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The Earth has gone through a great deal of NATURAL climate change. To order news anchors to say otherwise throws out basic science and throws out one of the best arguments against the belief that man is causing warming.  (Source: Corbis/Royal BC Museum, British Columbia)

The Earth's climate is incredibly complex and we have a long ways to go before we can fully understand it or accurately predict what effect changes to certain variables will have on it.  (Source: NASA)
I thought this analysis was straight-forward, but it appears that I may not have explained my points ideally...

This week a memo leaked from a top Fox News staffer, ordering employees...
...we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.
Now this memo was leaked by a notoriously liberal-slanted group, Media Matters.  However, that seems largely immaterial as Fox News has not denied the authenticity of this memo, which it likely would have done, had the memo been doctored.  The memo has been reported at the likes of ArsTechnica, The Seattle Post Intelligencer, and The Washington Post.  And yes, I wrote a report on it as well.

Since some people seemed to misunderstand the point I was trying to make, let me reexplain my perspective in further detail, striving for greater clarity. 

First, let me state that I am somewhat skeptical of the notion that man is causing climate change.  I believe that there's a wealth of evidence to show that the climate has naturally and dramatically changed throughout its history.  And there's a lack of definitive evidence that man is indeed somehow "overriding" the Earth's natural cycle and kicking it into a heating one.

In other words, when it comes to global warming, we really don't understand what's going on.  And "trends" are statistics, so we don't know whether the heating in recent years will continue unabated (in fact, some evidence point to recent cooling trends). 

All of this is significant because the nation is contemplating costly legislation that would place what some estimate to be trillions in debt on the backs of the American people.  Now granted, those are estimates from conservatives who have shown themselves, much like anthropogenic warming advocates, to be less than scrupulous in trying to prove their point.  But at the end of the day, most would agree that the cost of a carbon credits scheme would be quite high.

So those who somehow thought I was attacking AGW skepticism clearly misunderstood me.

I did however try to convey how illogical this particular edict -- "we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period" -- was.

There is virtually sound-proof geological, chemical, and paleontological evidence that the Earth has gone through numerous cool periods.  To suggest otherwise is lunacy.  Further, it's somewhat comical considering that the fact that climate has warmed and cooled over many periods is a key argument against the notion that man is affecting some sort of unique change on our planet.

My point I tried to raise was that Fox News (or at least its editor) became so blind in their pursuit of disproving warming, that they ordered their employees, at least at face value, to abandon basic science.  And it doing so they're doing a disservice to climate skeptics everywhere.

As I said, this is an issue that needs unbiased, peer-reviewed research.  But I think that people are increasingly treating climatology like politics, and dirty politics at that.  Science is being thrown under the bus in the rush to be out-point the other side.  And that bothers me, as someone who has bother participated in research and written on a great deal of scientific topics.

When I first started writing for DailyTech, I took a collection of studies from U.S. agencies like the NOAA and NASA as the end all, without objectively evaluating which of their conclusions made sense.  Perhaps that was reasonable to do -- as a reporter.  But as I've increasingly become a news analyst, as well, I've been forced to think more on this topic and reevaluate my stance. 

The Earth has changed a great deal over time, so it's arrogant to assume any change that's currently occurring is due to us.  Carbon levels may be going up, but exactly how much that is influencing warming versus a host of other factors remains to be seen.  Further, as my colleague Michael Asher pointed out on numerous an occasion, a little warming might have some benefits.

But again, I think ultimately climatology research -- assuming it becomes more unbiased -- is still a critical and worthwhile investment because at some point in the future -- perhaps 200 years, perhaps 1,000 years -- mankind will have the power to fully understand the Earth climate -- and perhaps discover ways to control it to its advantage.  Much like space flight or nanotechnology, this is a key arena for progress, looking ahead.

On the other hand, the Fox News memo and many other recent incidents by skeptics and warming "believers" alike illustrate the dangerous politicization of what should be a scientific topic.  That dangerous trend is ultimately fueled by the quest for money on both sides of the debate.  What is desperately needed is for the government and media to look at individual climate studies and cover their conclusions, taking care so as not exaggerate them. 

The same goes for climate skeptics.  By all means, point out studies that support alternative viewpoints or flaws in existing studies.  But avoid making blanket generalizations -- especially misinforming and scientifically inaccurate ones like Fox News did, surely in an attempt to cater to its partisan audience.

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RE: Talk about taking things out of context
By Schrag4 on 12/20/2010 1:49:13 PM , Rating: 3
No, they're not. The memo says "...we should refrain from asserting ..."

RE: Talk about taking things out of context
By Mortando on 12/23/2010 12:46:08 PM , Rating: 1
Unless you're being facetious I think you should go back and read the quote again.

By Schrag4 on 12/25/2010 12:38:05 AM , Rating: 2
Which part? "...we should refrain from asserting..." or "It is not our place as journalists to assert..."? I'm still missing how you guys read this as anything other than them saying they don't really know what happened in the past.

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