Top 13 Dumb Things Media Said About Climate Change in 2013
By Denise Robbins
The evidence for climate change only got stronger this year, with a major climate report finding 95 percent confidence in manmade global warming and the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere hitting a record 400 parts per million. Climate doubters, in turn, became increasingly desperate, citing everything from a verified scam artist to the "Ouija board of weather."
We've compiled the 13 dumbest things media said about climate change in '13—you might be surprised to find which mainstream media outlets made the list.
13. Rush Limbaugh: Carbon emissions "may actually be making things cooler, not warmer."
In April, Rush Limbaugh claimed that CO2 in the atmosphere "may actually be making things cooler," going on to say that manmade global warming is a "political hoax." But the Economist article Limbaugh cited actually examined how much the Earth is warming from emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, which by definition trap heat in the atmosphere.
12. Fox News: Questions whether hottest year on record was just faked.
In January, a FoxNews.com article asked whether the U.S. government had manipulated temperature data to fake the hottest year on record (2012) in the contiguous U.S. The article quoted climate "skeptics" including birther Steve Goddard who wrote that the 2012 data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Center was "meaningless garbage" and the U.S. only "appears" to have warmed due to data adjustments. However, temperature data typically has to be adjusted to account for flaws in the raw data that occur, for example, when temperature measurement stations are moved. These adjustments are publicly documented in peer-reviewed literature. Furthermore, satellite data from climate "skeptic" Roy Spencer, who was quoted criticizing the data, also found 2012 to be the U.S.' hottest year.
11. Sean Hannity: Says we're heading into "period of prolonged global cooling" based on a scam artist's claims.
On his radio show, Sean Hannity promoted the claim that solar "hibernation" will soon bring a period of dangerous "global cooling" and "end the rise of the oceans," saying the information came from a scientist. What Hannity didn't realize, however, is that these claims came from a man who even climate "skeptics" have labeled a "scam artist": John Casey, who published his book on solar hibernation with the help of an astrologer who claims to be the illegitimate daughter of Ernest Hemingway. Hannity was, essentially, duped.
10. Fox News: Cites cold winter forecast from the "Ouija board of weather" to mock global warming.
Fox News hosts seized on a weather forecast predicting an especially cold winter for 2013 to cast doubt on global warming. However, the forecast came from the Farmer's Almanac, which makes predictions with a "secret formula" based on "tides, astronomical events and sunspots," and which meteorologists have called "the Ouija board of weather." Even if the Almanac's cold winter prediction were true, however, they would not negate the trend of warming temperatures in the U.S. and globally.
9. Limbaugh: "If you believe in God, then intellectually you cannot believe in manmade global warming."
Rush Limbaugh advised his religious listeners to choose between God and science on his Aug. 12 radio show, saying, "if you believe in God, then intellectually you cannot believe in manmade global warming ... You must be either agnostic or atheistic to believe that man controls something he can't create." Yet several religious institutions acknowledge man's role in the climate crisis, and have launched initiatives to fight global warming as a moral imperative. In response to Limbaugh's statement, the Evangelical Environmental Network published an open letter asking him to "refrain from your harmful rhetoric on climate change."
8. Fox Guest: "For every one scientist" that accepts climate consensus "I'll give you 10 scientists that said it's not manmade."
A Fox News guest made up statistics on Feb. 4, denying that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and manmade. Discussing climate change, Republican strategist Brad Blakeman said, "for every one scientist that says there is, I'll give you 10 scientists that said it's not manmade."
7. Fox Host: Only "corrupt" scientists believe in climate change.
On Fox News Radio, Brian Kilmeade harangued a caller for commending President Obama's statement on climate change, saying that climatologists who accept the scientific consensus on climate change are "the corrupt ones." Kilmeade went on to ask the caller, "How do they make their living, climatologists? Telling everyone their industry has to be addressed."
6. Ben Stein On Fox News: Despite what "global warming terrorists will tell us, the science is not clear on" climate change.
On the Fox Business Network, Ben Stein said that "there is no cost that is too high to pay to save the Earth," but that regulations should not be enacted because the consensus on manmade climate change "is not 100 percent unanimous, despite what the ... global warming terrorists would tell us."
5. Weather Channel Founder: Polar bears have increased because "eskimos" are now "more civilized."
The founder of The Weather Channel, now a weatherman for a local San Diego television station, claimed that polar bear populations are increasing because "Eskimos" are hunting them less and have "become more civilized." In fact, most polar bear populations are on the decline, and face an existential threat from global warming and declining Arctic sea ice.
4. Fox News: Climate "deniers" are those who accept climate change.
Fox News tried to reclaim the phrase "climate denier" to refer to those who accept the scientific consensus on manmade climate change. Fox host Steve Doocy promoted National Review Editor Rich Lowry's co-option of the term "climate denier," which Lowry previously condemned as a way of equating climate "skeptics" with Holocaust deniers. Lowry argued that those who support action on climate change are ignoring that temperatures "have been flat for 10 or 15 years," which Doocy labeled an "inconvenient truth." A recent study rebutted that "inconvenient truth," finding with 94 percent probability that there has been warming during that short time frame.
3. CBS: Global warming "pause" is an "inconvenient truth" that "emerged on the way to the apocalypse."
This year, mainstream media were not immune from pushing the type of foolish rhetoric that regularly crops up in the conservative media. Echoing the Fox News segment above, CBS said the speedbump in global warming was an "inconvenient truth" that "emerged on the way to the apocalypse." CBS' Mark Phillips called it "ammunition" for "skeptics" and immediately proved it by interviewing Benny Peiser, who used the pause to cast doubt on the urgent need to address climate change. But the alleged "pause" may have never actually happened: the rate of atmospheric temperature increase over the last 16 years proceeded at the same pace as it has since 1951 according to a recent study. And in any case, none of this contradicts the long-term trend of global warming, especially as oceans are warming 15 times faster than in the past 10,000 years.
2. Bloomberg News: Publishes claim that carbon dioxide emissions lead to "happy plants."
Bloomberg News published a claim from Marc Morano—who is paid by an oil industry funded organization to confuse the public about climate change and has no scientific background—that catastrophically high levels of CO2 should be "welcome[d]" because "plants are going to be happy." However, his argument ignored CO2 emissions' contribution to global warming, which is connected to rapid changes in rainfall patterns, severe drought and increased risk of plant species extinction.
1. CNBC Co-Host: "CO2 is not a demon."
On May 17, CNBC's Squawk Box featured the co-author of a Wall Street Journal op-ed that claimed that people should be "clamoring for more" CO2, as it is a "boon to plant life"—an article which led to widespread criticism. Co-host Joe Kernen celebrated the op-ed, saying he wanted to "make the point that CO2 is not a demon." But he ignored top climate scientists' warnings that CO2 levels above 350 parts per million (ppm) will eventually result in catastrophic climate change—and CO2 levels have already passed 400 ppm this year. Kernen's misleading argument fit right in with this year's climate skeptic narrative, and the absurd claims to which media turned to dismiss climate change.
Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.
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Fish exposed to endocrine-disrupting compounds pass on health problems to future generations, including deformities, reduced survival, and reproductive problems, according to a new study.
Low Levels Lead to Generational Impacts<p>Researchers exposed inland silverside fish to bifenthrin, levonorgestrel, ethinylestradiol, and trenbolone to levels currently found in waterways.</p><p>"Our concentrations were actually on the low end" of what is found in the wild, DeCourten said, adding that it was low amounts of chemicals in parts per trillion.</p><p>Bifenthrin is a pesticide; levonorgestrel and ethinylestradiol are synthetic hormones used in birth controls; and trenbolone is a synthetic steroid often given to cattle to bulk them up.</p><p>Such endocrine-disruptors have already been linked to a variety of health problems in directly exposed fish including altered growth, reduced survival, lowered egg production, skewed sex ratios, and negative impacts to immune systems. But what remains less clear is how the exposure may impact future generations.</p><p>For their study, DeCourten and colleagues started the exposure when the fish were embryos and continued it for 21 days.</p><p>They then tracked effects on the exposed fish, and the next two generations.</p>
Inherited Problems<p>DeCourten said the altered DNA methylation is one of the plausible ways that future generations would experience health impacts from previous generations' exposure. Hormone-disrupting compounds have been shown to impact DNA methylation, which is an important marker of how an organism will develop.</p><p>"Methyl groups are added to specific sites on the genome, [the exposure] is not changing the genome itself, but rather how the genome is expressed," she said. "And that can be inherited throughout generations."</p><p>In addition, Brander said there are essentially different "tags" that exist on DNA molecules, which tell genes how to turn on and off. She said the exposure to different compounds may be "influencing which methyl tags get taken on or off as you proceed through generations."</p><p>The researchers said the study should prompt future toxics testing to consider impacts on future generations.</p><p>"The results … throw a wrench in the current approach to regulating chemicals, where it's often short-term testing looking at simple things like growth, survival, and maybe gene expression," Brander said.</p><p>"These findings are telling us we really at least need to consider" the next two generations, she added.</p>
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By Laura Beil
Consumers have long turned to vitamins and herbs to try to protect themselves from disease. This pandemic is no different — especially with headlines that scream "This supplement could save you from coronavirus."
Vitamin D<p><strong>What it is: </strong>Called "the sunshine vitamin" because the body makes it naturally in the presence of ultraviolet light, <a href="https://www.sciencenews.org/article/vitamin-d-supplements-lose-luster" target="_blank">Vitamin D is one of the most heavily studied</a> supplements (<em>SN: 1/27/19</em>). <a href="https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/appendix-12/" target="_blank">Certain foods</a>, including fish and fortified milk products, are also high in the vitamin.</p><p><strong>Why it might help: </strong>Vitamin D is a hormone building block that helps strengthen the immune system.</p><p><strong>How it works for other infections:</strong> In 2017, the <em>British Medical Journal</em> published a meta-analysis that suggested a daily vitamin D supplement <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.i6583" target="_blank">might help prevent respiratory infections</a>, particularly in people who are deficient in the vitamin.</p><p>But one key word here is <em>deficient. </em>That risk is highest during dark winters at high latitudes and among people with more color in their skin (melanin, a pigment that's higher in darker skin, inhibits the production of vitamin D).</p><p>"If you have enough vitamin D in your body, the evidence doesn't stack up to say that giving you more will make a real difference," says Susan Lanham-New, head of the Nutritional Sciences Department at the University of Surrey in England.</p><p>And taking too much can create new health problems, stressing certain internal organs and leading to a dangerously high calcium buildup in the blood. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 600 to 800 International Units per day, and the upper limit is considered to be 4,000 IUs per day.</p><p><strong>What we know about Vitamin D and COVID-19:</strong> Few studies have looked directly at whether vitamin D makes a difference in COVID.</p>
Zinc<p><strong>What it is: </strong>Zinc, a mineral found in cells all over the body, is found naturally in certain meats, beans and oysters.</p><p><strong>Why it might help: </strong>It plays several supportive roles in the immune system, which is why zinc lozenges are always hot sellers in cold and flu season. Zinc also helps with cell division and growth.</p><p><strong>How it works for other infections: </strong><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6457799/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies of using zinc for colds</a> — which are frequently caused by coronaviruses — suggest that using a supplement right after symptoms start might make them go away quicker. That said, a clinical trial from researchers in Finland and the United Kingdom, published in January in <em>BMJ Open</em> <a href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/10/1/e031662" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">did not find any value for zinc lozenges</a> for the treatment of colds. Some researchers have theorized that inconsistencies in data for colds may be explained by varying amounts of zinc released in different lozenges.</p><p><strong>What we know about zinc and COVID-19:</strong> The mineral is promising enough that it was added to some early studies of hydroxychloroquine, a drug tested early in the pandemic. (Studies have since shown that <a href="https://www.sciencenews.org/article/covid-19-coronavirus-hydroxychloroquine-no-evidence-treatment" target="_blank">hydroxychloroquine can't prevent or treat COVID-19</a> (<em>SN: 8/2/20</em>).)</p>
Vitamin C<p><strong>What it is: </strong>Also called L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C has a long list of roles in the body. It's found naturally in fruits and vegetables, especially citrus, peppers and tomatoes.</p><p><strong>Why it might help:</strong> It's a potent antioxidant that's important for a healthy immune system and preventing inflammation.</p><p><strong>How it works for other infections: </strong>Thomas cautions that the data on vitamin C are often contradictory. One review from Chinese researchers, published in February in the <em>Journal of Medical Virolog</em>y, looked at <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jmv.25707" target="_blank">what is already known about vitamin C</a> and other supplements that might have a role in COVID-19 treatment. Among other encouraging signs, human studies find a lower incidence of pneumonia among people taking vitamin C, "suggesting that vitamin C might prevent the susceptibility to lower respiratory tract infections under certain conditions."</p><p>But for preventing colds, a 2013 Cochrane review of 29 studies <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub4/full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">didn't support the idea</a> that vitamin C supplements could help in the general population. However, the authors wrote, given that vitamin C is cheap and safe, "it may be worthwhile for common cold patients to test on an individual basis whether therapeutic vitamin C is beneficial."</p><p><strong>What we know about Vitamin C and COVID-19: </strong>About a dozen studies are under way or planned to examine whether vitamin C added to coronavirus treatment helps with symptoms or survival, including Thomas' study at the Cleveland Clinic.</p><p>In a review published online in July in <em>Nutrition</em>, researchers from KU Leuven in Belgium concluded that the <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub4/full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">vitamin may help prevent infection</a> and tamp down the dangerous inflammatory reaction that can cause severe symptoms, based on what is known about how the nutrient works in the body.</p><p>Melissa Badowski, a pharmacist who specializes in viral infections at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy and colleague Sarah Michienzi published an extensive look at all supplements that might be useful in the coronavirus epidemic. There's <a href="https://www.drugsincontext.com/can-vitamins-and-or-supplements-provide-hope-against-coronavirus/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">still not enough evidence to know whether they are helpful</a>, the pair concluded in July in <em>Drugs in Context</em>. "It's not really clear if it's going to benefit patients," Badowski says.</p><p>And while supplements are generally safe, she adds that nothing is risk free. The best way to avoid infection, she says, is still to follow the advice of epidemiologists and public health experts: "Wash your hands, wear a mask, stay six feet apart."</p>
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