Questioning extent of global warming, Beck falsely claimed temperatures "in America are pretty much flat"

››› ››› ROB DIETZ

CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck appeared to question studies showing that global temperatures have increased by 0.6 degrees Celsius by falsely claiming that annual temperatures in the United States have remained "pretty much flat." In fact, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies has documented a rise in temperatures in the United States comparable to the global increase. Beck's apparent doubt about whether human beings are responsible for global climate change is contradicted by the scientific consensus on the subject.

On the May 24 edition of his CNN Headline News show, Glenn Beck appeared to question studies showing that global temperatures increased by 0.6 degrees Celsius during the 20th century by falsely claiming that annual temperatures in the United States have remained "pretty much flat." Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Richard Lindzen, who appeared with Beck on the program, agreed, stating "Well, yes, as far as we can tell." In fact, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies has documented a rise in temperatures in the United States comparable to the global increase. Beck's apparent doubt about whether human beings are responsible for global climate change is contradicted by the scientific consensus on the subject, as previously documented by Media Matters for America.

Beck claimed on the May 24 program that "if you look, the Earth has gotten warmer now by .6 degrees Celsius," but the rise in surface temperatures "is much higher in other parts of the world" than it has been in the United States, which is "one of the more accurate record keepers in the world." But several studies show comparable temperature changes in the United States and the world as a whole. A report released by the United States Global Change Program in 2000 documented a temperature change of 0.6 degrees Celsius in the United States in the 20th century, the same increase Beck cited as the global temperature change. The study added that "the coastal Northeast, the upper Midwest, the Southwest, and parts of Alaska have experienced increases in the annual average temperature approaching 4°F (2°C) in the 20th Century" and that "average warming in the US is projected to be somewhat greater than for the world as a whole over the 21st century."

As Media Matters has noted, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Academy of Sciences have said that the Earth's surface temperature has risen by approximately 0.6 degrees Celsius -- or 1 degree Fahrenheit -- in the 20th century, but these figures, by definition, do not include the years 2001 through 2005, which are five of the six warmest years on record, as the Climatic Research Unit noted in a December 2005 press release.

Lindzen has appeared on talk shows as to contradict the consensus on global warming before. As Media Matters has noted, on the May 13 edition of Fox News' The Journal Editorial Report, Lindzen falsely claimed "there is no agreement that the warming we've seen is due to man."

From the May 24 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: You know, one of the things that I found interesting is if you look, the earth has gotten warmer now by .6 degrees Celsius, and if you look at that, you'll see that it's much higher in other parts of the world, but where we are, I think, probably one of the more accurate record-keepers in the world, just because we don't have a lot of turmoil like they did -- you know, Poland, how were they keeping records in Poland in the 1940s -- you see that the records in America are pretty much flat, the temperatures here in America. Right or wrong?

LINDZEN: Well, yes, as far as we can tell. I mean, one of the problems is thermometers aren't perfect. They're not perfectly distributed. So any number you get is usually associated with uncertainty, a few tenths of a degree.

BECK: Are you claiming that there is no -- because I think I even buy into, you know, global climate change. I just don't think that my SUV is necessarily the cause of it. Are you saying that there is no global climate change?

LINDZEN: No, I'm saying there's always climate change, but when we start talking about tenths of a degree, we're going beyond our ability to measure.

Posted In
Environment & Science, Climate Change
Network/Outlet
CNN, CNN Headline News
Person
Glenn Beck
Show/Publication
Glenn Beck show
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