CNN’s chief technology and environment correspondent Miles O’Brien has a lack of seriousness that knows little shame or boundaries. O’Brien has gone from staking out alarmist positions (only to later deny that he said any such thing), to calling those who doubt the media’s line about catastrophic Man-made global warming “dead-enders,” a “tiny fraction of a minority,” and a “very small fringe.” Meanwhile it is they, he insists, who are “in the dark.” O’Brien is so big on doing his homework that he routinely insists to interviewees that they are wrong, he is right, the science is too settled and alarmingly so. He even lapsed into warning that the fictional Hollywood scenario in The Day After Tomorrow was a real-life threat.
Maybe O’Brien could sleep through the night — and therefore stay awake during the day when covering the issue [NB: he notoriously fell asleep during a Senate hearing he sought to ostentatiously cover, illustrative of so much] — if he knew that, so long as the Earth turns and the wind blows, the Gulf Stream and the Jet Stream shutting down entirely is not going to happen.
It might not matter, as invention seems to be CNN’s standard approach to the issue.
Possibly because O’Brien actually showed a short-lived spasm of balance after so many embarrassments — dedicating an entire (and surprisingly evenhanded) hour to the UK High Court’s ruling against Gore’s alarmism — CNN passed on O’Brien in favor of a triumvirate of hysterics, Anderson Cooper, Jeff Corwin, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, to craft a two-part special titled “Planet in Peril” (who would watch “Planet OK”?).
When promoting the special, network talent brazenly touted the annual Southern California wildfires as possibly the “result of global warming in some way.” Of course an increase in the global mean surface temperature of about one degree over 150 years would be hard pressed to start fires. What hasn’t changed is that Southern California has been warm and dry for a very long time. Indeed, the U.S. was warmer in the 1930s than today, and that was a quiet decade for wildfires.
The 1970s in contrast were so cool that they saw a “global cooling” panic begin, and that was a busy time for fires, which tend not to correlate with temperatures but with wet seasons producing greater growth of the plants that serve as fuel. All of which was far too inconvenient for the media, which rushed headlong into a week of breathless coverage suggesting and sometimes expressly stating the contrary. Things were so bad that the Los Angeles Times proved the adult in the room — its physical proximity to the fire yielding sobriety while far-flung hysterics apparently viewed the fire as an ideological matter — implicitly chastising the jackals for capitalizing on genuine human tragedies which ought not to be the subject of such ghoulish scribbling.
With a requisite “no one really knows for sure” to qualify the alarmism it telegraphed, CNN’s Tom Foreman warned viewers of a horrific future, a possible “century of fires, just like what we’re seeing now” as a result of global warming. Just like what we’re seeing now. But due to warming. With the network having “warned reporters not to ‘irresponsibly link’ the fires to ‘Global Warming’”, this begs the question what sort of coverage would constitute the verboten linkage.
Cooper assured us that the purpose of “Peril” was simply to provide an honest, objective assessment of the evidence. “We set out to report, not be advocates, no agenda.” But he couldn’t keep a straight face, collapsing into “You’ve seen the front lines [NB: It’s a war!], the facts on the ground. Overpopulation, deforestation, species lost, climate change. Nothing happens in a vacuum. What happens in one place now affects us all.”
For example, alarmist hype on CNN causes viewers to switch to Fox News.
So, when setting out to produce this special we are to accept that CNN actually thought it might air two nights of “Everything’s A-OK!” but was swamped instead by evidence of calamity. For example, an Anderson Cooper voice-over: “Greenland’s ice sheet, 40 percent of it gone in the past forty years.” This is pure, unadulterated fiction, if seemingly supported by a guest who claimed “We have never seen a temperature rise in Greenland that drastic over a short period. It’s only about eight years.”
Well, actually that’s true only for people who haven’t looked. Greenland has cooled since several previous (stronger) warming periods in the early and mid–twentieth century — which were well before Man could have conceivably had even the remotest CO2-driven influence — all of which failed to aggressively melt its ice mass as CNN warns might now happen. As Petr Chylek of Los Alamos National Laboratory noted in the peer-reviewed Journal of Geophysical Research Letters, the rate of warming in 1920–1930 was about 50 percent higher than that in 1995–2005. “We find that the current Greenland warming is not unprecedented in recent Greenland history.” This guy obviously doesn’t watch Miles O’Brien.
O’Brien may be gone, but my money says that alarmism will remain alive, if not kicking quite so much, at CNN. During the Q&A at my Heritage talk yesterday, someone in the audience asked about the money that’s in it for the media. My response (view the talk, here) was essentially that alarmist media treatment of environmental issues used to be about the money, as their silly see-sawing with whatever was trendy over the years showed (detailed rather amusingly, here).
While the lure of ratings surely retains its currency, in recent years we have seen the express abandonment of objectivity — so as to even coin the phrase “balance is bias” for the specific climate context — and yet one more manifestation of the media being a self-selecting universe where certain types now go to make a difference — that is, to be an activist, to promote change. And the global-warming agenda is the kind of change they can believe in. I submit that there will be many more Miles to go before they finally put their global-warming alarmism to sleep.