CNN’s Lou Dobbs manufactures global warming controversy in junk journalism interview

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In a display of junk journalism Friday evening (Jan 30), CNN’s Lou Dobbs invited a TV weatherman with no formal climate science training, John Coleman, and a credentialed climate scientist and IPCC author, Henry Pollack, to address what Dobbs referred to as “a renewed battle” this week “in the fight over global warming” and “whether it even exists.”  Why does CNN allow Dobbs to blur the lines between news and opinion and to manufacture controversy on a matter as grave as global climate disruption?

post by Anne Polansky

The website for Lou Dobbs Tonight claims it “brings you hard hitting news, politics and world affairs, debate on the issues of the day and Lou’s passionate and provocative opinion.”  Dobbs has not been shy about voicing his “opinions” on climate change, which diverge markedly from well-established conclusions of the IPCC and mainstream scientific thinking, documented here, here, and here, for example.

John Coleman is credited with founding The Weather Channel, but was reportedly forced out a year later; this and accounts of Coleman’s views that global warming is “the greatest scam in history” are chronicled on Desmogblog.com and elsewhere.

Dr. Henry Pollack is a science advisor to former Vice-President Al Gore’s Climate Project; Professor Emeritus in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Michigan; and IPCC author.  He has written a book—Uncertain Science… Uncertain World—about communicating the science of climate change.

A likely part of the problem is that CNN let go its entire science, technology, and environment news staff in early December, a perplexing decision given the set of challenges of the day.  (See Joe Romm’s editorial comments on ClimateProgress.org)

Pollack was given the last word and was able to get across the essential message, but the contrived controversy gave the erroneous impression that Coleman’s views on climate change are as credible as those of Pollack and hold equal weight.  CNN should reprimand Lou Dobbs for journalistic dishonesty and remind him that it is time to discard the tired, corrupt formula of finding one naysayer to go against the entire IPCC.

Comments on this segment of Lou Dobbs Today can be submitted directly to CNN.
The complete (rush) transcript from CNN appears below:

In the fight over global warming, what’s going on? Two of the world’s leading authorities with different views on climate change join me here, next. We’ll be right back, stay here with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Well, a renewed battle this week over global warming, whether it even exists at issue. Joining me now, two of the best experts on climate change. John Coleman, he’s one of the founders of the Weather Channel. He says global warming is nothing more than a conspiracy. Good to have you with us.

JOHN COLEMAN, KUSI FORECASTER: Thank you.

Henry Pollack, he says there are many examples of global warming and it’s for real. Good to have you with us.

HENRY POLLACK, UNIV OF MICHIGAN: Thank you.

DOBBS: Let me turn first, if I may, to the issue of what Ban Ki- moon, the secretary-general of the U.N. said this week. He said, “To be sure, the economic crisis reduces our resources. It threatens to deflect attention from other global problems. Climate change, issues of water and environment and economic development.” So, let me ask you, if I may, John Coleman, what are we talking about here when we’re talking about deflection from other problems?

COLEMAN: We’re talking about the greatest hoax in history. Let’s understand this, there is no man-made global warming, or climate change of any significance and so the whole thing is a—a phony call for quick action. And why they want quick action, of course, is because their support is collapsing amid a turn to much colder weather worldwide and as we turn to a cooler climate, people are losing faith and half of the people in the United States are now saying “global warming, you’ve got to be kidding me?”

DOBBS: Professor Pollack, what I’ve seen from NASA and from NOA shows that last year was eight, or NASA, perhaps NOA says about ninth warmest year on record. Are we indeed, as John says, seeing a cooling in, in this, on our global environment?

POLLACK: Climatologists don’t pay a lot of attention to year-by- year variability, whether a warm year or a cold year. They look at the long-term trends over decades and centuries and there’s no question the trend is towards warming.

DOBBS: And it being toward warming, how do we determine that it’s manmade?

POLLACK: We look at the various causes of what has caused climate change, both in the past and in the present, they’re not always the same, of course, and we try and measure the strength of it every factor. Whether it be volcanic eruptions or greenhouse gasses, we make an attempt to measure their effects and in the last half of the 20th century when—when the temperature has been going up and ice has been melting, we find that only the greenhouse gasses are moving in the right direction.

DOBBS: John Coleman, your response?

COLEMAN: He misses the mark, totally. What was happening in the 1980s and 1990s was the sun was hitting the peak of a 25 or 27-year solar cycle. And so for a couple decades the warming of earth seemed to coincide with the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the global warming alarmists, who are preaching all this catastrophic climate change, sheer silliness, got—thought they had proved their point. Well, they hadn’t at all.

In 1998, the warming stopped, in 1999, the cooling began, by 2000 it was dramatic and now we have a dramatic cooling trend and the sun has gone very quiet. The ice has frozen up on the North Pole, again. We’ve had snowfall that set records in many places around the world, not just in the United States. And any, any—any link between CO2 and their perceived warming has totally been unproven.

DOBBS: Professor Pollack, how do you respond to that? And particularly the issue of solar cycles, its influence on the magnetosphere and all the atmosphere of the planet?

POLLACK: If the sun was causing the warming then we would find that the entire atmosphere, the upper atmosphere and the lower atmosphere, would warm. But, in fact, the only, only the lower atmosphere is warming and the upper atmosphere is cooling and that’s the signature of the way the greenhouse gas warming would affect the atmosphere. If it were the sun it would be the other way around.

DOBBS: Let me ask you—and that is—a persuasive point, let me ask you both this. Let’s assume, for right now, that there is such a thing as climate change, let’s assume it’s manmade. What indication—what evidence do we have, what reason do we have to believe that mankind can do anything significantly to reverse it because a number of people, as you know in the last two weeks, are reported that, that, this is a 1,000-year trend irrespective of what we do. Professor Pollack, first.

POLLACK: I think that we—just as we have been the principal causes of the climate change, we can also be the principal remediation. But, it will take time to undo what has been put into the atmosphere inadvertently over the period of time since the industrial revolution. The long-term consequences—simply reflect the fact that CO2 stays in the atmosphere for more than a century…

DOBBS: What I’m asking is what can be done to—in time—to really have—to reverse everything that, you know, that you claim has been done to the atmosphere by man over the last 150 years?

POLLACK: We to totally rethink our energy policy. President Obama has pointed out that our national security issues associated with dependence on foreign oil with the national economic turmoil in the country and the globe and…

DOBBS: Professor…

POLLACK: And the warming of the climate are all the same problem. It’s our need for a new energy policy would address all three.

DOBBS: Terrific. All right, thank you, Professor Pollack. John Coleman, thank you for being with us. We appreciate it, gentlemen.

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