Million-Year El Nińo?
New York Times Selective
in Article on Climate Studies
June 26, 2005
Â Â Â Â
In a Friday, June 24, 2005, article entitled “Researchers Say Ocean
Evidence Points to a Million-Year El Nińo” by Kenneth Chang, the
Times reported on two conflicting studies about global warming, but
only one of them was deemed worthy enough for the headline and
two-thirds of the article.
Â Â Â Â The article began, “The last time the earth was warm
the waters of the Pacific Ocean may have been stuck in an El Nińo
pattern that lasted more than a million years,” making a
not-so-subtle assumption that the earth today is warm and that the
last time this happened, it was disastrous.
Â Â Â Â The article focused on a new study by Dr. Michael Wara
while he was a graduate student at the University of California,
Santa Cruz. Wara studied the changes in water temperature during a
period 4-3.5 million years ago, known as Pliocene, in which global
temperatures averaged about 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than today’s
temperatures. “Thus,” wrote Chang, “scientists look to the Pliocene
for clues about how the earth’s current warming trend could affect
climate.” Again, Chang aruged that the earth is warming, ignoring
any debate about global warming.
Â Â Â Â This debate, however, is widespread and touch on
various aspects of the global warming debate, none of which Chang
chose to recognize. One of the most disputed issues is whether the
earth is actually warming. While many reports, like Chang’s simply
accept this, scientists are still debating this point. One of the
most notable opponents of global warming and the Kyoto Treaty, Dr.
S. Fred Singer, president of The Science & Environmental Policy
Project, has pointed out that data collected from weather balloons
and satellites from 1979 until the present show no sign that the
earth is warming.
Â Â Â Â Chang, however, spent the bulk of his article on
dangers implied from the Wara study and did not offer any reports to
the contrary until deep in the article, and then only briefly. Chang
then acknowledged another study published three months ago by
researchers from the University of Oxford in England conducted in
the same area as Wara’s study, using the same techniques as Wara’s
study, that found no evidence of a million-year El Nińo.
Â Â Â Â Information on this study, however, was buried near the
end of Chang’s article, while Wara’s study captured the headline and
the first seven paragraphs of the story. At the end, Chang did quote
Dr. David Lea, a professor of geological sciences at the University
of California at Santa Barbara who did not participate in either
study, but who said, “I think the evidence probably is more
supportive of the second paper, but I don’t think it’s definitive.”
Â Â Â Â That meant the Times had gone out of its way to ignore
one study and report another on the same topic that the expert it
quoted didn’t believe. Both studies had been published in Science
magazine, yet the Times only found the one discussing a
million-year-long el Nińo to be worth reporting.
Â Â Â Â This article is part of an ongoing trend in global
warming reporting documented in FMP’s special report “Destroying
America to Save the World.” The report provided sound evidence of
the slanted nature of media coverage in the global warming debate.
The Times article was the latest example of this trend.
“Destroying America to Save the World.”