This piece was originally published at Media Matters. For a complete debunk of Roy Spencer’s findings, see our earlier post here. by Jill Fitzsimmons & Jocelyn Fong, Media Matters
Promoting an interview with scientist and climate skeptic Roy Spencer, Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs claimed last week that Spencer’s “new findings throw the entire global warming theory into question.” Not to be misunderstood, Dobbs slowed down and repeated the claim: “I said new facts throw the entire global warming theory into question.”
Dobbs teased the interview again at the end of his August 2 show, stating: “Debunking climate change — new evidence from NASA. The whole thing. Well tune in, Al Gore, tomorrow.”
But on August 3, Dobbs changed his tune. His interview with Spencer did not address whether global warming is happening or whether humans are contributing to it, but what the “effects” will be. In fact, at the end of the interview, Dobbs concluded: “[T]here’s no question about climate change. What there is an issue about is the effect of it primarily, and really not much of a discussion about cause either.”
That doesn’t mean, however, that the claims made by Dobbs (and Spencer) during the show were actually supported by Spencer’s study. Nor did Dobbs bother to mention that many climate scientists have criticized Spencer’s methodology and disputed the study’s conclusions.
Dobbs wasn’t the only media figure quick to grossly exaggerate Spencer’s findings. As we detailed, conservative media outlets ran sensational headlines this week, falsely claiming that Spencer’s study refutes the notion that climate change is a problem. Today Rush Limbaugh claimed the paper showed that “the whole thing has been” a “hoax.”
Even Spencer, who makes known his conservative political views, said media outlets “are overstating what the research found,” according to the Associated Press. On his website, Spencer conceded that he “did not actually ‘prove’” that “the models produce too much warming in the long term.” However, Spencer himself overstated the findings during his television appearance.
Dobbs claimed Spencer’s research shows “the future effects of warming could be far less than what most computer models to this point have predicted.” And Spencer said that contrary to IPCC model projections of 3 degrees C of warming, “We’re finding from the real satellite data of how the real climate system operates that it might be more like 1 degree C of warming, and maybe even less.” But these statements are not supported by the study, which only looked at the past 10 years and cannot speak to long-term warming projections.
Asked about Spencer’s performance on Fox Business, MIT atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel said:
I cannot see how Spencer’s statements to Fox are supported by his data. I must say I am disconcerted to hear him spinning his own work.
Similarly, Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology, a frequent critic of the IPCC, wrote that Spencer and his co-author were “concluding too much from their analysis about feedback, sensitivity, and the performance of models,” adding:
It needs to be understood that given the short period of their data set, Spencer and Braswell are looking only at fast feedback processes associated with clouds (not the longer feedbacks associated with oceans and ice sheets). How to translate all of this into a conclusion that climate models are producing incorrect sensitivity to greenhouse warming is not at all clear.
This piece was originally published at Media Matters and was re-published with permission.