NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

FIRE AND ICE

June 5, 2006

The Business & Media Institute (BMI) conducted an extensive analysis of print media's climate change coverage back to the late 1800s.

It found that many publications now claiming the world is on the brink of a global warming disaster said the same about an impending ice age -- just 30 years ago. Several major ones have reported on three or even four different climate shifts since 1895.

In addition, BMI found:

  • Several publications warned in the 1970s that global cooling posed a major threat to the food supply. Now, remarkably, global warming is also considered a threat to the very same food supply.
  • The media continue to point to glaciers as a sign of climate change, but they have used them as examples of both cooling and warming.
  • The media treat global warming like it's a new idea. In fact, British amateur meteorologist G. S. Callendar argued that mankind was responsible for heating up the planet with carbon dioxide emissions -- in 1938. That was decades before scientists and journalists alerted the public about the threat of a new ice age.
  • Longtime readers of the New York Times could easily recall the paper claiming "A Major Cooling Widely Considered to Be Inevitable," along with its strong support of current global warming predictions. Older readers might well recall two other claims of a climate shift back to the 1800s -- one an ice age and the other warming again. The Times has warned of four separate climate changes since 1895.

Newspapers that pride themselves on correction policies for the smallest errors now find themselves facing a historical record that is enormous and unforgiving. It is time for the news media to admit a consistent failure to report this issue fairly or accurately, with due skepticism of scientific claims, says BMI.

Source: R. Warren Anderson and Dan Gainor, "Fire and Ice," Business and Media Institute, May 17, 2006.

 

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