Is The Media Hyping Global Warming?

Right now, the Environment and Public Works Committee is holding a committee hearing on "Climate Change and the Media." Up for discussion is "how the media has presented scientific evidence regarding predictions of human-caused catastrophic global warming," according to the Washington Times.

The Times got this comment from committee Communications Director Marc Morano: "Senator [James M. Inhofe] believes that poorly conceived policy decisions will result from the media's nonstop hyping of 'extreme scenarios' and dire climate predictions. This hearing will serve to advance the interests of sound science and encourage rational policy decisions."

Inhofe, who chairs the committee, called global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" in a July 2003 speech. Chris Mooney has labeled him the "U.S. Senate's leading abuser of science" and argues that Inhofe "brazenly…ignores what scientists know with confidence about global warming."

I watched the opening of the hearing, which can be viewed online. In his opening statement, Inhofe spoke of the media's "overhyped" and "one sided reporting," specifically pointing to a number of reports, including those by "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley. (We spoke to Pelley about his global reporting reports here and here. Inhofe cited Pelley's comments to us in this Sept. 25 speech.)

The Times' partial list of those testifying includes geologist David Deming of the University of Oklahoma, who wrote a paper entitled "INHOFE CORRECT ON GLOBAL WARMING"; paleoclimate researcher Bob Carter of Australia's James Cook University, who wrote "Modern 'global warming' may turn out to be just a lot of hot air"; Dan Gainor of the Business & Media Institute (a division of the Media Research Center), a critic of global warming reporting; and Naomi Oreskes of the University of California at San Diego, who has deemed global warming "undeniable" and written that "[w]e need to stop repeating nonsense about the uncertainty of global warming and start talking seriously about the right approach to address it."

In her opening statement, Sen. Barbara Boxer spoke about her hope that the hearing not be used to "chill the free expression of the media." She also said that she does not "believe it is proper to put the pressure on the media," and that while there is an overwhelming consensus on the seriousness and severity of the global warming problem, "dissenting views on global warming get plenty of attention of the media." The hearing is just getting underway; you can watch it here.