A Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report released Tuesday finds that green jobs grew four times faster in 2011* than jobs in other sectors, continuing a trend of rapid growth in the U.S. But Fox News is still pushing the narrative that investing in clean energy is a "boondoggle."
The U.S. added more than 150,000 green jobs in 2011, including more than 100,000 construction jobs and 14,000 manufacturing jobs. In total, the green sector now employs more than 3.4 million workers in the U.S. The following chart shows that green jobs in the private sector increased in nearly every category in 2011:
This is not a new trend: the Brookings Institution previously found that the clean economy added half a million jobs between 2003 and 2010, and that clean tech jobs grew "more than twice as fast as the rest of the economy" during that period.
As the Los Angeles Times noted, the recent growth in green jobs "parallels a surge in public and private money" invested in clean energy in 2011.
Nevertheless, Fox News continues to distort the facts in an effort to portray government investments in clean energy as a waste of money. Fox News' Brit Hume claimed in 2011 that the Obama administration's green investments have "utterly failed to produce meaningful jobs." Last month, the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes claimed on Fox News that "we haven't seen many gains" from these investments. Just this week, Neil Cavuto said on his Fox Business show that Obama's green initiatives have "not had the big tangible jobs bang for the buck that you would think."
Faced with clear evidence that clean energy investments are paying off, will Fox change its tune?
*2011 is the most recent year for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics has collected data.
Emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal no evidence of the Environmental Protection Agency's so-called "war on coal," denying the conservative media ammunition against Gina McCarthy, President Obama's nominee to lead the agency. But Fox News is now using the lack of evidence to attack McCarthy, suggesting the administration is engaging in a cover-up to protect her.
Chris Horner of the fossil fuel-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released more internal EPA emails this week as part of his ongoing effort to uncover the agency's crusade against coal. Instead, he found correspondence on the subject to be "remarkably absent," leading him to wonder: isn't it a little suspicious that the emails didn't uncover anything suspicious?
Remarkably absent are what should be the dominant class of records covered by our request seeking records: Gina McCarthy discussing her biggest assignment, the Obama administration's "war on coal".
The question is no longer whether they are hiding things, it's what are they hiding now. And the answer apparently is: Whatever they have to hide to protect Ms. McCarthy's nomination.
Fox News seized on CEI's report to claim that McCarthy is "under fire for a batch of internal emails just out," only to later admit that she is almost entirely absent from the emails:
Fox News is promoting a Wall Street Journal column by Bjorn Lomborg to claim that electric vehicles are "even worse" for the environment than conventional gasoline cars. But experts say Lomborg's assumptions are out of step with reality and that the environmental benefits of electric vehicles will only grow in the near-future.
Lomborg, a prominent critic of environmentalists, claimed that because producing an electric car is more carbon-intensive, it could produce more carbon dioxide over its lifetime than a conventional car, citing a study published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology:
If a typical electric car is driven 50,000 miles over its lifetime, the huge initial emissions from its manufacture means the car will actually have put more carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere than a similar-size gasoline-powered car driven the same number of miles.
Fox News hosted Lomborg on Wednesday to expose what it called the "dirty little secret" of electric vehicles. Seizing on Lomborg's figures, Fox Business' Stuart Varney claimed that "the battery powered cars are just as bad for the environment as your average sedan -- even worse!" And Fox Business host Gerri Willis suggested electric cars are not "contributing less to global warming" than conventional cars:
But Lomborg's assumption of a 50,000 mile lifetime "seems too low," according to University of California at Los Angeles' Dr. Deepak Rajagopal, an environmental economist who focuses on life cycle assessments. Indeed, the study Lomborg cites "assumes almost twice that lifetime," according to co-author Guillaume Majeau-Bettez. It estimates a 20-24 percent reduction in emissions from electric vehicles driven 90,000 miles and powered by average European electricity. The Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf, the two most popular electric cars in the U.S., both have 100,000 mile battery warranties.
And as the Natural Resources Defense Council's Max Baumherner noted, the study used estimates for production emissions that are three times higher than those from Argonne National Laboratory, which perhaps explains why other studies have found greater environmental benefits from electric cars. A life-cycle analysis overseen by Dr. Rajagopal found that battery-electric vehicles (BEV) powered by California's electricity mix produce significantly fewer emissions compared to conventional vehicles (CV):
CBS News is the only major TV news network other than Fox News to ignore a new study finding that global temperatures are higher now than at any time in the past 4,000 years, further evidence of the threat of rapid manmade global warming.
A study published Friday in the journal Science reconstructed global temperatures for the last 11,000 years, establishing the longest continuous temperature record. According to the National Science Foundation's Candace Major, the research shows that "we've experienced almost the same range of temperature change since the beginning of the industrial revolution as over the previous 11,000 years of Earth history - but this change happened a lot more quickly." Shaun Marcott, the study's leading author, added: "We've never seen something this rapid. Even in the ice age the global temperature never changed this quickly."
Marcott's temperature reconstruction is consistent with the famous "hockey stick" graph published by Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann in 1999, which conservative media outlets have repeatedly sought to discredit, as this chart from Mother Jones illustrates:
Scientists say this is further evidence that human activity is driving global warming, noting that Earth was in a cooling period for thousands of years before a sudden reversal after the Industrial Revolution. Under nearly any emissions scenario, Marcott noted, Earth's temperatures will rise "beyond anything human society has ever experienced" by 2100. If we continue on our current emissions path, some project we could far exceed past temperatures, as illustrated in this chart by ClimateProgress:
The Washington Post cited an unreliable Fox News poll to claim that public support for the Keystone XL pipeline "has reached a new high," uncritically repeating the falsehood that the pipeline would lower gasoline prices.
In a survey conducted in late February, Fox News asked respondents whether they support Keystone XL, stating:
Supporters of the pipeline say it would bring needed oil to the U.S., lowering gasoline costs and creating jobs. Opponents of the pipeline have environmental concerns, including the risk of a spill, and also say the pipeline would increase American dependence on oil.
In fact, many supporters of the project -- including the economist hired by TransCanada to assess its economic benefits -- have admitted that the pipeline would have no meaningful impact on gasoline prices. Energy experts across the political spectrum agree that because oil prices are set on the world market, the impact of the pipeline would be "miniscule," and that the best way to reduce our vulnerability to gas price spikes is to decrease our dependence on oil.
Even the Washington Post's own fact-checker has said it is "a step too far" to assert that Keystone XL would impact gas prices.
But that didn't stop the Post from promoting the poll results and uncritically repeating Fox's claims about the benefits of the pipeline:
[P]roponents say the project would create thousands of jobs and lower gasoline prices in the United States.
The New York Times announced late Friday that it will discontinue its Green blog, less than two months after dismantling its environment desk. The paper insists that despite these changes it will "forge ahead with our aggressive reporting on environmental and energy topics," but coverage of crucial environmental stories is likely to suffer.
When The Times closed its environment desk in January, many expressed concerns that the quality and quantity of the paper's environmental coverage would be compromised. Managing editor Dean Baquet reassured them that this was purely a structural change, and that the Green blog would remain so long as it had "impact and audience." Bora Zivkovic, Blog Editor at Scientific American, said that eliminating the environment desk made the Green blog "much more essential" as a gathering place for environmental reporters and interested readers. But the Times has decided to eliminate the blog to "devote resources elsewhere," which Columbia Journalism Review's Curtis Brainard called "a horrible decision." Brainard noted that the blog provided "a crucial platform for stories that didn't fit into the print edition's already shrunken news hole" and enabled reporters to expand on stories that did make the paper.
Indeed, the Green blog's environmental coverage has often proved to be more thorough than the print edition's. For example, a Media Matters report found that several mainstream media outlets -- including the New York Times print edition -- ignored an October 2012 report on the rapid decline of the Great Barrier Reef, but the Green blog covered it. In November, a World Bank report warning of the calamitous effects of climate change went unnoticed by the New York Times print edition, but not by the Green blog. Since the closure of the environment desk, the Green blog has accounted for 64 percent of the paper's climate change reporting.* And since January 2012, the Green blog has devoted nearly twice as much coverage to the threat of ocean acidification.**
If the past is any indication, it seems Brainard is correct that "without the Green blog, there's no way that these topics are going to get as much attention as they once did."
Sunday's "Forward On Climate" rally drew an estimated 35,000 people to Washington, DC to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, making it the largest climate rally in U.S. history, according to organizers. Every major news outlet covered it, putting a national spotlight on the environmental risks associated with the project. But Fox News used the rally as an opportunity to mock the protesters and cast doubt on the science of climate change.
On his Fox News show, Neil Cavuto suggested that it was "bad optics" to "protest global warming in the middle of this Arctic blast." Fox Business' Charles Payne claimed that the protesters "probably have done very little research" and are relying on "anecdotal" evidence of climate change:
But by pointing to cold weather in Washington, Fox News was actually the one using an anecdote to dispute the long-term warming trend.
As the State Department nears a decision on whether or not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, the media is exaggerating its economic benefits and downplaying environmental risks to advocate for the project. Here, Media Matters takes on five of the prevailing media myths about Keystone XL.
CNN founder Ted Turner said in 2011 that climate change is "probably the most serious ... problem that humanity has ever faced," adding that we need to "increase the amount of the debate" to motivate people to take action.
Unfortunately, the network he created has often failed to live up to that goal, devoting minimal time to the issue even while reporting on its consequences. A recent study by the Project for Improved Environmental Coverage found that environmental stories accounted for only 0.36% of CNN's news headlines between January 2011 and May 2012, the lowest of any major TV news network. And when CNN does mention climate change, it too often ignores the role of human emissions and treats the science as a subject for debate.
But big changes are coming to CNN this year under the leadership of Jeff Zucker, the former head of NBC Universal who was brought on as the new president of CNN Worldwide in January. Zucker is shaking up CNN's lineup and shuffling personnel in an attempt to boost ratings. He also wants to see CNN "broaden the definition of what news is" beyond "politics and war" in order to stay competitive with other cable networks.
It remains to be seen whether CNN will take this opportunity to expand its focus to include substantive stories that it has typically overlooked, such as the environment and climate change. At NBC Universal, Zucker oversaw the launch of the network's "Green Is Universal" program, which aims to bring an "environmental perspective" to NBC's news and entertainment programs as well as company operations. Announcing the initiative, he emphasized the company's "responsibility ... in driving awareness" of environmental issues.
Now Zucker has the opportunity to implement this vision at CNN. Here's how we recommend he do it:
Fox News is claiming that a new book on a town known as the "Polar Bear Capital of the World" shows that "the polar bears are doing just fine." But extensive research shows that many polar bear populations are declining, and that the species is at risk of extinction due to rapid Arctic sea ice loss driven by climate change.
On the February 5 edition of Fox News' America Live, Trace Gallagher reported on a new book by firefighter Zac Unger that chronicles his experiences living in Churchill, Manitoba, a small town on the Hudson Bay that is known as the "Polar Bear Capital of the World." Unger planned to write a book about how climate change is impacting polar bear populations in the Arctic, but instead he concluded that "polar bears were not in as bad a shape as the conventional wisdom had led me to believe." Gallagher seized on this to suggest that despite being cast as a symbol of the impact of climate change, "the polar bears are doing just fine" and their populations are "exploding":
In fact, the polar bears located in the region that Unger lived in are one of 8 subpopulations in decline, according to a comprehensive review conducted in 2009. The following graphic illustrates the 19 distinct subpopulations of polar bears, only one of which is thought to be increasing:
While polar bear populations have increased since the 1970s thanks to conservation efforts, climate change could threaten "the survival of polar bears as a species," according to a 2004 assessment. And the U.S. Geological Survey projected in 2007 that changes in Arctic ice conditions could result in "loss of approximately 2/3 of the world's current polar bear population by the mid 21st century."