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FOX News Uses Junk Scientist To Smear Al Gore’s New Film, “An Inconvenient Truth”

Reported by Ellen - May 17, 2006

Last night (5/16/06), Hannity & Colmes trotted out their favorite climate scientist, Patrick Michaels, described by Media Matters as an “energy industry lackey” and likened to a Flat Earth Society member by one of his peers, to provide the FOX version of a fair and balanced critique of Al Gore’s new film on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth.

Sean Hannity introduced Michaels by promising “the real scientific truth.” Before they got to the science, Michaels proved himself a liar by misrepresenting Gore. Michaels quoted a statement Gore made to Grist Magazine: “I believe it’s appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous (global warming) is.”

Michaels commented, “(Gore) says it’s appropriate to over-represent the danger on this issue. You have to realize what he said and take that as you see this movie.” It would be even better to realize that Gore said nothing of the kind and take that as you consider the rest of Michaels comments.

One look at Gore’s complete quote makes it abundantly clear that what he meant was not that the danger should be overstated but that he thought the best way to raise awareness of the issue was to start off with a disproportionate amount of attention on the problem, rather than the solution.

Q. There's a lot of debate right now over the best way to communicate about global warming and get people motivated. Do you scare people or give them hope? What's the right mix?

A. I think the answer to that depends on where your audience's head is.
In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality. Nobody is interested in solutions if they don't think there's a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis. Over time that mix will change. As the country comes to more accept the reality of the crisis, there's going to be much more receptivity to a full-blown discussion of the solutions.

In response to concerns that global warming may have contributed to Katrina’s intensity, Michaels smugly asserted that the Gulf of Mexico goes up to 83 degrees every summer, that it stays that temperature all summer and well into the fall, and that “Beyond 83 degrees, there’s no relationship between the severity of a hurricane and the water temperature.” Was Michaels saying that the temperature in the Gulf has always gone up to 83 degrees and has not been affected by global warming? It wasn’t clear and Hannity didn’t ask. One thing for sure, the government doesn’t seem to agree with him. The NOAA says on its website “it would be premature to conclude that such a link exists or is significant.” In other words, the government, no global warming alarmist, is not saying there is NO relation between global warming and hurricane intensity; the government is saying it's too soon to know.”

As Hannity complained about Gore being “overtly political,” Michaels responded, “Oh, yeah.” But, apparently, “overtly political” is only relevant if you’re a liberal. Nobody on the show brought up the fact that Michaels has received large amounts of funding from the energy industry whose companies have a financial stake in opposing policies that seek to combat global warming by limiting carbon emissions. Also not mentioned were the words of Dr. John Holdren, of Harvard University, to the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee. "(Michaels) 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."

Michaels seemed to conveniently forget about ethanol as he told Alan Colmes that it’s impossible to reduce global warming given the current state of our technology. “Right now there is no real suite of technologies that can significantly dent the amount of carbon dioxide that’s going in the air with regard to warming. You cannot significantly reduce warming. Just simply can’t be done. So the wise person would say, ‘Wait a minute. Let’s save our money. Let’s not spend it on a futile attempt to do something now when we could invest our money in the more efficient technologies that are going to develop in the future.’” I wonder if any of those wise investments just might include the energy companies that have supported Michaels in the past.

A truly fair and balanced offering would have included an opposing expert, perhaps somebody like James Hansen, NASA's chief climate scientist, who accused the Bush administration of trying to prevent him from speaking out about global warming.

A video of this segment is available on the Hannity & Colmes website. It’s called, “Everything you need to know before you see Gore’s new film.”

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