Fox News' Top 10 Lies About Climate Science

Rolling Stone recently included News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch in its list of politicians and executives it contends are “blocking progress on global warming,” writing that “Murdoch's entire media empire, it would seem, is set up to deny, deny, deny.” Indeed, for years, Fox News has done more than any other major news outlet in the United States to sow confusion about climate change, as this list of Fox News' top 10 climate science distortions demonstrates.

Rolling Stone: At Fox News, “Manufacturing Doubt About Global Warming Remains Official Policy”

Rolling Stone: “No One Does More To Spread Dangerous Disinformation About Global Warming Than Murdoch.” In a recent article, Rolling Stone magazine put Murdoch at the top of its list of “12 politicians and execs blocking progress on global warming,” writing that "[n]o one does more to spread dangerous disinformation about global warming than Murdoch." From the article:

No one does more to spread dangerous disinformation about global warming than Murdoch. In a year of rec­ord heat waves in Africa, freak snowstorms in America and epic flooding in Pakistan, the Fox network continued to dismiss climate change as nothing but a conspiracy by liberal scientists and Big Government. Glenn Beck told viewers the Earth experienced no warming in the past decade -- the hottest on record. Sean Hannity declared that “global warming doesn't exist” and speculated about “the true agenda of global-warming hysterics.” Even Brian Kilmeade, co-host of the chatty Fox & Friends, laughed off the threat of climate change, joking that the real problem was “too many polar bears.”

Murdoch's entire media empire, it would seem, is set up to deny, deny, deny. The Wall Street Journal routinely dismisses climate change as “an apocalyptic scare,” and Fox News helped gin up a fake controversy by relentlessly hyping the “climategate” scandal -- even though independent investigations showed that nothing in the e-mails stolen from British climate researchers undercut scientific conclusions about global warming.

Murdoch knows better. In 2007, he warned that climate change “poses clear, catastrophic threats” and promised to turn News Corp. into a model of carbon neutrality. But at his media outlets, manufacturing doubt about global warming remains official policy. During the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen, the Washington editor of Fox News ordered the network's journalists to never mention global warming “without immediately pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.” Murdoch may be striving to go green in his ­office buildings, but on air, the only thing he's recycling are the lies of Big Coal and Big Oil. [Rolling Stone, 2/3/11]

Fox News' Top 10 Climate Science Distortions And Fabrications

1. Global warming “doesn't exist”

2. 2009 was “the coldest year on record”

3. “Nearly all of the [Arctic] ice has returned”

4. “How can there be global warming if it's snowing and it's bitterly cold?”

5. “The Earth is actually cooling now”

6. Hacked emails prove scientists are “doctoring” data to exaggerate global warming

7. El Nino is the cause of warming of the past 30 years

8. Climate science warned of global cooling in the 1970s

9. “NASA acknowledges solar cycle, not man, responsible for global warming”

10. Phil Jones told BBC that “the Middle Ages were warmer than the climate now”

Fox: Global Warming “Doesn't Exist”

  • Hannity: “The Debate's Over. There's No Global Warming.” In October 2009, Sean Hannity said on his Fox News program that former Vice President Al Gore “doesn't think there's room for debate on climate change. I do. The debate's over. There's no global warming.” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/12/09]
  • Hannity: “Global Warming ... Doesn't Exist.” In November 2010, Hannity similarly stated: “Today is the one-year anniversary of 'Climate-gate,' when we discovered that they artificially altered the science to hype global warming, which I say, and others, doesn't exist.” [Fox News, Hannity, 11/19/10]

REALITY: Recent Warming Trend Is Established By Temperature Measurements, Other Observations. The National Climatic Data Center explains that the “warming trend that is apparent in all of the independent methods of calculating global temperature change is also confirmed by other independent observations”:

Thousands of land and ocean temperature measurements are recorded each day around the globe. This includes measurements from climate reference stations, weather stations, ships, buoys and autonomous gliders in the oceans. These surface measurements are also supplemented with satellite measurements. These measurements are processed, examined for random and systematic errors, and then finally combined to produce a time series of global average temperature change. A number of agencies around the world have produced datasets of global-scale changes in surface temperature using different techniques to process the data and remove measurement errors that could lead to false interpretations of temperature trends. The warming trend that is apparent in all of the independent methods of calculating global temperature change is also confirmed by other independent observations, such as the melting of mountain glaciers on every continent, reductions in the extent of snow cover, earlier blooming of plants in spring, a shorter ice season on lakes and rivers, ocean heat content, reduced arctic sea ice, and rising sea levels. [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climatic Data Center, accessed 1/14/11]

From the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change:

Global average temperature 1850-2009

[Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change, accessed 1/14/11]

IPCC: Most Of Recent Warming Is Very Likely Due To Increase In Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change -- a scientific body compiling research from thousands of scientists -- concluded in 2007 that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level” and that “most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely [defined in the report as a '>90%' chance] due to the observed increase in anthropogenic [human-caused] GHG [greenhouse gas] concentrations.” [Pages 8 and 17, Synthesis Report, Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, 2007]

Fox: 2009 Was “The Coldest Year On Record”

  • Hannity: “This Is One Of The Coldest Years On Record. ... I Don't Believe Climate Change Is Real.” Hannity stated on his Fox News program, “Here's what I don't understand. This is one of the coldest years on record, ladies and gentlemen. There is no -- I don't believe climate change is real. I think this is global warming hysteria and alarmism.” [Fox News, Hannity, 11/10/09]
  • Hannity: “We Have The Coldest Year On Record. It's 40 Degrees In Miami, For Crying Out Loud.” Hannity stated: “We have an Energy secretary that wants to paint every roof in America and every black pavement white. And I'm thinking, how -- we have the coldest year on record. It's 40 degrees in Miami, for crying out loud. China and Russia are freezing. The rest of the country is freezing. There's snow everywhere. The coldest year on record and -- what? Why? Why are they involved in our lives in this way?” [Fox News, Hannity, 1/5/10]

REALITY: 2009 Was Among Warmest Years On Record For The Globe. By the time Hannity first made this claim in November 2009, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had determined that "[f]or the year to date, the global combined land and ocean surface temperature of 14.7 °C (58.4 °F) tied with 2007 as the fifth-warmest January-through-October period on record." [National Climatic Data Center, accessed 11/25/09]

  • With 2010 taken into account, NOAA lists 2009 as tied with 2006 as the sixth-warmest year on record. [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climatic Data Center, January 2011]
  • NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies ranks 2009 as “the third warmest year” on record. [NASA, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, accessed 1/13/11]
  • The UK Met Office ranks 2009 as the sixth-warmest year on record. [Met Office, 12/2/10]

Fox: “Nearly All Of The [Arctic] Ice Has Returned”

  • Beck: "[N]early All Of The Ice Has Returned." On his Fox News program, Glenn Beck referred to the “discredited global warming scam,” and claimed: “In September of 2007, there was a 25 percent reduction in the usual minimum ice cover. This, my friend, is the truth: 25 percent. In the two years since, nearly all of the ice has returned.” [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 12/14/09]

REALITY: Arctic Ice Remained Far Below Average in 2008, 2009, 2010. The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported in October 2007: “At the end of the melt season, September 2007 sea ice was 39 percent below the long-term average from 1979 to 2000.” The center stated that these were “the lowest levels since satellite measurements began in 1979.” [The National Snow and Ice Data Center, 10/1/07]

  • In October 2009, the NSIDC reported that 2009 saw the “third-lowest mark” for Arctic sea ice extent, after the record low in 2007 and the second-lowest in 2008. The report stated that the ice extent was “1.68 million square kilometers (649,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 September average” and “Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 11.2 percent per decade, relative to the 1979 to 2000 average.” [The National Snow and Ice Data Center, 10/6/09]
  • The NSIDC reported in October 2010 that 2010 has replaced 2009 as the year with the third-lowest Arctic sea ice extent in September on record. NSIDC director Mark Serreze stated: “All indications are that sea ice will continue to decline over the next several decades.” From the report:

Average monthly arctic sea ice

[The National Snow and Ice Data Center, 10/4/10]

Fox: “How Can There Be Global Warming If It's Snowing And It's Bitterly Cold?”

  • Bolling: Snow “Breaking Al Gore's Heart Because” It's “Burying His Global Warming Theory.” On Fox News' Your World, Eric Bolling stated: “The mid-Atlantic region on the verge of breaking all-time records for snowfall, up to 16 inches already falling in parts of Maryland, and it's not just the Northeast. Sixty-three percent of the country is now covered in snow and it's breaking Al Gore's heart because the snow is also burying his global warming theory.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 2/10/10]
  • Doocy: "[H]ow Can There Be Global Warming If It's Snowing And It's Bitterly Cold?" On Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson said she wanted to talk about the “dichotomy” created by “big snowstorms” occurring while “the Obama administration [is] talking about creating a new federal office to study global warming.” Co-host Steve Doocy added: “It's interesting, though, given the fact that the weather is so rotten right now that people are going, 'how can there be global warming if it's snowing and it's bitterly cold?' ” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/9/10]
  • Cavuto: “It Is Freezing Across The Entire Globe.” Neil Cavuto stated on his Fox News show, “This is our Fox News global warming alert for you. It is freezing across the entire globe. We've got frost in Florida, it's 50 below in the Midwest. You got deadly snow in London.” Guest Ben Stein added, “At some point maybe somebody in the government will wake up and say, 'Hey, it's colder. It's not hotter.' Maybe all this talk about global warming needs to be rethought.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 1/9/10]
  • Doocy: “Man, Is It Cold. That Global Warming Thing Is Really Kicking Into High Gear, Isn't It?” On Fox & Friends, Doocy stated, “Man, is it cold. Right now in Minneapolis, the air temperature is nine below zero. International Falls in Minnesota yesterday had a recorded temperature of 37 degrees below zero. That is the coldest temperature that town has had since 1911. Yeah, that global warming thing is really kicking into high gear, isn't it?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/5/10]
  • Citing Winter Storm in Europe, Palkot Stated: “Forget About All That Global Warming Talk.” On America's Newsroom, Fox News foreign correspondent Greg Palkot reported on how the “worst winter that Europe has seen in 15 years” had shut down train travel in Europe, and added: “All over Europe, a pre-winter, into winter storm like Europe hasn't seen in years -- forget about all that global warming talk -- disrupting air travel, airports all across Europe shut down. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 12/21/09]

REALITY: Scientists Stress That Winter Storms Do Not Disprove Global Warming. The New York Times reported in March 2008 that climate scientists -- including at least one who has disputed aspects of the scientific consensus on climate change -- completely reject the notion that short-term changes in weather, let alone individual storms can undermine climate observations or global warming theory. The article further stated:

Michael E. Schlesinger, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, said that any focus on the last few months or years as evidence undermining the established theory that accumulating greenhouse gases are making the world warmer was, at best, a waste of time and, at worst, a harmful distraction.

Discerning a human influence on climate, he said, ''involves finding a signal in a noisy background.'' He added, ''The only way to do this within our noisy climate system is to average over a sufficient number of years that the noise is greatly diminished, thereby revealing the signal. This means that one cannot look at any single year and know whether what one is seeing is the signal or the noise or both the signal and the noise.'' [The New York Times, 2/2/08]

Met Office: Regional Weather Variations Don't “Tell Us Anything About Climate Change.” The Met Office stated in January 2010: “The current cold weather in the UK is part of the normal regional variations that take place in the winter season. It doesn't tell us anything about climate change, which has to be looked at in a global context and over longer periods of time.” [Met Office, 1/6/10]

ABC News: Scientists “Are Quick To Repudiate Claims” That Snowstorms Disprove Global Warming. ABC News reported in February 2010:

As Washington, D.C., and much of the rest of the East Coast dig out from another blizzard, some politicians are using the frigid temperatures and snow-covered streets to support their claims that global warming does not exist.

Scientists, however, are quick to repudiate those comments, firing back that a few days, or even a few weeks, of inclement or cold weather in one part of the country does not disprove climate change -- a phenomenon, they say, that affects the entire planet over the course of decades.


Climate scientists say there is ample evidence that the planet is warming, and that occasional cold snaps or blizzards are blips that do not affect that overall trend.

“You cannot use a system or systems over a short period of time to describe if there is global warming. It's measured over a long, long period of time. This is a little speck in that duration,” said Brian Korty, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. [ABC News, 2/10/10]

NASA: Cold Winter Does Not “Go Against The Grain Of Basic Global Warming Theory.” In a February 2010 article on its GISS website, NASA wrote: “It's been very cold so far this winter in most of the U.S. and many places at middle latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. ... But scientists stress this weather does not mean that those gases are no longer exerting a warming influence. Nor does it go against the grain of basic global warming theory. Cold snaps and bouts of natural cooling that could last years are expected naturally even as the climate continues on a long-term warming trend, forced by man-made emissions.” [NASA, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 2/23/10]

Fox: “The Earth Is Actually Cooling Now”

  • Beck: “We're In A Cooling Period.” On his Fox News show, Beck stated: “When we're talking about CO2, the idea is the more CO2, the warmer it gets. ... But, it's -- we're in a cooling period.” [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 10/30/09]
  • Baier: “Several Scientists Have Detailed A Recent Cooling Trend.” On Special Report, anchor Baier reported that “Al Gore is comparing the fight against climate change to the struggle against Nazis in World War II.” Baier added: “We've reported several scientists have detailed a recent global cooling trend.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 7/7/09]
  • Baier: “The Earth Has Actually Cooled Over The Last Decade.” On Special Report, Baier stated: “Scientists have cut in half their prediction of how much sea levels could rise if Antarctica's Western ice sheets melt due to global warming. ... The change underlines just how much uncertainty there is about the entire issue. We've told you that the Earth has actually cooled over the last decade.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 5/15/09]
  • Baier Cites Unnamed Studies Showing “The Earth Is Actually Cooling Now.” On Special Report, Baier stated that “with a number of studies now showing there has been no global warming over at least the last 10 years, and that the Earth is actually cooling now, environmentalists are looking to rebrand their message.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 5/8/09]
  • Baier Promotes Claim That “The Earth Has Been Cooling For The Last Six Years.” On Special Report, Baier stated that “former nuclear scientist and energy expert Michael Fox writes in the Hawaii Reporter that 2008 was, quote, 'another grim year for the global warmers. 2008 marked the tenth consecutive year of no global warming. The Earth has been cooling for the last six years.' ” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 1/5/09]

REALITY: 2000-2009 Was By Far Warmest Decade On Record. In a January 2010 article on its GISS website, NASA reported that its analysis of global surface temperature showed 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.” [NASA, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 1/21/10]

  • NOAA: “The 2000-2009 decade will be the warmest on record, with its average global surface temperature about 0.54 °C (0.96 °F) above the 20th Century average. This will easily surpass the 1990s value of 0.36 °C (0.65 °F).” [National Climatic Data Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, December 2009]
  • Met Office: “The first decade of this century has been, by far, the warmest decade on the instrumental record. New figures released today in Copenhagen show 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.” From the report:

2000s warmest decade

[Met Office, 12/8/09]

Statisticians Debunked Global Cooling Claim. The Associated Press “gave temperature data to four independent statisticians and asked them to look for trends, without telling them what the numbers represented.” They concluded:

Statisticians who analyzed the data found a distinct decades-long upward trend in the numbers, but could not find a significant drop in the past 10 years in either data set. The ups and downs during the last decade repeat random variability in data as far back as 1880.

Saying there's a downward trend since 1998 is not scientifically legitimate, said David Peterson, a retired Duke University statistics professor and one of those analyzing the numbers. [Associated Press, 10/25/09]

WMO Secretary-General: “It Is A Misinterpretation Of The Data And Of Scientific Knowledge.” Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization, wrote in March 2009 that "[i]t is a misinterpretation of the data and of scientific knowledge to point to one year as the warmest on record ... and then to extrapolate that cooler subsequent years invalidate the reality of global warming and its effects." Jarraud further wrote:

The difference between climate variability and climate change is critical, not just for scientists or those engaging in policy debates about warming. Just as one cold snap does not change the global warming trend, one heat wave does not reinforce it. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the global average surface temperature has risen 1.33 degrees Fahrenheit.

Evidence of global warming has been documented in widespread decreases in snow cover, sea ice and glaciers. The 11 warmest years on record occurred in the past 13 years. [The Washington Post, 3/21/09]

NASA: “Global Warming Theory Does Not Posit A Linear, Year-To-Year Increase In Temperatures.” From a February 2010 article on NASA's GISS website:

Even as man-made greenhouse gases exert a consistent pressure on the climate, trapping more heat close to the surface of our planet, surface temperatures from year to year will fluctuate depending on the naturally variable forces at work around the globe. In the early 1990s, the mass of sulfates blasted into the atmosphere by the eruption of the Mt. Pinatubo volcano reflected sunlight and counteracted much of the man-made warming effect for several years. In 1998 El Niño combined with the man-made effect to give us one of the warmest years ever.

Allowing for this variability, global warming theory does not posit a linear, year-to-year increase in temperatures. Nor does it say that harsh winter weather will simply end. What it does say is that increasing concentrations of gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, with unchecked growth, will contribute a greater and greater warming influence on the world's climate. [NASA, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 2/23/10]

Fox: Hacked Emails Show Scientists Are “Fudging Data To Make Their Case For Global Warming”

  • Varney: Hacked Emails “Suggest Scientists Are Fudging Data To Make Their Case For Global Warming.” On Fox News' Your World, Stuart Varney stated, " 'Climategate' set to break wide open today. ... Hacked emails from Britain suggesting scientists are fudging data to make their case for global warming." [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 11/24/09]
  • Kilmeade: Hackers “Found Out” That Scientists “Are Fudging The Numbers And Massaging The Statistics To Get Conclusions.” On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade said: “This is huge. They hacked into some accounts -- I don't know how they did it -- but they found out that those people who say that we're in the middle of global warming, climate change, it's cataclysmic if we don't act soon, well, are fudging the numbers and massaging the statistics to get conclusions that would alert the whole world that we have to quickly act.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/2/09]
  • Hemmer: “Leaked Emails Reveal That Scientists Use, Quote, 'Tricks' To Hide Evidence Of A Decline In Global Temperatures.” On America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer falsely claimed that “recently leaked emails reveal that scientists use, quote, 'tricks' to hide evidence of a decline in global temperatures over the past, say, few decades.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 12/3/09]
  • Doocy: Emails Prove Academics, Scientists “Have Been Doctoring” Data To Prove Global Warming. On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said: "[I]t's interesting, so these email were -- apparently they got them -- somebody hacked into that university's thing. And essentially it proves that over the last number of years, members of academia, the science community who say global warming is caused by man, have been doctoring the figures and facts and stuff like that." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/3/09]
  • Kilmeade: “They Actually Say The Word 'Trickery.' ” Kilmeade said: “I understand that people don't have their whole lives to dedicate to climate change, but if you read these emails, you don't need to be a scientist to understand. They actually say the word 'trickery' when it comes to numbers and to reach conclusions.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/3/09]
  • Hannity Cites Emails To Claim Scientists “Were Certainly Fudging” Data. On his Fox News show, Hannity stated of the emails, “If they weren't dumping data, well, they were certainly fudging it. Another email between these colleagues from nine years prior shows the dishonesty was long in the works. It reads, quote, 'I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps for each series for the last 20 years, i.e., from 1981 onwards, you know, to hide the decline.' Well, that would be the decline in global temperatures. So could it be any more clear that the so-called climate scientists are hoodwinking the entire world community?” [Fox News, Hannity, 12/3/10]
  • Kellogg: Emails Suggested Scientists “Were Trying To Manipulate The Data.” On Fox News' America's Newsroom, Hemmer said that the stolen emails “suggested researchers manipulated some of that data that support the theory of manmade warming.” Later during the segment, Fox News' Amy Kellogg stated that “the story is widely being called 'Climategate' ” and that the stolen emails suggested that scientists “were trying to manipulate the data.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 12/10/09]

REALITY: Numerous Inquiries Found No Evidence That Scientists Falsified Data. The AP reported on March 31, 2010, that "[t]he House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee said Wednesday that they'd seen no evidence to support charges that the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit or its director, Phil Jones, had tampered with data or perverted the peer review process to exaggerate the threat of global warming of two of the most serious criticisms levied against the climatologist and his colleagues." [CBS/Associated Press, 3/31/10]

  • An independent panel led by Lord Oxburgh similarly found “no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit and had it been there we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it. Rather we found a small group of dedicated if slightly disorganised researchers who were ill-prepared for being the focus of public attention.” [CBS News, 4/14/10]
  • CNN reported that a seven-month review conducted by Muir Russell “found no evidence to question the 'rigor and honesty' of scientists involved” and concluded that “scientists at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) did not unduly influence reports detailing the scale of the threat of global warming produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).” [, 7/7/10]

Email Referencing A “Trick” To “Hide The Decline” Was Misrepresented By Fox. As explained:

Claims that the e-mails are evidence of fraud or deceit, however, misrepresent what they actually say. A prime example is a 1999 e-mail from [CRU director Phil] Jones, who wrote: “I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e., from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline.” Skeptics claim the words “trick” and “decline” show Jones is using sneaky manipulations to mask a decline in global temperatures. But that's not the case. Actual temperatures, as measured by scientific instruments such as thermometers, were rising at the time of the writing of this decade-old e-mail, and (as we've noted) have continued to rise since then. Jones was referring to the decline in temperatures implied by measurements of the width and density of tree rings. In recent decades, these measures indicate a dip, while more accurate instrument-measured temperatures continue to rise.

Scientists at CRU use tree-ring data and other “proxy” measurements to estimate temperatures from times before instrumental temperature data began to be collected. However, since about 1960, tree-ring data have diverged from actual measured temperatures. Far from covering it up, CRU scientists and others have published reports of this divergence many times. The “trick” that Jones was writing about in his 1999 e-mail was simply adding the actual, measured instrumental data into a graph of historic temperatures. Jones says it's a “trick” in the colloquial sense of an adroit feat -- “a clever thing to do,” as he put it -- not a deception. What's hidden is the fact that tree-ring data in recent decades doesn't track with thermometer measurements. [, 12/10/09]

Fox: El Nino Is The Cause For Warming Of Past 30 Years Forwards Claim That El Nino Explains Warming Of Past 30 Years. From a January 24 article:

Of course temperatures are up, said Joe Bastardi, a meteorologist with Accuweather: It's El Niño, stupid.

“El Niños cause spikes up. La Niñas drop it down,” Bastardi told “Why have we gone up overall in the past 30 years? Because we've been in a warm cycle in the Pacific,” he said. “But the tropical Pacific has cooled dramatically, and it's like turning down your thermostat -- it takes a while, but the house will cool.” [, 1/24/11]

REALITY: Scientists Say El Nino Can't Explain Long-Term Warming Trend. David Pierce, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography responded to the question, “How do climate scientists know that the warming in the past 30 years is not due to El Ninos?” by writing that “the main way we know that El Nino is not responsible for the ”global warming" in recent decades is that the up-and-down temperature sequence of the El Ninos and La Ninas does not match the long-term, secular rise in temperatures":

This question reminds me of when I was young, and my grandfather took me and my 5-year old cousin on an elevator ride. My grandfather told her that if she jumped up and down, she could jump to the top of the building. So she energetically jumped up and down, and after a minute the elevator doors opened, and there we were at the top of the building! My cousin was mighty impressed.

Of course, she was only 5, so we can forgive her for not understanding that it's perfectly possible for two things to be happening at the same time. She was jumping up and down, but the elevator car was going up at the same time. El Nino and the warming we have seen over the last 30 years are like that. We have had El Ninos (warm events) and La Ninas (cold events), which push the Earth up and down in temperature. (By the National Center for Environmental Predictions's count -- they are part of NOAA, who also runs the National Weather Service -- we have had about 11 El Nino (warm) events since 1970, and about 10 La Nina (cold) events). At the same time, there has been a long-term, systematic warming of the planet. So the main way we know that El Nino is not responsible for the “global warming” in recent decades is that the up-and-down temperature sequence of the El Ninos and La Ninas does not match the long-term, secular rise in temperatures.

Another way you can check if El Nino/La Nina are responsible for he planetary warming is by examining the regions that they tend to influence, and see if there is a match. The planetary warming can be seen across broad swaths of the globe, but is concentrated in the polar regions. El Nino warming is concentrated in the tropics. So the spatial signature of El Nino warming does not match the spatial pattern of global warming either. [Email to Media Matters, 1/26/11]

Kevin Trenberth Of NCAR: “The Statements Are Utter Nonsense.” Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), told Media Matters via email:

The heat has to come from somewhere. In El Nino: or really the ENSO cycle of El Nino and then La Nina, the heat builds up during La Nina, and then is redistributed and comes out of the ocean during and following El Nino.

This is well documented (I can point you to papers). So there is a mini global warming (increase in temperature) in the latter part of El Nino.

The heat has to come from somewhere and so if the climate is warming because of a warm cycle in the Pacific, where did the heat come from? If it just comes from the ocean then the ocean must be cooling down. It isn't. Of course it is global warming from increased greenhouse gases that warms the ocean!

The statements are utter nonsense. [Email to Media Matters, 1/26/11]

RealClimate: Scientists Have “Known For Decades” That El Nino Correlates With Global Temperatures. From a July 2009 post on Real Climate, a science blog written by working climate scientists:

First, there is an atrocious paper that has just been published in JGR by McLean, de Freitas and Carter that is doing the rounds of the denialosphere. These authors make the completely unsurprising point that that there is a correlation between ENSO indices and global mean temperature - something that has been well known for decades - and then go on to claim that that all trends are explained by this correlation as well. This is somewhat surprising since their method of analysis (which involves taking the first derivative of any changes) eliminates the influence of any trends in the correlation. [, 7/24/09]

Scientists Seek To Account For El Nino Effects When Evaluating Climate Change. Physicist John Cook wrote on his website that "[t]here have been various attempts to filter out the ENSO signal from the temperature record," adding that analyses have confirmed that El Ninos have a “strong short term effect on global temperature but cannot explain the long term trend.” From the post:

An examination of the temperature record from 1880 to 2007 finds internal variability such as El Nino has relatively small impact on the long term trend (Hoerling 2008). Instead, they find long term trends in sea surface temperatures are driven predominantly by the planet's energy imbalance.

There have been various attempts to filter out the ENSO signal from the temperature record. We've examined one such paper by Fawcett 2007 when addressing the global warming stopped in 1998 argument. Similarly, Thompson 2008 filters out the ENSO signal from the temperature record. What remains is a warming trend with less variability. [, 9/3/10]

Fox: Climate Science Warned Of Global Cooling In The 1970s

  • In 1970 “One Researcher Predicted That The Planet Would Be 11 Degrees Colder By The Year 2000.” One of the five reasons gave to be skeptical of global warming science is that “Forecasts are often wrong.” The article further stated that “in 1970 at the first Earth Day event, one researcher predicted that the planet would be 11 degrees colder by the year 2000.” [, 1/24/11]
  • Bolling: “30 Years Ago, We Worried About Global Cooling. Now We're Worried About Global Warming.” During an interview with Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Eric Bolling read headlines from 1974 about cooling temperatures and stated, “30 years ago, we worried about global cooling. Now we`re worried about global warming. Is this not just the global cooling and warming over the course of 30-year periods?” [Fox News,Your World With Neil Cavuto, 2/11/10, accessed via Nexis]
  • Hoenig: “The Greens” Always Like To Push “These Doomsday Scenarios.” Fox Business analyst Jonathin Hoenig stated, “the horror pictures, these doomsday scenarios -- that is what the greens always like to portray, right? It was population growth in the 1960s. It was global cooling in the 1970s. And now it is climate change, which of course is the new world word for global warming, because you can't say global warming when it's record low temperatures in Copenhagen.” [Fox Business Network, Cavuto, 12/18/09, accessed via Nexis]
  • Beck: In 1975, Newsweek Warned Of “Coming Planetary Ice age.” Glenn Beck claimed that “The Earth and the environment are the progressive replacement for God.” He added that “in 1975, Newsweek carried this story of the coming planetary ice age due to global cooling. Remember that? Now, because of our bad SUVs, according to Al Gore, the earth has a temperature -- uh-oh.” [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 9/2/09]

REALITY: There Was No Consensus Among Climate Scientists On Global Cooling In The 1970s. A September 2008 article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, a peer-reviewed publication, investigated the “pervasive myth” that “there was a consensus among climate scientists of the 1970s that either global cooling or a full-fledged ice age was imminent.” The article found:

A review of the climate science literature from 1965 to 1979 shows this myth to be false. The myth's basis lies in a selective misreading of the texts both by some members of the media at the time and by some observers today. In fact, emphasis on greenhouse warming dominated the scientific literature even then. [Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, September 2008]

Survey: 97% of 77 Active Climate Scientists Said “Human Activity Is A Significant Contributing Factor” In Changing Global Temperatures. A survey conducted by Peter Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman of the University of Illinois asked Earth scientists:

1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?

2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

With 3146 individuals completing the survey, the participant response rate for the survey was 30.7%. This is a typical response rate for Web-based surveys.


Results show that overall, 90% of participants answered “risen” to question 1 and 82% answered yes to question 2. In general, as the level of active research and specialization in climate science increases, so does agreement with the two primary questions. In our survey, the most specialized and knowledgable respondents (with regard to climate change) are those who listed climate science as their area of expertise and who also have published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change (79 individuals in total). Of these specialists, 96.2% (76 of 79) answered “risen” to question 1 and 97.4% (75 of 77) answered yes to question 2. [Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 1/20/09]

Study: 97-98% Of The Most Active Climate Researchers Support Tenets Of Human-Caused Climate Change. From a study led by William Anderegg of Stanford University:

Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions. Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97-98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers. [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 6/21/10]

Fox: “NASA Acknowledges Solar Cycle, Not Man, Responsible For Global Warming”

  • Napolitano Mischaracterized NASA Report To Deny Humans Cause Global Warming. Fox News' Andrew Napolitano stated, “NASA's Goddard Space Center made a remarkable discovery. The headline from the DailyTech is -- you're not going to believe this -- quote: 'NASA acknowledges solar cycle, not man, responsible for global warming.'” Napolitano then asked if James Hansen, head of GISS “will give up on trying to say people heat the Earth and people cause global warming, or if the man who produced the report will get fired for going against the green -- I mean, against the grain.” [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 6/8/09]

REALITY: NASA Report Said “Greenhouse Gases Have Been The Dominant Influence On Recent Climate Change.” The NASA report to which Napolitano referred explained that the sun has influenced Earth's climate “since life began” and that “before the Industrial Age, the sun and volcanic eruptions were the major influences on Earth's climate change.” NASA went on to state: “Since the Industrial Revolution, however, new forces have begun to exert significant influence on Earth's climate,” namely, “greenhouse gases we put into the atmosphere.” From the report:

The sun has powered almost everything on Earth since life began, including its climate. The sun also delivers an annual and seasonal impact, changing the character of each hemisphere as Earth's orientation shifts through the year. Since the Industrial Revolution, however, new forces have begun to exert significant influence on Earth's climate.

“For the last 20 to 30 years, we believe greenhouse gases have been the dominant influence on recent climate change,” said Robert Cahalan, climatologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.


Before the Industrial Age, the sun and volcanic eruptions were the major influences on Earth's climate change. Earth warmed and cooled in cycles. Major cool periods were ice ages, with the most recent ending about 11,000 years ago.

“Right now, we are in between major ice ages, in a period that has been called the Holocene,” said Cahalan. “Over recent decades, however, we have moved into a human-dominated climate that some have termed the Anthropocene. The major change in Earth's climate is now really dominated by human activity, which has never happened before.”


Unless we find a way to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we put into the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning, the solar influence is not expected to dominate climate change. But the solar variations are expected to continue to modulate both warming and cooling trends at the level of 0.1 to 0.2 degrees Celsius (0.18 to 0.26 Fahrenheit) over many years. [NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, 5/7/08]

Napolitano Misquoted Headline From His Source. Citing a DailyTech blog post, Napolitano stated: “The headline from the DailyTech is -- you're not going to believe this -- quote: 'NASA acknowledges solar cycle, not man, responsible for global warming.' ” In fact, the headline of the blog post is: “NASA study acknowledges solar cycle, not man, responsible for past warming” [emphasis added]. [DailyTech, 6/4/09]

Fox: CRU's Jones Told BBC That “The Middle Ages Were Warmer Than ... The Climate Now”

  • Varney: Jones Said “The Middle Ages Were Warmer Than ... The Climate Now.” Distorting a BBC interview with Phil Jones, Varney claimed that Jones “now says that the middle ages were warmer than the climate now, the temperature now. How did that happen way before industrialization?” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 2/16/10]
  • Hannity: Jones Said “The World May Have Been Warmer In Medieval Times. On his Fox News show, Hannity stated: ”In an interview with the BBC over the weekend, Jones admitted that there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995, that the world may have been warmer in Medieval Times, that is to say up until now, which would undermine the theory of this manmade global warming all together. And that warming in recent times mirrors warming patterns from pre-industrial periods." [Fox News, Hannity, 2/15/10]
  • Beck: Jones Said “To Quote, Obviously, The Late 20th Century Was Not Unprecedented.” Beck stated on his Fox News show: “Phil Jones admits, yes, no real consensus on this one. Too much debate on whether an event known as the medieval warming period, yes, was global in nature and hotter than it is like right now. So, to quote, obviously, the late 20th century was not unprecedented. Oh, good.” [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/15/10]
  • Fox & Friends Claimed Jones “Hints 'Warming' May Not Be Man Made.” During a segment on Jones' interview with the BBC, Fox & Friends aired on-screen text claiming, “PROFESSOR HINTS 'WARMING' MAY NOT BE MAN MADE.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, [2/16/10]

REALITY: Jones Said We Don't Know “Whether The Medieval Warm Period Was Global In Extent.” From the BBC Q&A with Jones:

[BBC:] G -- There is a debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was global or not. If it were to be conclusively shown that it was a global phenomenon, would you accept that this would undermine the premise that mean surface atmospheric temperatures during the latter part of the 20th Century were unprecedented?

[JONES:] There is much debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period was global in extent or not. The MWP is most clearly expressed in parts of North America, the North Atlantic and Europe and parts of Asia. For it to be global in extent the MWP would need to be seen clearly in more records from the tropical regions and the Southern Hemisphere. There are very few palaeoclimatic records for these latter two regions.

Of course, if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today (based on an equivalent coverage over the NH and SH) then obviously the late-20th century warmth would not be unprecedented. On the other hand, if the MWP was global, but was less warm that today, then current warmth would be unprecedented.

We know from the instrumental temperature record that the two hemispheres do not always follow one another. We cannot, therefore, make the assumption that temperatures in the global average will be similar to those in the northern hemisphere. [BBC News, 2/13/10]

Jones: Cause Of Previous Warming Periods Differs From “Recent Warming,” Which Is “Predominantly Manmade.” During his Q&A with the BBC, Jones stated that “the warming rates” of previous warming periods after 1860 are “similar and not statistically significantly different” from the most recent warming period. Jones was later asked, “If you agree that there were similar periods of warming since 1850 to the current period, and that the MWP [Medieval warm Period] is under debate, what factors convince you that recent warming has been largely man-made?” Jones responded, “The fact that we can't explain the warming from the 1950s by solar and volcanic forcing.” He further stated that it would not be reasonable to conclude that “recent warming is not predominately manmade” from the evidence that there have been previous periods of warming since 1850. [BBC News, 2/13/10]

Jones: “There's Evidence That Most Of The Warming Since The 1950s Is Due To Human Activity.” Jones was asked by the BBC, “How confident are you that warming has taken place and that humans are mainly responsible?” Jones stated that “I'm 100% confident that the climate has warmed” and that “I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 -- there's evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.” As noted above, Jones also stated that "[t]he fact that we can't explain the warming from the 1950s by solar and volcanic forcing" indicates that recent warming is manmade. [BBC News, 2/13/10]