Climate change deniers should not be given a place in business coverage at a time when industries from agriculture to insurance are making real financial decisions dealing with its impact, according to some of the nation's top business journalists.
Last month Media Matters reported that more than half of the climate change segments on CNBC this year cast doubt on man-made climate change. That network's coverage drew criticism from top business journalists who said such coverage does not serve their viewers.
"It doesn't seem to me at this point to be a point of serious controversy within the corporate establishment," said Paul Barrett a Bloomberg BusinessWeek reporter (Bloomberg BusinessWeek's sister company Bloomberg News is a CNBC competitor). "The insurance industry, which is a key barometer of these things, has reached the conclusion that whatever your politics are on this, the costs of extreme weather are so great and the patterns over the last couple of decades are so distinct that the corporate establishment absolutely must recognize these risks."
Barrett added, "It's past the point of letting ideology shape the dollars-and-cents calculations that businesses are already making, it is not a question of whether business should do this, business is doing this."
Michael Hiltzik, a veteran Los Angeles Times business columnist, agreed.
"I accept the evidence of climate change," he said. "I don't think I've ever run into a legitimate business leader or business owner in the course of my reporting who doesn't. I think, for the most part, it is settled science and the debate is really over what to do about it."
Hiltzik and others stressed that in business reporting, information is so vital to those running large and small companies that facts have to be on point and disregard political calculations.
"There is no percentage in denying it, there's no point. You can't hold back the tide," Hiltzik said. "It seems to me that denial is basically a political position, it's not a practical position, especially for a business that is in an industry that is going to be impacted by climate change."
With climate scientists in agreement that climate change is occurring and being triggered by human activity, major companies are acknowledging and evaluating the impact of that change on their businesses. Top consulting groups have pointed out that climate change is a major risk to insurance companies, and a 2011 survey found that most investors now consider climate change consequences across their organization's entire investment portfolio.
In spite of this emerging consensus among business leaders that climate change is a real concern for their companies, Media Matters found that 24 of the 47 substantial mentions or segments on climate change in 2013 on CNBC, or about 51 percent, cast doubt on whether man-made climate change even existed. Prominent CNBC figures have claimed that climate change is simple "a scam analysis" by "high priests." More than 14,000 people have signed Forecast The Facts' petition calling urging CNBC's executives to stop their network from promoting climate change denial.
A Bloomberg article on troubled electric automaker Fisker reports that the company's co-founder was first encouraged by the Department of Energy to pursue its federal loan guarantee, but never clarifies that those overtures, as well as the loan program itself, began during the Bush administration.
However, Bloomberg failed to note Fisker's statement that he was approached about the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program during the Bush administration, even as it quoted a Republican congressman suggesting the Obama administration had chosen the company inexplicably. From Fisker's testimony:
In January 2008, Fisker Automotive showed the concept car for the Kanna at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Soon after, I was approached at a sustainability conference in California by Mr. John Mizroch, the then-Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. We discussed the technology that Fisker Automotive was developing and he encouraged the company to apply for a loan from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program (ATVM). Fisker continued its conversations with the Department and the company applied for a loan at the end of 2008. At that time, we already had significant financial backing from private investors.
A Bloomberg Businessweek article pushed the myth that immigrants will take away jobs from high-skilled American workers. In fact, numerous studies show that highly skilled immigrants expand the number of jobs for all workers.
The article, titled "Immigration Reform May Make Your Job Search Much Tougher," makes the case that if immigration reform passes in its current form, high-skilled immigrants would compete with American workers, making it potentially more difficult for Americans to find jobs in some high-skilled markets. Neil Ruiz, an immigration expert at Brookings Institution, claims that potentially 343,000 foreign students would be eligible for visas due to the expansion of the H-1B visa program and the lifting of the cap on "aliens of extraordinary ability" visas:
The Senate's bill also lifts the caps entirely on another category of high-skilled immigrants, known as "aliens of extraordinary ability." (Yes, that's really the term.) If an immigrant has an MD, a PhD in math, science, or engineering, or can prove to the government that she has extraordinary abilities--a successful dancer or editor of a niche magazine, for example--then one can bypass the entire H1-B system. An employer can sponsor the immigrant immediately for a green card.
Under the bill, even undergrads can get green cards directly out of college without having to apply for the H1-B. Ruiz estimates that about 343,000 foreign students currently studying in the U.S. will be eligible to apply for this fast track to citizenship.
However, there already is no cap on visas for immigrants with "extraordinary ability." Moreover, even without Senate legislation, the number of people who could potentially qualify for this visa type (O-1 visa) is small. Out of almost 9 million visas given out last year, only 10,590 people were issued "O-1" type visas, which are split into two categories -- O-1A for science, technology, engineering and math and O-1B for those involved in the arts.
The visa process requires the applicant to show they have "received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize," or additional criteria. The O-1B visa requires similar evidence, including a "significant national or international award or prize ... such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy." In addition, unless guidelines change under the new comprehensive immigration legislation, the visa expires after three years and must be renewed each following year.
However, even with more highly skilled workers, studies have shown that more immigrants actually increases demand for workers, stimulates investment, and promotes specialization for many workers already in the labor force.
A Bloomberg News article claims that new data from Norway "Shows" that global warming is "Less Severe Than Feared." But Bloomberg failed to mention that this claim is based on a PhD thesis that has not yet been peer-reviewed or accepted for publication by any scientific journal.
A press release by the Research Council of Norway states that new research has found that the amount that earth's temperature will rise if we continue emitting greenhouse gases at our current rate will be lower than estimates from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC, a group that assembles thousands of experts to review and summarize predominantly peer-reviewed research on climate change, estimates that doubling the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would cause warming between 2°C and 4.5°C (3.6° to 8.1° F), and estimates that 3°C (5.4° F) is the most likely outcome. By contrast, the Norwegian study estimates that 1.9°C (3.4° F) is the likely outcome.
But the research, which runs counter to the IPCC and the extensive body of research on this topic, is actually a PhD thesis. It has not been accepted by a scientific journal and thus should be treated as preliminary. And according to environmental scientist Dana Nuccitellli, writing at the climate science website Skeptical Science, the study may be flawed, by "overfitting the short-term natural variability" in temperatures.