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A "Fair And Balanced" Look At Global Warming From An Energy Industry Lackey

Reported by Ellen - September 27, 2005

Whenever Sean Hannity complains about the other side politicizing a subject, it's a sure sign that's exactly what he's up to, himself. On last night's (9/26/05) Hannity & Colmes, Hannity described an upcoming segment on global warming by saying, "Barbra Streisand is declaring a global warming state of emergency. Is she taking a stand or trying to help the Democratic Party in playing politics. We're gonna separate fact from fiction tonight." The guest expert who was supposed to do just that was Patrick J. Michaels. He was introduced as "University of Virginia professor and Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies at the CATO Institute." Nobody mentioned that, as SourceWatch reports, Michaels has received more than $115,000 from coal and energy interests. Also, a quarterly he founded, World Climate Review, which "routinely debunks climate concerns, was funded by Western Fuels." Media Matters described him as "an energy industry lackey."

Actually, the real issue was not about global warming, per se, but whether or not it has played a part in the recent spate of high-intensity hurricanes. Not surprisingly, Michaels insisted it has not. He made Katrina and Rita sound like much-needed rain after a drought. "We have recovered from a period that was bereft of severe hurricanes."

Alan Colmes said that it's not the number of hurricanes, but the intensity that has increased. He referenced a Time article showing that the intensity in the past 15 years has gotten much greater.

Michaels disputed that, saying Time should have gone back further, to the 1940's and 1950's which show the same proportion of high-intensity hurricanes as today. However, Michaels conveniently ignored the following information also in the Time article: "One especially sobering study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that hurricane wind speeds have increased about 50% in the past 50 years." Unfortunately, Colmes' time was up and, of course, Hannity didn't bring it up.

Is Hannity capable of having a civil debate without bullying and/or throwing insults at anyone he disagrees with? I don't think so. Seemingly having forgotten Streisand, Hannity started in on Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. "He won't give up his private jets but yet he thinks the use of fossil fuels causes global warming. They won't have the windmills in front of the Kennedy Compound. There's a little hypocrisy on their part." Kennedy's alleged hypocrisy has no bearing on whether or not global warming affects hurricane activity but with only one, biased expert to discuss the issue - and this expert's bias was undisclosed - it's pretty clear that getting at the truth was not Hannity's intention.

In fact, Michaels is not just biased, he's out of the mainstream. According to SourceWatch,

Michaels has written papers claiming that satellite temperature data shows no global warming trend. But he got this result by cutting the data off after 1996. (Every year after 1996 the satellite measurement showed warming.) Another paper made the bizarre claim that the temperature increases were meaningless because they correlated closely to GDP, without explaining how the GDP caused the increase warming. (A more likely explanation is that high-GDP countries tend to be at higher lattitudes, where global warming has the most impact).

...Dr. John Holdren of Harvard University told the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, "Michaels is another of the handful of US climate-change contrarians... He has published little if anything of distinction in the professional literature, being noted rather for his shrill op-ed pieces and indiscriminate denunciations of virtually every finding of mainstream climate science."

Hannity claimed that global warming "has not had any impact on hurricane activity." Then he immediately contradicted himself by adding that "It has lessened it, not increased it." He said there was a 10% decrease in category 3 or higher hurricanes in the latter part of the 20th century. But, perhaps worried that his facts were weak, Hannity got back to attacking those who disagree with him. Hannity said, "They are factually wrong, they are inaccurate, they're playing a political game here to pass an agenda, aren't they?"

Michaels, joining in the attacks said, "These people are functioning sort of in a data free environment."

Associated Press, the wire service FOX News uses, reports that the effect of the earth's rising temperatures on hurricane activity is a genuine controversy. Why is "real journalism" FOX News afraid to discuss it in full?

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