This Sunday, "60 Minutes" aired a piece on global warming. The piece, which featured correspondent Scott Pelley, largely took the existence of global warming as a given. But there are those who claim that global warming - and, specifically, the notion that human's are responsible for it - is a myth. I asked Pelley why the voices of the skeptics were not heard in the piece.
Why indeed? Especially in the overwhelming face of the mighty 'there are those who claim' crowd?
"There is virtually no disagreement in the scientific community any longer about global warming," he says. "The science that has been done in the last three to five years has been conclusive. We talked to the chairman of the National Academy of Scientists, Ralph Cicerone. Jim Hansen at NASA, who's considered the world's leading expert in climate change. The people in the story, who are well respected in the field. There's just no longer any credible evidence that suggests that, a, the earth is not warming or, b, that greenhouse gasses are not the cause. What you do see in the data again and again and again is this almost lockstep increase between the levels of CO2 and the rise of temperature in the atmosphere. And the climate models that predicted these things happening 15 years ago have proven to be accurate."
Pelley brings up science fiction writer, and Bush partisan, Michael Crichton's anti-global warming efforts as an example of the kind of anti-global warming movement voices he could have turned to. Not to stand in stark contrast to the overwhelming support of actual scientists practicing in the field, but as a means of saying 'look, just because somebody people have heard of disagrees doesn't mean he knows what he is talking about'. Imagine that, just because you have a scientist who says that the world is round, doesn't mean that you have to run out and find a partisan for a conservative thinktank who says 'no, the world is flat'.
"It would be irresponsible of us to go find some scientist somewhere who is not thought of as being eminent in the field and put him on television with these other guys to cast doubt on what they're saying," he continues. "It would be difficult to find a scientist worth his salt in this subject who would suggest this wasn't happening. It would probably be someone whose grant has been funded by someone who finds reducing fossil fuel emissions detrimental to their own interests."
What a refreshing change of pace from, say, Wolf Hume citing somebody from a rightwing astroturf organization, or Brit Wolf putting up a graphic from an editorial printed in the Washington Times and written by an oil industry exec without a second thought.
Usually, what happens is that the cable newsies would have gone out of their way, bent over backwards, to have found somebody from the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, or just a pundit with no background in global warming other than being a card carrying member of the vast rightwing conspiracy to "debate" the issue. Even when there isn't any debate. Because, god forbid, that in the triumphantist O'Reily-Hannity-Coulter era that anybody stand up and say with authority that everything in the world isn't an opinion that is up for debate, sometimes things just are the way they are.
Well, thank goodness for Scott Pelley, and for the broadcast networks news divisions not being completely overrun by fear of the rampaging wingnuts post-Rather. No wonder the wingnuts hate facts as facts and long for facts as opinions and opinions as facts. When you don't play the 'fair and balanced' game, you actually get some unfiltered truth into your existence.
Now, how long will it be before the rightwing echochamber demands that Pelley be fired for his 'obvious liberal bias'... against bullshit? Here is a link to the original 60 minutes story: