Doom and Gloom on ABC: Hottest in 500,000 Years???

Forget about how cold it is outside — according to ABC, there’s no longer a debate about global warming: manmade greenhouse emissions have put Earth “under non-stop stress from the heat,” with deaths from global warming “conservatively” estimated at 150,000 per year.

In a stupendously one-sided story that aired on Thursday’s “Good Morning America” — a longer version of which will be shown tonight on “Nightline” — reporter Bill Blakemore announced that unless “serious greenhouse gas emission cuts” are underway within the next ten years “the Earth will start to experience temperatures higher than it has known in half a million years.”

Such cuts in emissions, however, would cause massive damage to the world economy. Financial columnist James Glassman recently highlighted a study from the International Council for Capital Formation which tried to assess the impact on just four European countries – Germany, Spain, the UK and Italy:

“The result: an average decline of almost two percentage points in annual GDP for the four countries. Since these nations are currently growing at less than 1 percent a year, they would be plunged into recession. Jobs and capital would go elsewhere; total annual employment losses in the four countries would be 1.5 million.”

Not a word of those dire consequences on ABC this morning, which merely played up the most dramatic doomsaying without a single hint that there are scientists on the other side. MRC’s Brian Boyd took down Blakemore’s hysterical analysis, pegged to today’s report from NASA that global temperatures in 2005 were about 1 degree Fahrenheit above average.

“Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts introduced Blakemore right after a story about an ice storm hitting the East coast: “And we go from one weather extreme to another. With this cold snap you might find it hard to believe that we have a heat wave of sorts on our hands. This morning NASA is announcing that this year, 2005, is tied for the hottest year ever. And for the fourth year in a row we have seen the hottest annual global temperatures since reliable records started in the 1800s. ABC’s Bill Blakemore is here with the details. I think people are going ‘Huh?’”

Bill Blakemore, sitting across from Roberts, agreed that the weather might not be helping his case: “That’s right, everybody’s talking about how cold it is. But, in fact, as we’re learning from the scientists today the yearly average temperature shows that the Earth is heating up as much as ever. In fact, today three environmental groups are suing the U.S. government to get the polar bear listed as an endangered species. And scientists are saying that the polar bear is seriously threatened as the Arctic keeps melting.

Then Blakemore’s taped report began: “From the Arctic to the tropics, NASA’s announcement today that 2005 ties for hottest year on record and the past four years in a row having the hottest temperatures means life around the globe now appears to be under non-stop stress from the heat.” Pictures of forest fires and a bank thermometer reading 102 degrees helped underscore the notion of warming.
“NASA scientists say no natural climate cycles can explain it. The heat must be caused in large measure at least by greenhouse gas emissions. As for humans, new studies in the journal of “Nature” confirm World Health Organization’s estimates that conservatively 150,000 more people die each year and 5 million more get sick because man-made global warming is helping insect and waterborne diseases to spread, especially among poorer nations.

Blakemore than recounted the litany of troubles facing a warmer planet: “Scientists in the tropics report the warming is drying out forests and spurring a growing number of extinctions. It’s threatening even the many species of wild orchid that rely on the mist and the cloud forests. If it gets any warmer–”

Soundbite from a woman in the forest: “I don’t see how extinction can be avoided.”

Blakemore: “Scientists in the Arctic are racing to catalogue hundreds of species that live under the frozen sea surface. NASA and other organizations calculate the sea ice is melting so fast it could disappear over the next few decades.

Katrin Iken, University of Fairbanks: “It will definitely create a huge change in the ecosystem here in the Arctic.”

Blakemore: “Around the planet hundreds of scientists are reporting ecosystems scattering as species try to reach cooler ground. Harvard’s Edward Wilson has been gauging the threat to life on earth for more than half a century.”

Edward Wilson: “Do we want to destroy the creation?”

Blakemore to Wilson: “That’s the question.”

Wilson: “That’s what we’re doing, at an accelerating rate.”

Back in the studio, Blakemore insisted that cutbacks in economic activity needed to start instantly: “NASA scientists now calculate, Robin, that the planet has at most ten years during which serious greenhouse gas emission cuts have to get well underway, or else by the time today’s kids are reaching middle age, turning about 40, they say the Earth will start to experience temperatures higher than it has known in half a million years.”

An astounded Roberts repeated: “In half a million years?”

Blakemore: “That’s what they say.”

Roberts: “It’s an eye opener. Bill, thank you.”

Environment ABC Good Morning America