This year saw landmark reports on climate change, detailing the ever-increasing scientific certainty that human activities are driving catastrophic climate change and that action needs to be taken to prevent the worst effects. Yet despite the fact that more Americans than ever support action on climate change, conservative media went to ridiculous lengths to cast doubt on the scientific consensus behind global warming, citing everything from free market economics to witchcraft, touting conspiracy theories and predictions of an “ice age,” and even fulfilling Godwin's law.
Here are the 11 dumbest things conservative media said about climate change this year:
11. Bill O'Reilly: “It's Easier To Believe In A Benevolent God, The Baby Jesus” Than Manmade Climate Change. On the December 16 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly led a discussion on whether or not it is easier to believe in the birth story of Jesus than in manmade climate change, positing that it is “easier to believe in a benevolent God, the baby Jesus, than it is in some kind of theory about global warming.” When his guest pointed out that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that human activities are driving global warming, O'Reilly baselessly countered, “I wouldn't put it that high. I've read a lot about it.” He concluded: "[I]t's a choice -- people choose to believe."
10. Forbes on Fox Panelists: Global Warming Is A “Massive Human Delusion” Because The Free Market Disproves It. In a panel discussion dismissing the science behind climate change on the January 4 edition of Fox News' Forbes on Fox, panelist John Tamny derided global warming as “a massive human delusion” and “left-wing hubris at its worst.” Tamny concluded: “If global warming were real, Solyndra would be booming today and ExxonMobil would be going out of business ... market signals say [addressing global warming] is a big, economy-sapping waste of time.” Disregarding that market economics do not prove or disprove scientific literature, companies like Solyndra are the exception rather than the rule, with 98 percent of the businesses in the the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program -- from which Solyndra received its loan-- being successful ventures. In addition, a study released by the Risky Business Project this year on the economic impacts of climate change showed that failing to address climate change could results in costs of tens of billions of dollars in coastal property and infrastructure.
9. Fox's Bolling Denies Existence Of Decades Of Science. On the February 28 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Eric Bolling proclaimed: “There's no science to global warming.” But the scientific basis for manmade climate change stretches back decades, with the first scientific evidence of the greenhouse effect traced back to the 1800s. A search in Google scholar for “manmade climate change” produces over 50,000 results. And the overwhelming majority of scientific literature taking a stance on climate change agrees with the consensus: of nearly 11 thousand scientific papers published in 2013 alone, only two rejected the notion of manmade global warming. Unfortunately for Bolling, simply saying something doesn't exist doesn't make it go away.
8. Fox's Kilmeade Likens Addressing Climate Change To Committing Treason. On the June 26 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade made a stretched analogy between the present and the “record warm” temperatures that colonists encountered at Jamestown, noting that warm temperatures did not prevent the colonists from settling the town. Kilmeade then derided President Obama for discussing climate change, suggesting he should “wait till [he] get[s] out of office” to address climate change so he can “attend to” other “crises.” Kilmeade concluded: “It's almost treason for [Obama] to be focusing” on climate change.
7. CNBC's Joe Kernen Compares Climate Science To “Witchcraft” And “Orwellian Groupthink.” CNBC co-host Joe Kernenmade his contempt for climate science very clear this year. On the February 27 edition of Squawk Box,he likened climate change to “witchcraft,” saying, “In the Middle Ages, you would attribute adverse weather events to witchcraft. Now we just have CO2.” In a subsequent edition of Squawk Box, Kerner also called belief in climate change “Orwellian Groupthink,” adding, “You know what's going to happen? Pitchforks, and people are going to be outside of CNBC, I'm not going to argue on what's faith-based... but I don't want them protesting out in front... because any dissent at this point is totally not tolerated.”
6. Fox Guest Predicts We Are Heading Into An “Ice Age.” On April 14, Fox host Eric Bolling interviewed David Archibald, who has no scientific credentials other than a bachelor's degree in geology yet claims to be a “climate scientist,” to advance his claim of “an impending ice age.” In the segment, Bolling warned that harsh, cold winters “could be the new norm,” and Archibald claimed that the globe will enter a “20- to 30-year cooling period” because the sun is “going to sleep.” Yet Archibald blaming the solar cycles for global warming has been debunked as solar cycles and global temperatures have been moving in opposite directions, and much of the research Archibald conducted to make these assertions has been criticized as “too erroneous to meet the standards in standard peer-reviewed journals.”
5. Sean Hannity Announces That “Nothing” Will Convince Him Global Warming Is Not A Hoax. On the January 29 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, Sean Hannity claimed that “climate change hysteria has been politically motivated” and that scientists have altered data “so they could make a political point.” His guest brought up a recent report showing that only one out of of 9,136 scientists that authored scientific papers published from November 12, 2012, to December 31, 2013, rejected manmade global warming, but Hannity dismissed it immediately. He asserted: “I don't care what your liberal friends say... It means nothing to me. I think global warming is a hoax, there's nothing you're going to say here today that's going to convince me otherwise.”
4. Fox News Host Ignores Decades Of Arctic Sea Ice Decline To Cast Doubt On Climate Change. On his show Cashin' In, host Eric Bolling attempted to cast doubt on global warming by displaying a graphic showing an increase in Arctic sea ice from 2012 to 2013, claiming that the Arctic has seen a “full icecap recovery.” It was an egregious case of cherry-picking; while Arctic sea ice reached record lows in 2012 which it recovered from slightly in 2013, the ice cap has been in decline for decades, and is nowhere near recovery. One year's increase does not negate the long-term trend.
3. Fox News Cites Birther To Claim NASA “Faked” Global Warming. On June 24, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy claimed that 1934 was the hottest year on record contrary to NASA's current data, “at least until NASA scientists fudged the numbers to make 1998 the hottest year to overstate the extent of global warming.” The Fox hosts based their comments on a blog post -- published under pseudonym Steven Goddard -- by Tony Heller, even though experts and even climate skeptic Anthony Watts identified fundamental flaws in his analysis. Heller touting conspiracy theories is nothing new: he previously promoted the myth that President Obama was born in Kenya.
2. Eric Bolling: Climate Change Is A Scam To Fund “Vacations Up In The Antarctic” And Researchers' “Lifestyles.” In a segment on climate change on the January 3 edition of Fox News' The Five, host Eric Bolling said that he did not believe in climate change because if scientists did not say there was global warming, there would be “no reason for them to get billions upon billions of dollars to fund their research projects” and “vacations in the Antarctic.”
1. CNBC's Climate “Expert” : “Demonization Of Carbon Dioxide Is Just Like” Demonization Of “Jews Under Hitler.” CNBC's Squawk Box invited Princeton professor William Happer to discuss climate change on the July 14 edition of the show, even though he has never written a peer-reviewed paper on the issue. When co-anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin brought up Happer's past comments comparing climate science to Nazi propaganda, Happer defended his analogy, saying, “the demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler; carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world.” Happer is the chairman of the Marshall Institute, which has received more than $800K from ExxonMobil.