On October 22, Fox News Radio 600 KCOL host Scott James and his guest Steven Milloy of JunkScience.com spread misinformation about the science of climate change and mischaracterized a British judge's ruling regarding the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, featuring former Vice President Al Gore. Furthermore, in attacking Gore over his Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming, James promoted the skeptical views of Colorado State University professor William Gray while ignoring the Colorado-based scientists who shared the prize for their research. Milloy also likened Gore “and his global warming crusade” to eugenics.
On the October 22 broadcast of his Fox News Radio 600 KCOL show, Scott James and guest Steven Milloy, founder and publisher of JunkScience.com, made several distortions related to global warming research and to a British court ruling concerning former vice president and Nobel laureate Al Gore's documentary , An Inconvenient Truth (Paramount Classics, May 2006). The pair noted that a British judge found inaccuracies in the movie, but omitted that he also agreed that " 'Gore's presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate.' " James also continued a pattern among conservative Colorado commentators of attacking Gore over his Nobel Prize while ignoring Colorado-based researchers who shared the prize for contributing research to the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Furthermore, Milloy stated that "[Gore's] global warming crusade is a lot like eugenics was in the '20s and '30s," the latest example of a host or guest on a Colorado conservative radio talk show using Nazi allusions while referring to Gore's global warming ideas, as Colorado Media Matters has noted (here, here, and here).
According to JunkScience.com, Milloy is also an investment adviser to the Free Enterprise Action Fund and a columnist for FoxNews.com. As Mother Jones and the Union of Concerned Scientists have noted (here and here), Milloy is a former key participant in tobacco industry-funded campaigns to dispute scientific findings about the adverse health effects of smoking and currently performs a similar function for Exxon Mobil regarding fossil fuel consumption and global warming.
From the October 22 broadcast of Fox News Radio 600 KCOL's Ride Home with The James Gang:
JAMES: British judge ruled on the eve of Al Gore's co-winning the Nobel Peace Prize that students forced to watch An Inconvenient Truth must be warned of the film's factual errors. So our friend Steven Milloy at JunkScience.com -- Steve, what you did is you kind of took together, you started taking a look at the British judge's 10 points that he made -- because he found, what, it was 10, wasn't it?
MILLOY: It was nine.
JAMES: Nine! OK, nine --
MILLOY: Nine inaccuracies.
JAMES: -- inaccuracies, and you started taking a look at that, and you started adding up the filler in all this, and you found that there's really just not that much documentary in Al Gore's award-winning documentary, now is there?
MILLOY: Well, yeah, I actually had to watch that movie again.
JAMES: [laughs] Well, that alone is worth our thanks.
MILLOY: I should get a medal or something. And what I found was that 25 percent of the movie was basically ruled inaccurate by the judge. And that 25 percent is essentially 100 percent of the science. I mean, there's essentially nothing Al Gore said in that movie that was true, according to, you know, what the British judge ruled and the standards he was sort of judging it by. So you basically have, what, 73 minutes of, you know, Al Gore's personal drama and other filler. And we should get a refund. Especially me. I mean, I've seen it now multiple times.
Contrary to Milloy's assertion that “there's essentially nothing Al Gore said in that movie that was true, according to ... what the British judge ruled,” in his October 10 ruling, Justice Michael Burton stated that An Inconvenient Truth is “substantially founded upon scientific research and fact.” Burton also said he had “no doubt” that Gore's expert was “right when he says that: 'Al Gore's presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate,' ” as Colorado Media Matters has noted.
Later in the broadcast, in a reference to Colorado State University professor emeritus of atmospheric science William Gray, James stated, “There's a guy right here in our own community” who says that global warming “has more to do with ocean currents ... than anything else.”
JAMES: You know, it's interesting, the fact that most of us, Steve and I, are just kinda dolts like me bumbling through life, and we've got more important things to do than to try to even begin to understand the science behind worldwide climate, nonetheless to try to apply some of the issues that are presented. All I know is I look for people that I respect. There's a guy right here in our own community in Dr. Bill Gray --
MILLOY: Yeah. He's a great guy.
JAMES: -- and Bill Gray looks at it and says, you know, this probably has more to do with ocean currents than it does, and -- which are cycular, by the way -- than anything else. So here's a man who has been forecasting weather all his life, and then we got Al Gore. Hmm. Who am I gonna believe, you know?
As Colorado Media Matters has noted, on April 26, 2006, RealClimate.org, which describes itself as “a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists,” responded to a paper written by Gray by detailing “the fundamental misconceptions on the physics of climate that underlie most of Gray's pronouncements on climate change and its causes” and “the gaping flaws” in his “scientific argument.” Colorado Media Matters also has noted RealClimate's conclusion that Gray has “fail[ed] to adapt to a modern era of meteorology, which demands hypotheses soundly grounded in quantitative and consistent physical formulations, not seat-of-the-pants flying.”
Additionally, a May 28, 2006, Washington Post Magazine article by Joel Achenbach reported that Gray “concede[d] that he hasn't published the idea [his theory about recent warming trends] in any peer-reviewed journal.” Achenbach also noted that Gray's rejection of climate models puts him “increasingly on the fringe” in the field of meteorology. When Achenbach “ask[ed] Gray who his intellectual soul mates are regarding global warming,” Gray responded, “I have nobody really to talk to about this stuff.'”
Neither James nor Milloy acknowledged that the IPCC -- which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Gore -- disagrees with Gray's theory that rising temperatures are part of a “natural cycle.” In fact, the panel recently concluded that evidence that the Earth's climate is warming is “unequivocal” and that most of the observed warming is “very likely” due to human influences.
Further, while James cited Gray's theories, he ignored the work of four other CSU scientists who have links to the IPCC and therefore shared the Nobel Prize with Gore. As Colorado Media Matters has pointed out, other conservative Colorado media figures and outlets have similarly ignored these scientists' research in attacking Gore over the Nobel Prize.
Milloy also proceeded to attempt to cast doubt on the reliability of climate change forecasts by misleadingly referencing the unreliability of many weather forecasts:
MILLOY: Yeah, no. Look: You need to go no further than your evening news, listen to the weather man. I mean, how right is that guy gonna be, and he's only predicting tomorrow's weather. Think about these fools that are tryin' to tell us what it's gonna be like in 10, 20, 50, and hundred years, and into the next century. I mean, it just makes no sense.
But as the IPCC noted, “there are important differences” between weather and climate:
Climate is generally defined as average weather, and as such, climate change and weather are intertwined. Observations can show that there have been changes in weather, and it is the statistics of changes in weather over time that identify climate change. While weather and climate are closely related, there are important differences. A common confusion between weather and climate arises when scientists are asked how they can predict climate 50 years from now when they cannot predict the weather a few weeks from now. The chaotic nature of weather makes it unpredictable beyond a few days. Projecting changes in climate (i.e., long-term average weather) due to changes in atmospheric composition or other factors is a very different and much more manageable issue. As an analogy, while it is impossible to predict the age at which any particular man will die, we can say with high confidence that the average age of death for men in industrialised countries is about 75. Another common confusion of these issues is thinking that a cold winter or a cooling spot on the globe is evidence against global warming. There are always extremes of hot and cold, although their frequency and intensity change as climate changes. But when weather is averaged over space and time, the fact that the globe is warming emerges clearly from the data. [emphasis added]
Later, Milloy stated that “the way to think about him [Gore] and his global warming crusade is a lot like eugenics was in the '20s and '30s. You know, one day people are going to look back at this and laugh”:
JAMES: You know, all the world -- it seems like all the world loves a cause. And I take a look at this guy first winning an Academy Award, now winning a Nobel Peace Prize. He's a bandwagon, for crying out loud, and everybody's got to get on it.
MILLOY: Yeah. Well, you know, Al Gore is like -- I mean, the way to think about him and his global warming crusade is a lot like eugenics was in the '20s and '30s. You know, one day people are going to look back at this and laugh. Right now we've just got to figure out a way to survive it.
According to the WebMD Network's MedicineNet.com site, “eugenics” refers to efforts “to improve the genetic constitution of the human species by selective breeding ... The Nazis notoriously engaged in negative eugenics by genocide." In the United States, eugenics “result[ed] in the forcible sterilization, incarceration, and occasionally euthanasia of the mentally or physically handicapped, the mentally ill, and ethnic minorities,” MedicineNet stated.