WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The Center for Science and Public
Policy (CSPP), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, says that before airing an
hour-long special, titled "The Heat Is On: The Case of Global Warming," the
FOX News Channel informed its viewers they were about to be misinformed on the
science of global warming, and then proceeded to do just that.
Said Robert Ferguson, Executive Director for CSPP, "Presenter Rick Folbaum
and a cast of mostly non-scientists, celebrities and lawyers employed a
transparent form of deception: telling only one side of a story or situation
with intent to mislead. Worse, the side they did present wasn't even
scientifically credible itself."
In short, FOX perpetuated a recent pattern of those claiming the backing
of science in advancing alarming claims which have little to no basis in fact.
Just how unscientific was FOX? CSPP researchers offered a few
Claim: Warming is responsible for the increased incidents of Lyme
Science: Fabrication. Leading specialists have found the opposite to be
true: "Mean temperatures show weak and inconsistent correlations with
incidence." Incidents are instead related to New England farmlands returning
to forests near homes, creating "edge habitat" and an explosion in deer
populations which carry the black-leg tick. Lyme disease is not a problem in
the warmer Southern states.
Claim: Warming is responsible for the recent appearance of a Great White
shark in Alaskan waters.
Science: Fabrication. Great Whites (Carcharadon carcharias) are
endothermic - able to elevate their body temperature above that of the
surrounding water. They can tolerate a broad temperature range, providing
them access to prey (primarily coastal pinnipeds) over a wide ecological niche
-- including sub-artic Alaskan waters. They have long been observed along the
U.S. coastline from California to Alaska.
Claim: Warming is responsible for malarial outbreaks.
Science: False. Not a single instance is supported by evidence in the
peer-reviewed literature. Studies have shown no relation between climate
(periodic ups and downs) and malaria incidence, but lots of evidence for drug
resistance, cessation of use of insecticides like DDT, movements of people
from malaria-burdened lowlands, etc. Until the second half of the 20th
century, malaria was endemic in the U.S. and widespread in many temperate
regions, with major epidemics as far north as the Arctic Circle.
Claim: 2003 European heat wave was responsible for many deaths.
Science: Half-truth. Lack of adaptation and government policies were
primary causes of deaths. It is the rare, unexpected heat wave that often
kills. Where heat waves are more common, populations adapt. For example, the
heat experienced in Europe in 2003 was far less severe than normal summer
conditions experienced by residents of Phoenix, Arizona or Las Vegas, Nevada.
Adaptations such as wide availability of air-conditioned homes, businesses and
shelters are made possible by access to relatively inexpensive electricity -
something made more cost-prohibitive by some European energy policies.
Claim: Warming is causing worldwide loss of coral reefs.
Science: Exaggeration. Two marine biologists have recently concluded
that from 10,000 to 6,000 years ago, extratropical North Atlantic sea surface
temperatures (SSTs) were 2-3 degrees C warmer than at present and coral reefs
flourished. They reported that the fossil record clearly demonstrates the
ability of corals to expand their ranges poleward in response to global
warming and to "reconstitute reef communities in the face of rapid
environmental change." In fact, they report that coral range expansions are
occurring today, noting that "there is mounting evidence that coral species
are responding to recent patterns of increased SSTs by expanding their
Claim: Alaska's Herbert Glacier and Montana's Glacier National Park are
Science: Natural process, not man-caused. A recent 300-year study of
Glacier Park found that glaciers have advanced and retreated repeatedly, and
not in sync with variable greenhouse gas levels. Another study found Alaskan
glaciers have had periods of advance and retreat for the last 700 years at
least. A researcher at the University of Alaska Southeast reports that about
800 years ago Herbert Glacier (featured by FOX) retreated miles back into its
valley enough for a forest to grow, and then it advanced and receded again,
and then advanced. Now it's again receding. There were no SUVs or power
plants 800 years ago.
Claim: Warming is melting in the Antarctic and will contribute to sea
level rise and flooding of coastal areas.
Science: Wrong. A robust literature shows that during the period of time
FOX's "experts" claim the planet experienced the warmest temperatures of the
past two millennia, Antarctica experienced a net buildup of ice that actually
removed water from the earth's oceans.
Claim: Warming is melting Greenland ice sheets and raising sea levels.
Science: The rest of the story. FOX pointed to the melting and thinning
of ice in the coastal areas of Greenland. However, opposite changes are
occurring in the much larger interior ice sheet. A Norwegian-led team of
scientists studying an 11-year period (1992-2003) of Greenland ice sheet
activity reports that "below 1500 meters, the elevation-change rate is -2.0
+/- 0.9 cm/year, in qualitative agreement with reported thinning in the ice-
sheet margins," but that "an increase of 6.4 +/- 0.2 cm/year is found in the
vast interior areas above 1500 meters." Spatially averaged over the bulk of
the ice sheet, the net result is a mean increase of 5.4 +/- 0.2 cm/year, "or
approximately 6.0 cm over 11 years. The Greenland Ice Sheet has not been
wasting away, but has been growing at a very respectable rate. This increase,
like the one in Antarctic, is removing water from the oceans.
"One could scientifically dispute nearly every claim made in the FOX
program," said Ferguson, "but the public never had the opportunity to hear
Concluded Ferguson, "If a trial judge allowed only the prosecution's case,
and then told the jury to form their verdict on that testimony alone, would
such be 'fair and balanced?' Apparently Mr. Folbaum and FOX believe so."
(Note: A version of this release with references and informative graphics
can been viewed at:
SOURCE Center for Science and Public Policy