Global Warming and the Media

You may have noticed that some of President Obama’s most ardent supporters speak of him in almost messianic terms. But there’s one public figure who apparently means it literally: James Hansen of NASA.

Hansen, who is the “father” of the global warming movement, recently told the U.K. Guardian that the new President “has only four years to save the world.” Unless we implement drastic measures like a “moratorium on new power plants that burn coal” and a hefty “carbon tax,” we face an apocalyptic future-”global flooding, wide-spread species loss and major disruptions of weather patterns.”

Of course, Hansen’s warnings made headlines around the world. Not only because “doom and gloom” sells, but because the mainstream media treats any claim about man-made global warming with the utmost credulity.

Thus, last summer, when a “researcher” claimed that global warming might lead to more violent earthquakes, news outlets trumpeted the story.

In their haste, they neither asked how warmer temperatures can cause earthquakes nor checked the researcher’s credentials. These included previous pieces on something called the “Thiaoouba Prophecy” and reading auras. Really. The story was quickly deleted from the outlets’ websites without retraction or comment.

Less comical but no less telling are the stories about the “disappearing” Arctic ice. A year ago, we were told that the Arctic had reached a “tipping point” and that Arctic ice could be “completely” gone, with dire consequences for polar bears and Santa Claus, within five years.

What you probably haven’t heard is that, by October, that same Arctic ice covered 29 percent more area than it did the year before and that by the end of the year, it was approaching its greatest mass since 1979. And it’s still growing.

There are countless other examples of where real-world facts conflict with global warming theory, not the least of which is that the Earth has been cooling since at least 2003 and arguably since 1998.

As the chairman of the International Geological Congress has asked, “For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming?”

Those of us shivering this winter have been asking the same question.

It’s possible that he and other critics are wrong, of course. What is certain is that we are not getting anything resembling a complete presentation of the facts. The media reports the dire claims, and by the time the claims have been debunked, they have already moved onto the next one.

Given the level of dissent and skepticism on the subject, we ought not to let ourselves be panicked and stampeded into taking drastic and costly measures. Nor should we allow the claims about “scientific consensus” to cow us. First, remember, there is no such consensus; and, second, scientists are just as prone to peer pressure and groupthink as everybody else.

This is a major issue. The costs here are immense, not only in terms of dollars, but in terms of human flourishing. I recommend we take a biblical perspective on environmental stewardship. The Acton Institute has produced just such a booklet-a wonderful tool. Come to BreakPoint.org or call in, and we’ll tell you how to get it.

(This update courtesy of BreakPoint.)

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  • c-kingsley

    I pointed out some of the evidence against global warming to a coworker. He dismissed it, pointing out that the statements against were “hyperbolic.” He suggested that I get my information from sources that were so ideological….
    Hansen isn’t ideological?

  • http://catholicecology.wordpress.com lynnvinc

    It seems you have been misled in your information, though I do know the media make mistakes. If you have any questions about the science, please ask the scientists at http://www.realclimate.org . They are very gracious in answering sincere questions. For instance, I was wondering about the cold snap this winter here in the U.S., and they provided me with information about the strongly negative arctic oscillation we were in — wind currents blowing the cold from the north, rather than the usual west-east pattern, while in the N. Atlantic it was 7C warming than usual, and overall around the world the average temp was actually warmer than usual.

    It is also a mistake to think that mitigating climate change costs. My husband and I started mitigating back in 1990 and have reduced by 60% cost-effectively, saving us money, and without lowering our living standard, by becoming energy/resource efficient/conservative and finally by going on 100% wind-generated electricity from GreenMountain (which is cheaper than dirty energy). Also, the measures that mitigate climate change mitigate other environmental and other problems. It is a win-win-win-win situation. With prayer and sincerity, God will give you help and grace to find solutions, and then more grace to do the needful.

    When you seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness, all thing will be added unto you.

    I wouldn’t trust the Acton Institute. They are heavily funded by Exxon (see http://www.exxonsecrets.org/html/orgfactsheet.php?id=5 ) and perhap other fossil fuel companies. I wouldn’t be surprised if Acton or Exxon were behind the smear campaign against the Holy Father, since he has time and again admonished us to mitigate climate change and other environmental problems, most strongly this past January.

    The U.S. Catholic Bishops have also told us that prudence requires that we mitigate climate change, even if we think the science is still uncertain (which it is not).

    May you not be dishearted in your efforts to mitigate climate change, and my God be with you.

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