Subbing on Caplis & Silverman, FEMA ex-director Brown used falsehoods in trying to cast doubt on global warming consensus


As guest host on The Caplis & Silverman Show, former Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown parroted falsehoods and conservative talking points about global climate change. He also called former Vice President Al Gore "a true socialist" and implied Gore was a hypocrite for advocating a lifestyle that minimizes net carbon emissions.

On the May 28 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show, guest host Michael Brown, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), made numerous misleading statements in attempting to discredit the scientific consensus that human activity is primarily responsible for climate change. In addition to citing conservative Internet gossip Matt Drudge to suggest misleadingly that regional instances of snow or cold weather belie the theory of global warming, Brown labeled former Vice President Al Gore "a true socialist" based on the falsehood that Gore "wants all of the rest of us to ... reduce our carbon footprint but he's not willing to do that himself."

As the former FEMA chief, Brown was a key figure in the failed federal response to Hurricane Katrina in September 2005. During the May 28 broadcast, Brown called Gore "dangerous" while at the same time implying that Gore was a hypocrite for advocating a lifestyle that minimizes net carbon emissions.

From the May 28 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show, with guest hosts Darren McKee and Michael Brown:

BROWN: And I looked, I've looked at global warming very seriously and look, the -- global warming, it, it may or may not exist. But you know what? Whatever it is is what it is, and it's gonna be what it is. Why do you think Greenland used to be called Greenland? Because at one point it was full of vegetation and stuff. We are so arrogant as human beings to think that we can affect what goes on in terms of global climate and global change. Al Gore is dangerous in the sense that --


BROWN: -- in that --


BROWN: -- are you kidding?


BROWN: He wants to tax us. He wants to say we can't drive, we can't do all these things, but he's not willing to do those things himself.

MCKEE: We're not in danger of Al Gore.


BROWN: [Caller], you know why -- you know what the real problem with Al Gore is?

CALLER: Al Gore.

BROWN: Well, besides the fact he is Al Gore, is the fact that he is a true socialist because he wants all of the rest of us to, you know, reduce our carbon footprint but he's not willing to do that himself.

CALLER: Yeah, he's just a typical socialist hypocrite.

MCKEE: Hey, he needs 35,000 square feet to keep things going.

CALLER: In what? It's like a 3,000-dollar-a-month electric bill or something?

MCKEE: Yeah, it's -- hey, let's, don't crack on him too bad. He's hanging out with Leo and Leo's flying coach, and, you know.

Brown's attack on Gore's purported unwillingness to reduce his family's carbon footprint echoes a line of misleading conservative criticism, as Colorado Media Matters has noted. Contrary to the assertion that Gore is "not willing" to reduce his carbon footprint, the Associated Press reported February 28 that according to a Gore spokesperson, Gore offsets "100 percent of his electricity costs" with renewable energy purchases and Gore's investments in renewable energy projects permit his family to lead a "carbon-neutral lifestyle":

Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider said that "sometimes when people don't like the message, in this case that global warming is real, it's convenient to attack the messenger."

Kreider said Gore purchases enough energy from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and methane gas to balance 100 percent of his electricity costs.

Gore, who also owns a home in the Washington area, has said he leads a "carbon-neutral lifestyle." To balance out other carbon emissions, the Gores invest money in projects to reduce energy consumption, Kreider said.

Similarly, a February 27 article in The Tennessean reported that "Gore's power bill shows" his personal energy use reflects a dedication to reducing the human emissions that contribute to global warming:

"As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk (the) walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use," said Drew Johnson, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, identified as a free-market think tank.

Gore's power bill shows, however, that the former vice president may be doing just that.

The Tennessean further noted that Gore had purchased "blocks of 'green power,' " which, over a three-month period, were "equivalent to recycling 2.48 million aluminum cans or 286,092 pounds of newspaper, according to comparison figures on NES' [Nashville Electric Service] Web site." Noting that the Gore family also does the "carbon emissions offset," the article explained:

That means figuring out how much carbon is emitted from home power use, and vehicle and plane travel, then paying for projects that will offset that with use of renewable energy, such as solar power.

Gore helped found Generation Investment Management, through which he and others pay for offsets. The firm invests the money in solar, wind and other projects that reduce energy consumption around the globe, she [Kreider] said.

Moreover, contrary to the implication of hypocrisy in Brown's suggestion that Gore "wants to say we can't drive," as the Tennessean article noted, Gore's car is a "Lexis [sic] hybrid SUV."

Citing Drudge, Brown also repeated the right-wing tactic of pointing to reports of cold weather as evidence that contradicts the theory of global warming.

MCKEE: 5:34, some clouds comin' in. I'm lookin' out --

BROWN: Well, you know, it's global warming.

MCKEE: Oh, is it?

BROWN: C'mon, Darren.

MCKEE: Sure. Sure.

BROWN: It's global warming.

MCKEE: All right, so what was your least favorite part of An Inconvenient Truth? Oh, wait, don't tell me. You didn't see it!

BROWN: I did. I actually --

MCKEE: You did see it?

BROWN: I, well --

MCKEE: Honestly?

BROWN: Honestly, I did see it.

MCKEE: Not portions of it -- you saw the whole movie?

BROWN: No, because --


BROWN: I had to fast forward. There are parts I just could not take.

MCKEE: There you go.

BROWN: I just could not take.

MCKEE: There you go.

BROWN: Look, do you -- I don't, I don't know how old you are, Darren, but I can remember in 19 -- the 1970s it's global cooling. Now it's global warming. I just pulled Drudge up.

MCKEE: Oh, great. Super.

BROWN: Well, I want you to read -- here, these three headlines. "Britain hit with arctic air and snow." "Spring snow breaks 1911 Canadian record." "Light snow in North Dakota." It's going to be 66 degrees here tomorrow. Pikes Peak had a record snowfall for the spring.

MCKEE: Yeah, the state looks great. In fact, you know, I, like I said, we went up to Aspen; it's very lush around here this year, which, which is terrific --

BROWN: Yeah.

MCKEE: -- to see.

BROWN: Right.

As Colorado Media Matters has noted (here, here, here, here, here, and here), scientists, government researchers, and other credible sources assert that pointing to any sporadic regional weather event as "evidence" that disproves global warming is simplistic and misleading. Extensive documentation shows that drawing conclusions on the basis of temperatures in a limited area over periods of time that are infinitesimal on the historical scale contradicts the nature of how scientists observe climate change: by identifying the annual temperatures -- global and national -- over significant periods of time.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.