

The earth has never seen this , ever…….. I promise.There’s 7 Billion of us every thing we do matters, and it’s very small blue ball in cool dead space.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 8:04pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

It as always been my policy to beat deniers like a baby seal .This Castor commenter , is one of the worse ones I ever came across.Mostly I never do the “fight” anymore . I just just read and move on.He’s a real piece of work , and I never answer him. He’s latest in a lone line. But he has to answer this . I promise.

Like · Reply · August 10 at 8:16pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

Castor -If history teaches us anything , it’s that we can kill anything we want.We shot 60 million buffalo in 5 years , one shot at a time. It took us 60–70 years to kill the Colorado.

Come on man we are good river killers. Deltas were the gift of life. The rise of carbon and man killed every river mouth in the world. All the big “ dead zones “ are at the mouth of major rivers.

Like · Reply · August 10 at 8:18pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

“The far north of Russia is among the areas that have suffered the most. “

The largest fire ever seen in New Mexico, and the largest fire ever seen in Arizona, were burning in May. Texas burnt the largest acreage ever seen . 2006 was the last record year in Texas. The fires in East Texas are burning down into the ground 3 to 5 feet, burning the large tap roots of the tree because the ground is so dry , there is no water at 5 feet to put out the fire.

You didn’t grow up with this sport. Neither did I. If you believe man’s land use is to blame, then man’s treatment of the thin shell of gases that shield us from cool dead space, is on the table as well. Castor ……… the last time the Colorado River put water in the Sea of Cortez was 1999 . When I was boy, that spot was a river delta full of life. It is all gone , been dead for 12 years.

We killed the Colorado River Delta 12 years ago. The atmosphere is a little bigger, but not much. To argue we can’t kill it is human folly.

Like · Reply · August 10 at 8:20pm

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taylorbarke (signed in using Yahoo)

You know, deniers just make my head want to burst. I just can’t comprehend what could make people behave in such a blatantly immoral fashion as to purposefully deny a man made phenomena that could seriously threaten nearly all complex life forms on the planet. A phenomena that is so simple to understand, yet is so easily obscured by lying corporate shills. People that obviously have a cogent vested interest in maintaining this mindless lie. The conflicts of interests so blatantly obvious and yet nearly completely ignored.

I have no faith in human kind anymore.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 3:06pm

Bart Laws · Top Commenter · Assistant Professor at Brown University

Remember this guy is supposedly a meteorologist. But he doesn’t know, or pretends not to know, what fundamentally determines the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere. He doesn’t even seem to know that it is not a closed system, that solar radiation flows in and radiation flows out, and that the balance between these flows can change to create a greater or lesser stock of atmospheric warmth. A METEOROLOGIST. Incredible.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 3:28pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

No number for this drought. Ain’t that funny? Last real number was 1.5 Billion in May, and just in Texas.Let’s keep that number here, let us begin now.Just in Texas, this is a 10 Billion Dollar drought.Maybe 12 Billion , it was was 102F here today , the body count goes on.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 9:47pm

Olivia Duncan · Dallas, Texas

There’s talk of a ship dragging an iceberg this way.

Like · Reply · August 10 at 10:59pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

This week 2 “Base-Ball Storms” came in. In Wyoming and Neb.Inhfoe”s Igloo Village had a 97 mph wind speed that doesn’t go in a circle.It’s beating windshields out in Neb. in Walmart parking lots.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 8:45pm

Peter S. Mizla · Top Commenter · Vernon, Connecticut

Joe is back and not a minute too soon. Back on Fox with the same inane junk that saw him make a quick exit from accuweather. What remains to be seen however, is Revkin over at the NYT any better?

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 4:22pm

Bart Laws · Top Commenter · Assistant Professor at Brown University

Revkin isn’t AS bad. He seems to fancy himself a contrarian or an equal opportunity skeptic or something. He’s trying to find a non-existent “split the baby” middle ground. Another way of putting it is he’s a mush-headed coward who wants to have it both ways when there just ain’t no both ways. A totally contemptible creature.

2 · Like · Reply · August 10 at 5:56pm

Peter S. Mizla · Top Commenter · Vernon, Connecticut

Well then Bart, you answered my question! I agree however Revkin is a coward- but then again the NYT is his ‘daddy?’ no?

As you said there are no two ways. Climate sensitivity as regards to C02 can now be seen with the ongoing drama in the arctic.

What will Bastadri say when the ice is nearly gone someday soon? Its a plot by NASA scientists- Revkin? He needs to eat crow, And That will be as you said this ‘contemptible creatures’ dinner- and soon.

2 · Like · Reply · August 10 at 6:26pm

Timothy Hughbanks · Top Commenter · Professor at Texas A&M University

Wow — this one needed Joe’s trademarked “exploding head” warning. If you’re going to lie about everything else — heck — why not lie about physics too?

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 8:56pm

Berthold Klein · Case Institute of Technology

Environmentalists continue to live in a world of Fantasy and Fiction> Here is someone that realized that Al Gore and the Gorezillas are as much a nightmare as Avatar.

Greenpeace Co-Founder Dr. Patrick Moore Questions Man-Made Global Warming, Calls it ‘Obviously a Natural Phenomenon’ Visit Site.‘We do not have any scientific proof that we are the cause of the global warming that has occurred in the last 200 years…The alarmism is driving us through scare tactics to adopt energy policies that are going to create a huge amount of energy poverty among the poor people’.

…See More

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 1:12am

Prokaryotes — · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Watch this degenerated forcast, riiiight! · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 10:42pm

Miles Lunn · Simon Fraser

My understanding is that what he says in terms of overall energy is correct, otherwise if the earth warms due to heat trapping GHGs, shouldn’t the areas above whatever point this occurs cool by the same amount. Not denying global warming, I am just pointing out that if one area warms another will cool by the same amont even if the place that cools is several thousands of feet above sea level where no one lives.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 10:01pm

Prokaryotes — · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

95% of the carbon dioxide went into the ocean — a huge battery which lies between the biosphere (carbon sink) and the atmosphere. That’s why past “natural” climate changes take so long, the ocean normally needs hundreds of years, unless you have exponential more carbon released than at any time in earth history. Scientist believe now they found evidence that this battery is full, though more emitted carbon dioxide goes directly into the atmosphere + the ocean begins to release carbon dioxide, as the uptake works inside the ocean (hypoxia aka dead zones). And here grow several kinds of so called positive feedback cycles which start to kick in.

At the same time we are loosing the arctic ice, which reflects a lot of heat back into space. But once the ice is gone, albedo is gone and so called arctic death spirals start feeding each other. A irreversible cycle begins.

What we can do now is to slow the feedbacks and hope to reverse some of the processes we triggered, with emitting carbon dioxide and the destruction of carbon sinks.

1 · Like · Reply · August 10 at 11:10pm

andrewsdanielj (signed in using Yahoo)

Seems to be yet another link between creationists and deniers. The first group claims evolution violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics and the second group with climate change violating the first. Two down, two to go.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 12 at 12:56am

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

Whenever the smaller random events come, they open a way for these larger forces at to come in, & they do now. Everywhere at all times.This very bad news , because as we’ve just seen this week , every thunder storm , now can kill you & your love ones. All of them, all over the world.You think you’re Daniel Boone? Tell me what you do when hail makes your windshield a art piece of cracks.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 9:12pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

If your poor, this is a big deal . Your 4-wheel drive ain’t moving after 2.75 inches of hail cracks every window.

Like · Reply · August 10 at 9:18pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

This story comes from the “ Heart Land “ .

Like · Reply · August 10 at 9:20pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

“ Base Ball Storms “

Like · Reply · August 10 at 9:21pm

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Bill Tyson

It’s just a war. With big oil and coal trying to keep their wealth and power. Fox News is part of the army of misinformation.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 5:32pm