WaPo Blogger Wants Weather Served With a Side Order of 'Climate Science' -- Only When It's Hot or Stormy

January 9th, 2010 11:54 PM

The one good thing you can say about Andrew Freedman's "Cold weather in a hot climate" entry at the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang blog (HT James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web) is that he's at least not hiding his bias.

Boiling it down, Freedman believes that weather broadcasters should use the occasions of heat waves and serious storms as global warming teachable moments, yet become strict info relayers when it's extraordinarily cold. In doing so, he advocates a continuation of what Julie Seymour at the Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute has already observed:

The news media constantly misuse extreme weather examples to generate fear of global warming, but when record cold or record snow sets in journalists don’t mention the possibility of global cooling trends. While climatologists would say weather isn’t necessarily an indication of climate, it has been in the media, but only when the weather could be spun as part of global warming.

Freedman, whose post quotes Julie's work without linking to it, confirms that the bias she has observed is in his case quite conscious. In the process, he goes to a leading apologist for the "Hide the Decline" Climategate charlatans who have fraudulently been manipulating their so-called scientific research while "somehow" losing critical raw data, propagandizing and scrubbing supposedly objective reference sources like Wikipedia, and attempting to discredit, intimidate and marginalize skeptics for a decade or more:

When covering a heat wave, I would be on solid scientific footing if I were to say that the event is consistent with observations and projections of global climate change.

.... where skeptics see a media conspiracy to ignore cooling, I see an effort to accurately communicate climate science to the public. Of course there is a "possibility" that the earth is cooling, but virtually every peer reviewed climate study has shown the opposite to be true.

.... So what, then, should the press be doing differently today? In my view, journalists should make an effort to include the broader climate context whenever it is scientifically justified. That means that it might be unnecessary to mention climate change in a story about a short-term cold snap, but could be integral to a story on heavy snowfall.

For perspective on how this might be done, I turned to Joe Romm of the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP), who has been pushing for more coverage of the links between extreme weather and climate events and global climate change.

"If we see record-breaking extremes of a very certain kind -- those that are consistent with climate science predictions -- those I think are newsworthy," Romm told me in an e-mail interview earlier this week. .... "merely reporting it's cold in January isn't news that has any relevancy to global warming."

Romm is a senior fellow at CAP's Action Fund and is the editor of its Climate Progress blog. While the CAP Action Fund characterizes itself as "a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization," a Thursday blog entry by Romm reassures his readers that "Democratic majorities are safe, for now." NewsBusters colleague Noel Sheppard has noted in previous posts how Romm tagged global warming as the cause of a December blizzard and a June rainstorm.

Other recent shrill posts at the Climate Progress Blog carry such titles as:

  • "Rolling Stone on “The Climate Killers: 17 polluters and deniers who are derailing efforts to curb the climate catastrophe.”
  • "Meteorological Malpractice: Accuweather’s Joe Bastardi pushes the “70s Ice Age Scare” myth again."
  • "Chris Matthews: Politico serves as the Drudge-Like “news conduit” for Dick Cheney."
  • "Can U.S. skiing be saved?"

The last entry cited makes reference to a 2006 "sky is falling" study about the weather in Apsen, Colorado, fretting that "if global carbon emissions continue to rise, Aspen will warm by 14 degrees by the end of this century," and asserting that "Continued growth in global greenhouse gas emissions is projected to end skiing in Aspen by 2100 and possibly well before then." But Julie Urquhart, Aspen correspondent at the Glendwood Springs (CO) Post Independent, reported on January 1 that the weather in the three Decembers has stubbornly failed to cooperate with the hysteria:

December in Aspen: Average snowfall, but boy, was it cold

.... The average low temperature last month was 4.97 degrees Fahrenheit, according to data maintained by the city's water department. That compares to an average low of 9.97 degrees in December 2008 and 9.77 degrees in December 2007. The average low in December 2006 was a relatively balmy 11.83 degrees.

The Journal's Taranto made this quite fitting observation yesterday:

To figure out how to cover a disputed and highly politicized area of science, Freedman turns to an advocacy group on the left. He thereby reinforces every suspicion global-warming skeptics have ever had about the media. He may thereby have unwittingly done a service to the truth.

Thanks, Andrew.

BMI's Matthew Philbin also caught another egregious example of Freedman's bias at the same WaPo blog in February of last year.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.