" ‘Neither the [Washington] Post nor Watson [Robb: "Robert Watson, chairman ofAs low as my opinion of the global warming scientists is, the lack of scientific rigor here is somewhat breathtaking. If you read below, it points out the climate models have been consistently inaccurate in predicting temperatures historically -- ie, we know what the temperatures were for the last hundred years -- so they've been modifying them artificially, tweaking their models with factually wrong assumptions to make them accurate. But the extreme model cited above took out the tweaks, and the global warming temperature prediction ballooned (heated up, ignited, achieved stable thermonuclear fusion, choose your metaphor). Add in the lack of oceans, etc, and this is what you call true junk science. (Note: I wouldn't class this as so much a "model of a model" as the author does below. I would just call it extremely bad "science", and very dishonest.)
the IPCC and former Clinton science advisor, is quoted as saying ‘ -- the same
scientist, who in 1992, predicted an imminent ozone hole in the Northern
Hemisphere; The ozone hole never appeared.."] mentions that this forecast
of extreme warming is the result of a computer model: “It is a product of the
most extreme climate model [emphasis added by Robb] run under the most extreme set of future emission scenarios. In other words, it’s not a model based upon
present trends; it’s a MODEL OF A MODEL [emphasis the author]! ... it treats the
world largely as a uniform entity, one devoid of ocean currents, without
mountains, and with no thunderstorms. ...The ‘toy model’ the [Washington] Post
and Watson rushed to report upon has an unrealistic value of 110F [for global
warming] because in it the sulfate aerosols have been removed. That’s right:
What previously was used to ‘fix’ the computer models now has been taken out’. "
.......full text at
A recent news article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch addressed the effects of Global Warming. It carried a national by-line “Knight Ridder Newspapers”, but no individual authorship. To see how a news article can be used to primarily persuade the reader of a particular point of view rather than report in a balanced fashion, it is helpful to look at the article itself.
Good writing usually follows the rules of asking, and then answering, the “Five W’s” : Who, What, When, Where and Why. In examining the Feb 19, 2001 article titled “Global warming effects are seen now, likely to worsen, panel says,” (1) we find that the Who is not identified until the third paragraph and then still in a general sense, not as individuals with names and lives. Nowhere in the entire article is the reader given a real person’s name as being involved in the panel. Only one name appears in the entire seventeen paragraph article, and that occurs in paragraph twelve when President G.W. Bush is mentioned with a negative implication: “While most scientists agree that global warming is real, human-caused and a threat, President George W. Bush’s administration is not so sure.”
Who Are the Experts?
Instead of real live persons, the article uses such words as “panel of the world’s top environmental scientists,” “U.N.-sponsored panel,” “scientists predict,” and “they.” Who are these “world’s top” scientists? No names are given. They are called “scientists” seven times, “panelists” four times, “they” four times, and “their report” once. We are not told anything about the make-up of the panel, nor who their spokesman was. However, the author conveys their importance with the words in paragraph two, “a panel of the world’s top environmental scientists.”
We are never told that the spokesman was Robert Watson, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and former Clinton science advisor. Nowhere in the article are we informed that there exists thousands of eminent scientists world-wide who oppose the conclusions given in the news article. If we were told that the scientists were named Newton, Currie, or Einstein, we would have been impressed. However, had they been named Archie Bunker, Forrest Gump, or Mrs Howell from Gilligan’s Island, we would have just ignored the story. By leaving the names blank, we were able to take the word “scientist” which carries status and authority and give it a favorable slant.
Another major rule in journalism is to put the most important information in the front and the least important in the back of the article. In this case, the unidentified author used the first two paragraphs to persuade the reader that, as the subtitle stated, “probable consequence [of Global Warming] is millions [of] deaths over [the next] century;” In fact, the first paragraph states, “The effects of global warming are here already and are likely to get far worse, killing millions of people and displacing tens of millions more over the next century.” Had you read no further, you would have filed that statement away in your mind as fact.
Propaganda or News?
If we look at the “what” of the article, we find a whole host of horrors. With the exception of several sentences the articles focuses on the list of horrors: “killing millions”, “displacing tens of millions”, “rising seas”, crop failures, famines, acute water shortages, “effects far worse than one thought”, more tropical diseases, droughts, floods, severe weather, deaths from heat waves, global warming a threat; Latin America - flooding of low-lying areas; Southern Europe - farmland deteriorates; Asia - deserts increase, more serious monsoon rains, “Africa - deserts increase, crops fail, hydroelectric power production to fall”. The only benefits listed are “more northerly areas will experience warmer weather, richer farmland and higher crop production.” (Paragraph four) Several paragraphs later the article states, “gains in crops will be tempered by more droughts,” and “fewer people will die of the cold, but some diseases now considered tropical like encephalitis, dengue fever, and malaria are likely to push their way north.”
Finally, we are never given any balance in the article. It is as if Global Warming was as real as the seasons. Yet, to see how far off balance this newspaper article is, let’s consider the following one-page article from the Heartland Institute’s Environment and Climate News (2) by Dr. Patrick J. Michaels. According to Nature magazine Michaels is probably the nation’s most popular lecturer on the subject of climate change. He is an Environmental Sciences professor at the University of Virginia, and is author of The Satanic Gases: Clearing the Air About Global Warming. Following is a condensed version of that article.
”GLOBAL WARMING: Watson Indulges in Scare Tactics, Again.By Patrick J. Michaels,A Model of a Model
PH.D. .”In early January, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
stepped up its campaign to coerce regulatory action from the United States by
releasing the Summary for Policymakers from the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report
(TAR). Word from the IPCC meeting in Shanghai is that the upper range of
temperature rise during the next 100 years is nearly 110F. “This adds impetus
for governments of the world to find ways to live up to their commitments to
reduce emissions of greenhouse gases,” Robert Watson, chairman of the IPCC and
former Clinton science advisor, is quoted as saying. Watson is the same
scientist, who in 1992, predicted an imminent ozone hole in the Northern
Hemisphere [T]he ozone hole never appeared”.
Neither the [Washington] Post nor Watson mentions that this forecast of extreme warming is the result of a computer model. It is a product of the most extreme climate model run under the most extreme set of future emission scenarios. In other words, it’s not a model based upon present trends; it’s a MODEL OF A MODEL! (Emphasis added.) Putting a fine point on it, this particular result was produced by one (that’s right, one) of 245 models the modelers ran.
This is called a “toy model” because it treats the world largely as a uniform entity, one devoid of ocean currents, without mountains, and with no thunderstorms. Ocean currents, mountains, and thunderstorms just happen to be the three things that are the major movers of heat around our planet. They generally keep the Earth’s surface temperature cooler than it otherwise would be. Other computer models [are] available. There were nearly 20 different sophisticated, but still flawed, models tested in the IPCC’s TAR . The average [temperature] for those models was a rise of only 3.80F.
Trouble with Models
Those models assume an increased rate in greenhouse gases that have been acknowledged to be much larger than it has been for decades. [They are] probable overestimates. The “toy models” and the GCMs have been artificially “cooled” with sulfate aerosols for 10 years now to account for the fact they predict too much warming. There’s no sulfate aerosol, per se, in the model.
There was such a clamor about the models that include only greenhouse gas increases and their inability to accurately simulate the climate as we know it to have been over the last 100 years (they warmed things up much too quickly) that the modelers added another factor, sulfate aerosols, in order to offset a large amount of the CO2-induced warming. The IPCC itself admitted this fact in its Second Assessment report (1996). The toy model the [Washington] Post and Watson rushed to report upon has an unrealistic value of 110F because in it the sulfate aerosols have been removed.
That’s right: What previously was used to “fix” the computer models now has been taken out. Actually, according to the IPCC, the influence of sulfate aerosols, both direct and indirect, on Earth’s temperature is the most uncertain of the factors considered. Their net global effect on surface temperature (according to the IPCC) is about twice the total observed change in temperature for the last one hundred years! Why so much uncertainty? Their net cooling (or warming) of global surface temperature has never been measured. This gives rise to a huge uncertainty, through which a careful manipulation of numbers at the extreme ranges of the uncertainty can produce a large warming. This is precisely the exercise the IPCC carried out in this report, and Watson’s emphasis of this result is scare tactic, pure and simple.
America’s freedom depends upon an informed citizenry. Journalists who seriously work to provide all the information to the public, so that decisions may rationally and intelligently be made are to be commended. Americans however, must learn to sort out journalists and news sources by asking such questions as: Is the article balanced and factual? Who are the “experts” that are quoted? What is the track record of the reporter? Is he biased, and is that bias reflected in his articles? Only by seeking out reliable and factual news sources will we keep our nation free.
Editor’s note: Additional information on Global Warming can be obtained from the George C. Marshall Institute, 1730 K Street, NW, Suite 905, Washington DC 20006-3868, phone 202-296-9655.
1 Knight-Ridder Newspapers “Global warming effects are seen now, likely to worsen, panel says,” February 19, 2001, St. Louis Post Dispatch, 900 Tucker Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63101, p. A5.
2 Michaels, Dr. Patrick J., Environment & Climate News, March 2001, The Heartland Institute, 19 South LaSalle #903, Chicago, IL 60603, p. 6.