Published December 16, 2008
Scientists skeptical of the assertion that climate change is the result of man's activites are criticizing a recent Associated Press report on global warming, calling it "irrational hysteria," "horrifically bad" and "incredibly biased."
They say the report, which was published on Monday, contained sweeping scientific errors and was a one-sided portrayal of a complicated issue.
"If the issues weren't so serious and the ramifications so profound, I would have to laugh at it," said David Deming, a geology professor at the University of Oklahoma who has been critical of media reporting on the climate change issue.
In the article, Obama Left with Little Time to Curb Global Warming, AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein wrote that global warming is "a ticking time bomb that President-elect Barack Obama can't avoid," and that "global warming is accelerating."
Deming, in an interview, took issue with Borenstein's characterization of a problem he says doesn't exist.
"He says global warming is accelerating. Not only is it continuing, it's accelerating, and whether it's continuing that was completely beyond the evidence," Deming told FOXNews.com.
"The mean global temperature, at least as measured by satellite, is now the same as it was in the year 1980. In the last couple of years sea level has stopped rising. Hurricane and cyclone activity in the northern hemisphere is at a 24-year low and sea ice globally is also the same as it was in 1980."
Deming said the article is further evidence of the media's decision to talk about global warming as fact, despite what he says is a lack of evidence.
"Reporters, as I understand reporters, are supposed to report facts,"Deming said. "What he's doing here is he's writing a polemic and reporting it as fact, and that's not right. It's not reporting. It's propaganda.
"This reads like a press release for an environmental advocacy group like Greenpeace. It's not fair and balanced."
A spokesman for the Associated Press said that the news agency stands by its story. "It’s a news story, based on fact and the clearly expressed views of President-elect Barack Obama and others," spokesman Paul Colford told FOXNews.com in an e-mail.
Michael R. Fox, a retired nuclear scientist and chemistry professor from the University of Idaho, is another academic who found serious flaws with the AP story's approach to the issue.
"There's very little that's right about it," Fox said. "And it's really harmful to the United States because people like this Borenstein working for AP have an enormous impact on everyone, because AP sells their news service to a thousand news outlets.
"One guy like him can be very destructive and alarming. Yeah it's freedom of speech, but its dishonest."
Like Deming, Fox said global warming is not accelerating. "These kinds of temperatures cycle up and down and have been doing so for millions of years," he said.
He said there is little evidence to believe that man-made carbon dioxide is causing temperature fluctuation. "It's silly to lay it all on man-made carbon dioxide," Fox said. "It was El Nino in 1998 that caused the big spike in global warming and little to do with carbon dioxide."
Other factors, including sun spots, solar winds, variations in the solar magnetic field and solar irradiation, could all be affecting temperature changes, he said.
James O'Brien, an emeritus professor at Florida State University who studies climate variability and the oceans, said that global climate change is very important for the country and that Americans need to make sure they have the right answers for policy decisions. But he said he worries that scientists and policymakers are rushing to make changes based on bad science.
"Global climate change is occurring in many places in the world," O'Brien said. "But everything that's attributed to global warming, almost none of it is global warming."
He took issue with the AP article's assertion that melting Arctic ice will cause global sea levels to rise.
"When the Arctic Ocean ice melts, it never raises sea level because floating ice is floating ice, because it's displacing water," O'Brien said. "When the ice melts, sea level actually goes down.
"I call it a fourth grade science experiment. Take a glass, put some ice in it. Put water in it. Mark level where water is. Let it met. After the ice melts, the sea level didn't go up in your glass of water. It's called the Archimedes Principle."
He called sea level changes a "major scare tactic used by the global warming people."
O'Brien said he doesn't discount the potential effects man is having on the environment, but he cautioned that government should not make hasty decisions.
"There is no question that the Obama administration is green and I'm green, and there's no question that they're going to really take a careful look at what we need to do and attack problems, and I applaud that," O'Brien said.
"But I'm really concerned that they're going to spend all the money on implementation of mitigation, rather than supporting the science."