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”Global Warming” Issues: Journalists Show Their Bias

August 17th, 2009

Michael R. Fox, Ph.D.

Journalists Show Bias on Global Warming Issues.

Read these quotes:

“As scientific evidence has accumulated that the planet is warming and that humans are behind it, many previous skeptics have been won over. There remains a vocal cadre of critics, however, at least some of whose arguments have shifted over the last several years from outright denial that the earth is warming to insisting it's unrelated to human activity — and even if it is, likely nothing much to worry about."

"Some of the most vocal skeptics have done relatively little recent peer-reviewed scientific research on the topic, and some have had their voices amplified via financial support from industries opposed to any government regulation or taxation of greenhouse gas emissions."

"Others do have training and experience, at least in some aspects of the wide-ranging issue, and are not bankrolled by industry. But overall, their number represents a distinctly minority position in the ongoing and normal colloquy among scientists about the evidence of climate change and its likely impacts."

The paragraphs above are taken from the website of the Society of Environmental Journalists section on “Skeptics and Contrarians."

Their choice of words and the structure of these comments disclose their preference and prejudices of the global warming issues. They also show a remarkable lack of what science is and how it proceeds. These are the self-appointed journalists who view themselves as final arbiters and reporters of what science is. They haven’t a clue.

What is remarkable is that a society of Journalists, allegedly intending to honestly discuss complex issues, has forfeited their professed dispassionate indifference to the global warming issues in exchange for naked advocacy.

(1) The SEJ states “As scientific evidence has accumulated that the planet is warming and that humans are behind it”. This only partly correct. Even the IPCC has stated that there has been a slight (~0.6deg C) over the past 100 years. Even that doesn’t begin to tell the entire story of the recent warming, since it began about 300 years ago when the Little Ice Age began to end. Humans were not behind that temperature reversal at all. Nor were humans behind the 600 or so other warming periods found during the last 1,000,000 years.

(2) The question still remains “where is the evidence which establishes the hypothesis that man-made CO2 causes global warming”? The crucial question after 20 years remains unanswered. The SEJ is operating with unscientific criteria to make these statements and thus to mislead their members and their readers. Science is driven by evidence, not the pretense of evidence. Such unscientific criteria include:

(a) Appeals to authority
(b) Appeals to consensus
(c) Both the absence and the avoidance of serious debates
(d) The use of ad hominem attacks, pejoratives, personal attacks, and dismissiveness as a common, if not required, communications style among the AGW group
(e) The erroneous assumptions that only “climate scientists” are qualified to discuss climate, as well as the many other aspects of the global warming issues.
(f) The erroneous assumption that climate science is an exclusive area of science and has nothing in common with other areas. There are many areas in common with climate science which extend and overlap into other science and engineering disciplines that are familiar to thousands of other scientists and engineers. It is very much a world of interdisciplinary skills and sciences.
(g) Some of these include the numerous common areas of metrology such as: Surface, balloon, and satellite temperature measurements, CO2 measurements, sea level measurements, sea surface temperature measurements. Other areas of shared climate science includes the basics of thermodynamics, heat, mass, and momentum transfer, ocean wide temperature differences, salinity gradients, velocity gradients, etc. as well as an understanding of absorption and emission spectroscopy, gas phase kinetics, chemical reactions, error analyses, statistical significance, and common cause failure analyses.
(h) The SEJ doesn’t recognize as a problem that there is a notable clannishness among the AGW, as noted by such prestigious people as Ed Wegman (http://tinyurl.com/c45uvv/) and William Happer (http://tinyurl.com/d6yp8t/) Most scientists have welcomed constructive criticism so the surprising rejection of well-documented criticism is something which has rarely been seen in science. The AGW lobby, along with their friends in the SEJ, reflexively go into attack mode without ever answering the questions or providing evidence, along with its friends in the SEJ.
(i) One suspects that if the SEJ existed 350 years ago it would have been calling for Galileo’s execution. We now know that Italian academics of the times (not to mention those at Harvard at the time, too) also supported the charges of heresy. There remain among us mindless political forces who still would refuse to look through Galileo’s telescope to see the evidence for themselves.

Now being discussed quietly around the world is the obvious widespread bullying on a global scale by the AGW lobby, who seem to be defending, quite unprofessionally, what they view as their own scientific turf and their entitlement programs, all of which are richly funded with billions of research dollars annually. This institutional bullying would seem to be fertile territory for the SEJ to investigate, but since it’s committed to the bullies in the first place, it can’t.

The AGW lobby owns entire issues, including who gets funded, and who doesn’t get funded, who gets published, who doesn’t get published, who gets the acclaim, and who gets scorned.

The AGW enjoys huge popularity and favoritism among the media and the Society of Environmental Journalists. The AGW also has wide support in Hollywood as well, including the experts in the fine art of “photoshopping” phony climatic flooding into the streets of New York.

(3) The SEJ also states “Some of the most vocal skeptics have done relatively little recent peer-reviewed scientific research on the topic”. This statement contains a number of irrelevant and erroneous assumptions to bolster its own global warming prejudices.

(a) This includes the assumption that there are not major editorial biases at the major journals such as Science, Nature, Scientific American, New Scientist, etc. As a reader of most of them (and a former subscriber to some of them), it is readily apparent that there are most certainly biases in the editorial policies at these journals. This doesn’t mean that good and worthy material won’t appear in them, but it creates such doubt in the knowledgeable reader’s mind, that one doesn’t know if he is being lied to or not. This requires more research efforts. Lots of papers written by the climate realists never have seen the light of day at these journals because of these editorial biases. Bias has been an editorial practice at some of these journals for decades as we learned in the DDT ban of the 1970s that led to 30,000,000 deaths and helped create the current malaria epidemic in Africa. One also suspects that an investigation of these biased journalistic practices would probably be beyond journalistic standards at the SEJ.
(b) The assumption that anyone who has not published papers in climate science journals is unqualified to make comments, is fallacious. Climate science is highly multi-disciplinary, and many science and engineering disciplines overlap the fundamentals of climate science. Climatologists weren’t the first to measure temperatures, CO2 concentrations, sea levels, or count polar bears. They weren’t the first to consider thermodynamics, mass, heat, and momentum transfer, vapor phase kinetics or vapor phase spectroscopy. Nor are they the first to consider data quality, model validations, error analyses, instrumentation, use of quality standards from the National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST), common cause failure analyses, and more.
(c) They weren’t even the first to master the very murky back waters of computer modeling. McIntyre and McKitrick, who discovered, with little cooperation from the authors, the stunning scientific fraud of the Hockeystick, and clearly demonstrated that people in many science and engineering disciplines can offer serious and worthy criticism in those parts where such skills apply.
(d) It is worth noting that Al Gore is not a scientist, nor a lawyer, nor a pastor, yet his scientific credentials are never challenged by the SEJ or the AGW lobby. Nor are the credentials of Dr. James Hansen who is an astronomer, not a climatologist. He also gets by without these criticisms. Being on theside of the bullies has its benefits.

(4) The SEJ states that “…some have had their voices amplified via financial support from industries opposed to any government regulation or taxation of greenhouse gas emissions.” This is largely irrelevant since it implies that any recipient of such money (I know of none) would have to accept the script of the donor as gospel. It is interesting that the largest recipients by far of funding is the AGW lobby, who receive billions annually from the government agencies, from foundations, and notably, Dr. Jim Hansen, who received $250,000 directly from an individual contributor.

(5) The SEJ believes that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a viable, defensible source of climate science. This suggests that the SEJ knows little about the horrendous politics and fraudulent science that is driving the IPCC, and would be consistent with their seemingly poor understanding of science.

We observe that the SEJ arrogates to itself the role of judge, jury, and hangman in choosing for its members its preferred winners and losers in climate science. This is unfortunate for the SEJ, and all of journalism, and is also a major disservice to its readers. These distortions of science need to recognized and corrected.

True science does not result in support for what one believes, what anyone asserts, what someone says, whom you recommend or prefer, or outcomes you prefer. It proceeds with evidence, properly collected, reviewed, discussed, and replicated.

Michael R. Fox, Ph.D., is a nuclear scientist and a science and energy resource for Hawaii Reporter and a science analyst for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, is retired and now lives in Eastern Washington. He has nearly 40 years experience in the energy field. He has also taught chemistry and energy at the University level. His interest in the communications of science has led to several communications awards, hundreds of speeches, and many appearances on television and talk shows. He can be reached via email at mike@foxreport.org

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