Oklahoma Senator Spars with CNN's Miles O'Brien in Interview

     Five days after CNN’s Miles O’Brien painted Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) as a quixotic crusader against an overwhelming consensus on climate change, the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee got a chance to take on the CNN anchor face to face on the October 3 “American Morning.”

     The spirited debate with Inhofe allowed viewers to get a rebuttal to O’Brien’s charge on the September 28 “American Morning” that Inhofe was waging a “lonely battle” against the “overwhelming” evidence of global warming.  

     For example, Inhofe noted that Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) so-called “Kyoto Light” approach to legislating against greenhouse gas output was rejected by the Senate on a 60-38 vote.

   “So, I’m not alone, there’s 59 other senators that are out there” who disagreed with regulatory responses to address climate change, Inhofe noted.

     Inhofe might also have added that the Senate overwhelmingly rejected the Kyoto Protocol during the Clinton administration. The Senate rejected ratification by a 95-0 vote out of concern that the climate treaty was too costly to the American economy and didn’t apply to developing countries.

     Inhofe told O’Brien that he had warned his audience of a coming ice age 12 years ago. O’Brien vehemently denied that charge, to which Senator Inhofe replied by quoting O’Brien forecasting that “if the Gulf Stream were to shift again, the British Isles could be engulfed in polar ice and Europe’s climate could become frigid.”

    The CNN anchor and veteran space program correspondent replied that such an event could happen as a result of global warming. “This is the ‘Day After Tomorrow’ scenario that we’re talking about,” said the anchor, referring to the disastrous impacts of global warming as depicted in the 2004 action movie.

    But on May 14, 2004, liberal British political activist and journalist George Monbiot, no global warming skeptic, wrote for the left-leaning British newspaper The Guardian that the film’s ecological disasters were overly dramatic and not anything like what would happen as a result of climate change.

     “‘The Day After Tomorrow’ is a great movie and lousy science,” Monbiot wrote, concluding that if the movie left viewers “no wiser about climate change, that scarcely distinguishes it from the rest of the mainstream media.”

     Inhofe’s Senate floor speech on September 25 also addressed the media’s role in confusing climate science with hype. O’Brien failed to address the charge of media bias that Inhofe had leveled.

     The Oklahoma senator cited findings from the Business & Media Institute’s May 2006 study, “Fire and Ice,” which looked at more than 100 years of media hype on climate change. Inhofe’s speech is available on the Web site for the Senate Republican Conference. The senator quoted particularly from the portion of BMI’s study dealing with the media’s adherence to the global cooling scare of the early 20th century.

     For example, on July 4, 1923, The New York Times announced that an “Explorer Hopes to Determine Whether new ‘Ice Age’ is Coming.”

     “The Atlanta Constitution also had commented on the impending ice age on July 21, 1923. MacMillan found the ‘biggest glacier’ and reported on the great increase of glaciers in the Arctic as compared to earlier measures,” noted BMI researcher R. Warren Anderson.