Tuesday, May 14, 2013

False Balance Lives: Bloomberg News Gives Equal Weight To Climate Disinformer And Scientists

False balance is alive and well at even the best media outlets (see links below). Bloomberg news, famous for the post-Sandy cover story,"It's Global Warming, Stupid," now proves they can be the stupid ones, in a Monday piece on "Greenhouse Gases Hit Threshold Unseen in 3 Million Years":

Happy Plants

"The Earth has had many-times-higher levels of CO2 in the past," said Marc Morano, former spokesman for Republican Senator James Inhofe and executive editor of Climate Depot, a blog that posts articles skeptical of climate change. "Americans should welcome the 400 parts-per-million threshold. This means that plants are going to be happy, and this means that global-warming fearmongers are going to be proven wrong."

Yes, "Happy Plants" is Bloomberg's header. Plants will be so damn happy when it is 10° F warmer and a third of the arable land has been turned to dust bowl!

And yes, Bloomberg actually quoted Marc Morano, the Charlie Sheen of global warming, former denier-in-chief for Sen. James Inhofe (R-OIL) - "among the first reporters to write about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign."

As Media Matters notes, you should know your news article is pushing false balance when you are quoting someone making the exact same argument as a "rock bottom" Wall Street Journal op-ed:

Marc Morano is not a scientist and has no scientific education. He is paid by an oil-industry funded organization to confuse the public about climate change, and has compared climate science to the Mayan calendar, Nostradamus, and medieval witchcraft. Moreover, his argument is laughable: by focusing on how carbon dioxide stimulates plant growth in a controlled environment, he ignores that our huge emissions of it and other greenhouse gases are warming up the planet, thereby increasing the risk of extreme rainfall and drought to the detriment of agriculture. A Wall Street Journal op-ed made the same argument on Thursday, leading to a deluge of condemnation.

So why is Bloomberg News not only featuring Morano, but giving his discredited argument equal weight to the extensive evidence presented by scientists?

Equally lame, Bloomberg trots out a long-debunked denier talking point:

Skeptics of man's influence on warming temperatures note that while CO2 levels in the atmosphere have continued to rise since the 1990s, no year has been statistically warmer on average than 1998, with higher levels for 2005 and 2010 falling within the margin of error for that year, according to data compiled by the U.K. Met Office.

Is Bloomberg really suggesting that those who are skeptical of man's influence on warming temperatures have any credibility?

Somehow the 2000s were still the hottest decade on record - and somehow 90% of manmade global warming ended up precisely where scientists said it would (see "Global Warming Has Accelerated In Past 15 Years, New Study Of Oceans Confirms").

Even as written, this torturous myth is beneath Bloomberg:

Even if the UK Met Office's ranking of 2010 and 2005 as the warmest years on record globally is within the margin of error for 1998 (U.S.'s NASA and NOAA both rank 2010 and 2005 as statistically warmer than 1998), the fact that the difference between these individual years is small illustrates again that we should pay more attention to the long-term trend. As NASA explained, "all three [surface temperature datasets] show the last decade is the warmest in the instrumental record."

Bloomberg can - and must - do better.

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