Not Again: PBS’s Woodruff, Guest Tout ‘Interconnection’ Between Climate Change, Hurricane Matthew

On the heels of my Drudge Report-linked post about NBC’s Ron Allen informing MSNBC on Wednesday that the Paris climate change deal “is designed to stop” weather events like Hurricane Matthew, Thursday’s PBS NewsHour joined ranks of the absurdity as Judy Woodruff and guest Gavin Schmidt from NASA pondered the “interconnection” between climate change, the deal, and the storm.

Woodruff built up to this reckless link with an extended news brief on President Barack Obama telling reporters that the required number of countries had ratified the agreement and welcoming on Schmidt from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies to discuss the deal’s goals and how exactly it’ll be enforced (hint, hint: it’s not legally binding).

Towards the end of the segment, Woodruff brought up Hurricane Matthew hours before it stood to make landfall on Florida’s east coast: 

Well at a time, Mr. Schmidt, when I think many of us — certainly in the United States are focused on this big hurricane headed for the United States mainland, this has to give, and we know scientists have spoken about this. These big storms, the concern that they're going to get even bigger. 

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She then shamefully spun before going to Schmidt with this question: “What — how should Americans and others think about climate change in the face of something like this?”

Schmidt deviated slightly from where Woodruff wanted to lead him by talking not about Matthew but hurricanes in general and the argued effects of climate change:

So, one of the key things is sea level rise. So, sea level has risen about 10-fold, is actually rising faster on the eastern seaboard than elsewhere. For every extra foot of sea level rise, a storm surge, even if the climate doesn't change, the storm surge has more damage.

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“[W]e have some expectation that hurricanes themselves and storms themselves will become more intense, perhaps less frequent but more intense, and that, obviously, adds to the damage as well,” Schmidt concluded.

As mentioned above, Woodruff then concluded with another line of spin that would have made Ron Allen proud: “Well, it's an occasion to think about all of this and to think about the interconnection.”

The relevant portion of the transcript from the PBS NewsHour on October 6 can be found below.

PBS NewsHour
October 6, 2016
7:37 p.m. Eastern

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well at a time, Mr. Schmidt, when I think many of us — certainly in the United States are focused on this big hurricane headed for the United States mainland, this has to give, and we know scientists have spoken about this. These big storms, the concern that they're going to get even bigger. 

NASA GODDARD INSTITUTE FOR SPACE STUDIES’s GAVIN SCHMIDT: Right. 

WOODRUFF: What — how should Americans and others think about change in the face of something like this? 

SCHMIDT: So, one of the key things is sea level rise. So, sea level has risen about 10-fold, is actually rising faster on the eastern seaboard than elsewhere. For every extra foot of sea level rise, a storm surge, even if the climate doesn't change, the storm surge has more damage. You know, there’s many, many thresholds that, you know, if the water rises five foot, you're fine, but if it goes up six feet, then it overtops the levy, it floods the subway, it has greater damages. So sea level is one of the aspect of change that multiply the damages caused by just the natural variation of climate and the natural variation of hurricanes and storms that we see. Plus, we have some expectation that hurricanes themselves and storms themselves will become more intense, perhaps less frequent but more intense, and that, obviously, adds to the damage as well. 

WOODRUFF: Well, it's an occasion to think about all of this and to think about the interconnection.

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