As part of a campaign to pressure CNBC to improve its climate change coverage, mobile billboards are circulating the financial districts of New York City and Chicago on Thursday and Friday. However, rather than airing accurate information on how prominent business leaders use climate science to optimize their risk management strategies, CNBC has continued to air people denying climate change entirely.
The campaign by Media Matters, Forecast the Facts, and Environmental Action was hosted on fuel-efficient trucks to highlight Media Matters' studies finding that the majority of CNBC's relevant coverage casts doubt on the basic scientific consensus that climate change is real and manmade. So far, CNBC has not shown any signs of improvement -- even after a 45,000-signature petition called on CNBC to improve its coverage.
Most recently, CNBC hosted Joe Bastardi, whose arguments for climate change denial have been called "utter nonsense," "very odd" and "simply ignorant" by scientists, to discuss Super Typhoon Haiyan. When another meteorologist noted that rising sea levels have worsened the damage from storms such as Haiyan, Bastardi -- who has claimed contrary to basic physics that carbon dioxide "literally cannot cause global warming" -- predictably dismissed the greenhouse gas connection:
PAUL WALSH, WEATHER CHANNEL: I wouldn't say that climate change is a direct contributor to these -- that's something that's still being discussed. But one of the things that makes these storms, especially here for the U.S. and along the east coast, more potentially devastating is the fact that sea levels are rising and expected to continue to rise -- and then even smaller storms could have a really, really big impact.
JOE BASTARDI: Well Paul, sea level rise in the Atlantic could be a product of the warm Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation. We'll see what happens when we get out of that. I also want to say, when the Asian continent began cooling, the Pacific ramped up because there's hyper-period at the end a lot of times in the Pacific when there's been a lack of activity through the years.
Once again, scientists with expertise in the area handily rebutted Bastardi's armchair climate science. When asked in an email from Media Matters whether Bastardi's claim that the rise in sea level rise in the Atlantic was just natural is true, Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, responded:
No, global sea level rise is unequivocally related to extra energy coming into the Earth. Sea level cannot rise for no reason. It rises from expansion as the ocean warms and from adding water from melting land ice (glaciers, Greenland etc). Now regionally sea level can rise if it goes down somewhere else. Perhaps Bastardi is confused about that. So there are some places where sea level goes up more than the global mean and some where it is less, but the global mean is unequivocally associated with warming.
Princeton University Geosciences Professor Michael Oppenheimer added via email to Media Matters that "Natural variations can add or subtract from sea level rise but the long term trend is largely due to global warming."
CNBC host Joe Kernen also rebuked a utility CEO for his efforts to protect consumers from for climate-related impacts earlier this month. Kernen suggested, contrary to preeminent insurance companies, that it is "not necessary" to prepare for the increases in certain weather extremes.