Tag Archives: Media

The Wall Street Journal Is A Rag

But I’m sure you already knew that.

The Wall Street Journal is so far behind the curve when it comes to the science of climate change, and so deep in the pockets of the oil industry, that the following is now true: If you are in business or industry, and want to keep track of important news about markets and other important things, don’t bother with the Wall Street Journal. You no longer need it for the stock info (that’s on your smart phone). The editorial and analysis, and I assume the reporting, from the WSJ is so badly tainted and decades behind the times that the newspaper as a whole has lost all credibility.

Here’s an example.

It has been noted that,

The Wall Street Journal has published 21 opinion pieces since October opposing state or federal investigations into whether ExxonMobil violated the law by deceiving its shareholders and the public about climate change, a new Media Matters analysis finds, far more than The New York Times, The Washington Post, or USA Today published on either side of the issue. The Journal has yet to publish a single editorial, column, or op-ed in support of investigating Exxon’s behavior, and many of its pro-Exxon opinion pieces contain blatant falsehoods about the nature and scope of the ongoing investigations being conducted by state attorneys general.

The graphic at the top of the post reflects this.

This is part of a larger pattern, of which the WSJ is the worst offender.

The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and The Washington Post all published climate science denial and other scientifically inaccurate statements about climate change on their opinion pages over the last year and a half, while The New York Times avoided doing so, according to a new Media Matters analysis of those four newspapers. The Journal published by far the most opinion pieces misrepresenting climate science, while all three instances of climate science denial in the Post came from columns written by George Will. The Journal and USA Today also published numerous climate-related op-eds without disclosing the authors’ fossil fuel ties, while USA Today, the Post, and particularly the Journal frequently published some of the least credible voices on climate and energy issues.


There’s more. You can read the full analyses HERE and HERE

I’d like to add something. It’s Not Just The Editorial Page: Study Finds WSJ’s Reporting On Climate Change Also Skewed.

Climate Changes: Weather Whiplash and a Smarter Media

I want to quickly mention two interesting items that crossed my desk. First is a study in Nature that looks at changes in extreme weather patterns between 1979 and very recently, the other is a study of how media has been addressing climate science denial among presidential candidates.

Evidence that global warming is intensifying extreme weather

First, the changes in weather. Human caused greenhouse gas pollution has resulted in important changes in key factors that affect the weather. The simplest (but not complete) explanation is probably this. Overall patterns of air circulation (including the moisture that is in the air) are patterned by two major facts. One, is that the Earth is spinning, the other is that the Sun’s energy is effectively greater near the Equator than on the poles. These factors cause the Earth’s atmosphere to be organized in a system of trade winds and jet streams. As the Earth has heated up, the Arctic, for various reasons, has heated up more than most other regions. This has caused a reduction in the difference between tropical (equatorial) heat and polar heat, which in turn, has changed the trade winds and jet streams. The most obvious change seems to be a slowing down of the Polar jet stream, an increase in the waviness of that jet stream, and also, a stalling of those waves, so they sit in one place for a long time. These changes have resulted in things like Alaska being extraordinarily warm, the so-called “Polar Vortex” freezing out the US east of the Rockies two years in a row, extreme rain events such as those that affected Calgary, Boulder, and other areas, snow in Atlanta, etc. Similar effects have occurred across Eurasia as well.

The recent study looks at what is happening in the atmosphere. John Abraham has written the study up in very understandable terms in The Guardian, where he says:

…the authors focused on pressure levels up into the atmosphere (heights of approximately 5 km) from 1979 onwards. Those patterns gave information about atmospheric circulation…

…What they found is that most regions have seen increases in summertime warm temperatures in the past three decades. Furthermore, they found that in some regions, a large part of this trend is due to the increases in anticyclonic circulation and atmospheric blocking. The blocking that has been associated with extreme swings of weather (bringing very warm weather to the Western USA and simultaneous cold weather to the east for instance).

The authors show that … in some cases the circulation changes has led to extreme cold outbreaks in some regions. What has happened is that the arctic front, which typically confines cold weather to the Arctic region, has undulated sufficiently to allow cold-air breakouts to the south. Think of the polar vortex from last year.

These findings support the commonly-heard term that has emerged in the past few years of “weather whiplash – wild swings from one extreme to another. Importantly, the authors show that the trends are “statistically significant” and are unlikely just random occurrences.

This work supports a number of other recent studies suggesting that the “Storm World” we have been expecting with global warming is here, and increasing in its storminess.

How The Media Is Covering Presidential Candidates’ Climate Science Denial

The second item is from Media Matters. The report indicates that the media frequently fails to fact check presidential candidates when they say incorrect things about climate change. Media Matters paints this situation in a very negative light, noting that a large percentage of the time major media outlets fail to call these candidates when they get climate change wrong. I put a graph from their report at the top of the post.

I understand why Media Matters puts this in a negative light, because it is in fact appalling that the media are so bad at this. But when I saw the numbers I saw a glass that was (about) half full rather than half empty. Going back just a year or so, major media wasn’t even doing this much fact checking, preferring rather to use the sensationalism that derives from a false balance than to actually look at what elected officials are saying. So when Media Matters says, “43 Percent Of Newspaper Coverage Failed To Note That Candidates’ Climate Statements Conflict With Scientific Consensus,” I think, “wow, that’s an improvement!

CNBC’s Joe Kernen Makes Up A Fake Story about Climate Change on Squawk Box.

Joe Kernen is a business finance talking head who co-hosts CNBC’s Squawk Box. I don’t know if he actually knows much about Wall Street, but I can prove he doesn’t know squawk about Climate Science. Have a look (warning: Might make you dizzy):

Something about a low participation rate because people are getting older. But that’s kind of unclear. Obviously, what is needed is a nice clear analogy from …. climate science!

So, the warmest period ever was in the 1930s when there were much lower CO2 levels. I did not know that.

Then the glaciers retreat and there are big forests. Arm wavingly big forests!

Then we realize in the Middle Ages it was warmer than it was now! Why??? WHY????

Why, then, why was the participation rate so low?????? Enquiring climate scientists want to know!!!

Please. Allow me to “put it in the big picture”

First, I have no idea why participation rates in some thing are low. That is not my field of study and I have no idea what they are talking about. Therefore I will not wave my arms around and tell you something about that.

Was the decade of the 1930s the warmest period ever? Let’s look at a graph!

The 1930s was a period during which global warming occurred, ant it was in fact warmer than PREVIOUS decades.  But then it got warmer.  Like in this graph.
The 1930s was a period during which global warming occurred, ant it was in fact warmer than PREVIOUS decades. But then it got warmer. Like in this graph.

So, no.

Was CO2 lower then? Let’s look at a graph:

CO2 was lower then.  And so was temperature.  In fact, temperatures and CO2 seem to ... correlate!  Huh.
CO2 was lower then. And so was temperature. In fact, temperatures and CO2 seem to … correlate! Huh.

What about the glaciers melting. Let’s look at a graph:

Glacial melting is not well measured back as far as the 30s, but we know they weren't melting back then or al the towns downstream from them would have noticed it then. But they certainly have been melting!  It's a global warming thing.
Glacial melting is not well measured back as far as the 30s, but we know they weren’t melting back then or al the towns downstream from them would have noticed it then. But they certainly have been melting! It’s a global warming thing.

What about the Giant Arm Waving Forests? Hard to say. Where glaciers have melted away, maybe some day there will be forests there. Many mountain glaciers, though, are up at high altitudes where there are very few arm-waving forests, but rather, stumpy short alpine forests with no arms. In any event, I’m not sure what the point of this is. Perhaps Joe is assuming that after glaciers melt giant arm waving forests grow and eat all the CO2 we are releasing into the atmosphere. Or maybe the trees just wave their arms and blow the greenhouse gasses away. I await clarification.

Finally, there is the Medieval warm period. There was such a thing. It was warm. There are two problems, though, with this. First, it was a regional warming that happened in only some parts of the world enough to notice. But it was important. It was like having your heat on high in the winter time, then you go outside in the cold and it feels colder that it otherwise might because you were used to very warm air. This is because the Medieval warm period was followed by the little ice age. That sort of took people by surprise. The second problem with Joe’s statement is that it was not warmer then than it is now.

Let’s look at a graph:


So, no. Not that either.

Joe, I recommend you stick to your subject. I assume you know something about that. The random unexpected bloviation about how climate change science is wrong makes you look like a clown. Also, whoever produces this show … do try to keep track of these things. In other words, be professional!