'Global Warming' TV Special 'Misleads Public,' Scientist Says

By Randy Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:06 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - A program on "global warming" set to debut on the Discovery Channel Sunday night "misleads the public," because it relies on "just a few scientists with a particular personal viewpoint on this subject," says a climatologist who has seen the two-hour special.

"Global Warming: What You Need to Know" is also "a disappointment" that contains "errors and misconceptions," according to Roger Pielke, Sr., professor of atmospheric sciences at Colorado State University.

"It is a disappointment that this show, hosted by Tom Brokaw, did not use the two hours to present a balanced view on the spectrum of perspectives on the human influences on the climate system," Pielke wrote in his web log on July 7.

Instead, the program depends on "just a few scientists with a particular personal viewpoint on this subject, which misleads the public on the broader view that is actually held by most climate scientists," Pielke added.

Pielke's criticisms contradict claims made in the press release promoting the program.

"Produced by the global alliance of Discovery Channel, the BBC and NBC News Productions, and hosted by award-winning journalist Tom Brokaw, the two-hour special presents the facts and leaves it up to the viewers to determine their own truth about global warming," the release states.

The special "will decode the buzzwords and arm viewers with an arsenal of clear definitions and visual depictions to explain the greenhouse effect, carbon dioxide emissions, CFCs, effects on weather and rising sea levels," the press release adds.

"By the year 2100, in the lifetime of our children and grandchildren, our world will be a drastically different place," Brokaw reportedly says in the documentary. "Severe weather will become the norm rather than the exception."

Contributing to the special is an "international team of experts, including NASA's top climate scientist Dr. James Hansen" and Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University.

"These scientists have published influential, peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate," Pielke notes in his weblog. "However, their perspective on climate change is very well known," and "they present a narrow view of the issue of natural and human climate variability and change."

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, Hansen's reputation as a renowned scientist with unassailable credibility on the issue of "global warming" and a victim of White House censorship has been disputed by a former colleague as well as a current co-worker.

Hansen also acted as a consultant for former Vice President Al Gore's slide-show presentations on "global warming," which served as the basis for his film, "An Inconvenient Truth."

In addition, Oppenheimer serves as a "science adviser" to the liberal organization Environmental Defense and has been affiliated with the environmentalist groups Scientists and Engineers for Change and Environment2004.

According to Pielke, the show also contains several "errors and misconceptions."

As an example, Pielke notes that "rapid glacial retreat is not a new observation, nor are all glaciers retreating," despite inferences to the contrary in the program. "The Grand Pacific glacier in Glacier Bay National Park, for example, retreated 48 miles from 1794 to 1879, and a further 17 miles by 1916."

Pielke also takes issue with the recommendations to reduce atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) at the end of the special.

"However, the reduction of emissions, in conjunction with improved energy efficiency, reduces a wide variety of gaseous and aerosol emissions into the atmosphere, as well as saving money!" Pielke wrote. "Why not start with these benefits, which include but are not limited to CO2? If the global climate starts to cool, does this mean that we should not adopt energy efficiency?"

Pielke concludes his discussion by listing a number of points that he believes should have been included in the program, such as:
    "Global warming" is not equivalent to climate change;
    Global and regional climate models have not demonstrated accuracy in predicting climate change or variability over decades-long periods of time; and
    Controlling CO2 emissions alone is inadequate to significantly influence regional and local-scale climate.
But, Jane Root, executive vice president of Discovery Channel, defended the program, which airs on Sunday, July 16, at 9 p.m.

"In the case of global warming, knowledge is more than just power -- it is a crucial ingredient in how we choose to live our lives," Root said. "As our planet evolves, Discovery Channel is there, dissecting the science happening all around us into useful, vital information."

Iain Murray, a senior fellow specializing in global climate change and environmental science at the free market-based Competitive Enterprise Institute, told Cybercast News Service, however, that although he had not yet seen the program, he placed a high value on Pielke's opinions of it.

"What he has to say is very important because he represents a large number of the non-vocal climate scientists who are interested in getting to the truth about what's going on with the atmosphere, what's going on with global temperature, what's going on with climate around the world," Murray said.

Because Pielke is "one of the people who aren't interested in pushing just one particular policy perspective," his voice isn't usually heard and "certainly won't be heard in Brokaw's documentary," Murray noted.

"These days, people get bashed over the head with the idea that there is a consensus," Murray said, "and anybody who speaks out against the so-called consensus is a contrarian or a tool of the oil industry or an otherwise morally suspect person."

See Earlier Story:
Fox News CEO Warms to Climate Change After Heat From Left (Nov. 9, 2005)

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