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Max Greenberg

Author ››› Max Greenberg
  • Fox Falls For Tabloid "Science"

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    Fox News is promoting a report from a British tabloid to claim that new data shows "Global Warming [Is] Over." But the agency that released the data explained that the tabloid report is "misleading" because it is based on a short-term period that obscures the long-term upward trend in global temperatures.

  • Fox Nation Science: "Global Warming Means More Arctic Ice"

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    Fox Nation is linking to a recent Associated Press story, using the headline "AP: Global Warming Means More Arctic Ice." In fact, Arctic sea ice cover fell to the lowest yearly minimum extent ever recorded just last month. The AP article explained that Antarctic sea ice growth is consistent with climate scientists' projections for a warming planet, and noted that these gains are slight compared to the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice.

    Earlier this week, AP's Seth Borenstein reported on Antarctic sea ice gains, noting that a recent growth record came just days after the lowest minimum extent of Arctic sea ice ever observed. Borenstein explained that scientists say "[s]hifts in wind patterns and the giant ozone hole over the Antarctic this time of year -- both related to human activity -- are probably behind the increase in ice." The website NewsBusters, engaging in what passes for media criticism for conservatives, complained that AP "predictably cited scientists" to explain climate science. NewsBusters alluded to a climate denier-cum-birther, who writes under the pseudonym Steven Goddard, and Christopher Horner, a lawyer who has misrepresented climate science as a fellow at the partially industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute, to bolster its argument.

    NewsBusters declared that since this sea ice growth is somewhat counterintuitive it is "unbelievable." However, Antarctic sea ice gains as a consequence of climate change are not a new idea. Recent research is in line with past predictions and "conventional wisdom." And while Antarctic sea ice has increased, land ice has declined.

    While conservative media have used Antarctic sea ice to try to cast doubt on climate change, NASA's chief scientist told AP that "the change [in the Antarctic] is nowhere near as substantial as what we see in the Arctic." This year's Arctic sea ice minimum was lower than any recorded in the satellite observation era "by a wide margin":

  • Wash. Post Omits Crucial Context For Gore's Green Investments

    Charges Of Cronyism Undermined By Gore Donating "Every Penny" To Charity

    Blog ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

    The Washington Post today reported at length on former Vice President Al Gore's investments in clean energy companies, but in lending credence to cronyism claims from Republicans, the Post ignored that Gore said he donated "every penny" he made on green investments to his nonprofit organization and exaggerated the amount of stimulus money available to the clean energy firms Gore invested in.

    In a front-page article, the Post cited a 2009 exchange between Gore and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) during testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

    One of the rare times Gore addressed the questions, at a congressional hearing in 2009, Republicans had suggested that Obama's agenda appeared destined to help him become the nation's first "carbon billionaire."

    Gore bristled when Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) asked if he stood to profit from his investments and political connections.

    "I believe that the transition to a green economy is good for our economy and good for all of us, and I have invested in it," he said. "And, congresswoman, if you believe that the reason I have been working on this issue for 30 years is because of greed, you don't know me."

    But the Post omitted a sentence where Gore testified that he donated "every penny" he has made in clean energy companies to his nonprofit organization, the Alliance for Climate Protection:

    BLACKBURN: So you're a partner in Kleiner Perkins. OK. Now, they have invested about a billion dollars in 40 companies that are going to benefit from cap-and-trade legislation. So is the legislation that we are discussing here today, is that something that you are going to personally benefit from?

    GORE: I believe that the transition to a green economy is good for our economy and good for all of us, and I have invested in it. But every penny that I have made, I have put right into a nonprofit, the Alliance for Climate Protection, to spread awareness of why we have to take on this challenge.

    And Congresswoman, if you're -- if you believe that the reason I have been working on this issue for 30 years is because of greed, you don't know me.

    The Post's cropped quote left out crucial context for their readers, and mirrored the selective editing that O'Reilly Factor guest host Laura Ingraham used in 2009.

  • The Media's Favorite Green Energy "Zinger" Is A Dud


    The media declared one of the top "zingers" of last night's debate to be Mitt Romney's line, "I had a friend who said, you don't just pick the winners and losers; you pick the losers."  But that line is based on a blatantly false claim that Romney made later in the debate, that "about half" of the Obama administration's investments in green energy have gone to bankrupt companies.

    As even the Romney campaign has reportedly acknowledged, Romney got it completely wrong: a large chunk of that money went to projects like energy efficiency, and within the green energy loan guarantee program the vast majority of projects are still up and running.

    The claim that "half" of the $90 billion spent on various clean energy projects went to bankrupt companies made easy fodder for solid fact-checks. But some ignored this blatant falsehood to push Romney's anti-green energy claims. Fox News seized on Romney's "pick the losers" line to declare that all the investments in green energy amounted to a "$90 Billion Boondoggle." And USA Today purported to ask "Are Obama green-energy loans really 'losers'?" but highlighted three of Romney's selective examples instead.

    But of the $90 billion that Fox declared a "Boondoggle," nearly one-third was for energy efficiency measures, including retrofits in low-income neighborhoods, and another $10 billion went to electric grid modernization.

    Even if Romney was referring only to the clean energy loan program funded under the stimulus, he still got it completely wrong. The New York Times called it "a gross overstatement," noting that "of nearly three dozen recipients of loans under the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program, only three are currently in bankruptcy." In fact, over 87 percent of the funds for the Department of Energy's 1705 loan guarantee program went to low-risk power generation projects, which are required to secure contracts with power purchasers before receiving a loan guarantee, virtually eliminating the risk of default. Congress anticipated that not all companies would succeed, and a Bloomberg Government analysis suggests they set aside more than enough to cover losses -- $2.47 billion, not $90 billion:

  • PBS Ignores The Environment In First Presidential Debate

    Blog ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

    PetitionsDespite hundreds of thousands of petitions asking for a question on climate change, former PBS NewsHour host Jim Lehrer did not ask the candidates what they would do to address manmade global warming as moderator of the first presidential debate. Even more stunning, Lehrer did not ask a single question about the environment or energy issues.

    Lehrer, who currently serves as NewsHour's executive editor, said at the outset of the debate that he wanted to focus on "specifics." Yet while both President Obama and Mitt Romney brought up energy issues frequently, the moderator never pressed them on distortions made on these issues. And neither Lehrer nor the candidates raised climate change, which was discussed in each of the last three sets of presidential debates. In both 2000 and in 2008, the debates featured specific questions on climate change, and Republican and Democratic candidates each acknowledged the issue.

    Last week, groups including the League of Conservation Voters, Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club and National Wildlife Federation delivered more than 160,000 petitions to Lehrer urging him to ask Obama and Romney "how they will confront the greatest challenge of our generation -- climate change."

    Their calls came amid increasing criticism of Obama and Romney for remaining largely silent on climate change, even as polling shows that a majority of undecided voters will weigh candidates' climate positions when they cast their ballots.

    Just last month, NewsHour drew fire for turning to climate change contrarian Anthony Watts, a meteorologist, as a counterpoint to the scientific consensus on climate change. NewsHour did not disclose Watts' connection to the Heartland Institute, which is partly funded by corporations with an interest in obscuring climate science. Soon after, PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler acknowledged that the segment "was not the PBS NewsHour's finest 10 minutes" and said he found it "stunning" that Watts had been picked instead of "a university-accredited scientist to provide 'balance.'" But it remained to be seen whether PBS would re-commit itself to informing its audience and holding politicians accountable for the problems of the day. Tonight's debate indicated that PBS has not taken the criticism it has received seriously. Indeed, shortly after closing remarks, Watts gloated on his blog that climate was not mentioned.

  • Fair & Balanced: Fox Hosts Two Coal CEOs To Attack Obama

    Blog ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

    Fox's Megyn Kelly recently hosted a lengthy segment on the coal industry featuring a Mitt Romney campaign ad and the CEOs of a coal trade group and a coal mining company. The industry representatives claimed that President Obama is waging a "war on coal," but the facts about the Obama administration's efforts to enact long overdue clean air regulations were noticeably absent.

    On Fox News' America Live, host Megyn Kelly interviewed American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity CEO Mike Duncan and Murray Energy Corporation CEO Robert Murray. After Kelly aired a campaign ad featuring Romney speaking at the Century Mine, Murray belabored the "human issue" of regulations and the plight of coal miners who "just want to work in honor and dignity." But Kelly didn't mention that Murray, who owns the mine, recently came under fire for forcing miners to attend the rally without pay, or that his company has a history of labor and safety violations.

    During the segment, Murray claimed that Obama "is going to export millions of jobs to China by destroying low-cost electricity in this country for no environmental benefit at all." But in fact, the Obama administration has put in place regulations that have large environmental and public health benefits; at the same time, U.S. coal mining jobs have remained steady at about 85,000. Furthermore, studies show pollution from coal causes tens of billions of dollars of damage, including death and disease for many coal miners, more than offsetting its "low cost."


    Myths And Facts About Coal

  • Antarctic Sea Ice And The Art Of Climate Distraction

    Blog ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

    In order to distract from the announcement this week that Arctic sea ice is at a record low, right-wing media are pointing to Antarctic sea ice as proof that climate change isn't occurring. But Antarctic sea ice gains have been slight, whereas Arctic ice decline -- a key indicator of climate change -- has been extreme. Furthermore, scientists have long expected the Arctic to experience the first impacts of climate change, and still project that in the long run, sea ice in both regions will decline as greenhouse gas concentrations increase.

    On September 16, the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced that Arctic sea ice reached its minimum extent for the year and the lowest seasonal minimum measured since record keeping began in 1979. But in a blog post published the day of that record low, climate contrarian Steven Goddard changed the subject, asserting that Antarctic ice on "day 256" (September 12 in a leap year) was the highest ever recorded for that date, and the eighth highest daily recording ever. A few days earlier, contrarian Anthony Watts cited satellite readings showing "mass gains of the Antarctic ice sheet" to similar end.

    Heartland Institute fellow and Forbes contributor James Taylor quickly seized on the argument, complaining that instead of covering the Antarctic, news reporters were "breathlessly spreading fear and warning of calamity because Arctic sea ice recently set a 33-year low." Investor's Business Daily used the Antarctic ice growth to pass judgment on "global warming alarmists" for noting record summer temperatures across much of the U.S. and concluded " The alarmists' bible has turned out to be full of false prophets."

    But the low Arctic sea ice came on the heels of a "record-breaking summer," and it is lower than any since observation began "by a wide margin." According to a NASA release on the record, the difference between the new Arctic sea ice extent and the old mark is larger than the state of Texas, whereas, as National Snow & Ice Date Center [NSIDC] Director Mark Serreze told LiveScience, "Antarctic sea ice hasn't seen these big reductions we've seen in the Arctic."

    Indeed, the daily sea ice extent for the Arctic is well outside of two standard deviations from the 1997-2000 average, while the Antarctic daily sea ice extent is only slightly outside of this range for 2012:

    And according to a study published in Nature of 69 sites around the Arctic, the drop in late summer sea ice in the Arctic is unprecedented in over a thousand years:

  • Myths And Facts About Coal


    Conservative media have claimed that the Obama administration is waging a "war" on "cheap," "clean" coal that will cause blackouts and massive layoffs. In fact, the Obama administration has simply implemented long overdue and legally required clean air regulations to protect public health without hurting electric reliability or employment, and much of the transition away from coal is due to the rise of cheaper, cleaner natural gas.

  • Conservative Media Ignore Role Of Natural Gas In Coal Layoffs

    Blog ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

    The National Review Online and a op-ed are citing recent layoffs by Alpha Natural Resources, a coal producer, to claim that the Obama administration is waging a "war" on coal miners. But both are ignoring that competition with natural gas is a major reason for the company's layoffs. 

    Alpha Natural Resources recently laid off 400 coal miners (although about 270 of those workers will be reassigned to other jobs) and announced that it plans to eliminate 1,200 jobs by 2013. The National Review Online's Henry Payne and guest contributor Phil Kerpen used this announcement to claim that Obama is waging a "war on [mining] workers" and "war on American jobs," respectively. Both quoted Alpha Natural Resources CEO Kevin Crutchfield  on the effects of "a regulatory environment that's aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal." But they cropped the quote to exclude that Crutchfield acknowledged the role of natural gas competition, according to the Associated Press' account of Crutchfield's remarks: 

    Crutchfield called it "a difficult day," but said the shutdowns and layoffs are a necessary part of ensuring Alpha survives in what has become a difficult U.S. market, where coal companies face a dual challenge: Power plants are shifting to cheap, abundant natural gas, while companies like his face "a regulatory environment that's aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal."

    Payne only dismissively mentioned the role of increased competition from natural gas in reduced coal-fired electricity generation and resultant layoffs and Kerpen ignored natural gas competition altogether. Payne also completely ignored natural gas in a recent column in the Weekly Standard. He quoted a 24/7 Wall Street post saying "future sales forecasts also are being affected by a series of regulatory actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has resulted in utilities announcing plans to shut down a number of generating stations that have traditionally used Central Appalachia coal." Not included was the prior sentence, which said "In addition to lack of demand from power generating plants due to fuel switching to natural gas and a mild winter, the company also blamed an 'onerous regulatory environment' for the closures."

    In a post titled "UMW Is Dead, UAW Is Alive," Payne used the cropped quote from Crutchfield to suggest that it is wrong to attribute the layoffs to natural gas competition (and incorrectly suggest the laid off Alpha workers were part of a union):

  • O'Reilly Encourages Romney To Falsely Blame Obama For Gas Prices


    Last night, Bill O'Reilly encouraged Mitt Romney to hammer President Obama over gas prices. But in 2008 O'Reilly was singing a different tune, correctly saying that "it's complete B.S." for politicians to claim they will bring down oil and gasoline prices.

    Fox News contributor Karl Rove reassured O'Reilly that his SuperPAC is running false advertisements on this very subject. The network has aided Rove's efforts by repeatedly airing a misleading graphic that implies President Obama is to blame for rising gasoline prices, and claiming that Americans are worse off than they were four years ago. But as The Wall Street Journal has previously noted, gas prices are "largely fixed by the price of crude oil, which is determined by global supply and demand," and "[w]hen Mr. Obama was inaugurated, demand was weak due to the recession. But now it's stronger, and thus the price is higher."

    Earlier this year, PolitiFact rated a similar claim "mostly false" partly because it failed to account for seasonal gas price fluctuations between winter and summer -- a factor Fox News also ignores. While oil production has risen under the Obama administration, experts say that increasing drilling in the U.S. won't lower gas prices. But by reducing our dependence on oil, including by raising fuel economy standards, we can reduce the American economy's vulnerability to price spikes.