On Special Report, Barnes misled on global warmingMay 25, 2006 12:01 PM EDT ››› ROB MORLINO
During a panel discussion about the global-warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth (Paramount Classics, May 2006) on the May 23 broadcast of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes claimed, "It's not known for certain or anywhere near certain whether the small increase in temperature over the last hundred years is caused by man or not." Barnes supported his claim with the misleading argument that warnings about rising sea levels are exaggerated because "[i]t's getting colder in Greenland." However, as Media Matters for America noted, there is little debate within the scientific community about whether human activity is responsible for a global increase in surface and water temperatures, save for a small group of skeptics, many of whom are tied to organizations with a financial stake in combating global-warming theory and, in some cases, whose works on the issue have been discredited by the scientific community.
A 2001 National Academy of Sciences report commissioned by the Bush administration found that greenhouse gases are "causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise" and that "[t]he changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities." In addition, according to the Third Assessment Report of the United Nation's International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): "Changes in climate occur as a result of both internal variability within the climate system and external factors (both natural and anthropogenic)." The IPCC report, released in 2001, also concluded that "[e]missions of greenhouse gases and aerosols due to human activities continue to alter the atmosphere in ways that are expected to affect the climate." Citing multiple studies that demonstrated "evidence for an anthropogenic signal in the climate record of the last 35 to 50 years," the IPCC stated: "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities."
Barnes also asserted that the "hysterical position is to say that sea levels -- based on some glaciers in some places melting -- based on that, sea level is going to rise 20 feet. ... It's getting colder in Greenland." But climate scientist Petr Chylek of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, who found in a 2004 report that "Greenland coastal stations data have undergone predominantly a cooling trend," published a study a year later that attributed this cooling trend to local climate patterns -- specifically, the North Atlantic Oscillations (NAO). Chylek then analyzed the temperature record in the Danmarkshavn region of Greenland -- an area on the northeastern coast apparently unaffected by the NAO -- and found that the rate of warming there was 2.2 times faster than the global average. This corresponds with United Nations climate-change models that show Greenland warming at a faster rate than the rest of the planet and partially explains the rapid deterioration of the Greenland ice sheet in recent years. In addition, recent studies documenting the increased melting in Antarctica and Greenland, as well as studies of past ice-sheet melting, have strengthened the case for accelerated sea-level rise over the course of the next century. As the weblog RealClimate noted, new evidence "probably nudge[s] us closer to the upper end of the IPCC predictions."
From the May 23 broadcast of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
BARNES: You notice the key word at the beginning of what Al Gore [the subject of An Inconvenient Truth] said, you know what that word was? If. If. And, look, there is an hysterical position on global warming, and then there is a reasonable position. The hysterical position is to say that sea levels -- based on some glaciers in some places melting -- based on that, sea level is going to rise 20 feet. That's hysterical. Look, they're melting in some places. It's getting colder in Greenland. I mean, look at Alaska, where the glaciers are. It was warmer earlier in the century, the 20th century, then it got colder, now it's gotten a little warmer again. The problem is, the people like Al Gore exaggerate wildly and draw these conclusions that are just not substantiated by any evidence. I don't care what President Bush says. It's not known for certain or anywhere near certain whether the small increase in temperature over the last hundred years is caused by man or not. It's just simply not known. If you go back -- and these hysterical projections are based on computer models which basically don't work if you use those -- the computer models and go back to the data at the beginning of the last century, it predicts much more global warming than actually happened, more than double the amount that actually happened. So, look, the question is whether you are going to take a reasonable approach and say it's gone up a little, we have to do some things, or whether you're going to be hysterical about it like Al Gore.