NPR’s Science Friday — Continuing To Shill For Climate Change Lobby

Via Climate Depot, I found this link to an NPR Science Friday segment with Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.  One of my pet peeves with NPR is its incessant obeisance to the climate change scare-mongers.  For years now, it has reported global warming as both indisputably happening at an above normal pace and caused by human greenhouse gas emissions.

To begin with, Mr. Leiserowitz runs an advocacy organization, not a scientific one.  Here is its mission statement:

The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication works to:

1) Advance public understanding and engagement with climate change science and solutions, and

2) Catalyze action by the general public and leaders of government, business, academia, and the media through improved knowledge and understanding.


The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication (originally the Yale Project on Climate Change) grew out of a groundbreaking conference on “Americans and Climate Change” that the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies convened in 2005 in Aspen, CO. Over 100 national leaders representing science, media, religion, politics, entertainment, education, business, environmentalism, and civil society came together to develop an action plan to engage American society on climate change. Their charge was to diagnose why, in the face of ever stronger climate science, the United States had been slow to act and to recommend a set of initiatives to catalyze action.

Leiserowitz is therefore an advocate for “initiatives to catalyze action” against what he perceives to be a major problem.  There is nothing wrong with that, but it does tend to skew one’s perspective.  NPR should have revealed that perspective to listeners.

I thought this exchange was quite revealing:

FLATOW: Well, you know, it’s interesting. As you say that, and reading through your survey, it seems that half the respondents still think scientists are in disagreement about the science when in fact there’s very, very clear consensus on that. Why do you think they think there’s such disagreement among scientists?

Mr. LEISEROWITZ: Well, there’s a couple things going on there. One, of course, is that the opponents of climate change action have very consciously and powerfully used doubt as their product. It’s a very classic term.

In other words, they know that to forestall action they just have to raise public doubts about the certainty of climate change. You know, if it’s not happening, then maybe we shouldn’t be taking any action. So it’s kind of it gets people into a wait-and-see mentality.

But the other, of course, is that there’s been this long-standing critique of the way that the media actually reports this story, or certainly has reported the story over many years. And that is that reporters have often put, for instance, a climate change scientist to try to describe what climate change is and why there are serious risks about it, and then immediately pair them with someone who’s a climate change skeptic.

And so the public hears these dueling scientists, these dueling views, and says: Well, gosh, they must be split, 50-50. When, of course, in terms of those who actually do the science of climate change science and publish in the legitimate journals are overwhelmingly in agreement that climate change is in fact happening and due primarily to human activity.

Note that host Ira Flatow loads his question with his belief that there is a “very, very clear consensus” on the science.  Lots of scientists disagree, but no worries, NPR has declared the debate to be over.  Leiserowitz then laments skeptics’ use of “doubt” to forestall action.  Essentially, Leiserowitz doesn’t like the fact that those who are asking us to invest trillions of dollars to mitigate an uncertain problem of unknown cause and indeterminate magnitude based on questionable models, sloppy record keeping, and anti-scientific attempts to suppress dissenting views have to bear the burden of proving their claims. 

Then there’s this:

FLATOW: What are some of the things that people just seem not to know about in terms of climate change, things that the media might want to report on more?

Mr. LEISEROWITZ: Well, besides the obvious confusion of the ozone hole and global warming, another very standard misunderstanding is the confusion of weather and climate.

And that, unfortunately, gets people confused as well, because they say, well, look, we know that you can’t predict the weather more than a few days in advance. So how could these climate scientists possibly be predicting the climate well into the future?

But, of course, we all predict the climate well into the future. That’s easy. I mean, it’s why people head south to Arizona or to Florida in the wintertime, because they know that the climate in Florida in the wintertime is warm and sunny compared to the cold and ice and snow that we experience in the northern part of the country.

So, you know, we do make predictions about climate all the time, and so that confusion is certainly part of why many people aren’t yet convinced.

 Let me get this straight.  Leiserowitz thinks we can say with scientific certainty what the climate will look like in a hundred years because we know that it is typically warmer in Arizona or Florida during the wintertime than it is in the northern part of the country.  Really?

Of course we can “predict” that.  We actually observe it every year.  Year after year.  Therefore, we can say, based on that simple observation, and with a high degree of certainty, that it will probably be warmer in Arizona or Florida during the wintertime than it is in the northern part of the country.

But Leiserowitz is not asking us to accept the theory of anthropogenic global warming based on this kind of observational data.  His theory is based on complex models and assumptions that apparently don’t work out too well when stacked up against observed data. 

Moreover, we are not talking about whether Arizona will be warmer than Michigan in the winter in 2100.  I guarantee you the answer is yes.  We are asking whether Michigan will be appreciably warmer on average during the winters of 2100-2150 than it was during the winters of 1960-2010.  Leiserowitz and Flatow think that the answer is yes, but no none knows.

Overall, the segment revealed more about the assumptions of Messrs. Leiserowitz and Flatow than the ignorance of the general public or global warming skeptics.

Published in: on December 6, 2010 at 4:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

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