Can the media's climate change deniers ignore the latest temperature record?


This January, major meteorological organizations throughout the world -- including NASA -- released reports showing that the past decade, 2000-2009, was the warmest on record. The reports undermine the right-wing media's numerous claims that recent snow and cold weather shows that climate change does not exist or has slowed over the past 10 years.

Conservative media's climate change denial obliterated by temperature data

IBD claimed that "the earth hasn't been warming at all, at least not in the last decade." A January 20 Investor's Business Daily editorial falsely claimed, "As it turns out, the earth hasn't been warming at all, at least not in the last decade, and reputable scientists have said it may continue to cool for decades to come."

Cal Thomas claimed climate change consensus "suffered a severe blow" from European winter storms. Asserting that "global warming is a falling doctrine," conservative columnist Cal Thomas falsely claimed on January 14 that the climate change consensus "suffered a severe blow" from recent winter storms in Europe.

NewsBusters' weather report: "Hey Al -- 'Frostproof, Florida' Forecast: 22 Degrees." On January 10, NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein falsely suggested cold weather in Florida contradicts global warming, stating, "Check out the Weather Channel's forecast for the town of 'Frostproof, Florida' for tonight: 22 degrees -- a full 10 degrees below freezing. Yikes!" Finkelstein added, "Hey Algore: we want our global warming, and we want it now."

Cavuto's flawed "global warming alert": "It is freezing across the entire globe." On the January 9 edition of his Fox News show, Neil Cavuto introduced a segment by saying, "This is our Fox News global warming alert for you," and falsely claimed that "[i]t is freezing across the entire globe"; guest Ben Stein later suggested that "maybe all this talk about global warming needs to be rethought" because of recent cold weather.

Limbaugh climate change rant: "Why don't you man-made global warming" folks "go out and shovel everybody's driveway and sidewalks for free." During the January 8 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh stated, "For all these years we've been hearing about global warming, and nobody forecast this cold front. Nobody forecast this cold spell. Nobody forecast this deep freeze." He later added that "man-made global warming" is "a total hoax" and proposed, "All you man-made global warming B.S. holdouts, do us a favor, why don't you man-made global -- why don't you go out and shovel everybody's driveway and sidewalks for free?"

Hannity touts ice sculptors who cited cold temperatures to claim that global warming "hasn't exactly reached Alaska." Fox News' Sean Hannity stated on the January 7 edition of his Fox News program, "You are looking at a two-ton ice sculpture of the former VP and, yes, he's blowing smoke as he always does. Now, the work of art sits outside a Thrifty liquor store in Fairbanks, Alaska. Now, the artists say that they created the sculpture to show Mr. Gore that global warming hasn't exactly reached Alaska quite yet. In fact, they say that when it was sculpted, the temperatures were 32 below. I like that."

Hannity repeatedly falsely claimed 2009 was the "coldest year on record." As Media Matters for America has noted, on several occasions, Hannity has also falsely claimed that 2009 was the "coldest year on record." debuts with big myth: "[T]he planet is actually cooling." A January 7 post on Andrew Breitbart's listed global warming as the top "faux media scares of the past decade," asserting that the threat of global warming "works, except the planet is actually cooling."

Doocy on cold weather: "That global warming thing is really kicking into high gear, isn't it?" On January 5, 6, and 7, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy repeatedly falsely suggested that cold weather contradicts global warming. On the January 5 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy said of cold weather in parts of the United States, "That global warming thing is really kicking into high gear, isn't it?" On the same day, Doocy posted two Twitter messages stating, "I wonder if Al Gore is shivering somewhere." And on the January 6 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy said of the weather, "It's not global warming, I'll tell you that!" On the January 7 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy agreed with global warming critic Lord Nigel Lawson after he asserted that "mind you, there is no warming going on. There's been no warming so far this century at all, as the figures show."

Ingraham and CEI's Horner cited December snowstorms to cast doubt on global warming. On the December 21 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, guest host Laura Ingraham cited a major East Coast winter storm and said, "But what about global warming, Al Gore? Come on." Ingraham hosted the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Chris Horner, who said that "[w]e've got about 25 inches of global warming the last two days." After Ingraham said that "there's a lot of stuff being shoveled, and it's not just snow," Horner replied: "Well, God exists and has a great sense of humor, and he tends to show it in this context: chasing Al Gore around the world with freezing record temperatures."

Right-wing media seized on snow at Copenhagen conference to deem climate change a "fraud." Right-wing media also highlighted snowfall during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, often suggesting that the winter storm is evidence that climate change is, in Limbaugh's words, "a fraud."

2000-2009 was "by far" warmest decade on record

NASA: "January 2000 to December 2009 was the warmest decade on record." NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) stated on January 21 that "January 2000 to December 2009 was the warmest decade on record. Throughout the last three decades, the GISS surface temperature record shows an upward trend of about 0.2°C (0.36°F) per decade." GISS also said that 2009 "was only a fraction of a degree cooler than 2005, the warmest year on record, and tied with a cluster of other years -- 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007 1998 and 2007 -- as the second warmest year since recordkeeping began," according to a NASA analysis of global surface temperature. From GISS:


NASA states that "[t]emperature anomalies are computed relative to the base period 1951-1980."

NOAA: "The 2000-2009 decade is the warmest on record." The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stated in its "Global Analysis" of 2009 that "[t]he 2000-2009 decade is the warmest on record, with an average global surface temperature of 0.54°C (0.96°F) above the 20th century average. This shattered the 1990s value of 0.36°C (0.65°F)." NCDC further noted that based on global combined land and ocean surface temperature data, 2009 tied with 2006 "as the fifth warmest [year] since records began in 1880."

Met Office: 2000-2009 "has been, by far, the warmest decade on the instrumental record." The U.K. Met Office stated on December 7 that "[t]he first decade of this century has been, by far, the warmest decade on the instrumental record" and that "despite 1998 being the warmest individual year -- the last ten years have clearly been the warmest period in the 160-year record of global surface temperature, maintained jointly by the Met Office Hadley Centre and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia."


WMO: "2000-2009, The Warmest Decade." In a December 8, 2009, press release, the World Meteorological Organisation reported that "[t]he decade of the 2000s (2000-2009) was warmer than the decade spanning the 1990s (1990-1999), which in turn was warmer than the 1980s (1980-1989)."

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