Just how pervasive the bias at most news outlets is in favour of climate alarmism -- and how little interest most outlets have in reporting any research that diverges from the alarmist orthodoxy -- can be seen in a Washington Post story on the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), announced last week in New York.
The NIPCC is a counter to the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC. The group was unveiled this week in Manhattan at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, along with its scientific report claiming that natural factors -- the sun, El Ninos and La Ninas, volcanoes, etc, -- not human sources are behind global warming.
The Washington Post's first instincts (not just on its opinion pages, but in its news coverage, too) were cleverly to sew doubt of the group's credibility by pointing out to readers that many of the participants had ties to conservative politicians, such as former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, and that the conference sponsor -- the Heartland Institute -- received money from oil companies and health care corporations.
That's standard fare, and partly fair, so that's not what I am talking about.
The insidiousness I am referring to is the unfavourable way the Post compared the NIPCC report to the IPCC's famous report of last year.
After reminding readers that the IPCC and former U.S. vice-president Al Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for their work on climate change, the paper then, sneeringly, added: "While the IPCC enlisted several hundred scientists from more than 100 countries to work over five years to produce its series of reports, the NIPCC document is the work of 23 authors from 15 nations, some of them not scientists."
First of all, the IPCC and Mr. Gore won the Peace Prize, not a science prize, which only proves they are good at politics. They didn't win the Physics Prize, for instance.
Also, while the former vice-prez may have invented the Internet (by his own admission), he is demonstrably not a scientist. Yet in the same paragraph as the Washington Post lionizes Mr. Gore for his work saving the planet, it backhands non-scientists for meddling in the climate change debate, never once showing any hint it recognized its own hypocrisy.
And the paper displays its utter lack of intellectual curiosity, too.
Hundreds of scientists may have contributed bits and pieces of work to the IPCC's gargantuan report, but just 62 wrote the chapter said to "prove" that man is behind global warming -- not that many more than the 23 from the new NIPCC who the Post so snidely dismiss as inconsequential in number. And just 52 people -- many of them the kind of non-scientists the Post would have us believe have no business passing judgment -- wrote the IPCC's "Summary for Policy-makers." That's the publication that gets all the ink and drives the climate alarmism because it contains the most provocative statements about the certainty of manmade warming.
The bias is that whatever the IPCC and its defenders claim, the Washington Post and most other outlets report without scrutiny. Meanwhile, the motives and sources of all sceptics are instantly suspected and derided.
There's nothing wrong with scrutinizing the motives of people engaged in a dicey debate. The subjectivity arises from scrutinizing only one side and always with a preconceived notion of what you are going to find.
Such bias is typical, though, of the climate debate, and not just among reporters and editors.
Two weeks ago, I wrote a column that was provocatively titled, "Forget global warming:Welcome to the New Ice Age." In it, I explained that, far from being warming activists, some solar scientists see the recent downturn in solar activity as harbinger of a coming Ice Age.
I wondered how come we don't hear about that in equal measure with the claims of an impending meltdown?
I received over 1,800 e-mails, most of them complimentary. A large number, though, were as hysterical and vicious as any I have received on any subject in almost two decades in journalism.
How could I not believe? Was I being dishonest or just stupid? How much had EXXON paid me? Until I could write in favour of the warming theorists, I should "go back into your oil company-funded bubble. You @*!/x-ing hack."
And that was from a climate scientist at a major university.
At last week's Manhattan climate conference, delegate after delegate related stories about how they had been denied tenure, shut out of scientific conferences and rejected by academic journals because no matter how scrupulous their research, their conclusions disagreed with the prevailing orthodoxy of the Climate Change Pharisees. They spoke, too, of colleagues too afraid for their jobs even to turn up at the conference.
I don't believe we are headed for an ice age any more than we're hurtling towards a meltdown. But we are in the midst of overwhelming bias in favour of the meltdown side.