Cancun vs. Copenhagen: Have the Media Forgotten About Global Warming?

Crickets chirping

That's the sound you would hear if you were looking for any sort of broadcast media coverage on site at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference going on now in Cancun. A survey of the broadcast networks over the week leading up to the Cancun event and two days into it shows it hasn't even been mentioned on any of the evening news broadcasts, morning shows or Sunday morning public affairs programming.

However, the same event hosted in Copenhagen in 2009 was all over the radar of the broadcast networks. A similar survey of the same programming leading up to Copenhagen show five reports about the event, with ABC and NBC having reporters on-scene at the conference.

So what happened? Do the media finally getting it about climate change and the United Nations' conference? Or are they just reluctant to cheer-lead alarmism about climate change with a sour economy and lower poll numbers for President Barack Obama?

The Deluge of Copenhagen 2009 Media Attention

Flashback to November 2009: Global warming alarmist forces were rallying all over as the 2009 U.N. Climate Change Conference was set to convene in Copenhagen, Denmark. Former Vice President Al Gore visited the White House, successfully lobbying President Obama to attend the hyped event.

'President Obama took an important step today with the announcement that he will attend the global warming treaty talks in Copenhagen,' Gore said on Dec. 7, 2009. 'This action is another example of the significant change in policy on the climate crisis … Those who feared that the United States had abdicated its global responsibility should take hope from these actions and work towards completing a strong operational agreement next month in Copenhagen and guidelines for negotiators to complete their work next year on a comprehensive treaty.'

However, when it was all said and done, Copenhagen turned out to be a disappointment for the global warming alarmist crowd, despite a full-court press by the Obama administration and a media willing to accommodate the administration's desire to push this issue out front.

"The science is solid, according to a vast majority of researchers, with hotter temperatures, melting glaciers and rising sea level providing the proof," Clayton Sandell said on ABC "World News Sunday" Dec. 6, 2009, reporting from Copenhagen the night before last year's conference kicked off.

Anchor Dan Harris went on to describe climate change as 'the most important problem in the world.'

"Tomorrow is the start of a huge global summit on what some people believe is the most important problem in the world, climate change," Harris said. "However, as this summit begins, climate change skeptics have been handed some real ammunition, a scandal over leaked emails from key scientists."

The other networks echoed ABC's assertion of the event's importance. Anne Thompson of 'NBC Nightly News' on Dec. 6, 2009 was on location, describing a scene of 'cautious optimism' on the eve of the failed event.

"Good evening, Lester, from rainy Copenhagen, where there is actually some cautious optimism that a political agreement can be reached on reducing carbon dioxide emissions,' Thompson said. 'And the reason is because in the last few weeks three of the biggest emitters in the world - the U.S., China and India - have all put specific proposals on the table promising to reduce their carbon footprints."

She went on tout how wonderful of a job the country hosting the talks has done with its carbon-cutting policies.

"The world is gathering in Copenhagen, 192 nations coming to the capital of Denmark, a leader in cutting the emissions fueling climate change," she continued. "Over the last two decades Denmark has slashed its carbon footprint by 13 percent while growing its economy by more than 45 percent. Over the next two weeks, the nations of the world will try to find common ground here on how to reduce global warming and make commitments to change their carbon-burning ways. Yvo de Boer is the U.N.'s climate chief and will play a key role in the upcoming talks."

Jeff Glor, anchor of 'CBS Evening News' on Dec. 5, 2009 plugged Obama's decision to attend Copenhagen at the end of the summit, but added that it was shadowed by the ClimateGate scandal.

"It was a change of plans for the president," Glor said. "Instead of attending the climate change summit in Copenhagen when it opens next week, he'll arrive near the end on Dec. 18. That might mean a climate deal is within reach. But a series of leaked e-mails between climate scientists is casting a cloud over this meeting."

But Brian Williams, anchor 'NBC Nightly News' was on it the earliest. Three nights before the start of last year's conference, Williams told viewers Obama's change in plans was a sign of optimism, even though there was a "scandal" brewing with 'stolen' e-mails.

"There was a surprising announcement just a short time ago from the White House," Williams said on the Dec. 4, 2009 broadcast of "Nightly News." "President Obama has changed his plans, now says he won't attend the beginning of that U.N. conference on climate change next week in Copenhagen. Instead, he'll attend at the end of the conference, when leaders from China and India will be there. And as the world prepares to tackle this issue, there's a new scandal that's burning up the Net these days. It began with e-mails that were stolen, and the scandal has to do with climate change."

Where is the Cancun coverage?

This year's Cancun event has been completely overlooked by the broadcast networks, and received some scant attention on the cable networks. On CNN's Nov. 28 'Newsroom,' CNN International Desk Editor Azadeh Ansari mentioned it.

"It's the United Nations climate conference taking place for two weeks," Ansari said. "One hundred ninety heads of state are heading there as we speak right now to partake in the 16th conference of the parties that's taking place. A lot of stuff's going to come out of this that we're going to be monitoring closely."

As of Dec. 1, the public is still waiting on CNN's follow-up coverage. And nothing has come from the left-of-center talking heads that populate MSNBC's primetime line-up.

However, the Fox News Channel and its sister channel Fox Business Network have given some attention to the Cancun event. Fox News Channel's Trace Gallagher, on scene in Cancun during the Dec. 1 broadcast of "America's Newsroom," gave some insight into perhaps why we haven't seen a whole lot elsewhere. He explained the perception that despite all the hemming and hawing over the importance and urgency of 2009 event, there just isn't a whole lot expected to come from this year's incarnation.

"You talk to these experts and we have talked to a lot of them and they will tell you there is a very different feel here in Cancun than there was in Copenhagen a year ago," Gallagher said. "We're not just talking about the 84-degree temperatures but you know, you go to Copenhagen and the world leaders were showing up and there was a sense that the deal was very close at hand. Of course, that deal fell apart in the eleventh hour. Now in essence, they kind of have kicked the can to Cancun, but the expectations in Cancun for a deal are very low, and really, the biggest sticking point is who's going to share the burden in all of this."

But the most amusing commentary on the Cancun climate summit came on 'Fox News Watch' on Nov. 27. Host Jon Scott referenced 'Red Eye' host Greg Gutfeld's attack on the entire concept of global warming and a psychoanalysis some University of California-Berkley professors offered on alarmism.

"So climate change experts finally got the message and the message is their message reeks," Gutfeld said. "In fact, their scare-the-hell-out-of-us screed was so awful researchers claim that it actually undermined their mission, which I always thought was to scare the hell out of us. But according to Cal Berkeley shrinks, dire predictions about global warming can, quote, 'backfire if presented too negatively,' end quote. Of course, that raises one question, how do you offer dire predictions positively? Hey, we're all going to die, LOL?"

Gutfeld went on to reference other over-hyped 'scares' like the coming ice age, the dangers of nuclear power, artificial sweeteners and DDT. He noted the ad hominem attacks on those pushing back against global warming alarmists but declared these 'shrinks' had it wrong. Global warming isn't an issue the public should be worrying about at all.

"Worse, with global warming, we saw that anyone questioning that hysteria would be labeled a skeptic and treated like a leper,' Gutfeld continued. 'But the ClimateGate scandal proved that inevitably these cocky experts would overstep the science, get humbled, retreat into therapy. Have you seen Gore lately? So now finally shrinks are saying these experts should rethink their messaging. But, no, the shrinks are not telling experts to stop exaggerating consequences, instead, start offering solutions too. Meaning, just assume your lies were right all along and push those curly light bulbs. That ain't going to work either. The jig is up."

But as Gutfeld suggests, one reason some of the global warming psychological experts haven't completely thrown in the towel - one year after the fact, ClimateGate has been barely acknowledged by the media. A recent analysis by the Business & Media Institute revealed the media had done more to defend the behavior of the embattled ClimateGate scientists than criticize it.