Promoting a recent poll, CNN is treating climate change as a matter of opinion, saying Americans are divided over whether or not it is real. But the network itself has fueled such confusion, often failing to report that manmade emissions are driving climate change or giving credence to those who deny the science behind it.
The CNN/ORC International survey, released the morning after President Obama's inaugural address highlighted the need to address climate change, found that 49 percent of Americans accept that climate change is “a proven fact” and caused by manmade emissions. This represented a seven-point drop since 2007. A CNN blog suggested that this showed Americans do not “agree with Obama on climate change,” and failed to clarify that decades of research have led the vast majority of climate scientists to agree that manmade emissions are causing climate change.
Moreover, if Americans are becoming more uncertain about the role of manmade greenhouse gas emissions in warming the atmosphere, CNN isn't helping. Just two weeks prior, a special titled “The Coming Storms” set out to examine “the factors that made the impact of superstorm Sandy so devastating,” featuring “insights from researchers and scientists on climate change.” While the program drew praise for reporting on the connections between climate change and extreme weather, it never brought up the driving role that manmade emissions have played. In December 2012, CNN hosted a “debate” on climate science between Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and ClimateDepot.com founder Marc Morano, an industry-funded misinformer with no science training. CNN failed to detail Morano's background and gave him a platform to repeat several well-worn climate change myths. A Media Matters study found that only 4 percent of CNN's segments reporting on record-breaking heat in July 2012 mentioned climate change.
While Americans may be confused about some elements of climate science, they have consistently supported plans to address climate change, contrary to CNN's implication. A Yale poll released after the 2012 election found that 92 percent of Americans want the president and Congress to make developing clean energy a medium-or-higher priority, with nearly as many supporting efforts to reduce climate change even if it has economic costs. A similar survey of voters in four swing states found that a high majority want to transition to more sustainable energy, and a 2012 Texas A&M poll found that 59 percent of Americans support increased funding for clean energy research and 60 percent support tax cuts for renewable energy companies.