Networks Treat ‘Ice Age’ and Cooling Concerns As Punchlines, Not Possibilities

ABC, CBS, NBC news programs ignore scientists and studies warning of potential cooling threat.

Although it is nearly summer and people are taking trips to the beach, the brutal winter is not quite forgotten. In Boston, the dingy remains of former 75-foot snow piles could still be found after Memorial Day, according to The Washington Post.

Much of the country suffered from severe cold and snow during a winter that also spawned significant ice cover of the Great Lakes: 85 percent as of Feb. 23, 2015. If that had been record melt, or record heat certainly the broadcast networks would have been warning about the threat of global warming or climate change.

The networks pounce on new studies and reports and “evidence” of global warming whether it is flooding in Texas or drought in the desert, but they ignore practically anything and anyone who might challenge it. That includes scientists who suggested a cooler period might be on its way (since the networks selectively cover stories that fit their climate agenda).

From Jun 1, 2013, through June 1, 2015, two years that included harsh winters back to back the networks used “ice age” as a punchline on at least six occasions. Punchlines included saying the frozen Hudson river was “looking like an ice age there” and Southerners were wondering if they’re caught “in an ice age.” But not a single news program covered the story that some scientists think cooling may occur globally.

ABC certainly was aware of such scientists, since news magazine show “Nightline” did interview one of them for a segment asking whether he was a “sage” or “crack-pot.”

Several scientists from multiple countries have been talking about and writing papers about this possibly in recent years including Russian astrophysicist Habibullo Abdussamatov of the Pulkovo Observatory, British professor Mike Lockwood, Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark and other scientists from Germany and Canada. “Nightline” interviewed British astrophysicist and long-range weather forecaster Piers Corbyn, but none of the others were mentioned by the networks.

ABC “Nightline” aired the segment about Corbyn and his cooling theories on Jan. 29, 2014. He predicted a 25-year-long “mini ice age” based on the sun’s behavior. “Nightline” sought to determine whether he was a “crack pot or a sage,” made him appear much more like a crack pot. They also turned to climate alarmist NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt who mocked Corbyn compared such his methods to predicting weather using astrology or reading chicken “entrails.”

In the same two year period, the broadcast networks warned over and over about the threat of global warming. They’ve claimed that it was a “clear and present danger,” that it could make redheads go extinct, potentially revive “dangerous, ancient diseases” from melting ice, and cause rising seas so high that major American cities could be swallowed up.

The climate impacts ranged from the trivial such as more expensive guacamole (because of higher avocado prices) to breathless warnings that it is a serious national security threat putting the “U.S. and the military at risk” as well as a danger to the very “foundations” of our planet.

ABC’s Diane Sawyer absurdly warned “a new report” about climate change could mean the end of redheads, ignoring genetics completely in favor of climate hype on July 8.

“A new report says redheads might one day be extinct. It turns out the genes for red hair and pale skin were nourished over centuries in the cloudy weather of Scotland and Ireland. When climate change brings an end to cool mist, the climate for red hair will also disappear.”

Warnings of Cooling Phase or Ice Age Ignored

With the exception of that “Nightline” story, the networks have virtually ignored reports and individuals forecasting some amount of cooling.

While Corbyn was the only scientist the networks included to discuss cooling, he was not alone in forecasting cooler temperatures. A recent paper in Nature about ocean temperature cycles as well as Lockwood, Abdussamatov, Henrik Svensmark and others have all promoted a cooling perspective in recent years.

However, scientists skeptical that global warming is a great danger or who dispute the amount of man’s influence on temperature changes are not all in agreement regarding a possible cooling phase.

Lockwood studied solar activity and told the BBC a “grand maximum” happened around 1985 and activity has declined since then. If it continues to decline, as Lockwood thinks it will, temperatures will continue to cool -- although “not every winter would be severe” or “summer poor,” the BBC said in October 2013. His views never made it to ABC, CBS or NBC.

In December 2013, Russian solar physicist Abdussamatov released a paper predicting the sun’s lull of activity would continue and cause a new “Little Ice Age within the next 30 years.” Abdussamatov spoke at previous International Conferences on Climate Change put on by Heartland Institute. The networks didn’t mention Abdussamatov at all during those two years.

Even as recently as May 27, 2015, Nature published a study about ocean temperatures cycles (the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation) and said a negative (cold) phase is coming. The authors still considered global warming the overall threat saying, “This [negative phase] may offer a brief respite from the persistent rise of global temperatures.” But even in that case, where the paper wasn’t written from a position of skepticism of global warming, the networks ignored it.

Where there dire network stories about an ice age or global cooling every time a prediction was made? No, unlike the constant stream of warnings about global warming. With the exception of “Nightline,” the networks didn’t even consider the subject between June 1, 2013, through June 1, 2015. Giving such ideas airtime would have directly conflicted with their hair on fire coverage of global warming.

Oddly, in the 1970s the broadcast networks and other media took “ice age” claims very seriously. For 100 years the media hype swung from cooling to warming to cooling and back again. But that was before they deemed the media accepted the UN IPCC’s threat that global warming is very nearly on an “irreversible course” due to carbon dioxide emissions.

Methodology: MRC Business examined all network transcripts with the phrase “ice age” or “global cooling” between June 1, 2013, and June 1, 2015.

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