CBS Whips Up Worry about Hurricane Season

     The first day of spring proved perfect timing for the CBSs Jim Acosta to resurrect global warming as the villain behind last years hurricane season, downplaying how hotly debated the matter is in the scientific community.

     Last November, Acosta grossly exaggerated the hurricane seasons death toll. On the March 20 Evening News, he played up an upcoming article for the journal Science in which climate researcher Judith Curry argues over the last 35 years greenhouse gases raised ocean temperatures by one degree while doubling high-intensity tropical cyclones around the world.

     The CBS correspondent then set up a clip of National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfields September testimony denying global warming as the cause of a strong hurricane season, as well as an excerpt from the NOAA Web site arguing the same for Curry to dismiss out of hand as misleading.

     But rather than flesh out the complicated scientific issues in debate, Acosta then tossed in a third party perspective from Joe Bastardi of private weather forecaster to warn these storms are coming back whether there is global warming or not.

     That didnt really explain where he stands on the issue. In fact, Bastardi is himself a skeptic of global warming, albeit a self-professed environmentalist. Writing in the May 15, 2005 Durham Herald-Sun, Bastardi warned against populist Fern Gully environmentalism divorced from sound science. I am disturbed that they often base their conclusions on data that, in the context of time, are only a grain of sand on the beach, Bastardi said of global warming proponents. They cite temperature changes from the last 10, 50, or 100 years, ignoring the fact that climate history and cycles didnt start 10 years or even 10 centuries ago.

     As a scientist, I find it discomforting to see people trying to shut down debate on this matter by ignoring research that doesnt fit preconceived conclusions, AccuWeathers Bastardi lamented in his May 2005 commentary

     While CBS papered over Bastardis views on global warming, other media outlets consulted experts outside of NOAA for dissenting opinions. The Los Angeles Timess Robert Lee Hotz found such a meteorological expert who pointed to incomplete data as the foundation for what he considered a hyped estimate. "I think the [warming] signal is there but the data problems are leading us to exaggerate it. No matter how you do the statistics, we really don't know, cautioned Hugh Willoughby of Florida International University in Hotzs March 17 article.

     In a similar article the next day, Hotz cited University of Virginias Dr. Pat Michaels who panned the study. Careful scrutiny of all of the available data shows the connection to global warming is less than tenuous, said Michaels in the March 18  article.

     The Business & Media Institute has previously documented  how the media shut out scientific dissent while presenting global warming as incontrovertible science.