Networks Embrace ‘Catastrophic’ Warnings of Latest IPCC Report

ABC swipes at skeptics, while CBS airs ‘irresponsible’ claim about temperatures rising 212 degrees.

The UN’s climate panel (IPCC) released its latest warning about "catastrophic" climate change on Sept. 27, garnering the frantic attention of all three broadcast networks that night. CBS even aired a claim about temperatures rising “more than 200 degrees."

Predictably, the evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC Sept. 27 repeated the IPCC’s dire warnings without including any skeptics and without mentioning past failures such as their inability to accurately predict warming or sea level rise.

ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer,” NBC “Nightly News” and CBS “Evening News” all failed to include criticism of the IPCC with the exception of a swipe against “skeptics” on ABC. NBC continued to link weather events like Hurricane Sandy to climate change while CBS aired a statistic that one scientist called “meaningless.”

With the words “big warning” onscreen, ABC announced the “landmark” report from “top scientists.” Dan Harris went on to mention weather events including “superstorm Sandy,” and ominously warned that the “UN report says we will be seeing much more of these kinds of things in the coming decades as a result of climate change ...” Of course, that’s what the IPCC has been saying for years.

Harris acknowledged the existence of other viewpoints, but immediately tore them down saying, “skeptics have predictably accused the UN panel of being alarmist, but Princeton climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer, who is on the panel, says this is a major wake up call.” Yet Oppenheimer himself has been accused of activist junk science by other scientists, according to meteorologist Anthony Watts’ website. Harris didn’t happen to mention that.

“Evening News” took a different tack, airing a story about oyster farming and complaints that climate change is ruining a man’s business. But in Ben Tracy’s story, which mentioned the IPCC’s latest report, he said that oceans have absorbed much of the heat caused by CO2 and that ocean temperatures have risen only slightly. Then he made a claim that Principal Research Scientist Dr. Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama in Huntsville called “totally misleading and irresponsible.”

“Had all that heat gone into the atmosphere, air temperatures could have risen by more than 200 degrees [showed 212 degrees onscreen],” Tracy warned.

Spencer told the MRC’s Business and Media Institute, “The oceans have warmed by an average of less than 0.1 deg. C (only the SURFACE by about 0.5 deg.) since the 1950s, and since that is so much water mass, the absorbed heat equivalent to 0.1 deg. IF RELEASED ALL AT ONCE IN THE ATMOSPHERE [it] would, indeed, be hundreds of degrees. But this is physically impossible. It is a meaningless statistic. The heat actually had to go through the atmosphere before it reached the ocean.”

But the scary stories didn’t stop with CBS. NBC said we were “hurtling” toward the day when climate change will be “irreversible and catastrophic.” Anne Thompson warned that the seas would rise three feet by the end of the century, and we’d have more storms like Sandy. The media’s claims about hurricanes and “Superstorm” Sandy don’t line up with the facts. The U.S. is experiencing a drought of “intense” hurricanes, and climatologist Dr. John Christy, of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, has noted that Sandy was a “minimal hurricane.”

Yet, NBC called for “drastic” changes in carbon emissions. Anne Thompson interviewed Jeff Masters of Weather Underground. Regarding CO2 emissions, she asked him “How much longer can we go?”

“We’ve got  about 30 or 40 years before we have to completely stop and go to zero,” Masters replied.

Christy said he has examined the climate models used for the latest IPCC report, all of which failed to account for the lack of warming since 1996. He told CNSNews that he analyzed all 73 models used in the latest IPCC report (Fifth Assessment Report or 5AR) and not one accurately predicted that the Earth’s temperature would remain flat since Oct. 1, 1996.

All three networks excluded information from their segments regarding the IPCC’s track record. None pointed out the IPCC’s lack of explanation for the “pause” in global warming over the past 15 years, although Scott Pelley mentioned that “the rise in air temperatures has slowed.” The networks also failed to mention embarrassing “mistakes,” such as the inclusion in the 2007 IPCC report of an "unfounded" prediction that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035. They have made predictions time and again that far exceeded actual climate changes, as The Daily Mail (UK) reported on Sept. 14. But ABC, CBS and NBC didn’t consider that worth mentioning to viewers on Sept. 27.

The Sept. 30 Wall Street Journal was skeptical of the latest IPCC report in its review and outlook section, noting the non-explanation for warming’s recent plateau as well as problems with past predictions.

“It's also hard to take any of this as gospel when the IPCC's climate models haven't been able to predict past warming. As Canadian economist and longtime climate student Ross McKitrick points out, IPCC models based on CO2 emissions predicted that temperatures should have risen between 0.2 and 0.9 degrees Celsius since 1990. Instead they have increased by about 0.1 degrees,” the Journal said.

In 2011, James Taylor of the Heartland Institute pointed out that sea levels hadn’t risen as forecast either: “Satellite measurements, however, show global sea level rose merely 0.83 inches during the first decade of the 21st century (a pace of just 8 inches for the entire century), and has barely risen at all since 2006. This puts alarmists in the embarrassing position of defending predictions that are not coming true in the real world.”

— Julia A. Seymour is Assistant Managing Editor for MRC Business at the Media Research Center. Follow Julia A. Seymour on Twitter.